Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras will seek another term next year


By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

His term as Mahoning County Democratic Party chairman doesn’t expire until June 2018, but David Betras already is saying he’ll seek re-election.

After winning a four-year term in June 2014, Betras said he wouldn’t run again.

“With everything that’s going on in this perilous time, it would be a mistake to change chairmen,” Betras said Monday. “With the uncertainty of [President Donald] Trump and the crossover of Democrats [in last year’s election], I changed my mind.”

Betras said 2018 is an important election year on the county and statewide levels including governor and U.S. Senate. Also, Mahoning County Auditor Ralph Meacham, the lone Republican executive officeholder in the county, is up for re-election along with Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti, a Democrat who is running again even though she, too, previously said she wouldn’t seek another term.

“There are so many positive things going on in Mahoning County,” Rimedio-Righetti said about running for a third four-year term next year. “I changed my mind. I like what I do, and I do a good job. I believe I serve the people in Mahoning County very well.”

She said Betras is an effective chairman and is pleased he will seek another four-year term.

Betras said he’s been encouraged to run again by numerous elected officials including U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Cleveland Democrat; U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th; the county’s state legislative delegation; and county officials.

“I want to continue the hard work I started,” he said. “Now is not the time to go backward. We’ve grown with social media, communications. We’ve raised about $1 million. I’m a chair who runs an effective party. Every one of our local Democrats crushed their Republican opponents last year. We delivered Mahoning County to Hillary Clinton [the failed Democratic presidential nominee] in a difficult election.”

In last year’s Republican primary, 6,171 registered Democrats switched parties – most to vote for Trump – with 21,801 voters without party affiliation voting GOP in the primary. Betras sent a memo after the primary to the Clinton campaign urging more of a focus on working-class voters, a recommendation that went largely ignored. Clinton barely won Democratic-dominated Mahoning County by 3 points over Trump, but lost other traditionally Democratic parts of Ohio as well as the state and the national election to Trump, a Republican.

Betras said he is grooming some people to eventually succeed him including Christopher Anderson, president of the Mahoning County Young Democrats, and A.J. Caraballo, head of the 224 Corridor Democratic Club.

If re-elected next year, Betras’ term would go from June 2018 to June 2022.

Betras first was elected chairman April 27, 2009, to finish the unexpired term of Lisa Antonini, who resigned and was later convicted of a federal count of honest-services mail fraud.

Betras won a full four-year term June 2, 2010, and another four-year term Jan. 7, 2014, beating two challengers and getting 70 percent of the vote.