Lucas County’s Democratic and Republican parties held endorsement meetings Monday night to select candidates they want voters to support in the May 6 election, for which early voting begins today.
Republicans endorsed Richard May of Cleveland over Robert Horrocks, Jr., of Lakewood in the 9th Congressional District primary race. The two are seeking the GOP nod to run in the Nov. 4 general election against incumbent U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) for the district that stretches from Toledo to West Cleveland.
GOP Chairman Jon Stainbrook said Mr. Horrocks made the trip from Cuyahoga County, but the vote in favor of Mr. May was “not close.”
Mr. May, who was endorsed last week by the Cuyahoga County Republican Party, is a longtime Cleveland Republican activist and a warehouse manager retired on disability. Mr. Horrocks, a former New Carlisle, Ohio mayor, is an industrial-bearings salesman and a recent transplant to northern Ohio.
The Republicans also endorsed state Rep. Barbara Sears (R., Monclova Township) for re-election against Tea Party’s Scott Allegrini in the 47th House District; Joe Celusta for the special election for city council District 2; Benjamin Roberts for Lucas County commissioner against Kevin Haddad; Joe Clarke for Lucas County Domestic Relations judge against Lisa McGowan, and John Navarre for Lucas County auditor against write-in candidate James Martin.
The party also formally endorsed unopposed Republicans seeking nominations for other seats on the primary ballot.
Mr. Celusta, who ran unsuccessfully for City Council last year, faces endorsed Democrat Matt Cherry, independent Marcia Helman, and Democrat Bob Vasquez in the City Council race to fill the vacancy left when former District 2 Councilman D. Michael Collins was sworn in as mayor.
About 60 people turned out for the GOP executive committee meeting in the party’s downtown headquarters, including most of the candidates, who made statements.
Democrats endorsed incumbent county Commissioner Carol Contrada of Sylvania Township for re-election, Ian English for Lucas County Common Pleas judge, and Jay Feldstein for Lucas County Domestic Relations judge.
There were 58 executive committee members present for the short Democratic Party endorsement meeting, which did not permit candidate speeches. No endorsements were given to candidates unopposed in the party primary. Mr. Cherry received the party’s endorsement in January.
The endorsements were a momentous event for the Lucas County Democratic Party, which recently repealed a 2005 bylaw that prohibited pre-primary endorsements among qualified Democratic candidates. Party Chairman Ron Rothenbuhler said the rule may have been a factor in the party’s failure to get a candidate on the general-election ballot for mayor last year.
“If we could have endorsed, it would have made a difference,” Mr. Rothenbuhler said.
Toledo Democrats were closely split last year between Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez and city Councilman Joe McNamara, allowing independent Councilman Mr. Collins to win the primary along with independent Mayor Mike Bell. Mr. Collins won the election.
Mrs. Contrada said she was gratified by the endorsement.
“As a long-time elected official, I’m really proud to have my party’s support and endorsement,” Mrs. Contrada said. She said, “It speaks to the Democratic voters in the primary.”
Mrs. Contrada’s primary opponent, Spencer Township Trustee Michael Hood, said he was not surprised by the party’s decision to back the incumbent. He said the party should have stayed with the ban on pre-primary endorsements.
“You don’t change your core values just because of one mishap in the mayor’s race,” Mr. Hood said. “And you know what else? The party don’t always get it right.”
Mr. English was in the party offices Monday night to greet and thank executive committee members as they emerged.
“Having the support of like-minded people gives me great comfort and will help propel my campaign to success,” Mr. English said.
Mr. English faces Laura Restivo and Richard Roberts in the Democratic primary. The endorsed Republican candidate is Mark Davis.
Mr. Feldstein’s opponent in the primary race is John Coble. Mr. Coble said he was sorry he didn’t get the endorsement, but said, “I have a lot of respect for my opponent, Jay Feldstein.”
Mr. Feldstein said he was excited to win the endorsement and said he would campaign diligently to justify the support.
Party endorsements typically mean the candidates’ names gain valuable exposure on slate cards mailed to voters’ homes, and sometimes result in volunteer help by party activists.
Registered Lucas County voters can cast ballots in the primary election starting today at the county’s early vote center, 1946 N. 13th St., downtown.