The Stark County Republican Party is on life support these days. And this is not good for Stark County. With Republicans not holding any non-judicial offices countywide, Stark County is in the brink of being a politically non-competitive county and perhaps a mirror of Canton city government which is totally controlled by Democrats. At least in the countywide sense.
The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has been probing some leading Stark County Republicans for answers on what is being done to rectify this political imbalance in Stark.
For the most part, there have not been any promising answers. In fact, one disturbing observation from a key Stark County Republican offers the possibility that Democrat Stark commissioner Todd Bosley will not face any meaningful opposition in 2010, unless the sales/use tax repeal effort gets up a head of steam and wins thereby signaling that the prime mover of the imposition of the tax (Commissioner Bosley) is vulnerable.
In other words, the Stark GOP is so down and out these days that it would take the equivalent of "a sign from Heaven" for the local Republicans to make a serious attempt to defeat Bosley.
Readers of The Report understand that yours truly thinks very well of Bosley. Nevertheless, no public official should ever skate into office with out a serious test.
Notwithstanding the bleak news about Stark Republicans, the SCPR did hear a glimmer of hope about activities and Stark Republican headquarters.
The Report hears from a source that Jason Wise has been an increasing presence at party headquarters. This could be good news for Stark Republicans, but more importantly Stark Countians who want to see the Stark Republican Party to once again be competitive. Political competition and the fear of being voted out of office, is the most effective way to avoid the abuses of "one-party-rule."
One-party-rule is not good for Stark County as it was not when Republicans controlled all statewide offices, the Legislature and the governorship.
Why might Wise be good news?
Here is a summary of why The Report thinks he might lead the way:
Wise ran against Democrat Nancy Reinbold for Stark clerk of courts in 2008. The result wasn't pretty. Wise took offense with The Report because his candidacy was described as being a "sacrificial lamb" candidacy. Nevertheless The Report thinks it was courageous for Wise to take her on - and - in a sort of way; the Democratic machine that now runs Stark County.
Reinbold had virtually been handed the county clerkship by self-appointed Democratic kingmaker Phil Giavasis (now Canton Muny Court clerk of courts - so he can earn more money and beef up his retirement). Giavasis took personal umbrage when Lawrence Township Michael Stevens met with him to express an interest running for the county clerk position. As an interesting aside, Nancy Reinbold hired Phil's brother Louis (Plain Township trustee) into the clerk of courts office not too long ago.
No doubt the now former Stark Common Pleas judge and husband of Nancy Reinbold placed a major role in getting his Nancy into the clerks office in the first place. For the most part, these jobs are not open to the public, but are set aside for party leaders for their relatives, friends or friends of their political insider friends. From there it would just be a matter of time until she had the top job.
The Report has roundly criticized former Stark Republican Party chair Curt Braden and his political twin Jeff Matthews (deputy director of the Stark County Board of Elections) for allow the Stark County Political Party to waste away to nothing.
The question now becomes with the information that Jason Wise is more and more of a factor as Stark County Republican headquarters is this: Can Wise spearhead a resurgence of Stark Republicans?
Why would The Report hold out hope that Wise has anything special about him that would make him more effective that the Braden/Matthew regime?
The answer: It may be in his genes.
He is the grandson of Carl F. Wise who ran as a "reform" Republican in November, 1951. He served from 1952 to 1958 and did what he promised. He hired a "no non-sense police chief" and together they cleaned Canton up.
So the question becomes:
Can he be to the Stark County Republican Party what his grandfather was to Canton in the 1950s? Will he turn things around?
Time will tell.
And the test will come next year on the county commissioner and county auditor races (Perez).
If it is left of to Matthews, Bosley and Perez will likely have only token opposition.
Could it be that Jason Wise with his heritage of having "fire in the belly," bring renewed energy and vibrancy to the Stark Republicans?
All Stark Countians should be hoping for this possibility.
Otherwise, Stark will sink deeper and deeper into the mire of political intrigue and abuse of power that one-party-rule brings.