Wednesday, October 31, 2018


UPDATE:  NOV 1, 2018

2014 chosen as a comparison year because 2014 was a gubernatorial year election.

In 2014, 101,432 (41.5% of registered voters) Stark Countians voted in the gubernatorial race.

Question is:  Will an additional 30,000 voters show up in 2018?

Voter turnout could be 'the' key in the outcome of statewide and 7th Congressional District (Harbaugh v. Gibbs) races.


UPDATE:  11/01/2018 06:45 AM
UPDATE:  11/02/2018 12:57 PM

Tuesday, October 30, 2018







An impressive sized crowd (no official estimated but might have numbered 400/500) of 7th Congressional District voters filled the upper level of Ashland University's Myers Convocation Center to compare and contrast incumbent Republican congressman Bob Gibbs of Lakeville (Holmes County) and Democratic challenger Ken Harbaugh of Avon (Lorain County) last night.

Jeffrey Sikkenga, professor of political science at the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University, and Brad Dicken, Elyria Chronicle-Telegram editorial page director  served as moderators of the debate.

Both sides had a core of supporters (the SCPR estimates the Gibbs group at about 125 and the Harbaugh group at 225).  Of course, those folks' minds are already made up.  However, there likely were 100 or so there for a ?look see" in an "undecided context" to make a side-by-side comparison.

For those 100 or so, they had to come away thinking that Harbaugh got the better of the argument last night.

A part of that appraisal has to be based on Harbaugh's superior articulation skills.

Last week, the SCPR was in a setting of Stark County Republican elected officials in which the communication skills of Gibbs was the topic.

The conversation:

SCPR:  "The Report has never heard Gibbs in any extended sense but is told that he does not have the greatest communication skills."

Official 1:  "Oh, I don't know about that.  I've seen/heard Gibbs and he is not that bad."

Official 2:  (uproariously laughing) "What Planet have you been on!" which drew an outburst of guffaws! from those hearing the exchange.

This exchange shows why Gibbs appears to be reluctant to mix it up with constituents in unmanaged settings.

It likely those similarly situated 7th District voters to the 100 or so undecideds who will determine the matter a week from today.

Harbaugh campaign officials seem to sense that it is a significant advantage to get Ken Harbaugh in front of voters who are familiar with Congressman Gibbs in their quest to turn "undecideds" their way.

Another advantage that might prove pivotal in a close Harbaugh/Gibbs election night drama is that it appears that Harbaugh has been much more out there "pressing the flesh" and doing "no holds barred" Town Hall meetings across the district.

 One attendee who was apparently "Ken Harbaugh" you are not "left of center enough" for me actually walked out on him at his Town Hall at the Edward Peel Coleman Center in southeast Canton after creating a verbal ruckus.  Harbaugh kept his composure and moved on without missing a beat.

Gibbs on the other hand has been carefully managed and seems to have participated in tightly controlled settings.  The SCPR, for instance, asked to be credentialed at his Shelby, Ohio Town Hall meeting in the Spring of this year, but was denied access even though the local media was allowed in.

As readers will see in the SCPR "walking" interview with Harbaugh post-event, he expressed it best and evaluating his chances to pull an upset ("its out of my hands now, it is up to the voters") in the heavily gerrymandered Republican 7th thanks to the Republican supermajority who have controlled Ohio General Assembly for nearly 20 years.  (Video:  56 seconds)

And if Harbaugh wins, make no mistake about it, it will be a big night next Tuesday next week for a Harbaugh win will mean that a very large "Blue Wave" is in process and Democrats will easily have captured control of the United States House of Representatives.

A "close, but no cigar" Harbaugh challenge will likely mean a Democratic control margin overall but not a 1994 esque Republican mid-term sweep that the nation saw during Democrat Bill Clinton's first term.

In a SCPR post-event interview with Congressman Gibbs, he discounted the notion that he/Republicans will be the victim of a "Blue Wave" come November 6th.  (Video:  1 min, 17 sec)

What follows is the "entire" 55 minute, more or less, debate on SCPR videotape.  However, The Report has also broken down in a question by question format significantly shorter video clips that enable readers without a straight 55 minutes to spare to pick his/her issue to see the candidates' responses.

First up, the "entire' debate:


An interesting contrast on the priorities of the candidates and the focus of each.

For Democrat Harbaugh: the focus was on the Affordable Care Act (ACA, Obamacare) as it related to him personally and his daughter Lizzie who needed multiple surgeries before she reached four years of age.

What appeared to be a recurring theme for Harbaugh throughout the evening was an emphasis on affordable and available (i.e. not to be denied or priced out of coverage because of a "pre-existing" health issue) health care.  Harbaugh repeated throughout the evening what he says is a fact that Congressman has voted 13 times as a congressman to eliminate the need for insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions.

For Republican Gibbs:  there seemed to be no focus.  He was all over the place and what's worse he did not appear to "speak extemporaneously 'from-the-heart' as Harbaugh did.

Ken Harbaugh is clearly the underdog in this Republican gerrymandered congressional district.

