Why is Stark County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Chryssa Hartnett's photograph gracing a "silver platter?"
THE SHORT ANSWER
Last Thursday Republican Governor John Kasich appointed Stark County Republican J. Curtis Werren to replace retiring judge V. Lee Sinclair (Stark County Court of Common Pleas).
Of the candidates he had before him recommended by the Stark County Republican Party Executive Committee for appointment, in an overall sense; Werren is least likely to be able to retain the seat should Hartnett decide to challenge in November, 2014.
A MORE DETAILED ANSWER
She did ask Stark Republicans to send her name down to Columbus as one of the Party's recommended group of three for Governor Kasich to consider in selecting a replacement for retiring Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge Charles Brown, Jr. (a Republican) who retired not all that much prior to Sinclair's announcement.
But, predictably, she did not get the support of the Stark GOP Executive Committee.
Keeping her company on the "not receiving a recommendation" list were avowed Republicans Jean A. Madden and Werren.
Getting the recommendation were:
- Kristin Farmer (Bair) (Judge Sinclair's magistrate),
- Lori Flowers (Judge Brown's magistrate), and
- Republican Canton Municipal Court judge Stephen F. Belden.
- Note: Belden withdrew his name from consideration in replacing Sinclair because - in his own words - his Brown replacement interview with the Kasich folks did not go well in terms of his explanation of a 2009 courtroom incident of having the mouth of a defendant taped shut.
Interestingly enough, Hartnett did not apply whereas Werren, Flowers and Madden did along with Belden. However, Belden withdrew (see note above).
Why didn't Hartnett apply to replace Sinclair?
Likely because she got the message that there is no way the Republicans were going to send her name on to the governor.
Had they sent her name to the Guv, if he cared about the relative merits of the candidates (who were likely going to be Werren and Flowers in addition to Hartnett); Kasich was going to have an awfully hard time not appointing Hartnett.
She has a stellar record as a prosecutor being earned in cases such as the Bobby Cutts murder case and the Vince Frustaci (former chief deputy Stark County treasurer) theft-in-office case.
And, if the presence of her name on the recommended list was a political threat to Farmer (Bair) and Flowers; she is an all-the-more a vastly superior candidate over J. Curtis Werren, the eventual Kasich "replace Sinclair" pick.
While Madden was on the "replace Sinclair recommendation list" along with Werren and Flowers, it is hard to believe that a Republican governor would pick a person with some 20 years in the public defender's office as Sinclair's replacement.
Madden's obvious identity as a public defender with the down-and-out is hardly a trump card with a political party which likely lost the 2012 presidential election because of its inability to identify with minorities.
Especially that part of the minority community (African American/Hispanic) which the public seems to perceive as being held to account in the criminal justice system more than any other segment of American society.
Also, Madden had lost to Democrat Frank Forchione in 2008 by a pretty substantial number.
Interestingly enough, SCPR is told that Madden is thought by many in the Stark County bar to be eminently more qualified than Werren.
Some leading Stark County Republican attorneys sent letters to Kasich say so.
However, she lacks the classic Republican pedigree that Werren possesses.
Since Werren became chief executive officer of the Stark County office of the American Red Cross (ARC) in 2010, he appears to have pretty much vanished from the practice of law. He is still listed on the Day Ketterer law firm website as being "of Counsel."
He did tell The Alliance Review that being CEO at the ARC (a favorite charity of the poobah-class) taught him how to raise money.
Like raising money for disaster relief is akin to raising money for a political campaign. Really? Wow!
No doubt that Stark County's patricians will open their wallets to him.
When Werren was practicing law full-time, The Report is told that it was in "civil law;" not criminal law.
What does the public care most about?
Maybe public safety issues in terms of knowing how to deal with the criminal element? Think maybe?
Of course, the strong suit to present to the public as a candidate in terms of criminal justice involvement is what?
You've got it.
Having been a highly effective prosecutor a la Chryssa Hartnett.
Between now and November, 2014 there undoubtedly will be other high profile cases that come along that she stands to take on a leading role in.
Wouldn't it be irony on top of irony if such a case surfaced and was assigned to appointed-Judge J. Curtis Werren with Hartnett being the leading candidate and both had filed to run for the remaining unexpired term of Judge Sinclair?
Such would icing on the cake for Hartnett.
For Werren, he desperately needs the notoriety of being front and center in area media in an public attention-getting high profile case.
If it happens, it will be clear proof that the political gods are favoring him inasmuch as Stark County Common Pleas Court cases are assigned at random.
You can be sure that if there is to be a Hartnett/Werren face off in November, 2014; all high profile Stark County prosecutor cases will be Hartnett's for the asking.
While Flowers promised in the Brown replacement political sweepstakes that she would be a "loyal Republican," there is no way that she could match up with the Werren name in Stark County Republican circles.
It is obvious to the SCPR that J. Curtis is not much of a politician.
He was Janet Creighton's campaign chairman in her losing effort to be re-elected as mayor of Canton against current mayor and Democrat William J. Healy, II.
