The two Democrats running for Mahoning County Probate Court judge have raised nearly $140K combined

By David Skolnick


The Democratic primary for Mahoning County Probate Court judge is an expensive race.

Christopher Sammarone of Canfield received $60,425 in contributions between Jan. 1 and April 16, and lent $10,000 of his own money to the campaign.

Susan Maruca of Poland, the county Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate, raised $43,327 from donors during the same time frame and lent $18,650 to her campaign.

Thursday was the deadline to file pre-primary reports for financial activity between Jan. 1 and April 16 for those running in the May 6 primary.

In late 2013, Maruca lent $5,844 to her campaign.

Between contributions and loans, Sammarone raised $70,425 to $67,821 for Maruca.

The two Democrats running in the open probate-court race are spending money almost as fast as they’re collecting it.

Sammarone spent $56,778 to $44,987 for Maruca during the pre-primary time. Most of the money for both went for television and radio advertisements, billboards and mailers.

As of April 16, Maruca had $18,050 — she would have a deficit without the money she lent the campaign — compared with $13,647 for Sammarone.

At least two candidates plan to run for the probate court seat as independents. May 5 is the deadline to file as an independent.

Democrat Mark Belinky of Boardman, under criminal investigation by the state, resigned as probate court judge March 14, and officially withdrew from the primary April 8.

In the four-person Democratic primary for the 58th Ohio House District, Michele Lepore-Hagan — wife of state Rep. Robert F. Hagan, who cannot run for the job this year because of the term-limits law — raised $47,125 from contributors between Jan. 1 and April 16. She raised $22,428 last year.

The $69,553 Lepore-Hagan has raised from contributors dwarfs the $14,705 Janet Tarpley received from donors. Michael E. O’Hara reported receiving no money from donors, while Cynthia McWilson didn’t file a campaign-finance report by Thursday’s deadline.

All four candidates are from Youngstown.

O’Hara lent $1,100 to his campaign.

Tarpley lent $60,772 to her campaign between Feb. 6 and April 16, according to her report filed Thursday with the Ohio secretary of state’s office.

Another Ohio House candidate, Democrat Ken MacPherson of Warren in the 64th District, lent $30,500 to his campaign and accepted a $4,900 loan from Bruce MacPherson of Warren.

Incumbent Tom Letson, a Democrat from Warren who’s finishing his eighth year representing the district, cannot seek re-election because of term limits.

MacPherson raised only $670 from donors between Jan. 1 and April 16 for the Democratic primary compared with $2,287 for Eugene Mach II of Warren, and $20,700 for Michael J. O’Brien of Warren, the endorsed Trumbull County Democratic Party candidate.

Some candidates facing no primary or general election opponents are among those in the May 6 primary raising the most money.

Ohio Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni, a Democrat, received $62,765 in contributions between Jan. 1 and April 16.

Mahoning County Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti of Youngstown, a Democrat, received $40,215 in contributions during the same time period.

Among her expenditures was $5,577 to the Columbus law firm of McTigue and McGinnis for legal fees to successfully protest the candidacy of Pete Ceci of Boardman, who was disqualified last month by the county board of elections for insufficient signatures on his nominating petitions.

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