If he is to win, it will have to be a case of the northern part of the district outvoting the southern part, to wit:

Among Gibbs points to the following legislative accomplishments he says that the Republican controlled U.S. House of Representatives, to wit:
  • regulatory reform,
  • tax cuts,
  • put policies in place to create "a booming economy" with a record setting drop in the unemployment rate and which policies
    • created jobs which Gibbs cited in detail,
    • caused consumer spending to rise 4%,
  • shoring up national defense,
  • bolstered veterans assistance,
  • lowering health care costs and protecting "pre-existing conditions" insurability as a rebuttal to Harbaugh's claim on Gibbs' having voted 13 times to gut the ACA, and
  • compel welfare recipients to get jobs,
Then Gibbs went on a "fear-them" attack on Democrats and implicitly Harbaugh (if elected) claiming if Democrats achieve a majority they would: (familiar to us national Republican Party political "talking points)
  • try to impeach Justice Kavanaugh and President Trump,
  • abolish tax cuts,
  • do away with ICE (Immigration and Customs),
  • open up U.S. borders,
  • protect sanctuary cities (i.e. cities which create havens for "threatened with deportation" immigrants,
    • claimed that a third caravan of central Americans heading to U.S. was formed on Monday,
  • bring on Socialism versus Americanism in the form of enacting a "single payer healthcare plan,"
  • implement an agenda of "resistance and obstruction,"
  • play to "liberals and Hollywood elitists,"
To summarize, Gibbs read off a bunch of statistics about Trump administration initiatives which he as a congressman support.  Moreover, he embarked on a consistent approach for him throughout the night in casting aspersions at Democrats.  He did not attack Harbaugh directly much but he seem to be lumping him with "all other Democrats."

Doing so might have been designed to question indirectly Harbaugh's "Country Over Party" campaign theme as not being authentic.

See/hear for yourself, the "opening statements" video:  (5 min, 46 sec)


First up was Ken Harbaugh.

To the SCPR, Harbaugh did not adequately address the fundamental question of how to promote a vibrant economy and job growth without increasing the skyrocketing federal budgetary deficit:

His response centered on:
  • the question:  Have most Americans benefited on the $23,000 per capita share of the debt increase he claims we now all own?
  • sounding like a Republican in that he talked about job growth (which implicitly indicates increased federal revenues to deal with growing debt), 
    • through infrastructure investment
      • e.g. developing a high speed internet that he says the 7th District has one of the worst speed wise internet capability,
        • which, he says, Congressman Gibbs by virtue of his Congressional committee assignment (Agriculture and rural infrastructure) could help solve but has failed to do so,  and
  • suggesting that the deficit was a product of the recent Republican tax reform package,
Nor did Gibbs.  What the congressman did do was to:
  • to go on a partisan attack in blaming Democrats from George Washington (a federalist which is more akin the Republican Party; not populist Democrats) through Obama for doubling the national debt,
    • SCPR comment:  You have to be kidding from George Washington to Obama!  On-their-face ridiculous statements like that one go a long ways in making just about anything Gibbs says incredible,
  • make the point that the Republican tax cut which increased the national debt was necessary in order to grow the economy,
    • cited increase a child care tax credit and proposed tax reform 2.0 as a way to bring tax relief to the average American,
  • claimed that he and the Trump administration is dealing with internet broadband with a $200 million infusion for it in the Farm Bill,
The SCPR video on the federal debt issue: (7 min, 48 sec)


The issue was initial posed to Congressman Gibbs.

His response:
  • criticized the Democrats for being for "Medicare for All."  He then went to the stock Republican positions:
    • of having "the market" (i.e. the "for profit" private sector competition) determine the cost of healthcare,
      • supplemented by increased use of Health Savings Accounts,
    • nudging the markets to give consumers choices,
  • reiterated profusely and seemingly defensive in light of Harbaugh's claim that Gibbs voted 13 times during his stint in Congress to do away with "pre-existing" conditions" protections that he and his fellow Republicans in Congress are committed to protecting the insurability of those with "pre-existing" conditions,
  • predictable reiterated his position that Republican congresspersons are about gutting protections "pre-existing" conditions continued coverage which he added, in a anecdotal account, would make people effective "unemployable,"
    • not content with the repetition he moved on to a out-and-out political attack on Gibbs:
      • After citing Gibbs receiving campaign finance contributions totally some $1 million ($123,000 from the healthcare insurance industry) he quipped this zinger;
To which Gibbs rejoined that Harbaugh has his Democratic talking points down pat.

The SCPR video on the Harbaugh/Gibbs health care cost exchange: (6 min, 48 sec)


  • K-12, higher education should be controlled at the state/local government levels,
    • However, with mounting college student debt due to federal government guaranteed loans, students who are willing to do some form of public service should get federal government help with financing their education
  • brought up the fact that the recently enacted tax reform bill took away a $250 tax credit on federal taxes for money spent by classroom teachers for classroom materials purchased out of the teacher's personal funds. this, Harbaugh said in light of the fact that the recently passed tax bill gave millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars to corporations, which, he says, is an indication of  Congressman Gibbs' priorities
  • also chided the congressman anecdotally for not responding to Medina school system students given an assignment to contact their congressman.  Harbaugh claims that Gibbs did not do the dignity from a sitting congressman that the students' deserved,
  • agreed with Harbaugh.  Education is a state/local government priority not a federal government one.
  • seemed to promoted vocational/technical education over four year college degrees,
  • cited numbers federal funding bills for education support funneled to state/local education,
The video of he Gibbs/Harbaugh exchange on the role of the federal government in education.


