Mahoning Democrats to endorse primary election candidates


By David Skolnick


After last year’s primary that saw every Youngs-town candidate endorsed by the Mahoning County Democratic Party lose, Chairman David Betras talked about eliminating endorsements.

Instead, the party will meet Feb. 27 at St. Luke Parish’s hall to endorse in races on the 2018 primary ballot.

“A number of incumbents, including several not running this year, wanted to keep endorsements,” Betras said. “Several incumbents said they’d fight me to have the endorsements.”

So endorsements are staying.

Last year, the party’s endorsed candidates for Youngstown mayor, council president and municipal court all lost primary elections, as did most of the party-backed candidates in Struthers. Those were the only contested primaries in 2017.

“For the most part, we get endorsements right,” Betras said. Last year was the “first time it happened that all of our endorsed candidates lost. Generally, our endorsed candidates win.”

One race for the May 8 primary attracting a lot of attention from Democratic committee members who will vote on endorsements, Betras said, is for common pleas court judge.

The Democratic primary for the seat that will be open – Lou D’Apolito can’t seek re-election because of the state’s age-limits law on judges – pits Dan Dascenzo against Anthony Donofrio.

Betras said committee members have called him saying they like both candidates, and he will recommend the party have a dual endorsement backing Dascenzo and Donofrio. The candidates support the idea, Betras said.

“A primary like that race would rip the party to shreds,” he said. “This way [party committee members] can work with whomever they like.”

The party will endorse in all contested races on the primary ballot, including governor as well as the 13th and 6th Congressional Districts, the 59th Ohio House District, the 7th District Court of Appeals and county commissioner.

All of the gubernatorial candidates will be invited to address the party to seek the endorsement, Betras said.

Betras as well as most Mahoning County elected Democrats are backing state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, D-33rd, in the gubernatorial race.

Also, the uncontested primary candidates will be endorsed by acclimation, Betras said.

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