For weeks, David Betras, chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party, conducted the election contest for precinct committee seats as a “David vs. Goliath” event. After all, the Hanni name is well known in local and state Democratic politics, thanks to the late Don l. Hanni Jr., who served for many years as party chairman.
But when the votes were counted Tuesday night, it turned out that Mark Hanni, a son of the late chairman, was nothing more than a “Faux” Goliath. Not only did his slate of precinct committee candidates fail to offer a serious challenge to the Betras candidates, but Hanni himself was unable to win in his own precinct.
In Canfield Township Precinct 7, the victor was Thomas D. Orsini with 49 votes. Orsini is a Betras supporter. Hanni received 38 votes, while Alan Kretzer, who once served as party parliamentarian under Don Hanni, garnered 34 votes.
Talk about a political slingshot between the eyes.
Meanwhile, another Hanni sibling, Don L. III, was roundly defeated in his bid to wrest the Democratic Party nomination away from state Rep. Robert Hagan.
As for Betras, he won his precinct in grand style: 140 votes to 58 for Lindsay Bozanich.
Overall, the precinct committee vote count shows that Betras is well positioned to win a full term as chairman when the party reorganization meeting takes place. And that’s good news for politics in this predominantly Democratic region. In the months he has been at the helm, he has proved to be a dedicated, hardworking chairman who is determined to change the negative perceptions people around the state have about politics in the Valley.
The Hannis are a reminder of a past that is better left buried.