MARIETTA - More than 250 people, including members of Washington County's Republican Party and guests, packed into the Marietta Shrine Club for the party's annual Lincoln Dinner Thursday.
Columnist, political pundit, Republican strategist, Marietta College graduate, and former WMOA radio news director Rich Galen was keynote speaker for this year's event.
"I'm still just a political hack - James Carville is my back door neighbor," said Galen, who's resided in the nation's capital since leaving Marietta in 1977.
Photo by Sam Shawver
Republican strategist and political pundit Rich Galen, center, talks with Ohio Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta, left, and local businessman and emcee Bob Kirkbride during the Washington County Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Dinner at the Marietta Shrine Club Thursday.
He's now a commentator on MSNBC and CNN, in addition to writing a popular online column, Mullings.com, but Galen said his move into the political realm began in the Pioneer City.
"I covered my own defeat in a first run for city council," he laughed. Later he made another bid for the office and won, serving a term before moving to Washington, D.C.
Galen said his message to the Washington County GOP is that the "geniuses" in D.C. don't know anything about what it takes to win an election.
"It's the people who pound the stakes for the signs and pass out the cards at community events that make it happen at the local level. And we discount those people too often," he said.
In a year with no primary election in Washington County due to no contested party races, Galen hopes his message will be taken to heart and will "nudge" people to get involved now in the process to help their local candidates get elected.
Washington County GOP Chairman Leslie Haas agreed.
"When there's a contest in the primary, people are more interested; they really get into gear," she said. "But last year's presidential election seemed to go on forever; now we're starting again and people have become tired. But we have to get them back on the train."
Haas said the lack of a primary this year is no time to slack off, and that's why the party wanted to bring Galen, "a beltway insider," to town.
"We want to educate and entertain people, and we need the party to be motivated now," she said. "There are a lot of parades to cover this summer, and there's fundraising and door-knocking to be done."
Emcee for Thursday's dinner was Bob Kirkbride, and introductory remarks were made by Ohio Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta.
Marietta High School student Sarah Rauch led the group in singing of the national anthem.