Some surprises from Wednesday’s filing deadline for partisan candidates:
In an unusual move, establishment Democrats are targeting scarce resources to take out one of their own, state Rep. Zack Milkovich, in the May primary. Milkovich, who is running for his third term in the Ohio House representing the 35th District, including Barberton and parts of Akron, ran last year for clerk of the Barberton Municipal Court.
Ironically, he won his seat in the Ohio House by first defeating incumbent Democrat John Otterman in a primary. Now, the tables could be turned.
Even members of the Democratic caucus can’t find much good to say about Milkovich, who maintains close ties to former Akron City Councilman Ernie Tarle, the only Akron politician ever to be recalled from office.
With a slim record in Columbus and a close relationship to a City Hall dissident, Milkovich can expect little support in his race against Greta Johnson, an assistant city prosecutor and former assistant county prosecutor, who is in her first race.
The key for Johnson will be hard work, matching the effort Milkovich and Tarle put into door-to-door campaigning.
Milkovich and Tarle recently held a town meeting, in Mike Freeman’s Ward 9, on rising sewer rates, providing yet another signal to Mayor Don Plusquellic and his allies that the two will stop at nothing to stir up trouble.
To make matters worse, Tarle is backing Summit County Councilman Frank Comunale in his Democratic primary battle against Emilia Sykes, who is running to succeed her father, Vernon, in the 34th Ohio House District.
Republicans filed Linda Robinson in the 35th District. She ran last year in the Republican primary for an at-large seat on the Akron City Council. But the district is so Democratic that the primary will decide the race.
The race for three at-large seats on the Summit County Council attracted enough candidates from each party to ensure primaries.
The incumbents running are Republican Bill Roemer and Democrats Sandra Kurt and Ilene Shapiro. The entrance of former Summit County Fiscal Officer John Donofrio into the race could create a battle in the fall between Roemer and Kurt.
Although Donofrio’s exit from the fiscal office in 2011 was less than graceful (he delivered pay raises and promotions totaling $80,000), his is a well-known ballot name.
In the general election, a Democratic slate of Shapiro, Kurt and Donofrio might squeeze Roemer off the council. For Democrats, the risk is that Kurt could get bumped.
Among the Republicans running are Debbie Walsh, executive director of the Summit County Republican Party, and Gary Hagen, who ran in Akron’s Ward 8 last year. Walsh ran for the Akron school board last year. The primary looks low key.
Not so the Republican primary in the 14th U.S. House District, which includes parts of Summit County, then extends northeast to Ashtabula County. In 2012, after incumbent Republican Steve LaTourette announced his retirement, Republican leaders picked Geauga County Prosecutor David Joyce as their nominee.
But in seeking a second term, Joyce faces primary opposition from state Rep. Matt Lynch of Bainbridge Township. Joyce, who has followed LaTourette’s moderate line, must now fend off the tea party wing of the GOP. The district is competitive, but leans Republican.
Democrats are likely to rally around attorney Michael Wager, an ally of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown. Joyce did have $1.4 million in cash at the end of last year, not a bad start to the campaign season.
State Sen. Frank LaRose, another moderate Republican, also faces a tea party-backed challenger, Caleb Davenport of Wooster, in the primary. LaRose, in his first term in the Ohio Senate, represents the 27th District, which includes Wayne County and parts of Summit and Stark counties.
Hoffman is a Beacon Journal editorial writer. He can be reached at 330-996-3740 or emailed at email@example.com.