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Ex-Wood Co. official vows to back appointee

Endorsement of GOP hopeful unintentional

Ruffner-Kuhlman-Perkins

The Blade
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Former Wood County Commissioner Alvie Perkins has assured his fellow Democrats that he supports Joel Kuhlman, who was appointed to complete his term in office, for election to the seat.

Last week, Democrats and Republicans alike were taken by surprise when Richard Ruffner -- one of five Republicans seeking the GOP nomination Tuesday for county commissioner -- announced on his Web site and in a newspaper ad that Mr. Perkins had endorsed him.

"I've been involved with the Republican party in Wood County for 20 years. A Democrat has never endorsed a Republican," said Matt Reger, chairman of the county GOP, which does not endorse candidates in primary elections.

Mike Zickar, chairman of the Wood County Democratic Party, said Mr. Perkins and his wife, Gail, attended the party's executive committee Thursday, where Mr. Zickar announced Mr. Perkins had pledged his support for Mr. Kuhlman and said he would donate the money left in his campaign fund to Mr. Kuhlman's campaign.

The most recent campaign finance report showed Mr. Perkins had $3,425.66 in his campaign account as of July 27, 2011.

Mr. Zickar said he was surprised when he saw the endorsement for Mr. Ruffner. Mr. Perkins stepped down as county commissioner Jan. 11.

"Back in January, Alvie endorsed Joel Kuhlman to take his vacated spot, and one of the reasons he felt comfortable stepping down was the Democrats had a strong person to fill his shoes," Mr. Zickar said in an email. "Alvie always had a fondness for Joel and has mentored him for at least the past four years."

Mr. Ruffner said he took Mr. Perkins' endorsement off his campaign Web site after Mrs. Perkins called and questioned him about it. She said her husband has memory problems and likely did not understand what he was signing.

"I said, 'Mrs. Perkins, I didn't mean for this to cause you or your family any grief,' " Mr. Ruffner said. "I have too much respect for Alvie and the career he put into politics, and that's why I pulled it."

Mr. Ruffner, 49, of Webster Township conceded he wrote the endorsement but said the words were based on conversations he'd had with Mr. Perkins. While he said Mr. Perkins told him he intended to share it with his wife before signing it, Mrs. Perkins said her husband never showed it to her.

Also seeking the GOP nomination are David Beaverson, 54, of Middleton Township; Doris Herringshaw, 62, of Liberty Township; Terry Krukemyer, 50, of Pemberville, and Adam Seibert, 23, of Jerry City.

The winner will face Mr. Kuhlman in November.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-724-6129.

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