  • agreed that the Opioid  use is a problem,
  • talked about the federal government having put some $11 billion out for the 50 states to divide to combat the problem,
  • defended corporate PACS as being ways corporate employees participate in the American political system and that Harbaugh is misleading the public about them,
  • not only is Opioid use a problem, he says, but is now a "full-blown-crisis" in which Heroin misuse resulted in 72,000 deaths last year alone which was more than Vietnam War deaths which the U.S. poured a trillion dollars into.
    • the point being that $11 billion compared to $1 trillion is a drop-in-the-bucket and results in folks seeking treatment to be delayed in obtaining it due to inadequate federal funding of treatment centers,
  • Gibbs (Congresses) inadequate action on sufficient funding is about:
    •  Gibbs getting campaign financing (presumingly implying that other Republican congressperson similarly benefiting) over $1 million from corporate PACS and over $123,000 from the insurance industry, and,
    • Gibbs getting contributions from Cardinal Health which Harbaugh says (and presumably along with other such companies who contribute to congressional campaigns) manufactured the Opioid crisis and which Gibbs continues to receive campaign finance support from
The SCPR video on the Opioid part of last night's debate.  (6 min, 18 sec)



  • America must deal with "existential" national security problems (implying  that the immigration and trade issues are not immediate,
  • cites the Trump administration threat to pull out INF Treaty as a real time threat to American national security,
  • expresses a concern that America is 17 years into the war in Afghanistan without Congress having declared war in a  context of Congress not having members who have experience in dealing with matters of war, and
  • challenges Congressman Gibbs to apologize for comparing being a member of Congress as being as risky as military service, and
  • says the Republican controlled Congress talks about supporting the military while working to dilute their health care benefits
  • does "sort of" apologize,
  • talks about threatening to withdraw from INF and the trade wars as building leverage to getting more favorable treatment for American security, and
  • claims that the previous Democratic (Obama) administration gutted the U.S. military and that Congress is now rebuilding the military,
It is interesting to the SCPR that neither Gibbs or Harbaugh dealt with the immigration issue as a national security issue.  Especially for Gibbs inasmuch as in other parts of the debate he expressed fear about a third wave of Central Americans heading towards the U.S.

The SCPR video of the National Security aspect of last evening's debate. (7 min, 11 sec)


Monday, October 29, 2018


UPDATE:  3:00 PM/10/30/2018







From: Martin Olson <> 
Sent: Monday, October 29, 2018 9:52 AM
To: Prater, Michele [OH] <>
Subject: OEA contribution of $8,000 in pre-general CFR to Kirk Schuring

Here is a LINK to a SCPR blog citing one of your member's opposition to Representative Kirk Schuring on the his of his past support of ECOT and the general "for profit" charter school movement in Ohio.

Why is the OEA supporting Schuring with campaign finance donations?

As you will note in reading the SCPR blog linked to, OEA/CPEA member says that the CPEA endorsed the Democrat Lauren Friedman.

Why the difference?

Martin Olson

Stark County Political Report

330 430 9378


Prater, Michele [OH] <>  Today at 2:05 PM
To:  Martin Olson

“The decision to endorse Kurt Schuring was made by OEA members who are on the local screening committee, which includes a representative from CPEA, based on their belief that Rep. Schuring is, and will continue to be, an effective advocate for OEA members and their students.” -Becky Higgins, president, Ohio Education Association


greg soper <greg.soper@...>  Today at 2:30 PM
To:  Martin Olson

I will forward this to the CPEA members who sit on the screening committee for their opinions.

However, I can say that I am troubled with the notion that Kirk Schuring is an effective advocate for educators and students when he voted for 

  • SB 5 and HB 70(which is SB 5 on steroids). 
  • HB 70 will prohibit CPEA from negotiating class size, curriculum, and will remove an elected school board in favor of a commission which will  have at  three members not be from Canton City and turn the district over to CEO who will have “complete operational control”.


On the face of it Democratic "upstart" Lauren Friedman (a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy) appears to be a "competitive" candidate to 25 year Republican Stark County Ohio General Assembly (OGA) member J. Kirk Schuring.

However, the "big" take-away is that staunch, conservative Republican Kirk Schuring has done what no other Stark County Republican has ever done.

And, what is that?

Become the darling of "organized" labor, the "bedrock" of Democratic Party candidates.

A number of years ago, a noted Stark County "elected" Republican once opined to the leadership of the Stark County union movement:  "Why don't you folks consider supporting Republican candidates?"

Schuring's Republican stablemate Scott Oelslager has had some success getting support from "organized labor," but this time around (pre-general cycle 2018) Schuring has hit the jackpot!

