Few primaries expected in Mahoning while several anticipated in Trumbull

Wednesday is the filing deadline for the March 17 primary, and it looks like there will only be a few — or possibly no — contested primaries for offices in Mahoning County.

It’s a different story in Trumbull County where there should be a number of primaries.

As of Thursday, no one has filed to challenge any of the incumbents — Democrats or Republicans — in Mahoning County.

That will change by the filing deadline, but don’t be surprised if there are no contested primaries in March for county positions.

Several of the incumbents have been there for a long time and few want to take on longtime incumbents like Judges R. Scott Krichbaum and Maureen A. Sweeney of common pleas court, domestic relations Judge Beth A. Smith or Clerk of Courts Anthony Vivo. They, along with a few others — probably county Sheriff Jerry Greene and Engineer Patrick T. Ginnetti — will face no opposition in not only the primary but in the general election.

Also, I don’t expect anyone to file nominating petitions by Wednesday’s deadline for probate court judge.

The incumbent judge, Robert N. Rusu, successfully ran as an independent candidate for the seat six years ago. He was appointed July 8, 2014, by then-Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, to the open seat and was elected to a full term that November.

Mahoning Republicans wanted Rusu to run as a Republican, but he has opted to seek another term as an independent. It basically means he has to get a lot more signatures on his nominating petitions and file by the March 16 independent filing deadline.

Mahoning Republicans have been struggling to find candidates to challenge incumbent Democratic officeholders and took to local talk radio to advertise for candidates. They may have found a few.

Ralph T. Meacham filed as a Republican for county auditor in the 2014 election after reading an article I wrote about the local GOP having trouble finding a challenger to incumbent Democrat Michael V. Sciortino. Meacham became the first Republican in 30 years to be elected to an executive office position in the county.

Among the possible Republicans filing Wednesday for an executive branch office in Mahoning County is Martin Desmond as prosecutor. Desmond was fired April 5, 2017, by Prosecutor Paul J. Gains, a Democrat, who cited violations of various statutes and rules of professional conduct. Desmond said he was terminated in retaliation for being a whistleblower. Three U.S. 6th District Court of Appeals judges sided with Desmond in October in an appeal of his firing, returning the case back to the State Personnel Board of Review.

Meanwhile, Mahoning Democrats have yet to file a challenger to state Rep. Don Manning, R-New Middletown, in the Ohio House’s 59th District. Manning won last year’s election by only 375 votes. Joyce Kale-Pesta, Mahoning Democratic chairwoman, recently told me the party would have a candidate — and I’d recognize the name — but other local Democratic leaders say they don’t know of anyone who’s running.

While it will be a quiet primary in Mahoning, it should be a busy one in Trumbull.

As long as all are certified to the ballot, there will be contested Democratic primaries for county engineer, coroner and for the Ohio House’s 63rd District seat while two Republicans have filed for the Ohio Senate’s 32nd District position. Also, there are a lot of candidates with petitions out for both county commissioner spots that could result in primary challenges for the two Democratic incumbents, Dan Polivka and Mauro Cantelamessa.

The Democratic primary for county engineer pits David DeChristofaro, who was forced to leave office in 2011 on criminal convictions that have since been expunged, against incumbent Randy Smith, who succeeded him.

The Democratic primary for coroner race will pit Lawrence D’Amico, deputy county coroner, against Michael Jurenovich, an orthopaedic surgeon.

Also, Werner Lange, who’s lost a number of elections over the years, filed to run for the 63rd District seat as a Democrat against state Rep. Gil Blair, D-Weathersfield, appointed in May to fill the remainder of Glenn Holmes’ unexpired term.

Two Ashtabula County Republicans will face each other in the Ohio Senate’s 32nd District primary as former 12-year Ashtabula County Auditor Sandra O’Brien and Kenneth J. Polke filed for the seat, currently held by state Sen. Sean J. O’Brien, D-Bazetta, who is seeking re-election.

The picture will come into focus Wednesday.

Skolnick covers politics for the Tribune Chronicle and The Vindicator.


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