COLUMBUS, Ohio â€” A GOP-backed bill introduced Monday would change the name of an Ohio state park to honour former President Donald Trump.
The bill primarily sponsored by freshman state Rep. Mike Loychik to rename Mosquito Lake State Park to Donald J. Trump State Park is the latest attempt by Ohio Republicans to honour the former president.
"This legislation is meant to honour the commitment and dedication that our 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, bestowed upon the great people of Trumbull County," Loychick wrote in an initial statement.
He added, "This enthusiasm for our former president was also historic throughout the state of Ohio last November as he pushed for initiatives and policies that was very well-received with my constituency and the state.”
While Trump lost the 2020 presidential election, he won Ohio with more votes than any candidate in state history.
The state park proposal is just the latest indication of Trump's influence in politics over the GOP party in Ohio â€” whether in the measured approaches of it over establishment Republicans like Gov. Mike DeWine, who is expected to run for reelection next year, or in the many right-wing candidates vying for the party's nomination for Sen. Rob Portman's seat.
In Trumbull County, where the Mosquito Lake State Park is located, Trump won nearly 55% of the vote in November.
The state park is located in Cortland, Ohio, with more than 7,000 acres, and one of the largest lakes in the state. Loychik had initially announced his plans for the bill in mid-March, resulting in a wave of criticism from Democratic colleagues.
"Ohioans' are struggling with an addiction crisis, economic disruption, and a pandemic that the other guy said would disappear just like magic," Democratic Rep. Rich Brown tweeted on March 12. "Instead of addressing these pressing issues, Ohio House Republicans are spending their time flattering the Insurrectionist in Chief."
The state would need $300,000 allocated to change the signs in the park, according to the bill language.
A message seeking comment was left Tuesday with Loychick.
Also in response to the bill, the state Department of Natural Resources defended the name of the park.
"The name has withstood the test of time. Mosquito Creek Lake was formed by damming Mosquito Creek back in 1944," the statement read. "Since then, Mosquito Lake State Park has become one of Ohio's best state parks, best fishing lakes, and has one of Ohio's most important wildlife refuges."
The first proposal introduced by Republican legislators in honour of Trump sought to declare his birthday, June 14, as Donald J. Trump Day in Ohio.
While it is not uncommon for states to turn the birthdays of former presidents into paid holidays or days of significance, that designation is usually bestowed after death. More than 40 states, including Ohio, recognize Ronald Reagan Day.
Farnoush Amiri is a corps member for The Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.
Farnoush Amiri, The Associated Press