And why is that?

The Professional Football Hall of Fame project (HOF-VP) for the construction trades union, but, for the Ohio Education Association (OEA) thing is "inexplicable."

It is understandable that David Kirven (quoted in local media as a HOF-VP enthusiast)  would use his influence within the construction trades union (i.e. East Central and others) to encourage union's supporting Schuring.

It would be interesting to know whether or not there was any internal debate as to the East Central contributing $3,500 to a "not exactly union friendly" Republican in the overall sense?

Think maybe Kirven (a former president of the Stark County Democratic Party's Jefferson/Jackson Club) will tell the SCPR whether or not any of the 18 unions which compose the East Central Ohio Building & Constructions Trades Council dissented from making the contributions to Republican Schuring?


So the union campaign support of some pretty significant connected with the PFHOP either directly or indirectly individual contributors (e.g. C. David Baker and Stu Lichter) makes it virtually impossible to think that Schuring Democratic opponent has "a snowball's chance in Hell" to defeat Schuring even though she appears to (for being a political neophyte) have done a pretty good job of raising campaign money herself.

The hope undoubtedly in construction trades and related unions rushing "pell-mell" to support Schuring is that Schuring some way, somehow can figure out a way (i.e. government financial intervention) to save the staggering HOF-VP and the hundreds if not thousands of union jobs that likely will materialize if the project through its $1 billion completion.

Apparently, Schuring has convinced the OEA that he is a friend of public education notwithstanding the fact the he  and fellow Republican Oelslager  (let's trade districts [Senate/House and vice versa to defeat term limits]) have received thousands of dollars of campaign finance contributions while supporting Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), recently gone belly up and being pursued for some $80 million in overpayments based on faulty attendance numbers by Republican gubernatorial candidate (now attorney general) Mike DeWine.

Stark County public school districts have lost millions of dollars in revenues at the hand of "for profit" charter schools.  And yet Schuring has the chutzpah to put out a couple of campaign flyers claiming to be a friend of public education.

One Canton City Schools teacher has been a ardent opponent of Schuring's over the "charter school" issue.

His reaction to the OEA donation in responding to a SCPR inquiry:

If area educators believe that then and support him in political finances, with campaign workers and at the ballot box, they deserve everything they get in terms of "screwings" of public education meted out by the Republican supermajority dominance of the Ohio General Assembly.

Schuring hoodwinking educators is a big story.

An even bigger story is Schuring bringing in organized labor support.

For years Stark County organized labor has complained that Democratic candidates take their support for granted and that for all the union contributions made to them, the union movement gets very little in return.

But anybody who believes that Schuring is "truly" for "organized" labor and will rein-in charter schools and go full-throated for public education is having a hallucination, no?


2018 Pre-general Contributors Report SCHURING

2018 Pre-general Contributors Report FRIEDMAN

Saturday, October 27, 2018




The Stark County Political Report i(SCPR) is being told by what has turned out in the past to be a "highly credible" source  that C. David Baker's days as president/CEO of the National Football Museum, Inc [dba as the Professional Football Hall of Fame; PFHOF) are numbered.

If in fact Baker vacates his PFHOF dual position, it could be because since April 16th, there appears to have been "no" major developments regarding the completion of the $1 billion or so Professional Hall of Fame. 

The last press release issued by the HOF's Pete Firele was April 16, 2018 regarding the naming of a Centennial Committee and Repository publisher Jim Porter (April 12th)  as the committee's chairman, to wit:

Actually, the last "concrete?" announcement was the hoopla press release on April 25, 2017 of the ground breaking for the supposedly multi-starred HOF Hotel.

As of October 28, 2018 so far as the SCPR knows, not much if anything has been made on the building of the hotel.

LOL in Pete Fierle who once told the SCPR (via e-mail) that the HOF does not comment on "rumors," which, was not The Report asked him as spokesperson for the HOF to comment upon.

With the passage of so much time, would it be fair to say that the April, 2017 celebration was of a rumor?

A couple of years ago the HOF brass was promising that the project would be done by the Spring of 2018.

But maybe the bigs at the HOF-VP are pinning their hopes on a bailout by state Senate candidate Kirk Schuring (now a combined (the House/Senate back and forth with Oelslager) continuous 25 years in the Ohio General Assembly.

Schuring held a fundraiser on September 12th and there was a substantial presence (including C. David Baker himself) of HOF folks (some of whom have indirect connections as noted) at the candidate for the 29th Senate District in the November, 2018.

Undoubtedly, all the crontributers contributed to Schuring in order to support "good" government.

And Schuring has produced "good" goverment in spades if you are a proponent for government support for chiefly "private enterprise project" in which the private sector does not have to account for how it spends the public's money.

Schurhing produced:
  •  a $10 million "no payback" grant for the HOF-VP, 
  • was behind mutltiple legislative proposals that empowered local governments to "invest" money in the project (at the expense of Stark County schood districts), and
  • at one stage of working hard to bolster the HOF-VP is said to have been working on legislation to authorize the county commissioners to put in place a "economic development 'sales' tax to be administered by the likes of a "Strengthening Stark" entity.
Again, perhaps, because of the HOF-VP making progress, Baker said to be going to work for Industrial Realty Group (IRG) owner SBatuart Lichter (master developer of the HOF-VP) as president of  the Lichter majority owned HOF Village LLC as its president.

