For Stark County only, the Stark County Political Report believes that the four listed in the graphic above will prove to be the most interesting and, perhaps, the most significant.
This blog is a revision of one published on February 18th. Why a revision? For a couple of reasons.
First, Richard Reinbold has made himself uncompetitve in the 29th Ohio Senate race by eschewing PAC money. The saying is that "money is the mother's milk of politics." Reinbold's action is admirable, but going up against the well-established Scott Oelslager is not a race one takes on without mucho, mucho campaign funds.
The SCPR is told that the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus has no money to put into the Reinbold effort. And, The Report has learned, Reinbold was not the first choice anyway. Both county Auditor Kim Perez and Plain Township Trustee Louis Giavasis were preferred over Reinbold to make the run at Oelslager.
As if the Senate Democrats are in a position to prefer anyone. The Caucus is a pathetic excuse for an organized political entity. Senate minority leader Capri Cafaro has proved to be an ineffective leader.
Apparently, Reinbold is looking to surprise us all and defeat Oelslager by being the unconventional candidate and thereby appeal to an electorate that seems to be tiring of "politics as usual."
The SCPR wishes him well, but The Report does not think this gambit will work to generate interest among Stark County voters. Moreover, Reinbold by force of his personality does not generate excitement. Couple having no money with a dull personality and you have a contest that loses its place in the SCPR top four Stark County races for 2010.
Second, The Report's listing of the Meeks/Creighton face-off as the number one attention getter in Stark County politics this year needs a little more explanation.
While the SCPR believes the Snitchler/Bosley match up will be the closest race this fall (likely to remain too close for the SCPR to call right up to election day), its intensity of interest will be for folks like yours truly, the pols in Columbus and, of course, the voters of the 50th Ohio House district. Not as much in other parts of Stark County which also has the 51st district (Haines [Democrat] v. Schuring [Republican]) and the 52nd (Slesnick [Democrat] v. Secrest [Republican]).
For the foregoing reasons, the SCPR thinks Meeks/Creighton is the top race.
Former Canton mayor Janet Creighton entering this field for the full-term commissioner seat being vacated by Commissioner Todd Bosley made this contest #1 on the SCPR's list. Another factor in bringing this contest to the #1 ranking is that all of Stark County will be voting whereas on the Snitchler/Bosley match-up; only about 1/3rd of Stark County will be voting.
Steve Meeks was appointed by the Stark County Democratic Central Committee to the seat formerly held by Tom Harmon. But Meeks wants no part of coming up for re-election in two years. The next two years may be the most difficult that Stark County (in the government sense) has ever faced.
Because there is no money and there is not going to be any new money for the foreseeable future. Maybe, and only maybe, there might be a renewal of the existing sales tax.
How will this impact running for commissioner in 2012 for an incumbent?
The commissioners will have to make draconian cuts in county services to Stark Countians. And the cuts are not going to set well. The public really does expect the commissioners to take care of the entire county with a few fishes and loaves. When the manna from Heaven stops raining, then the grumbling will start and in the end sitting commissioners will be the butt of citizen anger.
So 2012 is not a time to be running for re-election. That's why Meeks ducked out of the two years left on his term for the four years that Commissioner Bosley would have stood for if he had not decided to run for state representative (the 50th).
Meeks might have made an unwise choice. Had he stayed in the two-year term race, he would have won hands down as former Canton law director, city councilman, chief of staff and service director (Healy administration) will. However, Bernabei likely just plans to be a commissioner for two years to do what he can to help straighten Stark County finances out and then move on with his life.
Another thing that Meeks had planned on was who his opponent would be on the full term.
Undoubtedly, his jaw dropped when he saw that former Canton mayor and countywide officeholder Janet Creighton had taken out a petition.
And so it should.
It is pretty clear to the SCPR that Meeks cannot defeat Creighton and that he will be giving up his commissioner's seat come December 31, 2010.
A Creighton victory will be good for Stark County. Democrats have had a stranglehold over countywide offices for a number of years now. Such has turned out to be a bad trip for the county.
Number 2 on the SCPR list.
Because this seat is a Republican gerrymandered one designed to keep a "safe district" Republican in the Ohio House. The gerrymandering sheltered the lazy, politically inept John Hagan for a full 8 years in the House. Hagan proved his political ineptness when - notwithstanding his long run as a Stark County politician - he lost to political novice Pete Ferguson over a 2008 commissioners position in a politically competitive environment.
However, with the entry of Todd Bosley into the 50th Ohio House district seat, there is a chance that the Republican "fix" will become unfixed.
Had he not been the leading architect for the imposing of a 0.50 of a percent countywide sales/use tax increase in December, 2008, Bosley likely would be a shoe-in to win the 50th.
Because he did the "politically" wrong thing to do, he is reduced in the SCPR's opinion to having a chance to win the 50th.
Bosley will be hammering away at Snitchler as being a "do-nothing," "right-wing ideologue" state representative. Moreover, Snitchler's political romance with the right wing of Stark County Republicans (the teabaggers) could end up costing him the election. He spoke at the original teabagger event on April 15, 2009 and is scheduled to speak once again at a teabagger event in Navarre on June 27th.
