Assistant prosecutor eyes judge’s seat
Logan’s soon-to-be empty Trumbull County bench draws competition
WARREN — With Judge Andrew D. Logan’s seat on the Trumbull County Common Pleas Court bench open next year, the county’s first assistant prosecuting attorney and a former 12-year court of appeals judge are seeking the Democratic nomination to succeed him.
Christopher D. Becker of Champion, who has worked at the prosecutor’s office since December 2000 and has served as first assistant since 2010, filed his nominating petitions for the judicial seat.
Thomas R. Wright of Howland, who spent 12 years as a member of the 11th District Court of Appeals before losing reelection last year, said he plans to run in the March 2024 Democratic primary for Logan’s spot.
Meanwhile, Republican Sarah Thomas Kovoor of Howland has said she plans to run for Logan’s open seat next year as well.
Logan cannot run for
reelection in 2024 because of the state’s age-limit law for judges.
Becker said he seriously thought about running last year for the judicial seat held by W. Wyatt McKay, who also couldn’t seek reelection because of the age-limit law, but ultimately decided to wait.
“There have been so many great judges that have come out of (the prosecutor’s) office that it’s a natural fit,” Becker said. “We’re so familiar with the courts. You don’t want to leave a job you love, but you don’t want to miss an opportunity.”
Becker said during his nearly 23 years in the prosecutor’s office, he has tried more cases in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court than any other attorney, making him the “most qualified candidate” for the job. He also has handled most of the county’s serious homicides during his time in the prosecutor’s office.
Wright said he plans to file his nominating petitions, which will setup a contested Democratic primary with Becker.
“I served for 12 years as an appeals judge and I enjoyed it very much and now want to serve on the trial court bench,” Wright said. “I want to use my knowledge over the last 30 years in a new position.”
Wright, who is general legal counsel to two local companies, first was elected to the 11th District Court of Appeals in 2010 and was reelected in 2016.
He lost by 17% in 2022 to Republican Eugene A. Lucci, including losing Trumbull, his home county, by 5.6%.
The jurisdiction of the court of appeals includes Trumbull, Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Portage counties.
Last year was the first time appeals court judges ran in the general election with party affiliation under a law approved by the Republican-controlled state Legislature.
“That is why I lost,” Wright said. “I won two times on my merits. Politics has no business in judicial races.”
Dec. 20 is the filing deadline for the March 19, 2024, primary.
Kovoor hasn’t pulled nominating petitions for the seat, according to the Trumbull County Board of Elections. She said that she was going to run for the judicial position in July.
Kovoor lost the May 2022 Republican primary for a seat on the 11th District Court of Appeals to incumbent John Eklund by 9.2%.
She was the Trumbull County Republican Party’s choice to run for a county common pleas court judicial position left vacant by the retirement of Peter J. Kontos of Warren. Kovoor wasn’t permitted to run for Kontos’ former seat under the state’s “sore loser” statute.
The Ohio Supreme Court rejected her appeal of a decision by Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a fellow Republican, who sided with the two Democrats on the county board of elections in determining Kovoor wasn’t eligible under the law. The law bars the loser of a primary election from being a candidate for the following general election except for boards of education, the governing board of an educational service center and township trustee.
A federal judge in June dismissed Kovoor’s lawsuit seeking to overturn the state statute.
Kovoor lost by 2% to Democrat Cynthia Westcott Rice in a 2020 race for a seat on the 11th District Court of Appeals and by 1% in 2018 for a county domestic / juvenile division judicial position to Democrat Samuel F. Bluedorn.