MARLBORO TWP. — In the past, fundraising events featuring area Republicans often included the local Stark County Republican chairman introducing other elected Republican officials and candidates.
The fundraiser and campaign rally Monday night for State Rep. Christina Hagan who's running for Congress didn't have any of that.
Instead, area Republican establishment-types, many who've endorsed Hagan's primary opponent Anthony Gonzalez of Cuyahoga County, stayed away.
Hagan highlighted she would be the anti-establishment candidate most loyal to President Donald Trump.
Instead of being introduced by the county party chairman, she was introduced by Harlan Hill, her political consultant from Washington D.C.. Instead of a local elected official giving an opening speech in support of her candidacy, it was former Trump advisor Sebastian Gorka, who said he met her through a mutual friend.
"We need a fighter working for President Trump every single day, and Christina will work to make America great again," said Gorka, who added that he was impressed Hagan had opposed Gov. John Kasich on many issues, including abortion. "She blew me away. Her raw political talent proved to me the sky is the limit. She's an enormously talented woman. She's a fighter. She's exactly what we need in Washington D.C."
Lynnette "Diamond" Hardaway and Rochelle "Silk" Richardson, two black YouTube personalities who supported Trump during the presidential campaign, also spoke for several minutes in support of Hagan's candidacy.
Instead of running for Congress in the district she lives, the 7th, Hagan is going against convention and running to represent the district whose boundary is a few miles to the west of her Marlboro Township home. But a district whose congressman, Jim Renacci, is running for governor and is not seeking re-election.
Hagan made her address in a large building on the property of the Sarchione family, which is affiliated with the car dealership Sarchione Ford, just off Route 44 with at least two large American flags covering the ceilings.
The 29-year-old portrayed herself as a candidate among the people, not of the elites. She talked about, until a few years ago, even while she was a state representative, waiting tables.
"I knew we needed to reprioritize our policy to have an America First agenda," she said, adopting a key theme of Trump's administration. "Because we have, we have a middle class that's been forgotten. We have an establishment ... that's run this country into the ground. They have spent $20 trillion. ... They think we haven't noticed. They think we're too dumb to work a calculator."
Hagan derided the Republican Congress' inability to repeal Obamacare, called for voting those Republicans out and criticized what she believes to be establishment Republicans' paltry efforts to oppose abortion.
"And if they think it's too hot of a subject to talk about defending innocent, vulnerable unborn children, then I don't want to share America with them. I want to stand in an America that values human life from the heartbeat to the end of the beating heart," said Hagan, who also blasted Gov. John Kasich from opposing her Heart Beat legislation that would ban abortions of a fetus with a beating heart and his support of Medicaid expansion.
Hagan again re-affirmed her loyalty to Trump, saying she would stand for an "America that prioritizes its citizenry first."
"President Trump has us on the right track, and he just needs a couple less people fighting him in Washington D.C. And fighting for the American people."
Hagan did not end her speech without a slap to Democrats, saying she would protect Ohioans' gun rights from the Democrats, more specifically House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Nor did she, a state legislator since 2011, end her speech without a slap to Gonzalez, who doesn't have elected experience.
"Nothing against my opponents. I'm sure they're fine gentlemen. But they don't have a voting record," she said. "You won't see what they will do. You can only hear what they will say. And you know who is funding them and you know who is pushing them and it isn't the middle class. The middle class has been unheard for too long."
Robert Wang is a staff writer for The Canton Repository.