State Rep. Keith Faber ’s visit to Akron last week previewed a likely matrix for Republican candidates running for state office this year in the party now managed by President Trump.  In his speech before a relatively small audience of 40 or so at the Tangier,  Faber cast his campaign game plan for state auditor in familiar conservative standbys.  He wants to cut taxes,  create more transparency and efficiency in government, eliminate waste, and support a strong state economy.  Who could argue?

In a moment when the nation is shattered by another school shooting,  Faber, a Celina lawyer and former state senate president,  also defined himself as a “strong believer” of the Second Amendment. However, he conceded that we do have to be careful about “people who have guns.”  (How that might be accomplished? He didn’t say.) He also spoke highly of charter schools, the landmark misadventure awarded the state by Republican regimes

After the event, I asked him whether he would be a loyal member of “Team Trump,” he carefully responded that he would make allowances for options:  He would support the president on matters that he agreed with and disagree with those with which he couldn’t agree. Bring it on..

I mentioned the trifling audience size because it was a strong clue to the absence of the late Summit County Republican Chairman Alex Arshinkoff, who could not suffer a single empty chair at his party’s events.  If necessary Arskinkoff would have yanked panhandlers and tourists off the streets to fill in the vacancies.  In the cavernous dining room of the Tangier, curtained in half for the event, the place seemed even more coldly abandoned.    One of the helpers for the Akron Press Club luncheon said there had been a question whether the Summit County Republican Party, such as it is not, could muster a table of eight in time for the buffet to remain warm.

As a matter of form and protocol for his side, Alex Arshinkoff was the perfect hustle-bustle host for his crowd. As more garden variety Republican speakers turn up for these events they will sense the difference under the county party’s subdued new chairman, Bryan Williams.  Not only in party turnouts, but also for the official activities.   It’s also doubtful that they will find piles of gold from Arshinkoff’s fundraisers that gave him an opportunity to wave triumphantly in front of his many critics.

This event further shows that it will be a tough year for Republican warriors on the stump in the shadow of an unhinged president, but they will have some time for a course correction as they bound around the state’s 88 counties with these drive-by speeches.

A cautionary note to all Republican candidates in 2018:  You can run but you can’t hide from Donald J. Trump. A plague is a plague and a plague not easily ignored.