Romney stumbles in Ohio

On the side

The last laugh: Somewhere Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras is laughing.

Why? Because Richard Oz Ouzounian, who Betras mocked in text messages about finishing last in a six-man Democratic county commissioner primary, finished last.

On Feb. 21, Ouzounian gave the local media some text messages he exchanged with Betras.

In a Nov. 15 text, Betras wrote, “When u r last I can have a good laugh.” That same day, Betras wrote, “I will buy u dinner ur choice if u finish anywhere but last. LOSER”

And in another text that day, Betras wrote: “Bring it b---- boy. Dead last in endorsement dead last in race u know y? Bc u r a LOSER.”

Betras apologized “for the tone and tenor of the messages.” Even so, I’m sure Betras had a good laugh at Ouzounian’s failure.

Ouzounian is likely laughing at Betras, who campaigned hard for Youngstown Prosecutor Jay Macejko, the party’s endorsed candidate, who lost a close and bitter prosecutor’s primary to incumbent Paul J. Gains. All other party-endorsed candidates won.

Mitt Romney’s narrow victory in the Republican primary in Ohio should be of great concern to the candidate.

His 0.86 of a percent margin of victory exposes him as a weak candidate among voters in his own party in what is considered one of the most important states in the presidential race.

Rick Santorum, who’s running an underfunded and poorly-organized campaign held together by masking tape and safety pins, lost by only 10,508 votes — with provisional ballots not yet counted.

That Santorum was so competitive in Ohio with comparatively minimal resources and wasn’t eligible to compete for 15 of the state’s 66 delegates should greatly alarm Romney. Also, let’s not forget that Santorum already has beaten Romney in other states.

Romney is struggling against Santorum, who’s last run for political office in 2006 resulted in him losing his U.S. Senate seat by 18 percentage points.

Yes, 2006 was a terrible year for Republicans.

But Santorum’s defeat was the largest margin of defeat of any incumbent senator that year and the largest by an incumbent senator in Pennsylvania’s long political history.

It was only a few months ago that Santorum was polling in the low single-digits, where a presidential candidate with little name recognition and financial resources typically finds him/herself.

When I gave my assessment of Santorum to U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, Romney’s Ohio campaign chairman, said the ex-Pennsylvania senator is “a stronger candidate than you’re giving him credit for.”

Romney won nine congressional districts in Ohio and is leading by 1,081 votes in a 10th. Santorum won five districts and is leading in a sixth by 458 votes.

Each district gives the winner three delegates.

Among the districts Romney won was the 6th Congressional District, where Santorum failed to get any delegates on the primary ballot.

If we go by the statewide vote in that district, which includes Columbiana County and southern Mahoning County, Santorum would have won.

Several Santorum voters in the 6th and other districts where he wasn’t eligible for district delegates voted for Newt Gingrich over Romney even though the former speaker of the U.S. House finished distant third in the state primary.

The problem is some Republican voters don’t think Romney is conservative enough, said Columbiana County Republican Dave Johnson, who is Romney’s county chairman there and one of the state’s most prominent conservatives.

Johnson said Romney is conservative enough for him, but the candidate is struggling with others.

Barack Obama, a Democrat, is very beatable and vulnerable.

The general election could be an entirely different ballgame with independents and moderate Democrats, who backed Obama in 2008, looking for an alternative.

But Romney isn’t able to strongly break away from Santorum and shows no indication he can.

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.