Friday, June 13, 2008


Ohio Representative John Hagan should be the odds on favorite to win this race.

He has represented the 50th House District (Lawrence, Tuscarawas, parts of Perry, Sugarcreek, Sandy, Osnaburg, Nimishillen, Marlboro and Lake Townships) in the Ohio General Assembly for eight years.

For a number of reasons the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) believes this race is neck-and-neck with the edge to Peter Ferguson who likes to trade on the fact that he is a well known Stark County based chiropractor.

First, Ferguson is a longtime friend Tom Harmon (a sitting Stark County commissioner) who is, perhaps, Stark County's most powerful politician.

Harmon is usually reserved about who he supports for public office. This will not be the case with Ferguson.

Second, Hagan has distinguished himself in the Legislature by being the manservant of Ohio Speaker of House Jon Husted. While Husted did reward Hagan for his devoted loyalty with a leadership position (chair - public utilities), he kept Hagan on a short leash and therefore Hagan has never been anything but a conduit for Husted's policies and positions.

So what should be a strong advantage for Hagan is no advantage at all. Ferguson has no government leadership experience. Who would be better for Stark County. It is a flip of the coin.

Third, to indeed have an edge in this very close race, Ferguson will need get the other sitting Stark County commissioner (Todd Bosley) to a neutral position. Bosley has said that he is okay with Hagan. The Report interprets this as a Bosley perceived opportunity to seize control of the Stark County Board of Commissioners.

Current commissioner Jane Vignos is generally allied with Tom Harmon. Bosley, who privately has never been complimentary of John Hagan, likely sees Hagan as a potential ally on issues that he disagrees with Harmon on.

Fourth, favoring Ferguson, is the political reality that Stark County is trending Democratic of late. Just look at who controls most Stark County offices these days. Moreover, Canton (which Hagan has never run in - he has been ensconced in the gerrymandered Republican 50th District), will produce a heavy Democratic majority this year.

This is is a strong plus for Ferguson.

There you have it Stark Countians. As of mid-June, The Report gives a slight edge for Ferguson. This could be the tightest race in Stark County: mirroring the Stevens/Vignos race of four years ago.

Agree or disagree? Who do you think will win and what are your reasons for saying so?

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