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Candidate could help Democrat, GOP leader says



Published: Thu, June 30, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Republican candidate isn't quitting the race -- at least for now.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- The Mahoning County Republican Organization's vice chairman spoke to the party's Youngstown mayoral nominee about his candidacy's inadvertently helping state Sen. Robert F. Hagan, the Democratic mayoral candidate, to win the race.

Mark Munroe, the Mahoning GOP vice chairman, says neither he nor any party official has asked Robert Korchnak, the party's mayoral nominee, to quit the race. However, Munroe says he's spoken to Korchnak speculating about the candidate's impact on the mayoral race.

Munroe said it's not a secret that the two leading candidates in the six-person Nov. 8 mayoral election are Hagan and Jay Williams, who resigned in April as the city's Community Development Agency director to run for the job as an independent.

In a close race between those two, Korchnak could help Hagan win by taking conservative votes away from Williams, Munroe said.

"Nobody's pressuring [Korchnak] to get out of the race, but there's been talk that his candidacy can impact the race if it's close," Munroe said. "The last thing he wants to do is help Hagan get elected mayor, and it's ironic that his candidacy could aid Bob Hagan's campaign."

Korchnak confirmed Munroe's account of their discussions, and said he is "a little disappointed" that Republicans are talking about him quitting the race.

"At this point, I'm not stepping down," he said. "But I'm giving it some thought. Most likely I'll stay in the race."

Earning respect

Munroe said he admires Korchnak -- who he referred to as a "novice politically" -- for even running for mayor in this Democratic-dominated city, and any decision to quit rests entirely with Korchnak. Korchnak ran for Youngstown school board in 2001, finishing seventh in an eight-person race.

When asked about Williams, Munroe said, "I'm impressed with him as a leader and professional. I think Jay Williams is uniquely positioned to appeal to a broad spectrum of voters, not just the minority community. He appeals to Democrats, Republicans and independents. He has the ability to be the true unity candidate."

As for Hagan, Munroe said, "I'm not sure he is the best choice for the city."

Munroe is quick to note that he lives in Boardman but is concerned about the Youngstown mayoral race.

"This is a decision the citizens of Youngstown will make," he said about electing a mayor.

Opposite opinion

Korchnak will be no factor in the Youngstown mayoral race if he runs, said Melanie Blumberg of Boardman, a political science professor at California University of Pennsylvania.

She doubts wealthy Republicans in Canfield and Boardman would pour money into the Youngstown mayoral race to defeat Hagan.

"I can't see suburban Republicans caring that much about this race," she said.

Also, she questions Munroe's theory that Korchnak would take votes away from Williams.

Blumberg said past Youngstown political elections show that a candidate's race is a larger factor than if they appeal to conservative voters in the city. Korchnak and Hagan are white, and Williams is black.

Korchnak said he sees merit to both theories, but believes he would take more votes from Hagan if he stays in the race.

Funding

Korchnak has asked the county Republican party for campaign contributions. Munroe said he told the candidate to submit a budget, and the party would consider his request.

"I thought they'd give me a little bit of support financially to put up signs, and buy T-shirts and a magnetic campaign sign for my vehicle," Korchnak said. "Not a lot of people have heard of me, and that would help."

Any candidate can withdraw from the mayoral race at any time. The names of those who withdraw can be removed from the county's electronic voting machines before Election Day without a problem.

Absentee ballots are mailed beginning Oct. 4. If a candidate waits until after that date, the candidate's name would appear on at least some of the absentee ballots.

skolnick@vindy.com




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