Thursday, June 26, 2008


The editor of the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report - yours truly), wrote the headlined "letter to the editor," on February 27, 2007.

In the nearly 18 months since, matters have gotten worse for the Stark County Republican organization.

Being a "one-party-county" is not good for Stark County. Ohio being a "one-party-state" (Republican in this instance) for nearly two decades is probably a key reason why Ohio languishes in 2008.

In Stark County we have only Commissioner Jane Vignos serving in one the county wide administrative offices.

Oh yes, The Report realizes we have a number of Common Pleas judges Ted Strickland will be appointing Democrats to replace the Republicans. That's how Republicans gained the upper hand in the first hand.

How did Stark County get to where we are in terms of currently having a "non-competitive" political environment?

In the main, it is the fault of former Stark County Republican chairman Curt Braden. He wasn't able to attract substantive Republicans to run for county wide office. He did get Richard Regula (the Congressman's son) to run and win a county commissioner seat. Even with a politically powerful name of Regula, Richard was so insubstantial as a public official that he was knocked off by political neophyte Todd Bosley in November, 2006.

Braden had his first-line candidate for Canton Municipal Clerk of Courts bail out on him in November, 2007 and promising county treasurer candidate Allan Harold did not follow through on his position for the November, 2008 race.

Braden came up with no one to run against Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero and county engineer Mike Rehfus. As reported by The Report yesterday, Rick Campbell (the county recorder) has only token opposition.

The only viable county wide Republican candidates this go around are John Hagan (for a commissioner's seat), Travis Secrest (for a commissioner's seat) and sheriff candidate Larry Dorea.

Yesterday, Jennifer Brunner (Ohio secretary of state) estimated that 80% of Ohioans would vote in November. If she is correct, this is not good news for Stark County Republican candidates.

Most of the new voters will be Democrats or Democrat-leaning independents. Moreover, the city of Canton should be the stomping grounds for Democrats Ferguson, Harmon and Swanson as it will, with Obama as the Democrat presidential standard-bearer, produce huge majorities (especially among Afrian-Americans) for Democrat candidates in the fall election.

Not all the blame belongs on Braden's shoulders. The Republican statewide scandals (emanating from the power of one-party-rule), the unpopular Governor Bob Taft (19% voter approval rating) and President George Bush (high 20s/low 30s voter approval rating) have left a bad taste in voters mouths for Republican candidates in general.

One bright spot for the Republicans is the fact they hold 3 of the 5 legislative districts that include any part of Stark County. But if Schuring (state senator - 29th) loses to John Boccieri (as The Report expects) leaving him term limited in the senate with the 2010 election and Celeste DeHoff can take away the gerrymandered Republican 50th, the picture at this level will be fading.

You can bet that Columbus-Democrats (including the governor) will be going all out for DeHoff. Unless Democrats can take control of the Ohio House, Strickland will continue to have an uphill battle to "turnaround Ohio."

So new Stark County party chair Jeff Matthews has a gigantic task in front of him. Matthews styled himself as an "elections expert."

This question is: Is Jeff Matthews made of the "right stuff" to turn around GOP fortunes in Stark County? Is it in the interest of all Stark Countians, regardless of political affiliation, to have the Stark Republicans rebound?

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