Two days before the Ohio Supreme Court issued its ruling that ended David Aey's bid for Mahoning County sheriff, the incumbent, Randall Wellington, made a statement about his opponent that held out the promise of a hard-hitting, bloody Democratic primary contest.
Wellington told Vindicator writers that Aey as sheriff would be no different than Phil Chance, whose tenure as sheriff ended when he was convicted of federal racketeering crimes. Chance was sentenced to 71 months in prison and began serving in January 2000. He was released in March 2005 after getting credit for good behavior.
Aey, on the other hand, was already wrapping former Major Michael Budd around Wellington's neck. The sheriff had made Budd his right-hand man, but when the major was convicted of inmate abuse in federal court, Wellington claimed not to have known anything about the crime.
It was clear from the editorial board interviews that the sheriff and his challenger were prepared to fight to death, figuratively speaking. Now, however, Wellington is unopposed for the Democratic nomination. There is no Republican candidate.
And that prompts the following question: Will an independent candidate emerge? The filing deadline is March 3.
Indeed, it would be surprising if Aey and his supporters had not had a fallback position in the event he was kicked off the ballot. Is there a candidate who will emerge as Aey's heir in the battle against Wellington?