The report of  Baker's transition seems to make sense in light of Porter's June, 2016 story on how close "transcends business" the two men apparently are.

From what the SCPR is hearing, Lichter is being ganged up upon by Stark County's "bullish for the HOF-VP" leadership group (e.g. Jim Porter) as being the blame for the stall on the project.

Readers of this blog should pause and read Porter's June 27, 216 article.  (LINK)

A person who is in a position to hear about moves like that conjectured by the SCPR, when asked by The Report for confirmation had this to say:
I haven't necessarily heard that wouldn't surprise me.  
I would think under that position with the Village...he would be able to have some equity/"skin in the game" (aka make more money) on the project, which I'm not sure he could have done as President of the HOF. 
It all may be moot, if (as I've heard) Stu Lichter is holding the project hostage, by not signing the management agreement with M Klein (after almost 6 months)...and allowing M Klein to officially move forward with control of the Village project.    
For as long as this thing has drug on...I would think there has to be some "drop dead" date (soon) for construction of the hotel to be complete by the 2020 NFL Centennial Celebration.  Sounds like Mr. Lichter is playing a high dollar game of me.  But only my opinion and observation from the cheap seats.
In "handwriting on the wall" fashion, Baker, in recent months, has been telling various group that his contract with the PFHOF is expiring on December 31st implying (the SCPR thinks) that he might not be continuing as the PFHOF's chief executive.

The Report hears that the PFHOF Board of Trustees has already acted on Baker's departure and that an announcement is to be made by the end of October.

If these reports are accurate, there are many unanswered questions that HOF officials need to deal with.

To name a few:

What is the status of the completion of the HOF Village Project (HOF-VP) as is on the drawing board currently at upwards of $1 billion?

Who is to take over for Baker?

What is the new executive's mandate re:  the future of the HOF-VP?

What will the HOF Village LLC role be moving forward?

How/when is the bridge loan (upwards of $100 million) to be repaid.

What are prospects for alternative "private sector" financing, if as speculated that Micheal Klein is out-of-the-picture.

The SCPR has heard numerous reports that many local leaders (e.g. The Repository bigs) who are still bullish about the HOF-VP privately blame Lichter for the project being in a state of limbo.

One Repository official volunteered to The Report:  "It's October and nothing is going on at the HOF."



Friday, October 26, 2018



As regular readers of The Stark County Political Report (SCPR, The Report) know, this blogger covers the Board of Stark County Commissioners meetings which are held nearly every Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in the commissioners' meeting room on the second floor of the Stark County Office Building.

Before the meeting begins, there is often "before going-the-record" banter which is exchanged between one or more of the commissioners, the media, other Stark County political subdivision officials and, sometimes, even a Stark County citizen or two.

Knowing that this blogger has been impressed with the Ken Harbaugh for Congress (the 7th Congressional District, which includes most of Stark County, Commissioner Richard Regula (a Republican) asked the SCPR if The Report had seen The Canton Repository endorsement of Democrat Harbaugh of Lorain County over incumbent Republican congressman Bob Gibbs of  Holmes County on the October 23rd edition of the paper.

(See a SCPR planned blog featuring a video of the debate on Tuesday, next week)

"No!" this astonished blogger replied.

What's more interesting about this endorsement is that the board likely knows that Gibbs' campaign staffers appear to be strategically placing out "internal" polling indicating that Harbaugh has a 15 point polling lead over Harbaugh.

The SCPR thinks that this "plant" is just that for several reasons.

First, why would Gibbs "all-of-a-sudden" agree to a one-on-one debate with Harbaugh on Monday evening at Ashland University if he has a statistically safe lead?

Secondly, the Harbaugh campaign intensity level, as noted by the editors, is about as striking to local media as we experience.  It is hard to believe that the impressive effort is not having an effect to Harbaugh's advantage.

Thirdly, local "organized" Republicans do not mock the suggestion that Ken Harbaugh might be on the brink of pulling one of the biggest political upsets that Ohio has seen in modern times.

They seem confident that Gibbs will win, but dismissively so.

Not long ago Repository publisher let it be known in his weekly Sunday column that he is a registered Republican.

To boot, The Rep endorsed Gibbs in the 2016 7th Congressional District race.

Finally, this editorial endorsed far more Republicans in this election cycle season than Democrats.

Putting the foregoing multiple points together,  it was hard to imagine that Democrat Harbaugh would be getting The Rep's endorsement.

To their credit, the editorial board members thought long and hard about whom the board would endorse.
Of all the candidates in all the races affecting the Stark County area, we’ve found no candidate who matches Harbaugh’s drive, passion and ability to connect with voters the way Harbaugh does. He calls the process “listening, learning, understanding and acting.” 
We call it effective and believe it can translate to Washington. For that reason, we endorse Harbaugh for the 7th District seat.
The SCPR does not do endorsements.

