The Democrats' precinct committee members will meet in September to consider the proposal.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
AUSTINTOWN -- If the Mahoning County Democratic Party approves the recommendations of its constitution committee, it will not only reinstate primary election endorsements but will also require all elected and endorsed Democrats to give 5 percent of their annual salary to the party.
Kenneth Carano, the committee's chairman, acknowledges the party's weak financial situation is a prime motivation behind the 5-percent assessment fee.
"If the party's endorsement means anything, people will pay for it," Carano said.
Candidates receiving the endorsement of the party who are subsequently elected to office would have to pay the assessment fee annually for every year of their elected term under the plan. Those endorsed but not elected would not have to pay the 5-percent fee.
Also, all endorsed candidates -- whether they are elected or not -- would be required to pay an additional fee to cover the cost of campaign advertising done by the party on their behalf during the primary and general elections.
Those refusing to pay the fees would not be permitted to receive the party's endorsement for the subsequent eight years under the plan.
What's next: The party's precinct committee members will meet in September to consider the constitution committee's recommendations.
Carano acknowledged the endorsement and assessment policies would benefit incumbents.
The constitution committee met Tuesday to recommend changes to the party's charter.
Eliminated in '94: The committee voted to reinstate a policy to endorse candidates during primary elections, a practice eliminated in 1994 when Michael Morley led the Democrats for Change movement, ousting longtime party Chairman Don L. Hanni Jr. The elimination of endorsements was one of Morley's key platforms.
But David Ditzler, who succeeded Morley in 1999, and other Democratic leaders say the party should reinstate the endorsement policy as a way to strengthen it as an organization and raise much-needed money.
"The party would exist in name only without endorsements," said Patty Bowser, a committee member. "If we are going to build the party back up, we need to bring back endorsements."