The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has been writing about the Stark County Republican Party's struggles for some time now.
It is refreshing and confirming to note that The Repository has picked up on The Report's interest in the plight of the Stark County Republican Party.
Why is The Report interested, anyway?
Because political competition in Stark County is fading fast.
Even before the advent of The Report, yours truly has written letters to the editor which were published in The Rep and made comments published on CantonRep.com which foretold the demise of the Stark County Republican Party.
The Report spoke with Republican Commissioner Jane Vignos today about The Rep article. The Report interpreted her remarks as blaming former chair Curt Braden (i.e. with reference to the failure of the party to field opponents against Democrats Rehfus, Zeigler and Ferrero). But as for the defeats in November, she said it was the Democratic tide that swept much of the nation that is to blame.
The Report tends to blame Braden for the decline of the Stark GOP. But new chair Matthews is showing by his comments to The Rep that his head may be stuck squarely in "political" sand.
Why would The Report place at some of the blame on Matthews when he really hasn't gotten up and running as chairman?
Well, for starters he is in denial of the obvious. Stark Republicans did offer some "sacrificial lambs" out of desperation to get somebody - just anybody - to fill a slot on the ballot.
Jason Wise (running against Nancy Reinbold - county clerk of courts), for one was a "sacrificial lamb." Another was Nickles (running against Campbell - county recorder). Both ran lackluster campaigns and had very little money to run on.
Secondly, a little wake-up call to Chairman Matthews. Stark County's turn to Democratic dominance may not be "cyclical" after all.
Cyclical is some sort of mantra-esque word which is nothing more than an excuse tantamount to blaming the political gods.
Next door neighbor to the north Summit County is solidly Democratic and has been for years. Could it be that Democratic dominance is drifting south as the composition of Stark's population changes? Isn't it just a bit risky to dismiss what's happening in Stark County as being "cyclical?"
A Democratic drift south will envelop Stark County if the Matthew-led Republicans replicate the Braden effort of offering no candidates or token candidates.
There are Stark County Republicans whose faces turn red (no pun intended) at the mere mention of the name Jeff Matthews in his capacity as party chairman.
Stark County Republicans should be all over Jeff Matthews as he winows through the selection process to find quality candidates to run against Kim Perez (the county auditor) and county Commissioner Todd Bosley.
For the Republicans to have any chance to win, they will have to offer high profile candidates with tons of money (more than $100,000!)
When you see names like John Hagan, Tina Hagan and Richard Regula being bandied about as future candidates under the GOP banner, one just has to yawn.
There is no way that any of these could beat Perez or Bosley as long as they do not commit a major goof between now and November 2, 2010.
Democrats do fear Trustee Anna Capaldi (Perry Township Republican) and there is some concern that Trustee James Walters (Jackson Township Republican) could be a formidable countywide candidate.
Another name which keep popping up is Alan Harold. For the sake of competition alone against Treasurer Gary Zeigler, Braden/Matthews should have intervened to keep Harold in the race.
So there you have it folks. The Stark County Republican Party IS on life support.
This is not good for Stark County.
One-party-rule constituencies (Republican or Democrat) suffer big time. The only folks in this environment who thrive are not everyday Repbublicans, Democrats and independents but rather the ward-heelers, the party executive committee types and the gagel of local party bosses.
Political group-think sets in and the community (at whatever level) is well on its way to a permanent stagnation.
The Republicans as a long time majority/super-marjority wrecked the state of Ohio. What do we have now? A economically devasted state which sees no light at the end of the tunnel in terms of recovery.
The Report can see Stark County Democratic Party Chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. licking his chops right now. This politico, who has modeled himself after the politically iron-fisted Vern Riffe (former Ohio Speaker of the House), would love operating in a "non-competitive" political environment. Well, he's right on the brink "having it his way" and we are not talking about a hamburger order.
Don't Stark County Republicans owe to their fellow Stark Countians and good government to go all out to revive the Stark County Republican Party into being a competitive party?