Dem files to challenge Mahoning County Common Pleas Court judge in the general election

By David Skolnick


Mark A. Hanni filed as a write-in candidate in the Democratic primary to challenge Mahoning County Common Pleas Court Judge Maureen A. Sweeney, a Republican, in November.

Also, former state Rep. Craig Newbold of Columbiana will withdraw as the lone Republican candidate in the 5th Ohio House District race with Tim Ginter of Salem filing as a write-in to eventually replace him.

Monday was the deadline to file as write-in candidates for the May 6 partisan primary.

Hanni, of Canfield, originally had filed to challenge Judge Cheryl L. Waite of the 7th District Court of Appeals in the Democratic primary.

But Hanni withdrew Friday, leaving Judge Waite, of Poland, to face Maureen A. Walsh of Boardman in the Democratic primary.

Hanni then filed in the Democratic primary for the Jan. 2, 2015, term seat on the common pleas court bench.

With no other Democrat seeking that spot, Hanni has a clear path to be the party’s candidate for the seat in the general election as long as he gets at least 50 votes in the primary. Also, Hanni’s name will appear on the November general election ballot if he receives at least 50 votes.

Judge Sweeney, of Poland, is the incumbent and lone Republican who filed for the position from her political party.

Hanni said he decided it “would be beneficial to run against an incumbent Republican instead of an incumbent Democrat.”

Also, Hanni said of running in a contested primary for the 7th District seat, “I had a lot on my plate. I wouldn’t have been able to give it 100 percent.”

Hanni ran in the 2012 general election for a seat on the 7th District Court of Appeals. He lost to incumbent Judge Mary DeGenaro of Poland by 4.4 percentage points.

Meanwhile, Republican Thomas Pekarek of Cleveland filed in the heavily Democratic 13th Congressional District race.

Pekarek ran in the 2010 election for the 11th Congressional District receiving only 18 percent of the vote against Democrat Marcia Fudge of Cleveland. He received 15 percent of the vote in 2008, losing to Fudge in the 11th District.

Pekarek has lost other races including state Senate twice, Cuyahoga County commissioner and a congressional race in 1982.

Pekarek would need at least 50 votes to move to the general election as the Republican nominee.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, is being challenged in the Democratic primary by John Stephen Luchansky of Boardman.

The race for the 5th Ohio House District — which represents all of Columbiana County — was supposed to be a rematch between state Rep. Nick Barborak, a Democrat from Lisbon, and Newbold.

In 2012, Barborak beat Newbold, who was a first-term incumbent, by 1.14 percentage points.

Though Newbold hasn’t withdrawn yet, he will shortly, said Dave Johnson, Columbiana County Republican Party chairman.

“He sent me an email that he wasn’t going to run for personal reasons,” Johnson said of Newbold.

Ginter had expressed interest in the seat, but wasn’t going to challenge Newbold, Johnson said.

Once Newbold officially gets out of the race, Ginter will be the Republican nominee and will face Barborak in the general election if he gets at least 50 votes in the primary.

Ginter finished third out of a four-man Republican primary in 2006 for the 6th Congressional District seat.

Two years later, he unsuccessfully ran for the 30th Ohio Senate District seat in the general election, losing by 26.7 percentage points to Democrat Jason Wilson.

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