Judge R. Scott Krichbaum has been a Republican in party label only. The fact that Krichbaum has been in office for so long in the predominantly Democratic Mahoning County is evidence of the strong financial backing he receives from Democrats during elections, and the depth of his Democrartic support at the polls.
Thus the question: How big a leap would it be for Krichbaum to switch political parties? Answer: Not big at all. Republicans certainly wouldn't be surprised, and Democrats have long taken it for granted that the reason he has remained with the GOP is habit, rather than necessity.
Why ask the question now? Because the judge of the Mahoning County Common Pleas Court wants to fill the vacancy that will be created with the departure of U.S. District Court Judge Peter C. Economus, and to do so he needs to be nominated for Senate confirmation by Democratic President Barack Obama.
Indeed, Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio will make the recommendation to the White House. A screening committee appointed by Brown and U.S. Sen. George Voinovich, a Republican, will be announced shortly. The committee will then accept applications.
Several Mahoning Valley residents have made known their intentions to apply: Judge Gene Donofrio of the 7th District Court of Appeals; Atty. Robert Shaker of Warren; and Atty. David Detec of Youngstown. There undoubtedly will be others.
Although Juge Krichbaum has been contemplating a party switch for some time, this week's decision by U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania to abandon the GOP and join forces with the Democrats on Capitol Hill has given him fresh impetus.
Don't be surprised if Krichbaum announces next week that he will be joining the Democratic Party. But it's anybody's guess whether this move will earn him points in the White House and the U.S. Senate.