Hughes’ fundraising a bust

On the side

Mr. President: Youngstown Mayor Charles Sammarone was among about 10 people who had a brief, private meeting with Barack Obama when the president visited Lorain County Community College in Elyria on Wednesday.

The president asked about V&M Star and the Lordstown General Motors complex. Sammarone said he told Obama that V&M’s $650 million expansion project is going well and thanked him for the auto bailout.

Obama said, “Tell everyone in Youngstown I said, ‘hello,’” according to Sammarone.

The mayor said he told Obama, a fellow Democrat: “Remember, Youngstown’s got your back, and he said, ‘I’ll remember that.’”

The reason Sammarone is mayor is because Jay Williams, the city’s previous mayor, resigned in August 2011 to take a job in the president’s administration. Sammarone was city council president when Williams left. The city charter calls for council president to succeed the mayor if the latter resigns without completely his term.

The numbers for Jimmy Hughes’ failed campaign to win the Democratic primary for Mahoning County sheriff are staggering.

Hughes, the former Youngstown police chief, raised only $4,115 from donors compared to the $146,604 in contributions collected by the two other candidates in the sheriff’s primary.

More telling is Hughes loaned $81,100 to his failed campaign, including $35,100 on Feb. 22, less than two weeks before the primary.

“I asked” for contributions, Hughes said. “I don’t know why it was so difficult” to raise money.

Neither Jerry Greene, the Democratic primary winner and sheriff-elect, nor Poland Township Police Chief Brian Goodin, who finished last in the three-man race, contributed money to their campaigns.

Hughes finished second with 8,108 votes, 24.61 percent.

That means Hughes spent $10 of his own money for each vote he received.

Not that Hughes didn’t have the money.

After stepping down last year as police chief, Hughes became eligible to collect about $500,000 from a state early-retirement program.

Hughes said articles in The Vindicator about his early-retirement pay likely impacted his ability to raise money.

“People did say, ‘You have more money than me,’” he said. “Using my own money was a decision I made and I don’t regret it.”

Hughes acknowledged that he “should have pounded hard [on raising money] in order to get votes. I made some mistakes, but I was very honored and proud to run for sheriff. I would have been the best choice for the job.”

Another bid?

Hughes, who said he may run again for sheriff in four years, has $6,789.92 left in his campaign fund.

In a last-ditch effort to salvage his candidacy, Hughes held a press conference six days before the primary, questioning whether Greene violated a federal law making him ineligible to run.

Greene called it a “political ploy and an act of desperation.”

Greene, a long-time member of the sheriff’s office, cruised to an easy victory in last month’s primary with 18,286 votes, 55.5 percent.

Greene raised $148,750 for his campaign, more than any other candidate in the Mahoning Valley on the March 6 primary ballot.

He had the race essentially wrapped up late last year when he raised $106,720 between Oct. 13 and Dec. 31, 2011.

“I was playing catch-up,” Hughes said.

Goodin, who finished last with 6,553 votes, 19.89 percent, raised $39,884 from donors.

No other Valley candidate in last month’s primary gave more money to their campaign than Hughes.

In second place among self-funded candidates in the Valley is Walter Pishkur. He finished a distant second to Austintown Trustee David Ditzler for a Mahoning County commissioner seat in the Democratic primary.

Pishkur gave $50,000 to his campaign, and received $39,215 from contributors.

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