Published August 11, 2006
While former President Bill Clinton's visit to the Mahoning Valley on behalf of area Congressman Ted Strickland, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, is bound to create a stir among Democrats and the press, Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams' endorsement of Strickland will have greater significance.
Yes, area Democrats are buzzing about Williams' expected public support of the party's standardbearer in the November general election. The reason for the excitement? The freshman mayor, who became Youngstown's first black chief executive by running as an independent against veteran Democratic politico Robert F. Hagan and a Republican nominee, refused to jump on Strickland's bandwagon when other mayors and elected officials around the state were doing so.
Indeed, this writer questioned Williams' strategy in a recent column and was taken to task by the mayor's defenders.
But given the significance of his mayoral victory and the fact that the Republican nominee for governor, Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, is black, Williams' endorsement will be a major story.
Sept. 1 is when Clinton is scheduled to attend a fund-raiser for Strickland. And that's the date the Democrats are planning a rally in downtown Youngstown at which Williams is supposed to endorse the frontrunner in all the major polls.