What will Sammarone do?

On the side

Republicans targeted: Americans for Limited Government, a conservative group that opposed the fiscal-cliff deal, sent out identical email statements to reporters who cover Republicans in the U.S. House who voted for the agreement. That includes U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, whose district includes all of Columbiana County and the southern portion of Mahoning County.

The statement reads: “Rep. Johnson’s vote is inexplicable and disappointing. Raising taxes on job creators into the teeth of this recession is a recipe for higher unemployment. This vote is sad, and may engender a primary challenge in 2014 — and Rep. Johnson will have nobody to blame but himself.”

The primary challenge claim is essentially an empty threat.

Johnson said he voted to protect middle-class families and now “the table has been cleared to tackle the out-of-control federal spending that has amassed a $16 trillion national debt head-on.”

When it comes to his next political move, Youngstown Mayor Charles Sammarone is keeping people guessing.

Sammarone is likely to make a decision next week whether to run for mayor or to seek the open city council president position in the Democratic primary or to leave politics at the end of the year.

I’m not a betting man, but I don’t think Sammarone will run for mayor. I’m even less certain about his thoughts on council president.

But until he makes a decision, Sammarone has essentially frozen the field for both positions.

To date, former Mahoning County Commission John McNally IV, who expressed serious interest in the mayoral position more than a year ago, and Matthew Smith, who unsuccessfully ran for city office about 20 years ago, are the only candidates for mayor in the May primary.

Council President Jamael Tito Brown, who announced about a month ago that he’s running for mayor, hasn’t filed nominating petitions with the Mahoning County Board of Elections. Brown plans to file the documents shortly saying he wants to make sure he’s got the proper number of valid signatures.

Sammarone stunned a number of people last month when he said he was “reconsidering” a run for mayor.

Sammarone was appointed to the post in August 2011 after Jay Williams resigned as mayor to join the President Barack Obama administration.

Sammarone has repeatedly said he was “99-percent” sure he wouldn’t seek election this year. But said last month that people have asked him to run and he is reconsidering it.

Feb. 6 is the deadline to file for the primary.

Sammarone, a long-time council president, has also mentioned he may be interested in returning to his former position.

If Sammarone runs for council president, he’s a guaranteed winner.

That’s likely why no one has filed to run for the seat. Brown is running for mayor so he’s not remaining council president.

If Sammarone opts not to seek the president’s position, expect a few council members to give serious consideration to running for the seat.

The dynamic of having Sammarone as council president with a new mayor is quite interesting.

Sammarone has largely been praised for his work as mayor and is powerful and forceful presence.

I would presume whoever is elected mayor under the scenario of Sammarone as council president would seek his advice on issues.

It would be interesting to see a potential clash if the two disagree.

Even though council president is largely a ceremonial position, Sammarone has used it in the past as a bully pulpit. As a former mayor, his presence would be even greater in the post.

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