Thursday, May 6, 2010
By DAVID SKOLNICK
Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras is not a quiet wallflower, so it should come as no surprise how pleased he is with the primary results.
“This means the Democratic Party has re- established its prominence as the political party in Mahoning County,” Betras said Wednesday, a day after the party’s primary.
At the top of his list of achievements, Betras said, is the solid victory by Youngstown Councilwoman Carol Rimedio- Righetti, the party’s endorsed candidate for county commissioner, over 12-year incumbent David Ludt.
Betras said he’s also pleased that a majority of precinct committee members who support him were elected. Among other things, the members will vote for party chairman next month.
After not doing so for about 18 years, the party endorsed candidates in the primary. All of the party’s endorsed candidates won.
Besides Rimedio-Righetti, all were incumbents running against opponents who didn’t provide much of a challenge in Tuesday’s primary.
Betras should be proud, said William Binning, chairman of the Youngstown State University political-science department and the former head of the county Republican party.
“It is a big thing,” Binning said of Tuesday’s Democratic primary results. “He’s provided leadership and brought back endorsements. To support Carol Rimedio-Righetti over a longtime incumbent and for her to win is a big feather in [Betras’] cap. He took a big risk and it worked out for him.”
Betras said Rimedio-Righetti wouldn’t have won the primary without the party’s endorsement.
Rimedio-Righetti gave a lot of credit to Betras and the party endorsement.
“It helped me a heck of a lot,” she said. “It would have been a tough run without the party’s endorsement.”
But she said the support of local labor unions and the work her campaign committee did also were instrumental in the win.
Elected chairman in April 2009, Betras said he and his supporters “took a party with no infrastructure, organization or money” and turned it around.
Because of what Betras has done, particularly his work on the Rimedio-Righetti race, Democratic “officeholders will listen to him because they’ll be concerned about the endorsement,” Binning said.
Betras’s goal for the general election is to deliver large victories for statewide candidates in Mahoning County.
“We need to raise money and kick some Republican butt in the general election,” he said.