In 1960, political scandal erupted at the Board of Elections in Mahoning County, Ohio. The Republican secretary of state, furious because voting machines hadn’t worked properly during the May primary, ordered a housecleaning that swept out a Democratic boss and installed Philip Rogers, a loyal GOP insider, as director.
Rogers would spend the next few years establishing himself as one of the state’s leading authorities on election administration and technology. Where others imagined fraud, he evangelized about integrity. He eventually would take over as chairman of the county party, focusing more on the complicated mechanics of wiring the working-class precincts of Youngstown than on the explosive ideological battles playing out nationally.
Those were days of upheaval in the Mahoning Valley. Mafia turf wars raged as organized crime rivaled the Catholic Church for influence. The first of the big steel mills would soon close, triggering the loss of tens of thousands of jobs. One of Rogers’ five children entered the priesthood. Another became a nun. His oldest daughter, meanwhile, moved away, giving birth in 1978 to a son who 40 years later would be elected governor of Florida.