However, it is easy for readers to figure out whom among Stark County connected candidates for political office impresses this blogger.

Unfortunately, very few candidates do.

Usually, the SCPR's take on candidates for most races is a mixed bag.

For instance, let's take Ohio General Assembly (OGA) Stark County delegation members Scott Oelslager (currently a member of the state Senate, running for the 48th Ohio House seat) and Kirk Schuring (currently a member of the state House, running for the seat Oelslager is vacating because of term limits).

There is no doubt about it.

Over the combined 60 years in the back and forth between the House and Senate to overcome the term limits factor, this duo certainly done some "good' things for Ohio and Stark County.
Oelslager's work on open government and Schuring's on economic development enabling legislature are noteworthy and deserving of "atta boys."

And the SCPR can cite a number of other examples wherein both have stepped up and done democratic-republican system enhancing and civic (not necessarily political party benefiting) actions.

However, there have been some things that have not been "good" for Stark County localities such has joining with Republican governor John Kasich beginning in 2011 to pretty much gut state of Ohio "local government" funding.

Also, they have done nothing to curb and over time eliminate the Ohio General Assembly's:
  •  penchant for laying "unfunded" state mandates on local governments,
    •  which in addition to the local government fund cuts, 
  • combined with the ending of Ohio's Estate Tax and a few other revenue enhancing local government funding sources
to undermine the fiscal viability of  the level of government  (i.e. cities, villages, townships and boards of education) to which Stark County citizens have the most "influential" connection.

Moreover, both have participated in the Ohio Republican legislative caucuses drive to subvert the financial viability of the public school system (while accepting substantial campaign financial contributions from the "for profit" charter school [including the ECOT online school] movement in supporting legislation that has cost Stark County school districts million upon millions of state of Ohio education K-12 funding.

The Rep has endorsed both.  

And based on some of the work they have done over their  combined 60 years, the endorsements make sense.  

Especially in light of the fact that the Stark County Democratic Party has utterly failed at the hand of the last three or four chairpersons to come up with promising, viable candidates to challenge the duo.

However, in endorsing Oelslager and Schuring,  The Rep editorial board fails to mention their respective shortcomings as amply cited in this blog and thereby fail to send the message that they need to do better and Stark County's only countywide newspaper will be holding them accountable (chapter and verse) on the specifics of various matters they act upon.

Just as The Rep and the SCPR and 7th District constituents need to hold Ken Harbaugh accountable for his "Country Over Party" promise to 7th District voters should he be elected.

The "crown-jewel: of Schuring and Oelslager's work in the OGA supported the undermining of "one-person, one-vote" in their support for Republican gerrymandering of Ohio federal (i.e. the U.S. House of Representatives) and state legislative districts.

Stark County and Ohio voters have moved to correct this distortion of legislative districts in recent year referendum elections therefore sending a message to Stark Countian and Ohio GOP chairperson Jane Timken that the primary criterion of formulating legislative districts is not her "elections have consequences" standard but rather a "fairness" that enables the possibility of  "out-of-power" registered political party members to have a voice in state and federal government.

One of the reasons that Ken Harbaugh faces an uphill battle to win congressional office lies with the Jane Timkens of the world.

She and the likes of Oeslager, Schuring and Christina Hagan (the 50th) have worked to "stack the deck" for a Republican in federal legislative districts.

Not only the 7th.  But also the 16th (which Christina Hagan herself tried to benefit from personally in running in 2018 to be the Republican nominee in the 16th  And, the 13th which was gerrymandered by Statehouse Republicans to fit as many Democrats as possible in that district and thereby deprive Alliance area registered Republicans and independence an opportunity to hear their voices heard.

Believe me, the SCPR is well aware that there are Stark County "organized" Democratic Party
leaders (e.g. former Stark Dems chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.) who subscribe to the Timken standard.

The great rejoinder has always been:  "the other party does it."

And such has been historically true.

The rebuttal to the rejoinder is:  "Both parties have been 'wrong' in that thereby the severely damage the public confidence in the fairness of our system of government as perverted by political parties.
Folks like Timken and Maier, Jr. in perpetuating gerrymandering as a good thing are eroding public confidence in the integrity and fairness of fundamental institutions of government (i.e. legislatures) and thereby do great damage to our democratic-republican way of life.

The SCPR applauds The Canton Repository Editorial Board for supporting the notion of "the interests of Americans, Ohioans and Stark Countians" in support of the Harbaugh candidacy.

Republicans, Democrats and independents should take The Rep's endorsement of Democrat Ken Harbaugh to heart in light of The Report's belief that the editorial board would have preferred to be in a position to re-endorse Bob Gibbs for another term.

The Repository Editorial Board put it best with this endorsement language:
Congress needs more representatives who will roll up their sleeves, like Harbaugh did here all those months ago. It needs an infusion of accountability — pick the political party; it doesn’t matter — and more people who are willing to get their nose bloodied. (If you haven’t seen the Harbaugh TV ad, you probably will in the final weeks before Nov. 6.) 
“I think the choice is clear,” Harbaugh said. “And voters are remarking about that choice. They don’t want someone who votes with his party 99 percent of the time in a district that’s largely independent.”

