Friday, May 7, 2010


UPDATE:  05/07/2010 AT 09:00 AM


First. it was the fight of his political life to remain as one of two Stark GOP appointees to the Stark County Board of Elections (BOE).  That was in January, 2010.

Second, this past Tuesday he was in another fight of his political life to remain as a member of the Republican State Central Committee - 29th District.  The 29th is all of Stark County minus Washington, Lexington and Paris Township as well as the City of Alliance.


Curt Braden, former chairman of the Stark County Republican Party is the his/he!

In fact, he was a candidate to be chairman of the Ohio Republican Party in 2008.

He lost that race to Kevin DeWine in April, 2007  and ever since he has been running scared in Stark.

Former Stark County commissioner Jane Vignos nearly defeated Braden for the Board of Elections seat and in the view of the SCPR that would have been a good thing.  A Braden defeat would have signaled to him that it is time for him to move on.  The SCPR has maintained that Braden and current Stark GOP chair Jeff Matthews have presided over the dimunition of the local Republican competitiveness countywide in non-judicial elections. 

Another positive out of a Braden defeat would have been getting a woman on the Stark BOE How many years, if ever, has it been since a woman has had a BOE seat?  Both the Republican and Democratic organizations have seemingly maintained the Stark BOE four top spots as a “only white males need apply” domain.

Earlier this year, the SCPR sat down with Greg Butler at his business Alpha-Omega Assembly & Packaging, Inc.  after he had filed his petition to run against Braden for the Republican 29th District state committeeman seat. 

The Report’s take out of the interview was that Butler was not a threat to Braden.  Butler articulated no anti-Braden agenda.  His only articulated mission was to get involved in Stark Republican politics to make a difference.  In fact, he related to The Report how he had sat down and talked with Chairman Matthews about various avenues he might pursue in becoming an activated Republican.

It did not dawn on yours truly that Butler might possibly be a serious challenge to Braden until the eve of Tuesday’s election.  An top area Republican made a telephone call to The Report and in the conversation that ensued strongly suggested that Braden was in trouble and he knew it.

What was the tip off to the “top area Republican” that Braden was in a political panic mode? 

According to this source, Braden was working at fever pitch as we spoke marshaling Stark County Republican Party resources to stave off a defeat at the hand of Butler.   The source described that Braden was using Party e-mail lists to generate a last minute plea for 29th District Republicans to keep him as state committeeman.

So it was not so much that Butler was a political heavy weight and Braden should have known that his state political position was in jeopardy.  No, it was quite reasonable for Braden to conclude that Butler was to be taken lightly.

The real moral of the story for Committeeman Braden is the degree of dissatisfaction within the Stark County Republican Party with his leadership or to put it better his ineffective leadership.  Apparently, anyone who challenges Braden these days has a chance.

Again, the SCPR takes the position that a Braden defeat would have been a healthy development for the future of the Stark GOP.

Stark’s organized Democrats should be highly pleased that Braden is staying on.  For he in combination with his political twin Jeff Matthews will give Democrats their best chance at weathering the gathering political storm on countywide office holding Democrats and maintaining dominance in holding a majority of non-judicial countywide offices.

Unfortunately for dissident Republicans to the Matthews/Braden-tandem leadership team, “moral victories” like Butler's are just that.  Real political power stays with Braden and Matthews and the SCPR believes that  they maintain themselves at the expense of a possible resurgence of the Stark County Republican Party countywide beginning in 2012.

The SCPR expected Creighton victory in the four year term commissioner race this coming November will be a “personal” Creighton win; not a win generated by the Braden/Matthews Fulton Avenue operations.

The Report thinks that a reason that Creighton got into the race was her desire to lead a reversal of Republican Party countywide fortunes.  But she will have her hands full as commissioner and will need strong leadership at GOP headquarters if her victory is not be an isolated occurrence.

Notwithstanding obvious Stark Democratic Party problems in holding on through the current political storm (i.e. the imposed sales/use tax, the treasury troubles and now, a bungled commissioner hiring process), it is a huge question as to whether or not Stark Republicans can take advantage of the Democratic hunkering down.

The Report believes that realistic Republican 2012 targets include:
  • the treasurer’s office (either  incumbent Gary  Zeigler, if he runs again, or Commissioner Steven Meeks, who The Report believes Democrats are ;positioning to challenge/replace Zeigler should Meeks fall, as predicted by the SCPR to Creighton this November), 
  • the sheriff’s office (incumbent Tim Swanson or his chief deputy Rick Perez - The Report is hearing that Swanson may step down in September), and perhaps
  • the prosecutor’s office (incumbent John Ferrero - this may be wishful thinking on the SCPR's part).
However, none of these offices will fall into Republican hands like over ripe fruits.

Inept Republican leadership could leave the Republicans with only Janet Creighton (class of 2010) as the lone countywide GOP officeholder the day after the election in November, 2012.

If Republicans really want to win in 2012, they should be working beginning now to get Braden and Matthews out of the Stark Republican leadership circle.  Apparently, all that is left after the Braden narrow escapes is “for the good of the Party” arguments. 

For if they don’t, the SCPR thinks that the vulnerable countywide office holding  Democrats could do a Harry Houdini-esque act and pull off some political magic.

If this happens, only Braden and Matthews will be wowed by the magic.

Stark Republicans will be focusing how Braden and Matthews were able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory!!!

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