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County Democrats set up panel to focus on McNamara, Craig

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    Toledo Councilmen Mike Craig and Joe McNamara attended the meeting with the Democratic Party's executive committee.

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Toledo Councilmen Mike Craig and Joe McNamara attended the meeting with the Democratic Party's executive committee.

The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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The Lu­cas County Demo­cratic Party ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee didn’t take steps Thurs­day night that could lead to sanc­tions against Toledo Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Joe McNamara and Coun­cil­man Mike Craig, and in­stead de­cided to have a com­mit­tee fo­cus on the two party mem­bers.

Party Chair­man Ron Rothen­bu­hler said the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee au­tho­rized him to put to­gether a com­mit­tee to re­view the ac­tions of Mr. McNamara and Mr. Craig in re­fus­ing to vote for fel­low Dem­o­crat Shaun En­right to fill a va­cancy on city coun­cil ear­lier this month.



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Mr. Rothen­bu­hler said the six-mem­ber group is ex­pected to bring a rec­om­men­da­tion to the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee meet­ing on Feb. 21.

“I am set­ting up a com­mi­tee to dis­cuss the is­sue in­ter­nally and come back with a de­ci­sion to give to the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee,” he said af­ter a 45-minute meet­ing at party head­quar­ters.

Mr. McNamara and Mr. Craig, who are on the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, at­tended the meet­ing.

“I think it was a good meet­ing... I think this party has come a long way,” said Mr. McNamara, de­fer­ring ad­di­tional ques­tions to Mr. Rothen­bu­hler.

Mr. Craig would not pro­vide any com­ment af­ter the meet­ing.

Mr. Rothen­bu­hler and five oth­ers, who will be cho­sen by him, will be on the com­mit­tee. He said they likely will get in­put from Mr. McNamara and Mr. Craig.

Party by­laws re­quire ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­bers to sup­port the party’s can­di­dates. Mr. En­right, 33, of East Toledo is an elec­tri­cians’ union or­ga­nizer and was backed by area con­struc­tion trade unions who wanted their own rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the 12-mem­ber city coun­cil. Mr. En­right will run in elec­tions this fall to try to win the seat for a full four-year term.

Mr. McNamara and Mr. Craig said they sup­ported an­other can­di­date, for­mer Mayor Jack Ford, who is African-Amer­i­can, to ful­fill an­other re­quire­ment of the party’s by­laws: to fight against so­cial in­justice.

Den­nis Duffey, an of­fi­cial with the Ohio Build­ing and Con­struc­tion Trades Coun­cil and a ward leader from Mon­clova Town­ship, has called for ac­tion against Mr. McNamara be­cause he al­leg­edly vi­o­lated his oath to the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee.

In the past, Coun­cil Dem­o­crats have some­times been sanc­tioned and some­times not for vot­ing for some­one other than the party’s nom­i­nee. In 1995, five Dem­o­crats on City Coun­cil re­jected the party’s rec­om­men­da­tion, Wade Kaps­zuk­ie­w­icz, and voted for Dem­o­crat Bill Boyle in­stead. No sanc­tions were im­posed.

Ten years later, a split in the party was ag­gra­vated when seven Dem­o­crats on coun­cil re­fused to sup­port the party’s nom­i­nee, Mark Sob­czak. They voted in­stead to ap­point Phil Co­peland. All seven were sanc­tioned by be­ing de­nied party en­dorse­ments or other help the next time they ran for of­fice. The sanc­tions proved not to be po­lit­i­cally fa­tal as many of those in­di­vid­u­als were re-elected or went on to other of­fices.

Mr. Kaps­zuk­ie­w­icz, who was re-elected Lu­cas County trea­surer in No­vem­ber, is a mem­ber of the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee but is at­tend­ing Pres­i­dent Obama’s in­au­gu­ra­tion and was not at the meet­ing. If he had been, he said he would op­pose sanc­tions.

“I was mad, hurt, an­gry. But I had smart, sage, wise peo­ple ad­vis­ing me. The smart pol­i­tics was just to let it pass,” Mr. Kaps­zuk­ie­w­icz said. “Whether Joe McNamara is sanc­tioned doesn’t help one bit in elect­ing Dem­o­crats and de­feat­ing Mike Bell.”

Joe Cousino, busi­ness man­ager for Mr. En­right’s union, In­ter­na­tional Brother­hood of Elec­tri­cal Work­ers Lo­cal 8, said he’d like to let by­gones be by­gones and have the party fo­cus on elect­ing Dem­o­crats, es­pe­cially since Mr. En­right got on coun­cil.

“I’m hop­ing that noth­ing too dras­tic comes of this. I don’t think it’s in our in­ter­ests to have a split in the party,” Mr. Cousino said.

Staff writer Mark Reiter con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Con­tact Tom Troy at:tom­troy@the­blade.comor 419-724-6058.

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