Eight Mahoning County incumbents face challengers in the March primary.
By ANGIE SCHMITT
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN — The Mahoning County Democratic Party will not issue endorsements for the upcoming primary election.
More than 100 precinct committee people voted Wednesday to forgo the endorsement process, mandated by the party’s constitution. Party officials cited the shortened, presidential-year primary season as the reason for the decision.
“If you have endorsements now, and you don’t get the endorsement, you may want to drop out,” said Ken Carano, committee chairman and Mahoning Valley regional representative for Gov. Ted Strickland.
Ohio voters will cast their primary ballots March 4 instead of May this year to coincide with the presidential primary. And with the early election comes early ballot deadlines.
Committee people voted 95-9 against endorsement. A two-thirds majority of at least 100 committee people was needed to suspend the organization’s bylaws, which — since last year — have called for endorsements.
Committeewoman Sally Rees sided with the majority.
“I don’t like the endorsement thing,” she said. “They [Mahoning County residents] don’t need a party to tell them how to vote.”
But the party’s decision to break from procedure was disappointing to some primary hopefuls, including newly appointed Mahoning County Probate Judge Mark A. Belinky.
Strickland appointed the longtime probate lawyer in November to fill the unexpired term of Judge Timothy P. Maloney, who retired in June.
“I was confident I would get the endorsement,” said Judge Belinky. “It’s nice to be able to say the Democratic Party endorsed you.”
Judge Belinky is one of eight county incumbents who will face challengers this primary season.
Remaining neutral, Carano said, “helps protect those elected officials who are doing their jobs.”
“We will consider those who win the Democratic primary in March to be the endorsed Democratic candidates,” he added.