Tuesday, August 2, 2011


In terms of personage, there could not be a greater contrast between Republican Lee Brunckhart and Democrat Kathy Catazaro Perry as they gear up to run against one another for mayor of Massillon.

He lives in a working class neighborhood, she lives in one of Massillon's posh communities.

He is a union member bus driver for the Stark Area Transit Authority (SARTA); she is a nurse/entrepreneur married to a doctor.

Based on lifestyle and background one would expect Lee Brunckhart to be a Democrat whereas one would expect his opponent in the upcoming November mayoralty election to be a Republican.

But the opposite is the actuality.

She's the Democrat; he's the Republican.

The contrasts do not end with neighborhood associations, vocations and political affiliations.

It appears to the SCPR that their campaign styles will be dramatically different, too.

Brunckhart tells The Report that now that he has beaten his Republican opponent (Andrew Oser of a well known Massillon entrepreneurial - real estate - family), the Stark County Republican Party is taking him seriously.

Initially, he was told by Stark GOP Executive Director Travis Secrest "anyone can run" and - by the way - you will need to raise $60,000 to be competitive.

Undoubtedly, Secrest was discounting Brunckhart ("anyone can run") and in his innermost thoughts must have been saying to himself:  "Huh, Brunckhart - a bus driver and hence an atypical Republican? beating Oser a real estate executive - a typical Republican, no way!"


How did he do it!!

As is impressive as Brunckhart's win over Oser was, he will have to ratchet up his "common man" campaign to beat political blueblood Kathy Catazaro-Perry this fall.

Brunckhart is getting moral support from the Stark GOP, but little else.  Catazaro-Perry has professional politicians behind her.

Former Stark County Democratic Party chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr and his attached-at-the-hip political expert? pal Shane Jackson (son of former Stark County commissioner and Strickland administration appointee Gayle Jackson) are the brains behind the Catazaro-Perry campaign.

Cantzaro-Perry herself was very impressive is knocking off long time mayor of Massillon Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr in the Democratic primary.

Of course, she had big time help from the Maier/Jackson Massillon political machine whereas Brunckhart defeated the Republican Party establishment favorite Andrew Oser.

The SCPR has long maintained that Catazaro-Perry is the political captive of the Maier/Jackson axis and that she has taken no political position without coaching from her political handlers.

There is already talk that Maier may be positioning his brother George to become Catazaro-Perry's service director.

It would not surprise the SCPR that a Catazaro-Perry victory in November might bring with it a Jackson family member as part of her leadership team.

The Report expects Catazaro-Perry to win, but Massillon would know exactly who is mayor if Brunckhart were to win.  While Catazaro-Perry would be the de jure mayor were she to win, the SCPR believes that Johnnie A. Maier, Jr would be the de facto mayor.

Brunckhart has a huge hill to climb to become mayor of Massillon.  If he pulls it off, it will have been the second hill he has surmounted.  Nobody expected him to defeat Oser.

The Report believes that his being a working man in a working class town presents him with an advantage as he tramps through Massillon's mostly working class neighborhoods.  While he carries the label Republican, he appears much more the Democrat than does Catazaro-Perry.  He did share with The Report that he has a family history of being a "blue dog" Democrat.

"Blue Dog Democrat?"

Yes, conservative Democrats as contrasted to "Limousine Liberal Democrats" that some might think Catzaro-Perry to be more representative of.

Such a contrast might be effective for Brunckhart to peel away Democratic support from Catazaro-Perry in a predominantly Democratic town.

Moreover, there is the Cicchinelli factor.  While Cicchinelli will not in a flagrant and open way campaign for Brunckhart, you can bet that he is smarting from his ouster from office by the Maier/Jackson/Catazaro alliance and will be privately helping Brunckhart to pull off a political upset of huge proportions come this fall.

The SCPR believes that Brunckhart (and his everyday, common man, working man profile) will appeal to many of the 46% who preferred Cicchinelli over Catazaro-Perry (a darling of the politically polished and sophisticated).

The SCPR did an extensive and far ranging interview with Lee Brunckhart last evening.  Here is the video:

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