Wednesday, October 24, 2018


"Only One of The Campaign"
Date: October 29th

Time: Door open at 6:30PM. Debate begins at 7PM.

Location: Ashland University

Myers Convocation Center, Upper Level
638 Jefferson Street
AshLand, OH 

Cost: Free

To RSVP, contact Sara at or fill out this google form to indicate your interest in attending: 

LINK to register to express interest in attending.


Ashland, OH -- Ken Harbaugh, candidate for Congress in Ohio’s 7th District, and Congressman Bob Gibbs will meet for their only debate at Ashland University this Monday, October 29th.

The event is the culmination of a several months-long push by voters to get the reluctant incumbent to agree to even a single debate. Students, teachers, bricklayers, veterans, retirees, news editors, union workers, ministers and Harbaugh himself made repeated calls for a debate. Team Harbaugh agreed to debate “Anytime, anywhere.” Rep. Gibbs would only say, “We’ll see….” 

“This is Democracy 101,” said Harbaugh. “I am glad to see that Congressman Gibbs finally followed our lead here. Voters are right to advocate for and even demand an opportunity to hear from their candidates, consider the issues that matter most to them, and make an informed choice this November.”

Ken Harbaugh’s campaign has put an emphasis on “Showing Up” and listening to Ohioans. Over the past few months, he has held more than one hundred free and open-to-the-public events -- including 25 Town Halls -- and recently announced a Made in Ohio Tour featuring the candidate appearing at 100 more events in all 10 counties before Election Day. This stands in stark contrast to Rep. Bob Gibbs who has refused to hold in-person Town Halls, refused to meet with constituents, and avoided debating Harbaugh even as voters advocated in public demonstrations around the district for the chance to hear both candidates speak on the issues that matter most to them.

“The word ‘present’ is in the word ‘representative,’” said Harbaugh. “We elect people to Congress to work for us. Bob Gibbs seems to have forgotten that. It is time for a new generation of leadership in Washington on both sides of the aisle.” 

Harbaugh’s message of Country Over Party has resonated with voters throughout the district, and he has been endorsed by several publications including the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram and the Canton Repository. 

Representative Gibbs has a history of dodging debates. He refused to appear at a debate during the primary election at which all the other candidates – from both political parties – were present. When an American Legion Post in Massillon held an event in April, an empty folding chair stood in for Rep. Gibbs, who chose to skip the veteran-hosted event. And recently, when the Mount Vernon News hosted a debate, Ken Harbaugh took the stage alone. 

This Monday’s debate will be the only time the two candidates meet to discuss the issues before a live audience.


The biggest winner on November 6, 2018 in Ohio is likely to be incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, so The Stark County Political Report projects.

Brown will win Stark County handily across Ohio except in reddest of Ohio's "red counties" where President Donald J. Trump plays best and even in those counties Wadsworth Republican and Brown challenger Jim Renacci (currently congressman in the 16th congressional district which includes a portion of Stark County).

If there is an upset on Tuesday, the 6th, it will come at the expense of sitting U.S.7th Congressional District (which includes most of Stark County)  Congressman Bob Gibbs.

The Stark County Political Report's "upset special," if it materializes, will send Democrat "Country Over Party" Ken Harbaugh to the U.S. Congress.

If Gibbs hangs on which is totally possible if not likely, it will because he is running in a highly Republican gerrymandered district.  If he wins, he will be needing to thank the Ohio General Assembly (OGA) Republican Caucuses' members and the likes of Stark County Republican OGA delegation members Scott Oelslager, (R, Senate District 29), Kirk Schuring (R, Ohio House 48) and Christina Hagan (R, Ohio House 50th).

The foregoing have amply demonstrated that they are not "Country/State/Stark County Over Party" types.

In the 16th Congressional District political neophytes Republican Anthony Gonzalez and Democrat Susan Moran Palmer are squaring off.

This may well turn out to be a "Blue Wave" year for Democratic candidates across the county but not in the 16th.  Highly gerrymandered Republican is the 16th. Also, Moran has the misfortune to be running against one of the most moderate Republican candidates for congressional office and she has been badly out-fund-raised.

Mark this one up for Anthony Gonzalez.

The race that is exciting Ohioans statewide is the gubernatorial contest between Democrat Richard Cordary and Mike DeWine.

Real Clear Politics "average of polls" as of October 8th showed Cordray with a slight lead.

The SCPR thinks that it is plausible that Cordray will eke out a win statewide.  However, The Report thinks DeWine will win in Stark County largely due to the efforts of Republican Stark County commissioner Janet Creighton (regional DeWine chairperson) and Republican Stark County treasurer Alex Zumbar (Stark County chairperson).

Other down ticket statewide races (attorney general, state treasurer, state auditor, et cetera) will likely mirror the outcome of the DeWine/Cordray face-off except the SCPR does not think any of the Republican candidates have the odds of winning Stark County as does DeWine.

Of the "slam dunk" variety in Stark County are the following:

Stark County Republican commissioner  over Democrat Katherine Baylock.

