MAHONING COUNTY Area Democratic club backs party's primary endorsements

YOUNGSTOWN -- The South County Democratic Club strongly supports primary endorsements by the Mahoning County Democratic Party, but the club's president says weak leadership could derail the plan.
John F. Shultz, South County president, said the party may have problems getting the 100 precinct committee members needed to constitute a quorum to vote on the proposal.
Big concern: "Lack of participation is a real concern," he said.
The last time precinct committee members met to discuss the proposal and to vote on new officers, 135 showed up. There are more than 400 Democratic precincts in the county.
Also at that February meeting, several committee members walked out before the endorsement proposal was to be discussed.
It was the first precinct committee member meeting in 18 months.
Any change to the party's by-laws needs the support of at least two-thirds of the quorum present.
Gauging interest: The party is sending members of its constitution revision committee to various local Democratic clubs to gauge interest in the endorsement proposal.
The committee was to attend tonight's Austintown Democratic Club meeting.
A party vote is expected in June.
The committee met two weeks ago with the Democrats of the 17th District, which rejected the primary endorsements idea by a one-vote margin.
The party eliminated endorsements for the primary election in 1994 when Michael Morley led the Democrats for Change movement, replacing Don L. Hanni Jr. as party chairman. It was one of Morley's key changes.
Official's comments: David Ditzler, who succeeded Morley in 1999, says now is the time to reinstate them.
The policy will strengthen the party and bring in money because endorsed candidates would be required to pay an assessment fee to seek the endorsement, Ditzler said.
South County Democrats blasted the party Tuesday for "its lack of leadership," Shultz said. "The appalling lack of leadership is leading to the demise of the party."

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