Snitchler, on the other hand, will - one way or another - play to the imposed tax as indicating that Bosley will be a "tax and spend" Democrat if he were to be sent to Columbus. The Report has been told that "Vote No Increased Taxes" member Tom Marcelli (Bethlehem Township - the home of Navarre) will be working on the Snitchler campaign.
This could be a good development for Snitchler. He could appear to be taking the "above it all" road while letting the likes of Marcelli and his "Vote No" friends hammer Bosley on the imposed tax. If the Vote Nos can turn a substantial portion of the 60 plus percent of "no" voting Stark Countians on the retention of the tax into Snitchler voters, such could be a difference-maker positive for Snitchler.
One other important note about the outcome of Bosley/Snitchler.
Could a loss by either be the end of a a Stark County political career?
This race will be won or lost in Stark County, Although the 16th congressional district includes Wayne County and parts of Medina and Ashland, Stark will dominate.
Jim Renacci has made a huge blunder in his campaign. He has drifted to the right of the Republican Party. In order to win in the 16th, one needs to be at least "right, center."
The reason that three (Stark, Medina and Wayne) of the four county Republican chairmen endorsed Renacci in the Republican primary was that he was perceived to be the most moderate and therefore the most capable of winning in November. Otherwise, the person to get behind would have been Matt Miller of Ashland County who gave Ralph Regula and Kirk Schuring (2008) all they wanted in terms of competition for the Republican nomination.
The SCPR expected Renacci to be way more moderate in his views than Miller, Smith and Schiffer. But he wasn't. Everything that The Report saw coming out of the Renacci camp was: "How can I appeal to the Miller and Schiffer" crowd.
Jim Rennaci should be going nowhere near the Navarre teabagger event scheduled for June 27th. But he is. And his doing so will help solidify in the mind of Stark Countians that Renacci is a Republican right type candidate.
Very few, if any, right wing voters are going to vote for incumbent Congressman John Boccieri (Democrat - Alliance). However, Boccieri is a conservative Democrat who will play well in the district. Especially well in the Stark County part of the district.
So for Reanacci to court the teabaggers is like preaching to the choir. And the choir will vote for him. There are just not enough of them in the 16th to elect him.
There is plenty for Renacci to go after Boccieri on: Flip-flopping just to name one (cap and trade as well as healthcare). However, he will be so hung up on the right wing lunacy that he, in critiquing Boccieri, will sound likes Michele Bachman of Minnesota. The right wing message will not play in most of Stark County.
Also, in this election for Stark Countians, Renacci is the outsider. Boccieri is a Stark Countian for two years now. Rennacci is not even a native Ohioan. Rather a Pennsylvainian. So he will not be able to whip up the winds of discontent on Boccieri being a capetbagger. No much of a loss for Renacci, as we all saw how much of a non-issue that was with voters for Schuring in 2008.
By the way, if Kirk Schuring were running this time around, he would do much better in Stark County and, perhaps, be able to eke out a narrow victory.
Even so (Renacci drifting to the political right), Boccieri/Renacci will be a competitive race. Boccieri will not win by the roughly 10% (as predicted early on by the SCPR) he won by against Stark Countian Kirk Schuring. More like about three or four percentage points this time around.
This is not a Democratic year for congressional races. That Boccieri wins in an off year for Democrats means that he could be on his way to being a long-term congressman from Ohio's 16th congressional district.
The main question here is: Will Alan Harold stay in this race?
Two years ago he was slated to run against the now-beleaguered Gary Zeigler (Stark County treasurer). But he didn't. The "story on the street" is that Harold's employer asked him to step aside after high-level state Democrats complained about Harold's candidacy to Huntington.
The SCPR asked Harold about this story. His response: "No comment."
Harold's whole handing of the Zeigler thing leads The Report to believe that Harold has no stomach for "down and dirty" politics.
And if he gets queasy about roughhouse politics, taking on Stark County auditor Kim Perez is not the place to be in a run for political office.
Although somewhat of a maverick in Stark County Democratic politics with his own political base (much like Commissioner Todd Bosley), he is a political power broker and likely will teach Harold a political lesson that Harold will not forget for years.
Harold will learn that taking on Perez is not like showing up at a Congressman John Boccieri campaign event (at the Sunoco station on Tuscarawas) with a sign in hand and yelling at the top of one's lungs.
Perhaps, in the light of the BP Gulf of Mexico massive oil leak, Harold would like to do an encore performance of his "drill, baby, drill" chant at the Sunoco station?
And it is not like running for a place on the Stark County Educational Service Center (formerly known as the Stark County Board of Education).
Apparently, the board candidacy was a "dry run" for taking on Perez. Well, if Harold duplicates that effort in his vying with Perez, he will be looking wistfully at his numbers achieved in the board race (he narrowly lost).
Another campaign like that one will leave him a distant, distant second in a two-man race!