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Published: Friday, 4/28/2006

Konop's use of 'Kaptur' irks Wagener as primary nears

BY JOSHUA BOAK
BLADE STAFF WRITER

With the primary election days away, the final weekend sprint to become the Democratic nominee for Lucas County Commissioner began with a walk by candidate Ben Konop.

Mr. Konop, a lawyer and visiting professor at the University of Toledo law school, hiked from Oregon to Toledo yesterday afternoon, part of a 30-mile walking tour of the county that will conclude on Monday.

"You really get a better sense of the community when you're on the ground," Mr. Konop said. "It's a great way to end the campaign on a positive note."

But partisan infighting about the use of Congressman Marcy Kaptur's name has kept the commissioner race from being an afternoon stroll in the sunshine.

Mr. Konop, who interned with Miss Kaptur (D., Toledo) in 1995, featured her name in a prerecorded phone message sent to voters by his campaign, said Steve Katich, staff director for the congressman.

"We asked him to not do that and remove those," Mr. Katich said. "She has a working relationship with all of the men in the race. She made a decision early on in the campaign not to endorse anyone."

Toledo City Councilman Phil Copeland and Maumee Mayor Tim Wagener are the other Democrats running for commissioner in Tuesday's primary election.

"He was using her name without her permission," Mr. Wagener said. "Marcy is well-loved in the senior community. God knows what it cost to Phillip and I."

Mr. Konop declined yesterday to talk about the "private conversations" he had concerning the messages.

Miss Kaptur herself received one of the automated messages mentioning her name, Mr. Katich said. The reference to her was removed after Mr. Katich spoke with Mr. Konop last week.

The impact of name-dropping Miss Kaptur may not be as dramatic as Mr. Wagener indicated, said Jim Ruvolo, a longtime Democratic strategist.

"People don't like to be told who to vote for by other politicians," Mr. Ruvolo said.

"I don't know if you can judge how much of this stuff helps. I've never been a great believer in it," he added.

While Mr. Konop walked, Mr. Copeland, the front-runner according to the Blade-Zogby International poll, went door-to-door in Toledo yesterday, handing out postcards about himself to potential voters.

Mr. Copeland does not know how many votes he needs to win Tuesday.

"All I know is I need one more than the rest of them," Mr. Copeland said.

Mr. Wagener conferred with supporters last night, hosting a fund-raiser at the Lighthouse Cafe, a Toledo restaurant on the Maumee River.

"It's a way to meet people," Mr. Wagener said. "And they usually like me because they paid to get in here."

GOP commissioner candidates Pam Haynam and George Sarantou promised to trim the fat from the county budget in speeches to the Greater Toledo Republican Club last night.

Ms. Haynam, a Sylvania School Board member, said she would examine the 3percent annual raises for county employees and the use of sick days.

"Maybe we don't need to have salary increases at this time in this economy," she said.

Mr. Sarantou said he would apply his experience pruning budgets as a Toledo city councilman to the county.

"We've cut millions from the city of Toledo budget because we had no choice," he said. "Otherwise we had to cut police and firefighters' jobs."

Contact Joshua Boak at:

jboak@theblade.com

or 419-724-6728.


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