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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Former Hostage Terry Anderson: Chooses A Side In Fierce Athens County Dem Feud

ATHENS, Ohio (TDB) -- From one civil war to another. Former Hezbollah hostage Terry Anderson, the onetime AP Middle East bureau chief who was kidnapped in Beirut and held for years by militants, has settled near Athens. Anderson has been in the horse business and dabbled in local politics, where he ran for a state senate seat. Now he's agreed to sponsor a January 31 fundraiser at his home for Athens County Democratic Chair Susan Gwinn, who is running in the Dem primary to unseat the county's Democratic prosecutor. Gwinn, a lawyer, has been the chair and served on the Ohio Democratic Party Executive Committee since 1996. There is considerable consternation over her attempt to knock off a sitting Democratic officeholder.

She is out to defeat C. David Warren, and resigned from the county Board of Elections to make the race. The inter-party split in Athens -- home of Ohio University (where Terry Anderson once taught journalism) -- has awed and concerned Dems who wonder why Gwinn went after one of her own. The word vendetta is being used.

The Athens Post, the students newspaper at Ohio University, noted in an editorial earlier this week that Gwinn's move will rip apart the party.

"Decisions like this go beyond simple party squabbles. Gwinn's decision falls squarely in the realm of political backstabbing. There is no conceivable reason for Gwinn to pursue the office of county prosecutor other than to increase her own power base at the expense of her party's unity. Her decision has rightly drawn criticism from other Ohio Democrats and citizens. No politician, regardless of his or her party affiliations, should cast aside their loyalties in exchange for advancement. Through her actions, Gwinn has shown that her devotion lies with her own self-promotion and not with the people of Athens County."

Strong words. As for Anderson, the Lorain native and former Marine is probably showing loyalty to Gwinn. She helped recruit him for the state senate race against Republican Joy Padgett, a race that Anderson ran vigorously. Although he lost, Anderson's finish made it the strongest Dem challenge in the state that year.

1 comment:

  1. A couple of notes about this race:

    Athens County, Southeast of Columbus, may be about to set a bad precedent.

    Susan Gwinn, the entrenched Democratic Party Chairperson is running a well-funded and aggressively negative campaign for County Prosecutor.

    The possibility of having a very political Democratic fox guarding the henhouse of a majority Democratic county has even local Democrats concerned.

    Gwinn even wrote a letter to a newspaper excoriating it for not endorsing her.

    Reading Ms. Gwinn's "Raw Truth" letter castigating the Athens News for their endorsement of Mr. Warren in the County Prosecutor’s Race helped me decide my vote.

    Do we really need a County Prosecutor who so obviously combines the personal with the political and who publicly "prosecutes" her grudges?

    Have you ever read a Letter to the Editor from a candidate, complaining about not being endorsed by a paper? This is the ultimate in self-serving whining, and gives us good insight into the future behavior of the Prosecutor's office under Ms. Gwinn.

    Other people have already pointed out the potential problems of the county Democratic Party chair holding the office of Prosecuting Attorney.

    This is antithetical to the historically fair principles of the Democratic Party and is evidence that Athens County does not need Ms. Gwinn and her penchant for publicizing personal disagreements while holding a position that dictates fairness and restraint.

    Athens News Editor, Terry Smith on Gwinn:

    For me, this race comes down to three issues, and all of them trump the isolated and exaggerated problems that Gwinn has raised about incumbent Athens County Prosecutor C. David Warren. Interestingly her criticisms didn’t gain purchase in the public conversation until she filed to challenge Warren in the primary.

    The three issues:

    1. She has no experience as a prosecutor, and he has decades. How some people can ignore this fundamental advantage for Warren is beyond me. This especially applies to the Democratic office-holders who have come out for Gwinn. It makes me wonder whether some of them are mainly looking toward the future and their own skins by supporting their influential party chief for a position that she’s obviously not qualified for.

    2. As party chief, she has no business serving as the prosecutor, a position of power and discretion that ought to be as non-partisan as possible, and where she’ll constantly be stumbling over potential conflicts of interest. Most of those who think this is OK are the Democratic faithful. I wonder why this is? Has anyone asked the Republicans how they’d feel about having one of the county’s chief law enforcers also managing the opposition party? If you look at the arguments in the pro-Gwinn letters, many of their points do highly recommend Gwinn — except not for prosecutor but for party chief, a position she already holds. How, for instance, does Gwinn’s success at getting students registered as Democrats relate to how she would run the prosecutor’s office?

    3. Her campaign ads — including professionally done TV commercials that seem more appropriate for a statewide race than a small county’s prosecutor’s contest — are unfailingly negative and often unfair and misleading. They reflect worse on Ms. Gwinn than Mr. Warren.