Summit County Preview
For the first time in several cycles, I've done nothing on an election day but watch. What follows is a rundown of the races in Summit Count and some assessment of their broader implications, if any.
The two biggest races are for Mayor of City of Green and Cuyahoga Falls Clerk of Courts. In Green the race is technically non-partisan with the two contestants having been decided by a free-for-all primary that advanced the two top vote-getters to the general. As it happens the two top were Andy Padrutt, a Democratic party stalwart, and Dick Norton, a Republican businessman relatively new to politics. Padrutt is as much a stalwart as one can be at 27 -- he has been a Councilman since he was 19 and was Executive Director of the county party.
This race has always been somewhat important just because Green is the fastest-growing incorporated city in Summit. On the other hand, Green is not a strong-mayor city. Who runs council is still far more important. Ted Strickland cut an ad for Padrutt, but the party directed their GOTV heft 20 miles south in the Canton mayor's race.
The race has deeper implications on the Republican side. The Republicans are in three races and success or failure this election could make a difference in the brawl over the County Chair position. All three candidates are Alex Arshinkoff picks and if he picks up two or three, he will look a lot better. Conversely, if he gets swept, the grumbling can only grow louder.
The second key race is for Cuyahoga Falls Municipal Court. Tallmadge City Councilwoman Lisa Zeno Carano was tapped by the Dems to fill the term of the long-time Dem holder of the office. State Rep. John Widowfield is running against her. Widowfield has amassed an astounding war chest for the race -- well over $100K. In addition, the Repubs attempted to flood the race with sound-alike Independents and have thrown 2X4 foot signs all over the district. This is an uphill battle for Carano.
Both the Green and Cuy. Falls Muni races were identified by Arshinkoff challenger State Sen. Kevin Coughlin as subject of a "deal" between the county parties. Supposedly the Repubs "get" these seats and the Dems get offices to be named later. If the Republicans lose either seat, the recriminations will likely fly in both directions -- Coughlin claiming that Arshinkoff lost gimmies and Arshinkoff countering that Coughlin's conspiracy theory disrupted the campaigns. Either way, Arshinkoff has a press conference scheduled tomorrow which should be interesting to say the least.
The final race is incumbent Bob Keith versus Randy Cole in the Akron City Council 8th ward. This may turn out to be a referendum on Mayor Don Plusquellic, who won a squeaker of a Democratic primary in September. If Keith loses it will likely be seen as further evidence of dissatisfaction with the Mayor.
I voted in a polling spot that includes two Eighth Ward precincts plus one other. Generally the turnout runs heavy in the location, plus the Eighth is the only real competitive race in Akron. Based on that small datum, I'd say turnout will be light.
DISCLOSURES: I've known Lisa and her husband for a few years. I have friends working on both the Padrutt and Carano campaigns.