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About That 'Candidate Quality' Stuff...

Entrepreneur Shay Hawkins Hopes to Take Conservative Message to Columbus

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Hawkins for Ohio Campaign

Shafron “Shay” Hawkins is a candidate running to serve in Ohio’s House of Representatives. 

As the Republican nominee for Ohio’s 6th House District, a district surrounding Cleveland, Shay hopes to flip it from blue to red this November.

And he could very well pull it off. 

After going viral for this tweet, Shay spoke to me about his candidacy and why he’s optimistic about his chances this fall. 

A Bona Fide Conservative with an Inspiring Life Story

Shay Hawkins hopes to bring conservative principles to the Ohio House of Representatives and lend more support to Governor Mike DeWine (R-OH)’s agenda. 

Hawkins’ resume is sure to impress. He holds an undergraduate degree in economics from The Ohio State University, an MBA from Columbia Business School, and a JD from the Moritz College of Law at OSU. 

The first-time candidate believes in the three-legged stool approach to conservatism— a view popularized by President Reagan — which blends limited government, traditional values, and strong national defense (but without the nation building). 

He tells me he gravitated to conservatism given his church upbringing and several transformative life events. 

“When I was actually born, my mom was diagnosed with a specific type of cancer that when she was carrying me would have prevented them [from] simultaneously treating the cancer and simultaneously allowing her to bring me to term,” Hawkins said. “The doctors told my parents that they were gonna have to choose, and my parents decided to choose me.”

“My mom was in the hospital for the last four months of pregnancy bringing me to term. And at one point, the entire Cleveland area—churches all around the area— were praying: praying for my mom, praying for me. A doctor named Doctor Shafron, who I’m actually named after, went to my dad and he said, ‘I think I’m going to be able to save them both.’” 

He added, “Doctor Shafron was able to save my mom’s life. They brought me out and I was ten pounds and perfectly healthy.” 

34 years after he was born, Shay was injured in a vehicular accident that left him paralyzed. But that didn’t kill his spirit. 

He said he wasn’t deterred in his quest to fulfill his goals, which included succeeding in both the private and public sectors.  

A Natural-Born, Results-Oriented Leader 

For many years, the district has been economically depressed and behind most metropolitan areas. Shay believes it’s increasingly heading in the wrong direction under incumbent State Rep. Phil Robinson (D-OH-6).  

Hawkins, an entrepreneur in his own right, hopes to offer meaningful change by promoting policies like Opportunity Zones. 

He co-founded the Opportunity Zones Association, an “advocacy, education, and communications organization established to enable Opportunity Fund managers and investors in Opportunity Funds to participate in public policy, share best practices, and communicate the industry’s contributions to distressed rural and urban communities across the country.”

When working in the U.S. Senate for Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) as his Tax and Trade Counsel, Shay was a key driving force behind the inclusion of the Opportunity Zones provision in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). He worked closely with his former boss to ensure its inclusion in the final bill by working with different stakeholders: House and Senate conferees, the White House, and other dealmakers. 

He hopes to bring his business and legislative experience with him to Columbus, if elected. 

The best way to fix problems in cities today, he tells me, is the availability of good jobs.

“There are a lot of problems that can be solved with a good job,” Hawkins noted. “Problems that affect all of us, and I want to make sure that every Northeast Ohioan who has the ability to work has the opportunity to work.” 

Other key campaign issues include promoting school choice, vocational education, sound energy policies, the right-to-life, and the Second Amendment. 

How Democrats Take Black Voters for Granted

Hawkins believes President Donald Trump can double his share of the black vote this November.

In 2016, he clinched eight percent. This year, Hawkins is confident Trump could expand upon those numbers. 

“I think he [President Trump] can double that percentage of the black male vote,” Hawkins said. “And if he can really make inroads with black females, then I think he’ll do better regardless.”

Trump’s accomplishments in criminal justice reform, increased funding for historically-black colleges and universities (HBUCs), opportunity zones, and historic low black unemployment numbers pre-COVID—coupled with continued black support for police presence in cities—could draw more black voters to the Republican ticket, Hawkins added.  

As for Biden’s “You ain’t black” comments, he believes it’s natural for him to communicate such tonedeaf remarks.  

“His [Joe Biden’s] contempt for the black community and his taking their vote for granted is really laid bare in his constant gaffes on this issue. It’s not a series of mistakes; it’s honest feelings that are coming out.”


The Republican Party arguably can benefit from fresh voices like Shay Hawkins— fresh voices who can articulate conservatism well and make a difference through public service. 

Townhall readers interested in following Shay Hawkins’ campaign can learn more on his website and connect with him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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