Judge Mary DeGenaro of Poland expected to be GOP nominee for high court


By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Seventh District Court of Appeals Judge Mary DeGenaro of Poland is expected Friday to get the Ohio Republican Party state central committee’s endorsement for a seat on the state Supreme Court in the 2018 election.

A party screening committee, chaired by Columbiana County Republican Party Chairman Dave Johnson, recently recommended Judge DeGenaro and Fifth District Court of Appeals Judge Craig Baldwin of Licking County to be the party’s nominees for the two open positions on the state’s highest court. Justices Terrence O’Donnell, a Republican, and Democrat William M. O’Neill cannot run next year for re-election because of the state’s age-limit law on judges.

“I am excited to be chosen by the screening committee,” Judge DeGenaro said. “I look forward to running statewide. I’ve been to over half of the state’s counties so far. I feel I’m at the point in my career that my judicial philosophy and judicial writings have matured to where I’m ready to run for the highest court in the state.”

The state central committee traditionally approves the recommendation of the judicial screening committee when it comes to endorsing Supreme Court candidates. Until last year, no Republican had challenged the candidates chosen by the state central committee in a party primary since 1992. Judge DeGenaro is not expected to face a primary challenge.

“The [screening] committee was so impressed with how well [Judge DeGenaro] presented herself and how well she’s done in Northeast Ohio and how she’s been able to run and win in a Democratic region with a number of labor endorsements,” said Mahoning County Republican Party Chairman Mark Munroe, who was among the 23 people on the screening committee making the recommendation.

The party’s 66-member state central committee is meeting Friday in Lewis Center in Delaware County to vote.

Judge DeGenaro, a Cuyahoga County native, has spent her entire legal career in Mahoning County. If elected, she would be the first sitting judge from Mahoning County on the state’s highest court since Paul W. Brown, who also served on the Youngstown-based 7th District Court of Appeals. Brown was on the Supreme Court from 1964 to 1968, resigning to become state attorney general.

While Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judith French is a Sebring native, she spent her legal career in Franklin County.

Judge DeGenaro was first elected to the 7th District seat in 2000, and was re-elected in 2006 and 2012. With the judge running for the Supreme Court next year, her seat on the court of appeals will be open.

The 7th District includes Mahoning, Columbiana, Belmont, Carroll, Harrison, Jefferson, Monroe and Noble counties. Three of the four judges are from Mahoning County with the other – Judge Carol Ann Robb – from Columbiana County.

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