Politics State State Rep. Edwards, U.S. Rep. Johnson’s wife speak at local Republican Party event By Ben Peters Posted on October 18, 2019 7 min read 0 0 319 State Rep. Jay Edwards and U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson’s wife, LeeAnn Johnson, addressed local members of the Athens County Republican Party and many members of the Ohio University College Republicans at the party’s annual fall dinner held Thursday evening in at the local headquarters of The American Legion, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that supports veterans. Edwards mingled with party members when he arrived, then gave a brief speech to a crowd of more than 50 dinner attendees about his accomplishments as majority whip in the Ohio House of Representatives. He touted state Republicans’ efforts this past summer to cut income taxes in the state budget and remove the bottom two tax brackets for people living in poverty. The representative also praised his party’s work to increase state funding to improve the lives of Ohio children whose family members are addicted to opioids. “It’s important that we’re not just focused on the addict, but the family of the addict,” he said. Edwards’ speech was hurried as he was in a rush to travel to Meigs County to attend a dinner for Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives Larry Householder, said Pete Couladis, chairman of the Athens County Republican Party. The representative also spoke at two other dinners earlier that evening. “The one promise I can make is that every single thing that I do comes back to fighting for this district,” Edwards said. Mrs. Johnson, who leads Ohio’s Women for Trump organization, also briefly spoke at the dinner about how hard President Donald Trump is working for women. The Republican party has struggled in recent years to maintain the support of suburban white women across the nation. She said her husband wasn’t present because Congress just returned to Washington D.C. earlier this week following a short recess. Mrs. Johnson praised Edwards and encouraged the attendees to help the Republican party maintain a supermajority in the Ohio General Assembly and ensure Trump wins re-election in 2020. Despite regularly positioning himself as a fierce ally of Trump, Mr. Johnson voted with many other members of his party Wednesday to condemn the president’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Northern Syria. Mrs. Johnson declined to comment on her husband’s vote. Mr. Johnson took to Facebook on Wednesday to explain why he voted to denounce Trump’s decision. “Although I remain a strong supporter of the President, I do not agree with this decision to pull out a small number of forces from Syria along the Turkish border, endangering the Kurds and leaving an open question as to what will happen to thousands of captured ISIS fighters being held there,” he wrote. Both Republicans’ brief speeches arrived amid a tumultuous day for the Trump administration after acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters Thursday the White House withheld nearly $400 million in aid from Ukraine to pressure the nation to investigate Trump’s political rivals, according to The New York Times. Both Edwards and Mrs. Johnson extended a great deal of praise to the Ohio U College Republicans, which had nearly 20 members in attendance who helped serve food. The organization has the number one call center in the state, having made nearly 300,000 phone calls in 2018 to encourage residents to vote for Republican candidates, said Kailey Gentner, the president of the College Republicans. Gentner expressed how hard her organization works to elect Republican candidates in the state. “(Praise) always makes me happy because it just shows that our hard work is paying off and really appreciated in the community,” she said. Despite short speeches from both Edwards and Mrs. Johnson, Couladis said he was satisfied with the event and the number of party members who attended. Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Rep. Johnson no longer represents Athens County following redistricting in 2011. Johnson’s district still includes eastern parts of the county.