Despite telling the Mahoning County Democratic Party central and executive committees less than two weeks ago that he was withdrawing as a candidate for a seat on the 7th District Court of Appeals, David Engler is still on the ballot.
And he doesn’t appear to be withdrawing anytime soon.
“I’m not campaigning, but I’m pausing because I’ve heard some troubling information about the judicial races,” Engler told The Vindicator on Wednesday. “I’m further exploring this troubling information about improper involvement. That’s all I can say at this time. I’ve paused my process.”
Engler, a county educational-service-center board member and former county commissioner, said he doesn’t know when he’ll make a final decision on the race, telling a reporter to call him next week. He also provided The Vindicator with an email address to receive a candidate questionnaire and asked when the newspaper’s endorsement interviews would be for the May 6 primary.
The only other Democrat in the race for that 7th District Court of Appeals seat is Youngstown Deputy Law Director Anthony Donofrio.
At the Feb. 22 county Democratic endorsement meeting, Engler said he was withdrawing from the race “to redouble my efforts into representing my clients who have faced severe loss and are looking for justice.”
Donofrio spoke at the meeting — and received the party’s endorsement — appearing to take shots at Engler during his speech. The comments didn’t sit well with Engler.
Engler failed to withdraw by Feb. 26 to have his name removed from the ballot, but a day later said he would do so shortly. Now he’s “pausing” his campaign, but not formally withdrawing as a candidate.
Engler’s comments Wednesday led county Democratic Party Chairman David Betras to say: “David Engler has problems keeping his word. He stood up in front of 400 people and said he had withdrawn. He texts me to tell me he’s withdrawing. I can’t trust anything he says, nor can the voters.”
After Engler withdrew, Donofrio said he wished him luck.
“I thought it was over,” Donofrio said. “It’s not over until it’s over, I guess. It doesn’t matter to me as I am campaigning hard for this seat. [But] I’m baffled by the whole thing.”
Columbiana County Municipal Court Judge Carol Ann Robb is the lone Republican nominee for the court of appeals seat currently held by Judge Joseph J. Vukovich, who isn’t seeking re-election.
If Engler does withdraw, Democratic primary voters in that court district’s eight counties — including Mahoning and Columbiana — will have notices posted at each polling location and sent with each absentee ballot that he’s no longer a candidate and any votes for him won’t count.