COLUMBUS - Will she run or won't she?
"I'm not answering," said Ohio Supreme Court Justice Alice Robie Resnick yesterday. "You'll know when I announce it."
At a time when the Ohio Democratic Party must rebuild from within with the recent resignation of its chairman, the party is still waiting to learn whether its sole statewide elected official will be on the ballot next year.
At least one Democrat is waiting in the wings, and five Republican appellate judges are seeking the GOP endorsement. But candidates are reluctant to commit until Justice Resnick, 66, of Ottawa Hills makes her plans known, probably after the first of the year.
By comparison, for the 2004 elections, Republicans had their court slate ready by September, 2003. The result was a clean GOP sweep, further eroding what was once a 4-3 philosophical majority that repeatedly found the state's system of funding schools unconstitutional and frustrated the business community with its rulings in product liability, insurance, and workers compensation cases.
The court has since taken a conservative 5-2 shift.
Justice Resnick said the delay has nothing to do with a pending disciplinary proceeding related to her Jan. 31 arrest for drunken driving.
"I don't know when that's going to come," she said.
She has agreed with a special investigator to accept a public reprimand, a deal a disciplinary panel of appellate judges could accept or reject. The justice pleaded guilty to drunken driving in Bowling Green Municipal Court, participated in a three-day alcohol intervention program, and surrendered her driver's license for six months.
Court of Appeals Chief Justice Mike Fain, heading a rare 13-judge panel overseeing the discipline of a sitting justice, said he hopes to complete the process before his term expires at the end of the year.
Chief Judges Bob Cupp of the 3rd District in Lima and Stephen Powell of the 12th District in Middletown have recused themselves from sitting on the case. Both are seeking the GOP endorsement to replace her.
Others seeking the endorsement are Judges Mary DeGenaro of the 6th District inYoungstown, Susan Brown of the 10th District in Columbus, and Michael Corrigan of the 8th District in Cleveland.
Justice Resnick won a third six-year term in 2000 with a robust 57 percent of the vote, despite a massive corporate-backed campaign to unseat her.
"Nobody on the Democratic side is going to challenge her, and on the Republican side, [the delay] may slow down a couple of Republicans who don't want to run against her," said Herb Asher, Ohio State University political science professor.
Candidates must file petitions for the May primary by Feb. 16.
"A lot of people would like to see [Justice Resnick] run," said Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Peter Sikora, a Democrat who plans to run if she does not.
"She's the strongest candidate Democrats could put forth," he said. "She is a sitting justice, but it's her call to make."
Republican Justice Terrence O'Donnell is seeking re-election, but the two court races are not expected to attract as much attention as they have in recent years. A Democratic sweep would not restore philosophical control of the court.
Instead, the focus is expected to be on such statewide races as U.S. Senate and governor.
Contact Jim Provance at:
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