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Published: 2/18/2006

A lousy sense of timing

LUCAS County Commissioner Maggie Thurber gained a reputation as a giant killer back in 1993 when she defeated longtime Democratic office holder James Holzemer for municipal court clerk. Her victory sent one of the county's best known politicians into retirement.

Unfortunately, we wonder if she might be doing the same thing to what remains of the Lucas County Republican Party.

Ms. Thurber waited until the night before Thursday's filing deadline to announce to the public and to her own party that she will not be a candidate for re-election in the fall. Republican leaders, including her party chairman and fellow GOP officeholders Larry Kaczala and George Sarantou, were blindsided by the news and forced to reassess their own plans literally overnight.

What makes the commissioner's timing all the more bizarre is the fact that she indicated in a 13-paragraph statement released Wednesday night that she made her decision not to seek another term back in December.

So why didn't she announce it then, when there was plenty of time for the party and its few elected officeholders to weigh their options at a pace more deliberate than panic mode?

A good question, but an unanswered one. Ms. Thurber is off on a Bahamas vacation.

We take no satisfaction in the ignominious departure of Ms. Thurber from elected office because we saw such promise when she first entered public service in 1993 as the Republican candidate for clerk of Toledo Municipal Court.

Though many viewed her at the time as the GOP's sacrificial lamb against the veteran Democrat and appointed incumbent, Mr. Holzemer, we did not. She earned our editorial endorsement and won the election.

Eleven years later she did it again, knocking off another veteran Democrat, Sandy Isenberg - who was plagued by ethics questions - to win a seat on the county commission.

But over the years we also watched with dismay as she abused or ignored her potential, and her sense of obligation to her party. She refused to step forward and run for mayor in 1997 when she would have provided a strong and credible Republican opponent for Carty Finkbeiner's re-election bid.

Mr. Finkbeiner narrowly won against an obscure candidate named Nick Wichowski, which suggests that the job might have been hers had she pursued it.

Her statement this week announcing her intent to step down cited an old and all-compassing explanation: "personal reasons." Though she didn't mention it, one such reason could be her inclusion among 24 people named in an FBI affidavit who allegedly served as "conduits," individuals who the government says took money from Tom Noe and passed it along to President Bush's campaign in 2004.

The timing of her announcement is one more example of her disregard for the best interests of her own party, which already has enough problems statewide and locally.

During her 12 years as an elected official, Ms. Thurber has not helped herself with an attitude that many describe as condescending and arrogant. It's unfortunate that she will leave office in a manner that underscores the point.



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