Is it her or him? A or B? None of the above?
The race to be Mayor of Toledo is down to two, incumbent Paula HH and challenger Wade Kapszukiewicz.
But it’s about much more than just who will sit on the 22nd Floor. It will determine leadership across the County and the future of the local Democratic Party.
Who kicks the donkey?
If Paula wins, it will be because of the hard work of the current leadership of the Lucas County Democratic Party, and to a lesser extent that of the Ohio Ds, who endorsed Paula’s re-election even before the local County Party. If she wins, it will be a victory for the entrenched Party machinery, proving the power of that endorsement, being on the Party slate with the benefits of a volunteer base and an established headquarters which translates to victory.
If Wade wins, it will show that one person, with enough name recognition and voter trust can get bigger than the Party. That there’s nothing the Party can do to enforce internal discipline. That, like Dr. Frankenstein, the Party can create a monster that they can’t then control.
This election is at some level a referendum on Josh Hughes’ leadership of the local Ds. A Paula win means vindication. A Wade victory and we predict Hughes will be out the door.
Make no mistake, this isn’t the old A-B split in the local Party. The players are different on the two sides, and Wade didn’t run just to beat Paula. He ran in part to beat Tom Waniewski and keep the 22nd Floor in Democratic hands. The results of the primary confirm that Tommy Wah would have been a formidable opponent in November if Wade was not in the race.
And there is currently nothing like the old animosity between the J Ford and Carty Party factions a decade ago. Most Ds generally like Wade and Paula, even if some are ticked that Wade didn’t wait four years to run for a vacant mayoral seat. But those wounds will likely heal.
Nevertheless, a Wade victory will show the Party needs him more than he needs the Party. He’ll be in charge, and able to dictate the future. it will likely be a future without Josh Hughes at the helm.
Job opening, apply within
A Wade victory looks increasingly likely, given the primary results and predictable outcome that T Wah voters switch to Wade, not Paula., come November, creating a vacancy in the LC Treasurer’s office. The LC Democratic Party Central Committee would appoint a replacement, who would then have to win election to keep the seat.
There is a long list of folks likely to vie for the appointment. If a sitting elected official was appointed, it would open up their seat as well. For example, Michael Ashford is term limited from running for his seat in the State House next year. If he was appointed, the Party would then appoint his replacement, and the dominoes would keep falling.
Teresa Fedor is also term limited, and rumored to want the State Senate seat soon to be vacated by retiring Senator Edna Brown. Might she prefer to stay closer to home on the Fifth Floor of One Guv?
Lindsay Webb is also term limited after twenty nineteen. She might be itching for the fat Treasurer’s paycheck, which would open her seat on Council. Or she might support Fedor for Treasurer, with the caveat that she would be appointed to Fedor’s open seat.
Rumor has it that current Council members Tyrone Riley and Yvonne Harper are eyeing a run for State House next year. An appointment to the Treasurer’s seat might look a bit more attractive. Or they might support Ashford in the expectation that they would get his then-vacated seat. Council President and former Party Chair Steven Steel is about to retire from Council, saying he’s headed to the private sector. Might he make a play for the Fifth Floor?
What about someone who isn’t in current elected office? Karen Poore has been a long-time Party activist and one of Wade’s top deputies in the Treasurer’s office. She knows how the office works from the inside. Ditto David Mann, who left the Treasurer’s office to become head of the closely aligned Lucas County Land Bank. Either Mann or Poore could step into the Treasurer’s seat without missing a beat.
All of this could be premature. Paula could win in a few weeks, and Wade could keep his Treasurer’s post. The local and state Ds would be secure and little would change.
Maybe so. But it would be so much more fun to see the dominoes start tumbling if Wade wins.