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Published: Friday, 9/21/2007

Ashford gets Lucas County Democratic Party's panel to lift sanctions

The executive committee of the Lucas County Democratic Party last night voted to lift the party's sanctions against Toledo Council President Michael Ashford, putting him in contention for a party endorsement.

Mr. Ashford is seeking re-election in council District 4, and will face fellow Democrat Ronnell Traynum in the Nov. 6 general election, according to unofficial results from the Sept. 11 primary.

A member of the A-team wing of the party, Mr. Ashford was one of seven Democratic council members ordered punished in 2005 when they voted to appoint Democrat Phil Copeland to a vacancy, rather than the party's endorsed candidate, Mark Sobczak, who later was elected. The punishment was that at their next election, they would not be eligible for the party's help.

The sanction vote upset the plans for last night's meeting, which was supposed to focus on a meeting of the screening committee followed by an endorsement vote by the executive committee.

Party Chairman Ron Rothenbuhler said Mr. Ashford submitted a letter asking for the sanctions to be lifted, postponing the screening.

Mr. Rothenbuhler said the screening committee will meet Oct. 1 to consider endorsements in that race.

Ms. Traynum, who has B-team backing, which is largely in control of the executive committee, said it was inappropriate for Mr. Ashford's request to have the sanction lifted to have derailed the screening.

"We were here for a screening. If they were going to unsanction someone, they should have done it prior to today," Ms. Traynum said.

Mr. Ashford, who spoke at length to the executive committee recounting his service to Democratic candidates, left without commenting.

Whether the endorsement will make any difference in the nonpartisan race is unclear.

Mr. Ashford received 62 percent of the vote in the primary last week to Ms. Traynum's 14.7 percent.

The executive committee endorsed Molly McHugh Branyan for council District 2, and David Hunter and Lisa Canales for re-election to the Washington Local board of education.

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