If ever there was a year for the Republican parties in Mahoning and Trumbull counties to chip away at Democrats’ dominance of local governments, this was it. Ohio is a battleground state in the presidential sweepstakes, and the November general election promises to be one of the most significant in recent years. And yet, there are no GOP candidates in most of the countywide races. It amounts to political nonfeasance.
A political party has but one role: To win elections. But you can’t win if you don’t compete.
And when you don’t compete in a year that promises to bring out the party faithful in droves, questions must be asked. Here are a couple: Are the state and national Republican organizations aware that the GOPs in Mahoning and Trumbull counties have all but conceded the local races to the Democrats? Is decertification an option?
This is not an over reaction.
In Mahoning County, there’s only one Republican candidate seeking countywide office — for county commissioner. Likewise, in Trumbull County, only one Republican has filed — for commissioner.
Slew of offices
When you consider that this is the election in which two county commissioners, sheriff, prosecutor, coroner, engineer, treasurer, recorder and clerk of courts will be elected, the impact of the GOP being AWOL is clear.
In most cases, therefore, the Democratic primary will determine the officeholders next year. There are those who argue that the predominance of the Democratic parties in the two counties gives Republicans little to no chance of winning in November. They wouldn’t be wrong, except for a couple of factors: One, with the economy still sputtering and Democratic President Obama’s approval rating below a comfortable level for re-election, turnout will be the key; two, there are local Democratic primary races in which the contenders have failed to ignite the party base, which means the nominees are viewed as the lesser of two evils.
Indeed, in both Mahoning and Trumbull counties, there aren’t primary contests for most of the countywide offices. Thus, in Mahoning, several incumbents are getting a pass in the primary and general elections: Coroner David Kennedy, Treasurer Daniel Yemma and Clerk of Courts Anthony Vivo
Patrick Ginnetti will be the new engineer because incumbent Richard Marsico isn’t seeking re-election, and no one else is on the ballot in that race. Recorder Noralynn Palmero will face Green Party candidate Jim Villani in November.
There is a Republican, David V. Rossi, seeking the open county commissioner seat being vacated by John McNally. Six Democrats are battling for the party nomination.
But for county prosecutor and sheriff, the winner of the primary will lay claim to the office because no Republican filed in either race.
With the prosecutor’s contest turning into a blood sport, the winner of the Democratic nomination will limp into the general election. Incumbent Paul Gains or his challenger, Youngstown City Prosecutor Jay Macejko, would have been vulnerable to a strong Republican opponent. There are many qualified lawyers in the county who could have made a case this year for a change.
Likewise, in the race for sheriff, with incumbent Randall Wellington retiring, voters would have been drawn to a good fight between a Democrat and Republican. But now, one of the three candidates vying for the Democratic primary, Brian GoodIn, Jerry Greene and Jimmy Hughes, will be sheriff in 2013.
In Trumbull County, of the nine countywide offices on the ballot this year, seven don’t even have primary contests. Only Sheriff Thomas Altiere is facing a challenger, James Phillips, on March 6. The winner will have clear sailing in November.
Commissioner Daniel Polivka will face Republican John Hull in the general election.
The bottom line is that the Republican parties in Mahoning and Trumbull counties are guilty of giving Democrats a pass in an election that will have great significance on the local, state and national levels.
Ohio is a must-win state for President Obama and for his Republican challenger. What happens at the local level will impact the outcome statewide.