After the Democratic mayoral wash-out of 2013, the Lucas County Democratic Party has gotten back into the business of making pre-primary endorsements.
This last round of endorsement decisions, behind closed doors, following the appointment for Lucas County treasurer and a candidate for a vacancy on Toledo City, has gone too far.
It’s time to dial it back.
The primary process was created for a reason in this country — to get political decisions out of the smoke-filled rooms and let the citizens choose their own representatives.
The smoking has gone away, but the locked room is still here.
The Lucas County Democratic Party’s screening committee met behind closed doors to appoint a treasurer to replace Wade Kapszukiewicz without ascertaining whether the proposed nominee had the financial know-how to do the job.
That nominee and the party ended up with plenty of egg on their faces after appointee Lindsay Webb’s poor credit report made it impossible for her to get her the necessary $1 million surety bond, except at an astronomical price. Ms. Webb has until the election in November to prove to voters she can get her personal financial house in order.
Now the party screening committee and the equally closed-door executive committee have met, deliberated, and decided who should go on the Democratic primary ballots on May 8 for Toledo’s open state Senate seat and two open House seats.
The party’s biggest concern appears to have been not to find the most qualified and most thoughtful candidates to be state representative and state senator but to find cushy jobs for lawmakers whose term-limited careers, or election defeats, force them to seek new elective office to occupy.
In 2013, the Democratic Party had been avoiding pre-primary endorsements for about a decade. That year, some local Democrats felt the party shot itself in the foot by staying too neutral in the mayor’s race after both Auditor Anita Lopez and Councilman Joe McNamara ran and canceled each other out, allowing incumbent Mayor Mike Bell and Councilman D. Michael Collins to grab the two spots in the general election.
A pre-primary endorsement may be justified when there is a nonpartisan election, such as mayor and council of Toledo.
There’s no such need in partisan races.
The Democratic Party needs to more judiciously exercise its power to endorse candidates, especially when there is not consensus, as in the case of whether state Rep. Michael Ashford (D., Toledo) or state Rep. Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo) should be the Democratic Party’s nominee for the Senate District 11 seat being vacated by state Sen. Edna Brown (D., Toledo).
The party picked Mr. Ashford, unnecessarily. Mr. Ashford and Ms. Fedor are well-matched for a robust primary election — they are experienced lawmakers with legislative successes to run on. They’re both skilled campaigners. The district would benefit from a little competition for the Senate seat, since it is unlikely a Republican will be competitive.
It’s not too late to stuff the Democratic Party’s endorsement of Mr. Ashford back in the tube. The executive committee should meet and retract that endorsement.
The two are going to fight a primary battle anyway.
Let Lucas County’s Democratic voters make the call.
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