Mark A. Hanni said he may support the re-election bid of the current Republican chairman.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- An attempted takeover of the Mahoning Republican Party by the Republicans for Real Reform movement came up well short.
Mark A. Hanni, who founded the Real Reform group, said that he is disappointed by the results but that at least those who want to change the direction of the Republicans now have a voice in the party.
Supporters of Chairman Clarence Smith, who will run for re-election, say they captured 207 of the 312 available precinct committee seats in Tuesday's election with the Real Reform candidates filling 83 positions. There are 22 open seats.
Also, Reform candidates won only 12 contested races compared with 135 for candidates who support Smith, said Mark Munroe, chairman of the Mahoning County Board of Elections and a Smith supporter. The other seats were filled through uncontested races, he said.
Hanni disputes the numbers, saying his supporters captured 115 seats. But he acknowledged it is not enough to defeat Smith for chairman.
"I plan on working with whoever is chairman to rebuild this party," Hanni said. "We shook them up a little bit."
When asked if he would support Smith for chairman, Hanni said it was a possibility.
Won by wide margin
Smith, who won his precinct committee seat in Boardman, defeated Hanni for state central committeeman by a margin of 86.5 percent to 13.5 percent.
Also, Hanni failed to win his race for precinct committeeman in Boardman.
"This is a clear repudiation of Hanni politics," Munroe said. "It's our goal to reach out to the Hanni candidates and embrace them. We want to work with them."
The Hanni challenge helped revitalize the party, Munroe said.
"It energized us and made us stronger," he said. "We are determined to provide honest political competition in the Mahoning Valley."
The Mahoning Republican precinct committee races are the subject of an investigation by the sheriff's department into potential election fraud.