This is a pivotal year for the major political parties in Lucas County.
In one corner are the Lucas County Republicans. The GOP has been led by Chair Jon Stainbrook for the past decade. Under his leadership, every elected office in the county has been won by a Democrat. Three quarters of Toledo City Council are Democrats, and no Republican has cleared a primary for Toledo Mayor. Heck, declared Independents have fared better than Republicans.
Stainbrook has one claim to fame as party chair. The candidates he has recruited to run for office have been deemed by the voters to be wretched refuse. He has littered the ballot with candidates like Alfonso Narvaez, Constantine Stamos, and James Nowak. The heap of failed GOP candidates is piled high with such non-entities, most of whom left little lasting impression on the voting public.
We know they had no impact on the collective electoral psyche because Stainbrook tends to recycle and reuse his picks again and again. The three election losers named above have run, and lost, multiple times. Stainbrook apparently doesn’t understand the simple fact that some things just can’t be recycled. They must be tossed in the trash pile.
Hence the call for a replacement at the top of the GOP. Former state legislator Mark Wagoner is working mightily to replace Stainbrook, and promises to end the garbage picks and recruit viable candidates for office. Given Stainbrook’s track record, improvement shouldn’t be difficult.
Lonely at the top
Oddly, there has been no similar clarion call for change at the top of the Democratic Party. Chair Joshua Hughes rides the wave of Dem success, dominating county-wide offices and Toledo leadership. There has been no public challenge to his continued leadership.
Hughes is no stranger to recycling and reusing. The election of Wade Kapszukiewicz to Toledo Mayor set off a possible scenario, advanced by State Rep Michael Ashford, where a laundry list of current or former Dem elected officials would swap seats. The affected Dems, including Ashford, State Rep Teresa Fedor, former Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson, and then-member of Council Lindsay Webb, would be tucked into elective slots, with each landing a comfy publicly-funded position.
Unfortunately for Ashford, the Dem leadership intervened. Instead of recycling Ashford, Webb was reused as County Treasurer, leaving Ashford and Fedor to duke it out for State Senate and PHH to run for Ashford’s state rep seat. Recycling it shall be, just not as clean as Ashford proposed.
The problem for the Dems under Hughes is that the loser of the Fedor-Ashford melee will be knocked back to private life. An ever bigger problem is the sudden vulnerability of Webb due to the revelation of her financial problems and the attendant budget hit to the County coffers to pay for her to be bonded as the Treasurer.
It begs the question. How did Hughes and Dem leadership not know Webb was so insolvent that junk bond traders wouldn’t take a chance on her? And why didn’t Hughes step in to prevent the five-figure hit to the County budget, caused by Webb’s junk bond status, by reconvening the Dems to reconsider the choice in light of new and damaging information?
It certainly looks like an obvious opening for the Rs to break through and win a seat from a damaged D.
Nope. Webb and the Dems are lucky. It seems the Stainbrook Rs have done their usual remarkable job, being unable to find anything resembling a viable candidate to challenge Webb. Whether someone more threatening will materialize to exploit the obvious opportunity Webb’s credit score presents remains to be seen.
A bigger problem for the Dems, and Hughes, is their recycling efforts in the race to replace outgoing County Commissioner Carol Contrada. It could easily lead to the first loss of a county-wide seat in over a decade, and could cause a leadership crisis for the Dems akin to the current battle to replace Stainbrook within the GOP.
Stay tuned for Part Two of garbage is as garbage does.
Next: Byers remorse.