Ohio Democratic Party chairman Chris Redfern speaks during a press conference at Toledo's Democratic Party headquarters on Tuesday.
The state Democratic Party chairman usually devotes his time to the big races and the big issues, but Tuesday he stepped into a Toledo Municipal Court race to attack the Republican candidate.
Chris Redfern said he came to Toledo to support Michelle Wagner, the Democratic candidate, for an open seat on the court.
He criticized Mark Davis, the Republican in the three-way race, citing Mr. Davis’ application for a gubernatorial appointment in 2007 claiming to be a Democrat just a year after trying to unseat a veteran Democratic Lucas County Common Pleas judge.
Mr. Redfern also brought up two malpractice suits in which Mr. Davis is a defendant, his showing in the Toledo Bar Association poll, and other issues.
“No race is too small or too great for the involvement of the Democratic Party at all levels,” Mr. Redfern said. “I’m here to draw a clear and distinct contrast between Michelle and her underqualified opponent Mark Davis.”
Ms. Wagner, of Toledo, is the assistant prosecutor in Sylvania Municipal Court. Also running for the seat now held by Democratic Judge Francis X. Gorman, who is stepping down, is independent David Toska, chief prosecutor for Toledo Municipal Court.
Mr. Redfern highlighted the outcome of a poll of members of the Toledo Bar Association in September which found that Mr. Davis was rated as recommended or highly recommended by 9.7 percent of the 330 respondents, compared with 94.7 percent who said Ms. Wagner was recommended or highly recommended. Mr. Toska was recommended or highly recommended by 74.2 percent.
Mr. Redfern also highlighted two malpractice cases against Mr. Davis and a finding against him in 2007 by the Ohio Elections Commission that he had illegally accepted two $500 contributions from corporations. The commission did not impose any punitive measures after Mr. Davis returned the money and said that, as an independent candidate, he was not aware of the prohibition on corporate contributions.
Mr. Davis has been sued in Ottawa County Common Pleas Court for legal malpractice by Robin Vess, who alleged he was negligent in his representation of her during her 2010 animal-cruelty criminal case. A malpractice lawsuit was filed in Lucas County Common Pleas Court in August, 2010, by a client who claimed to have hired McHugh & McCarthy, the law firm where Mr. Davis had worked, in 2003 in a civil matter. Mr. Davis was one of nine defendants identified in the lawsuit.
Mr. Davis did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Jon Stainbrook, chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party, said Mr. Redfern’s involvement in the local race shows that Democrats are concerned that Ms. Wagner could lose.
“For a state chair to come to Toledo to attack a judicial candidate I think is unprecedented. They must really be worried about Mark Davis and scared that they have no chance of winning this seat,” Mr. Stainbrook said.
Contact Tom Troy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6058.