Baylock has surprised in a prior race she has run for county commissioner  She bested former commissioner Pete Ferguson in a  contested Democratic primary in 2016 with former Democratic Stephen Slesnick coming out the winner.  Slesnick lost to Republican Bill Smith in the general election.

Running against Pete Ferguson, Kevin Fisher and Stephen Slesnick is one thing.

But running against one of Stark County most vote popular Republican (Creighton) is quite another.

Republican Scott Oelslager in his bid to return to the Ohio House  (the 48th) handily defeats Democrat Lorraine Willburn.

As does Republican Kirk Schuring in his bid to return to the Ohio Senate being challenged by Democrat Lauren Friedman.

Democrat Cassie Gabelt who appears to have put on no campaign at all.

Gabelt's anemic effort is in contrast to Friedman and Wilburn who have worked hard but whom the SCPR face insurmountable odds in contesting Schuring (25 years in the OGA) and Oelslager (35 years in the OGA).

There is promise for Wilburn and Friedman going forward if they start laying the groundwork for a "next-time-around" in 2020 and 2024, respectively.

There is absolutely no way that either Schuring or Oelslager can be defeated by campaigns put together some six months to a year out from the election.

The 50th Ohio race has to be a disappointment for Stark's "organized" Democrats.  Of all the gerrymandered Republican seats that might have been competitive this election cycle, it should have been in the 50th.

Incumbent Republican Christina Hagan got way "too big for her 'political' britches" in deciding to abandon the 50th (see was eligible to run for one more term before being term-limited-out) to run in the 16th Congressional District.

Paris Township trustee Reggie Stoltzfus took full advantage of Hagan's hubris and from the get-go (as a "for partisan office" first time candidate) and put together the most impressive "first-time-out" that the SCPR has seen in nearly 40 years of this blogger closely following Stark County politics.

Stoltzfus to win "in a walk over Gabelt" notwithstanding that 2018 might not be a good time for a "first-time-out" Republican to be running in what many political pundits think will be a "Blue Wave" year over much of the country including Ohio.

In Ohio's 49th House District, Democrat Tom West should win comfortably over Republican James Haavisto.

Haavisto has made West work this time around.  When West was elected in 2016 his opponent was a well-respected but unimaginative Republican candidate.

If he does not defeat West, he in a negative way can thank the OGA Republican caucuses for jamming a concentration of registered Democrats as they gerrymandered Ohio's legislative districts to minimize the likelihood of Democratic victories.  A clear manifestation of the Republican placing political party interests over the interests of the public in have competitive elections.

If Democratic voters listen to Haavisto closely, he clearly carries a message that would not appeal to many if not most Democratic voters.

His core message as interpreted by the SCPR is: "I pulled myself of by the bootstraps" and "you can too" and "I am going to do all I can, if elected, to dismantle government programs designed to help everyday Ohioans."

Tom West is the total opposite.  He has spent years as a social worker and his highly committed to using the tools of government as a "safety net" for middle class and below voters who happen onto hard times.

In the 49th, it is difficult for The Report to "wrap arms" around the Haavisto candidacy being viable in terms of an expectation that he is likely to win.

However, the SCPR applauds Haavisto for the energy and thoroughness of his campaign.  He stands out as the very best example of what emerging, challenging campaign ought to look like.

Defeating West is not a hill that the SCPR thinks Haavisto can climb.

Somewhat of a surprise is the emergence of Democrat Natalie Haupt as a replacement for, by force of Ohio law (upon reaching 70, judges in Ohio cannot run for re-election), John Haas.

On the ballot this time for the last time as a judicial candidate are Scott Gwin (a Democrat) and John Wise (a Republican) because of the age factor.

Haupt did have a tough primary election fight.

But the SCPR projects that she will easily defeat Republican James Matthews.

In other races within Stark County, Democrat Linda Litman (Democrat Ward 6 councilwoman in Massillon) will make things interesting for Alan Harrold in his quest to remain as Stark County auditor.

The SCPR does think that Litman (with staunch "organized labor" campaign worker/financial support) can make Harold sweat.

By and large Harold has been a first-rate auditor.  However, he seems to be afflicted with an arrogance (not quite as bad as Scott Oelslager's) that is even turning key Stark County Republican leaders against him.

Moreover, the SCPR figures that Harold lied to this blogger in maintaining that he had nothing to do with Litman losing her job at Huntington Bank because of a bank policy regarding employees running for office.

Harold himself was a victim in 2008 of the Huntington policy as he endeavored to run for Stark County treasurer (which, in fact, could be a "conflict-in-interest" situation).  The auditor's position presents "no" conflict for Litman had she remained a Huntington employee while running for the auditor's position, if consequently elected.

Litman's main problem has to do with her maintaining at a recent Mount Union University candidates' forum in the view of the SCPR is her assertion that if elected she wants to return to the methods used by former  Democratic Stark County auditor Kim Perez.

This raises the question:  If elected, is Kim Perez going to be the de facto county auditor, while Litman learns the ropes of being auditor?

So there you have it folks, The Stark County Political Report projections on the 2018 November general election!