Eyes on pre-primary prize

On the side

Political scorecards: The left-leaning League of Conservation Voters released its congressional “environmental scorecard” rating members of Congress on their votes on 35 bills related to public health, clean energy, and land and wildlife conservation.

Based on political beliefs it’s no surprise that U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-13th, did well, voting 80 percent of the time last year with the organization, and has a 90 percent lifetime score. And it’s no surprise that U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, voted only 6 percent of the time with the group and has a 7 percent lifetime score.

On the flipside, Americans for Prosperity, a conservative public policy group that supports limited government and free markets, came out with its congressional scorecard based on 22 votes. The AFP was founded by Charles and David Koch, two well-known billionaire conservatives.

Johnson received a 77 percent grade for last year, and has an 89 percent lifetime grade. Ryan got a 14 percent score for last year. That’s a lot better than his lifetime score of 5 percent.

In what is likely the biggest pre-primary-election prize for the Youngstown mayoral candidates, Mahoning County Democratic Party precinct and executive committee members who live in the city will endorse Tuesday.

While John McNally IV, the former county commissioner and city law director, has raised and spent more campaign money than City Council President Jamael Tito Brown and appears to have the momentum, he is far from a lock when it comes to winning the party’s endorsement.

Matthew Smith, who unsuccessfully ran for city office in the 1980s, is also on the ballot, but he is unlikely to play a factor in the endorsement process.

The party will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday at St. Luke’s Church on South Avenue in Boardman to endorse in the Youngstown mayoral race and the Struthers council-at-large race as well as vote on sweeping changes to the organization’s bylaws.

Brown’s areas of support would be in the predominately black wards — 1st, 2nd, 3rd (where he lives and served as councilman), 6th and half of the 5th. McNally’s power base would be in the predominately white wards — 4th, 7th and half of the 5th (where he lives).

There are 77 precincts in the city with three central committee vacancies — one each in the 1st, 4th and 6th — and possibly another two in the 7th.

Even counting the two in the 7th as occupied, 42 members are in mostly black precincts and 31 in primarily white precincts, which would likely give the edge to Brown.

There are also about 23 executive committee members in the city who can endorse. Brown and McNally are both members of the executive committee. The executive committee votes will likely be the deciding votes.

Admittedly, this assumes most precinct committee members will attend and most will vote along racial lines (Youngstown’s past voting results show race is a huge factor in elections). But it appears the endorsement vote of the local Democratic Party is going to be close.

Also, Chairman David Betras is proposing significant changes to the party’s bylaws. This comes after last year’s election that saw a number of Democrats support Judge Mary DeGenaro, a Republican on the 7th District Court of Appeals, over Mark Hanni, the endorsed Democratic candidate.

Betras is proposing precinct committee members, executive committee members as well as groups chartered by the party be prohibited from supporting opponents of the party-endorsed candidates. Those violating the proposal would be subject to removal from their positions. As chairman, Betras selects all members of the executive committee and can and has removed them for such action.

Also, precinct committee members who commit malfeasance, misfeasance, nonfeasance or any other feasance you can think of can also be removed from their positions.

Under another Betras proposal, if you’re a convicted felon you can’t serve as a precinct committee member.

Betras wants to change the timing of the party’s endorsements. It is now 21 days from the filing deadline. It would be 21 days after candidates are certified to the ballot. That would avoid a potential embarrassment of the party endorsing a candidate who gets disqualified.

Those getting the party’s endorsement must sign a pledge that they will endorse the party’s endorsed candidates in that election year.

Finally, Betras is asking for the party to adopt a provision allowing the withdrawal of an endorsement for due cause.

“It has to be egregious,” he said.

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