DATELINE: STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN
UPDATE 11:00 PM
OHIO DEMS' CHAIR STATEMENT
WITH AMENDED SCPR ANALYSIS
NEARLY ONE HOUR BEFORE ANY OTHER STARK COUNTY BASED MEDIA
Ohio Dems and other Bernabei protesters likely to file Mandamus action with Ohio Supreme Court!
Ditto for Steve Okey for the Cicchinelli protesters especially "ghost" protester Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry.
David Pepper, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party issued a press release earlier today in light of Secretary of State Jon Husted's decision in breaking a tie vote between Republican (for Bernabei and Cicchinelli, both former Democrats) and Democrat Stark Board of Elections members (of course, against certification) on whether or not Bernabei and Cicchinelli qualify to run as "independents" for mayor of Canton and Massillon, respectively, both cities which currently have sitting Democratic mayors.
Of Stark County media outlets, only on the SCPR will Stark County have access to the entire Pepper statement, to wit:
AMENDED SCPR ANALYSIS
The Ohio Democratic Party, protesters and Canton councilpersons Tom West (Ward 2), Chris Smith (Ward 4), Kevin Fisher (Ward 5), David Dougherty (Ward 6), John Mariol (Ward 7, Edmond Mack (Ward 8) and Frank Morris (Ward 9) and the ghost protester Canton mayor William J. Healy, II are likely to fight the Husted decision to the bitter end.
The SCPR has reason to believe that these protesters through prominent Canton attorneys Lee Plakas and Edmond Mack will file a Mandamus action in the Ohio Supreme Court very quickly.
Steve Okey is likely to follow suit for the two remaining protesters (Council president Tony Townsend and Ward 4 Councilman Shaddrick Stinson having said that they never authorized Okey to include them as protesters in the first place) he had on board at the July 13th BOE protest hearing challenging the right of former 24 year mayor and then-Democrat Frank Cicchinelli to run as an independent candidate in the November general election.
The SCPR sees protesters Richards and Schartiger as nominal protesters and Catazaro-Perry as a ghost protester and "the real party in interest."
If Bernabei's certification as an independent candidate to run against Mayor Healy holds up (and The Report thinks it will), then Healy is political toast and has only 153 or so days left in office.
Catazaro-Perry's fate is not so clear.
Though she narrowly escaped defeat at the hands of political unknown J. David Ress in the May 5th Democratic primary, she does have the Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. Massillon Political Machine behind her and it appears The Repository (through it affiliate "The Massillon Independent") is on a quest to rehabilitate her politically.
A mere two hours before news broke that Cicchinelli will be certified to run against Catazaro-Perry and Republican Lee Brunckhart, it appears to the SCPR that "the powers that be" at The Rep put one of their very best reporters Todd Porter (primarily a sports reporter) to work trying rehabilitate the mayor from the near political disaster that Ress nearly administered to her.
A third factor at play is the candidacy of Republican Lee Brunckhart.
Were he to withdraw, Catazaro-Perry cannot win.
However, The Report is told by a stalwart Massillon Republican that there is no way Brunckhart will withdraw even though it would take a political miracle for his to get through the Catazaro-Perry/Cicchinelli mine field.
The SCPR thinks he will be less significant than he was in 2011 in the general election against Catazaro-Perry but he will most certainly deprive Cicchinelli of some Republican votes in November.
However, you can bet that the folks at The Legends (mostly Republicans who vote in very high percentages) will be working hard to elect Cicchinelli and Democrat council candidate Jill Creamer who unseated Democrat incumbent councilman Shaddrick Stinson in the May Democratic primary.
The foregoing three factors the SCPR thinks make Cicchinelli's path more difficult but still likely to be returned to office in November.
Ohio Dems' chairman Pepper's press release (see full text above) reeks of bitterness at the Husted decision as indicated in that part of his statement: "Today's decision is by Secretary Husted is one the most nakedly partisan actions I've ever seen."
The Ohio Dems are heavily invested in two-term incumbent Democratic mayor William J. Healy, II's third term reelection bid.
Pepper orchestrated a Ohio Dems' endorsement (a largely unprecedented practice in intervening in local party affairs) of Healy over Canton treasurer Kim Perez in the May, 2015 Democratic Primary.
While the SCPR thinks it is fair to accuse Husted of having a partisan interest in the Bernabei candidacy (i.e. the Republicans have no candidate for mayor of Canton in the November general election), the charge does not wash in the Cicchinelli/Catazaro-Perry race which includes Republican Lee Brunckhart.
"... [N]akely partisan interest?"
The SCPR thinks not.
Pepper ignores Husted's 2014 decision in which he erred on the side of ballot access though he could not say he was qualified under then-existing Ohio law to be sheriff of Stark County in allowing Democrat George T. Maier onto the ballot against highly viable Republican candidate Larry Dordea.
Where Husted a "nakedly" Republican political hack, he would have found a rationale to deny Maier ballot access. And, in the SCPR's way of thinking, there was a stronger legal case for him to have done so.
The Democrats mantra (including the Ohio Dems under Pepper predecessor Chris Redfern) at the time was "Let the people decide."
Now all of a sudden under Pepper the Dems jettison the "let the people decide" standard and adopt "let the Democratic Party through Stark BOE unelected, political party appointed members Sam Ferruccio, Jr. and William V. Sherer, II decide" with the help of Secretary Husted.
Had Husted taken the Dems' tack, it would have been "for political party interests" and not in the interest of people exercising their voting participation in our democratic system of government.
Chairman Pepper hides behind a press release in making his charge against Husted.
Why won't the chairman go on camera with the media in the context of a meaningful press conference in terms of time allocated to questions and answers and subject himself to a back and forth on his allegations?
There is no doubt to the SCPR that between the two, Pepper is the more partisan and what's more he cowardly sleeks behind a press release statement to avoid the embarrassing questions such as posed by yours truly in this blog.
The Ohio Democratic Party is not - except in presidential elections and one of two U.S. Senate seats - a competitive political party.
It appears to the SCPR that Chairman Pepper lacks the skills to lead the party into being more competitive.
And his lack is mostly owing to his lack of candor and squaring up his political party's interests with what the people of Ohio and Stark County want.
"Let the people decide, David!"
Cicchinelli reaction through his attorney Craig T. Conley.
Husted's decision in full.