The candidate says the Democratic chairwoman's comments offend his Democratic supporters.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The Mahoning County Democratic chairwoman says she knows the real motive for talk among some local Republicans about the Youngstown mayoral GOP candidate's withdrawing from the race.
Mahoning Republicans want Robert Korchnak, its mayoral candidate, out so the party can fund and openly support the campaign of Jay Williams, said Mahoning Democratic Chairwoman Lisa Antonini. Williams resigned in April as the city's Community Development Agency director to run for the job as an independent.
"Jay filing as an independent was a joke because Democrats knew he was aligned with the Republicans," Antonini said. "If [Williams] wants to show he's part of the party of corruption and scandal that we've seen in recent months, that's his choice."
Antonini is referring to the scandal at the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation. The BWC's investment losses are more than $240 million. Democrats say Republicans, who politically control the state, stood by and let it happen because they received campaign contributions from those involved in the scandal.
Williams, a registered Democrat, said he and Democrats supporting his independent campaign are offended by Antonini's comments.
"I have a wide base of support because I'm the most qualified candidate," he said. "This ploy of muddying the waters is desperate and pathetic. I welcome the support of anyone. It's foolish of Ms. Antonini to place me with any particular party."
Korchnak and Mark Munroe, the Mahoning Republican vice chairman, have discussed the Republican mayoral candidate's impact on the Nov. 8 election. Munroe said Korchnak could take votes away from Williams and permit state Sen. Robert F. Hagan, the Democratic mayoral candidate, to win the race.
Munroe and Antonini say the two leading candidates in the six-person mayoral race are Hagan and Williams.
Munroe and other Republicans haven't asked Korchnak to withdraw. However, Munroe has told Korchnak that if the race is close, he could pull votes from Williams. Korchnak said he is thinking about withdrawing, but will most likely stay in the race.
Williams said every vote is very important, but it's Korchnak's decision to stay in or get out of the race.
Munroe laughed when told of Antonini's comment about the Republicans being the party of "corruption and scandal."
Mahoning County has been under the thumb politically of Democrats for decades, Munroe said, and several were kicked out of office and thrown in prison for public corruption, bribery and racketeering.
"The Mahoning Valley has been awash in Democratic corruption for years," said Munroe, who rattled off the names of several former county officials, all Democrats, convicted of selling their political offices.
"The judges alone are too numerous to name," he said. "The legacy of Democrats in the Valley is one of corruption. I think the citizens of this area are looking for a change from the Republican Party or an independent. For [Antonini] to suggest we're subtly behind Jay Williams as a party is not correct. But Jay Williams' candidacy is a direct result of the Democratic corruption in the Valley."