MARIETTA - Spring political party dinners are often a time to rally the troops for the primary election, but with no local races on the May 7 ballot in Washington County, the agendas will be a little different.
First up, on Thursday, is the Washington County Republican Party's annual Lincoln Dinner at the Marietta Shrine Club.
The dinner usually provides a chance for local GOP candidates to address members and discuss why they're running and what they hope to accomplish.
While seats on the Marietta and Belpre city councils and other offices are up for election this year, no primary is needed because neither party has more candidates than seats being sought in either party. That means "this year's dinner is not so much politician-focused," said Leslie Haas, Washington County Republican Party chairwoman.
The evening begins with a social hour at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Shrine Club. The featured speaker will be Rich Galen, a political pundit, blogger, Marietta College graduate and former Marietta City Councilman.
Galen served as press secretary to Dan Quayle during his time in Congress and the Senate and worked for Newt Gingrich when he was the House Republican Whip and Speaker of the House. He also spent six months in Iraq in 2003-04, working to communicate positive aspects of the coalition effort there back to middle America, according to the bio on his blog, Mullings.
If You Go
* What: Washington County Republican Party's Lincoln Dinner.
* When: Thursday; reception at 5:30 p.m., dinner and program at 6:30. p.m.
* Where: Marietta Shrine Club, 249 Pennsylvania Ave., Marietta.
* Featured speaker: Rich Galen, political pundit and Marietta College alumnus.
* For information or to purchase tickets: 236-3280 or 236-0052.
* Ticket deadline: Today.
"His involvement in politics on the national and international level gives him a unique insight," Haas said.
Galen said he plans to talk about the importance of groups like the Washington County GOP.
"Political parties ... they succeed or fail based on the county-level committee," he said.
Local party members need to demonstrate the "energy and belief in your system" to get people out to vote for the candidates they support, Galen said.
"In the last election cycle, the Democrats were better at that than we were, but that doesn't mean it will always be that way," he said.
In addition, Galen said he'll also touch on the recent oil and natural gas boom and "all of the issues that everybody sees every night on Fox or CNN or MSNBC," including Obamacare, the Second Amendment and same-sex marriage.
On that last one, Galen said he is one of a number of Republicans to sign an amicus brief in support of same-sex marriage filed prior to the U.S. Supreme Court's recent deliberations on two cases related to the topic. He said one of the issues Republicans seem to have forgotten lately is that to be the majority party, you have to accept some differing ideologies and the "edges" of the party won't agree on everything.
"They will agree with each other on more things than either edge of the party will agree with the Democrats on," he said.
Washington County Democrats will gather for their own spring dinner on April 26, at American legion Post 64 in Marietta. Plans are still being finalized, but reservations can be made by contacting party Chairwoman Molly Varner at (740) 551-2065.