Protesters rallied outside the Montgomery County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day dinner on Thursday to protest GOP plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. They also called for U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, to hold a town hall meeting to hear constituents concerns. LYNN HULSEY/Staff

With protesters outside, Republicans at local GOP dinner stressed unity

Republicans had a good showing in November’s election but now need to focus on unity in order to accomplish their goals, Ohio Republican Party Executive Director Rob Secaur said Thursday’s annual Montgomery County Republican Party Lincoln Day dinner.

With factions of his party fighting it out in Washington, D.C., Secaur’s words seemed especially on point. On Friday, a vote on a proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act was canceled after it failed to muster the votes for passage.

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Groups opposing the GOP health care plan protested outside the county party dinner, held at the Mandalay Banquet Center in Moraine. Tom Young, a Republican member of the Montgomery County Board of Elections, said it is the first time he can remember protesters at a Lincoln Day dinner.

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About 50 people lined the roadway, wearing birthday party hats and blowing horns as cars pulled into the Mandalay. The hats were in honor of the 7th anniversary of President Barack Obama signing the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

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“I’m outraged at the Republican plan to destroy the health care system,” said protester Joy Schwab of the Dayton Women’s Rights Alliance.

Thursday’s protest was organized by Dayton Indivisible for All and other progressive groups who have called on U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, to hold a town hall meeting with constituents to hear their concerns. Turner has not scheduled a town hall, but on March 18 the groups calling for one held a constituent town hall for him. Turner did not attend.

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“We need a public forum where we can ask Mike Turner questions and express our concerns in this time of huge uncertainty and all kinds of tumultuous change,” said Davin Flateau of Dayton Indivisible for All.

Turner’s office did not respond to repeated requests for comment on Thursday’s protest. In a previous interview Turner said he meets with lots of groups but does not consider Dayton Indivisible for All to be legitimate.

“We are of course completely baffled why he doesn’t consider us ‘legitimate,’” said Flateau. “I’m not sure there’s any logic behind it.”

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Turner was the scheduled speaker at the GOP dinner but local party officials said he was unable to attend because of the debate over the Obamacare replacement bill. 

Stepping in to replace him was Franklin County Auditor Clarence Mingo, who said Republicans must remain united and true to their principles following their successful November election.

“From my house to literally the White House, Republicans control,” said Mingo, who plans to run for state treasurer. “But we also have opportunity, opportunity to do good and to ensure that voters understand that they made a wise decision in granting us the privilege of serving in 2016.”

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Opposition to abortion and support of the Second Amendment are areas where there is no room for compromise, he said.

Mingo also said the party must have compassion for those in need, but must always encourage self-reliance.

He received a standing ovation from the packed banquet room when he offered up a conservative response to the issue of race relations in America.

“That solution is simply love and fellowship,” said Mingo, who is black. “We have the capacity to come together as one.”

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