The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
Jon Stainbrook, chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party, said he’s determined to give county voters a choice on their ballot this fall for two open county seats.
Only problem so far — there are no definite candidates, at least for the two highest-profile offices on the ballot.
And to make matters worse for the GOP, a local Tea Party organization is trying to bring down the one Republican Statehouse representative from Lucas County.
“We’re working to get the most qualified candidates in all these races. We have a screening process that started back in September,” Mr. Stainbrook said. “Now it’s crunchtime.”
Toledo City Councilman Rob Ludeman, the party’s best hope to unseat an incumbent Democratic county officer, decided last week against running against Democratic Auditor Anita Lopez.
No other Republican has surfaced publicly to take on Ms. Lopez. Nor has a Republican stepped forward to take on Democratic Lucas County Commissioner Carol Contrada, though Mr. Stainbrook is actively recruiting potential candidates willing to undergo the process of running for office as a Republican in Democrat-dominated Lucas County.
To help encourage volunteers to run, Mr. Stainbrook two weeks ago sent fellow Republicans a list of available slots on the ballot, with Internet links to maps of Statehouse districts.
He said there are potential candidates for many seats, but the party’s screening committee wants to review their candidacies to see if they’re up to the task, aside from whether their beliefs coincide with the GOP’s.
Some questions to consider are: Do they know about the office for which they’re running; will they be able to raise money; will they be able to attract volunteers, and do they come across well on TV?
While the local party has a role in helping to generate candidates and petition signatures for statewide, Statehouse, and congressional races, the holy grail of county political chairmen is a slate of candidates for countywide office.
Democrats hold all 11 countywide row offices. In addition to the one county commissioner seat and auditor who are on the ballot this year, there are also two other commissioners, treasurer, recorder, prosecutor, sheriff, coroner, engineer, and clerk of courts, who are elected in presidential election years.
Also on the primary ballot May 6 and general election ballot Nov. 4 are all statewide offices, Supreme Court seats, congressional representatives, Statehouse representatives, state senator from the 11th District (most of Toledo), and some seats on the 6th District Court of Appeals and Lucas County Common Pleas Court.
The deadline for candidates to file nominating petitions this year is 4 p.m. Feb. 5.
Separate from those elections is the special election on May 6 to fill the vacant District 2 Toledo City Council seat, now held by appointment by Democrat Matt Cherry. The deadline to file for that seat is March 27.
The local Republican Party could experience at least one primary, and maybe more. State Rep. Barbara Sears (R., Monclova Township) is facing a potential opponent in Tea Party activist Scott Allegrini of Sylvania.
Mr. Allegrini, 39, a Wal-Mart manager and founder of the Children of Liberty group, said he was very disturbed by Ms. Sears’ support of Medicaid expansion in Ohio to accommodate one of the goals of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.
“I’m just gauging what the possibility is,” Mr. Allegrini said. “Right now it looks like there’s enough support but I’m not 100 percent sure.”
The 47th House district includes Sylvania, Ottawa Hills, and Sylvania, Monclova, Richfield, Spencer, Harding, Swanton, Waterville, and Providence townships, and most of Fulton County except for the southeast corner.
Mr. Allegrini would be making the Tea Party-backed run that was previously considered by Rich Iott of Monclova Township.
Mr. Iott said in an email to The Blade that he would not run now that Mr. Allegrini is planning to run.
John McAvoy, chairman of the Northwest Ohio Conservative Coalition, which has been recruiting candidates to run in the Republican primary, said he believes there is a lot of Republican opposition to Ms. Sears.
He said he was not worried that the very conservative Mr. Allegrini might win the Republican primary and then lose to a Democrat in the general election.
Nationally, there was a rash of Tea Party-backed candidates in the 2010 elections who succeeded in bumping off electable Republicans, but went on to lose in the general election.
“I think what happens is the Republican election primary is going to move the strongest Republican candidate to the general election,” Mr. McAvoy said. “I don’t see how that can hurt.”
Mr. Stainbrook said he was confident that Ms. Sears would easily win the May 6 primary, and then go on to win against whatever Democrat runs against her in the general election.
“This is a protest candidate and he has no chance of winning. Barb Sears has done a phenomenal job,” Mr. Stainbrook said.
Ms. Sears said filing in a primary is a good way to get one’s message out but said that she considers herself largely in sync with the Tea Party, just not on the expansion of Medicaid, which is separate from the element of Obamacare that most outrages conservatives, the individual mandate requiring everyone to have health insurance.
“For the most part I’ve identified with the Tea Party. They agree with me on 99 percent of the issues,” said Ms. Sears. “How do you ever get to 100 percent? I’m looking forward to the debate.”
Ron Rothenbuhler, chairman of the Lucas County Democratic Party, said he doesn’t know yet which Democrat might file to run against Ms. Sears.