Mahoning County Commissioner David Ludt has suffered a major setback in his attempt for a fourth four-year term. But it isn't all his fault. He should be more careful about the political friends — and those perceived to be friends — he keeps.
On Thursday, Ludt was trounced in his bid for the county Democratic Party's endorsement by Youngstown Councilwoman Carol Rimedio-Righetti. The 140-62 vote reflected the party faithful's disenchantment with Ludt for taking his time in getting into the race. And, the speech Rimedio-Righetti gave certainly impressed them more than what Ludt had to say.
Finally, members of the Democratic Party's central and executive committee appeared to be punishing Ludt for his close association with George Tablack, the county administrator, and for the support he supposedly is getting from the Hanni faction.
Mark Hanni, son of the late Don L. Hanni Jr., long-time party boss, has filed a slate of candidates for precinct committee, many of them challenging incumbents. That has triggered widespread anger, as evidenced by Ludt's stunning defeat.
The winner on Thursday besides Rimedio-Righetti was Chairman David Betras, who presided over a successful endorsement meeting, the first in many years. Betras took over the chairmanship last year and has breathe new life into it.
The Mahoning County Democratic Party has once again become a player statewide, with Democratic officeholders and candidates regulary visiting the predominantly Democratic Mahoning Valley.
Hanni's bid to take over the party will fail. Commissioner Ludt's inability to secure the endorsement is a preview of the party's reorganization meeting that will be held after the May primary.