It is hard to believe that Janet relied very much on Werren, but maybe she did and perhaps that was her "really big" mistake in the Healy face-off.
Running against a Democrat in the 2000s within the confines of Canton is a tough, tough order for a Republican.
Creighton narrowly defeated former Councilman at Large Bill Smuckler (a colorless Democrat) in 2003.
While the SCPR thinks William J. Healy, II has been an ineffective and deficient mayor of Canton, he is an accomplished politician.
Accordingly, she and her political advisers should have been forewarned that defeating Healy was going to take all the political talent that the Republicans could muster if she was going to win in 2007.
And J. Curtis Werren had no track record of having political talent or savvy.
In 2003 he ran a relatively close race to be the third person chosen in a "one of three to be elected" council at large race.
For sure, in a lopsided registered Democrats over Republicans political venue (Canton), the Democrats were going to run three candidates.
A politically astute Republican should have thought: "Gee, if the Democrats are going to get a lot more voters to the polls, wouldn't it be smart for the Republicans to run just one candidate?"
The geniuses at Stark GOP Headquarters (apparently, including Werren) decided to run three candidates.
This is the brilliant strategy that resulted all three Republicans being losers.
The highest Democrat was 9,057 (Bernabei) and the lowest was at 7,625 (Mary Babcock). (The combined Democrat candidates got 25,033 of the total 40,143 votes cast and counted)
The number of voters voting for the three Republican candidates?
Which means that three Republicans splitting the vote makes it highly, highly unlikely that any of the three Republicans will win even one of the three slots.
So if the Republicans run only Werren, does he win?
Highly, highly likely, no?
The botch job in the 2003 council at large elections suggests that Werren needs a lot more political acumen than he appears to have inasmuch he was a key part of the election strategy debacle.
Undoubtedly, Janet Creighton (a Republican Stark County commissioner) will be solidly behind him in his 2014 effort to retain the newly appointed judgeship.
But she was behind A.R. "Chip" Conde in 2011 when he ran against Healy.
The only qualifier on the comparison is that Conde ran only in Canton whereas Werren will be running countywide.
And there is no other public official that one should want in one's corner countywide than Janet Creighton.
The Report believes that she is the best vote getter in all of Stark County.
However, unless he initiates a Stark County Probate Court name change, Werren is not going to be able to run as J. Curtis Werren-Creighton.
If he were, that might be enough to pull it off.
In getting the Kasich nod, it is obvious that when a Farmer is not in the picture, Werren is the Republican name of note in the governor's mansion.
Undoubtedly, the Timken family was squarely in his corner in lobbying the governor to appoint him once Kristin Farmer (Bair) (a scion of another prominent Stark County Republican family) already had her judgeship.
Werren's law firm (Day Ketterer) represents The Timken Company. And J. Curtis Werren's father (John) has been with Day Ketterer since 1966.
While John has never run for office himself, the SCPR is told by one who is aware of his political ties and clout that John Werren is about as Republican as one can get.
Even Lori Flowers with her attesting, in local media articles, to being a zealous Republican is not going to be able to top the Werren family Republican political clout.
The only way that Madden (currently magistrate for Alliance Municipal Court judge Bob Lavery [likely Stark County's most liberal elected Republican, according to one SCPR contact) to become a judge as a Republican is to run again against the, perhaps, politically troubled Frank Forchione.
The SCPR believes that if she chooses to run again against Forchione it might well be lot more competitive given all the adverse publicity he has been receiving at the hand of local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley. (See SCPR LINK1 and LINK2).
Madden is quite a contrast to Werren in Republican politics.
One Stark County local Republican political observer told the SCPR:
His image presents the personification of a poster child stereotypical Republican.
White, clean-cut-looking, privileged and being propped up by prominent father and the local Republican Party political establishment with tons of money available to put in his campaign.
All the foregoing recited political negatives on Werren indicates to the SCPR that Governor Kasich may well have served up a "silver platter" opportunity to Chryssa Hartnett to take Werren on and replace him as judge.
It is axiomatic among politicians that the time to run against an incumbent appointed office holder is the first time on the election ballot.
Next November is that time for Harnett?
The Report is hearing that she recently attended a judicial conference.
Could it be that she is preparing to run in 2014 and is adding judicial attributes to her resume?
If so, would it be against Farmer (Bair) or J. Curtis Werren?
A note of interest on the choice.
If she wants a pretty clear path to election, the obvious choice is Werren.
However, the SCPR notes that a member of the Day Ketterer law firm is none other than Chryssa's husband Thomas Hartnett.
Things could get a little bit testy within the hallowed halls (to some) at Day Ketterer were she to run against Werren, no?
But, remember, she did vie with him in trying to get on the Stark GOP recommended list to replace Brown.
While Werren likely will have a fund raising advantage given his access Stark County's wealthy; Hartnett certainly will be able to raise enough money so that she can be competitive.
And, as pointed out above, how about all that "free ink" she will get from prosecuting "all" the high profile cases that surface between now and November, 2014?
Now that she has a Kasich generated "silver platter" electoral opportunity, how can she possibly turn it aside?