The Lucas County Democratic Party executive committee split in a raucous meeting Thursday night over whether to censure mayoral candidate Joe McNamara for his attacks on fellow Democrat Anita Lopez.
One Democratic official said the dispute is the direct result of the party's policy of not endorsing before the primary.
McNamara and Lopez are among eight people running in the city's nonpartisan mayoral primary Sept. 10 and appear to be competing unofficially against each other for Democratic support.
The Blade is told that supporters of Lopez tried to get the committee to support a statement censuring McNamara - and even tried to get McNamara tossed out of the party.
The motion was proposed by city Councilman Lindsay Webb, who is backing Lopez, and seconded by John Schlagheck, director of the Northwest Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, whose unions support Lopez.
The motion failed narrowly, 18-19.Lucas County Chairman Ron Rothenbuhler said he would not talk about something that happened behind closed doors, especially since it failed.
But he said he feels the need to play "referee" and said he is calling both candidates to a meeting in order to encourage them to avoid attacking fellow Democrats.
"I agree that politics is a rough game but I’d like to see the target being the mayor that’s in office right now. I'm asking them both to set a time next week to sit down and work out a more amicable way of achieving your potential goals," Rothenbuhler said.
Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz, who is on the executive committee but missed Thursday night's meeting, said Webb's motion would have been on more solid ground if the party still endorsed candidates.
"This is yet another example of how the Democratic Party has weakened itself by doing away with the pre-primary endorsement," Kapszukiewicz said. He said that when the party endorsed a candidate it was an "ironclad" rule that no Democrat criticized the endorsed Democrat.
He said it's understandable that Lopez and McNamara are going after each other strongly.
"They are operating in an environment that needs a strong Democratic Party," he said. "Unfortunately, the party is not in a position to enforce discipline."
Shown in this picture is a sign that was posted on a hole at the Democratic Party golf outing at Spuyten Duyval Golf Course (scene of the legendary 2007 stripper escapade) Friday evening. The sign announced that the hole was sponsored by McNamara. Somebody (a Lopez supporter, we guess) had plucked it off its post and tossed it into the bushes.
Sign-stealing continues to be a tactic of some elements of the Democratic Party.