A tried and true method in politics is to find an enemy somewhere - a person or a problem - and attack it without mercy.
It is what gives a sense of purpose to political campaigns.
Ray Kest has found his campaign's purpose: Paula Ross, chairwoman of the Lucas County Democratic Party.
Ms. Ross, he says, has never lost her taste for liberal politics, and, if it were in her power, would reverse all development in Toledo. If it were up to her, you can almost hear him say, we would be living in caves, with no fire - because of the greenhouse gases.
Mr. Kest, by contrast, says he is the “pro-business, pro-labor, pro-jobs” candidate in the race.
His strategy is to diminish the value of the Lucas County Democratic Party endorsement in the race for mayor of Toledo, which Mr. Kest did not win.
It went instead to state Rep. Jack Ford, another longtime Democrat who, like Mr. Kest, has served the party for many years.
But it is too early in the campaign season to directly attack Mr. Ford, so Mr. Kest takes after Ms. Ross instead. His message is delivered with gusto, and more than a hundred Kest supporters received it warmly last week at the opening of the Kest campaign headquarters on Heatherdowns Boulevard.
What is unknown is how such a message will play in wider Democratic circles. Making excuses about his failure to win the party endorsement in such an important race could begin to wear thin quickly.
Ms. Ross, the campaign manager for liberal Mike Ferner in<$eb> 1993, came into mainstream politics soon after, joining the Democratic Party under the wing of then-Chairman Keith Wilkowski. When he stepped down, she stepped into the top party post.
Despite her liberal activist background, she has manufactured many political wins for the party, and has endeared herself to many. Recently she offered to resign if Mr. Kest won the party's endorsement. Given the choice, party insiders decided to keep her.
There is still time before the July 13 filing deadline for candidates to enter the Toledo municipal election, but most, if not all, of the horses are already out of the starting gate.
And it turns out there's not much competition on the track for seats on city council.
Democrats hold 10 of the 12 slots on council, including five of the six at-large seats and five of the six district seats. All 10 Democratic incumbents are running for re-election.
So are both Republican candidates, though at-large Councilman Gene Zmuda has not yet made his official announcement.
Democrat Ed Cichy is challenging Republican Rob Ludeman in District 2. City administrator Perlean Griffin and Republican restaurateur Dennis Lange are <$eb> running for at-large seats on council.
All told, there are now eight candidates for six at-large seats on council. Because the top 12 at-large candidates advance past the Sept. 11 primary to the Nov. 6 general election, all candidates would advance.
In the district races, there is so far no Republican opposition to the five district councilmen, and only one opponent to Republican Lude-man, who will automatically advance through the primary to a general election face-off.
So what is the point of the primary election?
SAY IT ISN'T SO: His mistake was that the passenger window on his red sedan was rolled down slightly. That was the only way a reporter in the area could have known that Kest assistant Domenic Montalto had tuned in to the Rush Limbaugh radio show last week.
That's right. Domenic Montalto listening to Rush!
It is clear that Mr. Kest will have to win a big percentage of the conservative vote if he is to become Toledo's next mayor, but it would seem cruel and unusual punishment to require Democratic underlings to listen to Rush to get into the right frame of mind.
“You've got to know what the enemy is thinking,” Mr. Montalto said, trying to recover.
Fritz Wenzel covers politics for The Blade. Email him at email@example.com.
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