County Democrats set up panel to focus on McNamara, Craig

1/18/2013
BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
Toledo Councilmen Mike Craig and Joe McNamara attended the meeting with the Democratic Party's executive committee.
Toledo Councilmen Mike Craig and Joe McNamara attended the meeting with the Democratic Party's executive committee.

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.

Rothenbuhler.
Rothenbuhler.

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.