Running for office is tough

On the side

Comeback bid: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is confident ex-U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson of St. Clairsville will win back his seat representing Ohio’s 6th District. Wilson is among the first group of 18 “Red to Blue” candidates, and the only Ohioan, the DCCC believes have the strongest chance of beating incumbent Republicans.

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, a Republican from Marietta, beat Wilson in the 2010 election.

The program recognizes candidates who surpass fundraising, organization and infrastructure goals. The DCCC says the program introduces “Democratic supporters to new, competitive candidates in order to help expand the fundraising base for these campaigns.”

Wilson, a former two-term House member, is hardly new. DCCC Chairman Steve Israel acknowledges that by calling Wilson “a proven fighter for Ohio families.”

During his successful 2010 campaign, Johnson was selected by the National Republican Congressional Committee to a similar program, called “Young Guns.”

After failing to win the Mahoning County Democratic Party’s endorsement, four candidates in three races have withdrawn.

Party Chairman David Betras had discussions with all four before they made their decisions.

But don’t confuse discussions with strong-arm tactics.

Betras spelled out what it takes to win the party’s primary — money, time, attending candidate forums, going door-to-door — particularly for those who aren’t endorsed.

Betras said he’s not “trying to short-circuit anyone,” or apply pressure to candidates who didn’t get the party’s endorsements.

“It’s a daunting task to run countywide,” Betras said. “They’re not running for class president. They don’t realize what it takes to run a campaign in a big county. It’s diverse. We’re rural and urban. You have to go to events, deal with the media, take positions on things.”

The withdrawals reduce the choices Democratic voters have when they go to the polls March 6.

There is no contested county treasurer and engineer races, and a reduction in the number of those seeking a commissioner’s seat.

Those who’ve withdrawn since the Jan. 7 endorsement vote are: Struthers Mayor Terry Stocker and former Youngstown Councilman Jerry McNally for commissioner; Mark G. Klacik for treasurer, and four-term incumbent Engineer Richard Marsico.

Marsico has run successful countywide campaigns.

But he lost the party’s endorsement to Patrick Ginnetti because of concerns with his age, being in office for too long, and primarily, because of $70,242 in salary increases he gave his staff last year.

And like the other three who quit, Marsico was going to have to compete against a candidate endorsed by the party.

As I wrote last week, the party’s endorsement gives candidates access to the Ohio Democratic Party voter database, the ODP’s heavily discounted bulk-mail rate, the ability to run a coordinated candidate with others endorsed by the county party, among other benefits.

Those who withdraw can receive money from the local party to pay off “legitimate debts” they incurred running their campaigns, Betras said. So far, no one has sought money, he said.

This is the first time in at least 20 years that this many candidates withdrew before the Democratic primary.

It’s also only the second time that the party has endorsed candidates in about 20 years.

The first time was 2010, and all of the party’s endorsed candidates won the primary and general elections.

For years, serving as a precinct committee member meant you voted on filling vacant elected positions, and little else.

With the return of endorsements, it means a lot more.

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