Judge: Negative campaigning hurt opponent
Lisotto said his opponent's attack ads didn't sit well with voters.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Madison Lisotto skipped her daily 2-mile run with her dad Tuesday.
Instead, she hit the campaign trail one last time, stumping for her dad, Judge Robert Lisotto of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, who ran to a convincing victory over Timothy Franken.
"I thought he'd win, but you never know," 13-year-old Madison said of her dad. "I'm very proud of my father. He always pulls through in the end."
Judge Lisotto said he owes his victory in Tuesday's primary election to Franken's negative campaigning as much as anything else.
"That was the difference, 100 percent," Judge Lisotto said. "He had the ability to promote himself, and he failed to do that."
Franken, chief assistant county prosecutor, disagreed.
"I don't think that was it," he said. "I didn't consider it a negative campaign. It was all about stuff that he did."
Judge Lisotto, completing his first six-year term on the common pleas bench, garnered about 60 percent of the vote, according to complete but unofficial results from the county board of elections.
Franken received about 40 percent.
Judge Lisotto, 55, of Canfield, has no opponent in the November general election, so his win Tuesday assured him of a second term.
This was Franken's second bid for a judicial seat -- he ran unsuccessfully for the 7th District Court of Appeals -- and he said he won't run again.
During the campaign, Franken, 53, of Canfield, hammered away at a public reprimand handed to Judge Lisotto by the Ohio Supreme Court for accepting Pittsburgh Steelers football tickets from a lawyer who had cases pending before him.
Even though the high court said there was no evidence that the tickets influenced Judge Lisotto's rulings, Franken said it was wrong for the judge to have accepted them in the first place.
"Evidently, the people of Mahoning County just don't care," he said.
Judge Lisotto said the fact that his only discipline was a public reprimand vindicated him of any wrongdoing. He could have had his law license suspended or been disbarred.
The fact that voters overwhelmingly re-elected him bolstered that feeling of vindication, he said.
One thing the two do agree on is that the nasty campaign is behind them and will have no impact on their working relationship. Franken is still a prosecutor and could sometimes appear before Judge Lisotto.
"I have a job and he has a job. We'll do it right," Judge Lisotto said. "There is absolutely no reason why we can't work together."
Franken was less kind in his assessment.
"He doesn't know anything," he said. "What's it going to hurt?"
Before the election, Franken was critical of Judge Lisotto's performance on the bench. At one point he said the judge is "not very bright" and is "in over his head."
Judge Lisotto shrugged off the criticism. He said such negative comments don't play well to voters, as was proven in the election outcome.