Wednesday, April 15, 2015


UPDATED:  10:00 a.m.

There is no doubt about it.

Angela Alexander is a phenomenal candidate for Canton Municipal Court judge in the Democratic primary which includes registered Democrats from these Stark County locales:

But there is a major, major problem for Alexander in getting that nomination.

And her name is Kristen Guardado.

It appears to The Stark County Political Report that the long time Canton law department and Plain Township board of education member and highly qualified in her own right, Guardado  has the overwhelming support of the established "organized" Stark Democratic Party leadership.

Look at this list of prominent Dems who attended her March fundraiser at Skyland Pines:

Looks pretty overwhelming, no?

But it would be a huge mistake for Guaradado and "the bigs" who pretty much run the Stark County Democratic Party to count Alexander out.

And The Report does not think they are.

It seems to yours truly that the party poohbahs are more than a tad unhappy to have to choose between the two because both are superlative candidates either of whom the SCPR thinks will best Republican appointee (in January by GOP Governor John Kasich) Curtis Werren in November. 

However, the road to victory in November is likely much easier for Guardado because of her storied political success history in Plain Township, a large part of the Canton Municipal Court District.

The Report thinks Guardado, if the nominee, will defeat Werren by a comfortable margin on the condition that the Democratic leaders who support her get Democrats to the polls in this November's off-year election.

Of course, should she get the nomination, the same applies to Alexander.  However, if she defeats Werren her margin would much slimmer than Guardado's.

Alexander, of course, has to concern herself with being the Democratic nominee.

While the odds are clearly against her, she does has a pathway to victory.

And that would be through an energized African-American community vote.

Energized in terms of turnout for Barrack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

In her presentation to the Northern Stark County Democratic Club about a week ago, Alexander shared with her fellow Dems her experience as a poll watcher in a predominantly African American precinct and how she had to stand her ground against her Republican counterpart to ensure that Obama voters were not discouraged to the point of walking away and not voting.

It is a truism that getting voters to vote in elections even in presidential years takes a major political party organizing and follow through effort.

What are decent (not exemplary) voting numbers in presidential years completely evaporates in off-year (odd numbered) years.

Back in May, 2014, the SCPR did a series of blogs on the pathetic numbers of Stark Countians voting in the 2014 primary.

Overall, in Stark, 13.7% of registered (and, of course not all citizens are registered to vote) voted.

With that number voting, no part of Stark County was particularly impressive.

But Republican areas did better than the Democrats.

Here is a LINK to a blog done in that series which shows the numbers for all 284 Stark County precincts.

Particularly pathetic in voter turnout were predominantly African American wards in Canton, Alliance and Massillon.

Today the SCPR focuses on Canton's African American wards in the 2014 primary election because two of Alexander's biggest supporters  are Councilman Thomas West (Ward 2) and Chris Smith (Ward 4).

The Report conjectures that West and Smith have already been hard at work for Candidate Alexander as evidenced by the base of support that is coming out of Canton City Council and the mayor's office for Alexander's candidacy.

But if Alexander is to pull off a major political upset on May 5th, West and Smith have to be working super-hard and effectively to get the African American vote out in Wards 2 and 4.

Look at these numbers for the 2014 primary election:

A mere 553 voters out of a potential field of nearly 10,000 voters for a total average voting percentage of less than 6%.

If West and Smith can't do hugely better than that in the 2015 primary, their candidate is going to get absolutely clobbered on the 5th of May.

And that would be a shame.  Alexander deserves better than that.  She is first-rate and deserves a realistic shot at pulling off an upset.

So we will see how West and Smith do.

And the SCPR puts the burden squarely on their shoulders to show that they can be effective in political organizing and at GOTV ("get[ing] out the vote").

Skepticism has to be the expectation given the 2014 Ward 2 and 4 primary election turnout rate.

West has a personal interest in ginning up the African American voting numbers.

He tells the SCPR that he expects to run for term limited Stephen Slesnick's 49th Ohio House seat in the 2016 elections.

It is unlikely he will get a free ride to Columbus.

Therefore, he'd better be sharpening up his political organizing skills in the Alexander campaign.

It has been a very, very long time since Canton has had an African American Canton Municipal Court judge.  Even longer than since Stark County has had an African American elected countywide.  As far as the SCPR knows, the only African American that has ever been elected countywide has been Ira Turpin back in the 1970s and 1980s.

One of Alexander's elected official supporters has told the SCPR that the main reason for supporting Alexander what that "it is high time for an African American to be elected to the Canton Municipal Court."

The SCPR has heard out of the mouth of Councilman West a sort of fatalism about the ability to elect blacks citywide and by implication countywide.

And yet when he ran for the Ohio senate in 2006 against top Republican vote getter J. Kirk Schuring, West did very well in capturing some 44% of the vote.

President Obama proved twice that a black man can win countywide in Stark by winning over McCain (2008) and Romney (2012).

The SCPR can see a scenario that if West and Smith (in their announced role as Alexander supporters) can marshal great numbers of African American votes for Alexander, she just might pull off a political upset.

Should Alexander lose the primary vote, to show that it is was not a race based thing to have advocated for her;  then it is incumbent on Smith and West to work every bit as hard - as loyal Democrats - for Candidate Guardado.

And, naturally, if Alexander does pull off the upset; then Guardado's supporters should vigorously support her.

Alexander's hope, the SCPR thinks, rests on solid black community voter support and voters at large not holding it against her that the major share of her legal experience has occurred in Summit County.

Let it be clearly understood.

The SCPR does not think nor has The Report heard anyone else say that any voter should vote for Angela Alexander merely because she is African America.

The primary consideration is whether or not she is qualified to be a judge.

And she definitely is.  As is Kristen Guardado.

It is important that in the United States of America that diversity in leadership be a real opportunity and not merely a matter of rhetorical flourish.

In that vein, let the Alexander and Guardado supporters "fight the good fight" of political competition and may the best woman win.

For the SCPR's part, either candidate will be quality competition for the Republican candidate.

Projecting the Hartnett-Werren Court of Common Pleas race (which Hartnett won by the narrowest of margins) onto a Alexander/Guardado versus Werren Canton Municipal Court contest, political competition is going to be the winner in that is likely to produce a first-rate judge.

Let us have more of this in Stark County.

Alexander, in her presentation last Thursday described a Summit County strength over Stark County in that in Summit it is unheard of "not" to have political competition on judgeships.

May Hartnett's successfully defying the odds and Alexander perhaps defying the odds might prompt the folks who run Stark County's political parties to better serve the public interest in recruiting well qualified candidates for each and every judicial race going forward.

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