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« Stirfry

How will Dem chairman top Chamber chief?

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)


Published April 22, 2012

Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras has been trying to persuade the Obama re-election campaign to bring the president, vice president or some other top national Democrat to the Mahoning Valley to get the party faithful excited about the November general election.

But Betras has not had much luck. So, you can imagine his embarrassment when one of the top officials of the U.S. Department of Transportation came to Youngstown for a White House-sponsored roundtable discussion at the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber. Yes, the same chamber led by Tom Humphries, who has had a very public war of words with the Democratic Party chairman.

Humphries’ support of Republican John Kasich during the 2010 gubernatorial election in which Democrat Ted Strickland was seeking a second four-year term, and his endorsement of the collective bargaining reform law pushed through by Gov. Kasich and the Republican controlled General Assembly has made him Enemy No. 1 in Betras’ book. That’s why the chairman goes ballistic every time he thinks about Deputy Secretary of Transportation John D. Porcari being sent by the Obama administration to the regional chamber. So long as Humphries is the chief executive officer of the chamber, the business organization will be pro-Republican, Betras contends.

He wants the Obama re-election campaign to understand that this predominantly Democratic region needs a headliner to get its political juices flowing. There are a lot of white, blue-collar workers who either stayed home in 2010 or voted for Kasich and the statewide Republican ticket. Strickland and the Democrats needed those voters in large enough numbers to secure victory. It didn’t happen, and now the Republicans control every statewide office and the Legislature.

The Mahoning County Democratic Party chairman simply wants the president’s re-election campaign to understand what’s at stake.


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