Republicans have a dog in the fight: Gary Leitzell for Mayor

He wears an earring, he talks with a slightly British accent, and he’s not a lawyer- in a strange twist of events, the Montgomery County GOP is going to back Gary Leitzell for Mayor against Rhine McLin in the mayoral race according to the Dayton Daily News:

A screening committee for the Montgomery County Republican Party has selected an independent, neighborhood activist as the party’s best candidate to run for Dayton mayor.

The party’s central committee and precinct chairs will likely be meeting next week to vote on endorsement of Gary Leitzell, Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman Gregory M. Gantt said today, March 6.

“That’s our guy,” Gantt said. “His dedication and loyalty to the city really stands out.”

Leitzell is the president of the Walnut Hills (Neighborhood) Association and chairman of the Southeast Priority Board.

“Anybody who would buy an old house in Dayton and restore it, while the rest of the world is moving out or knocking down, has a true love for the city,” Gantt said.

Two other Republican candidates were considered to run against two-time incumbent, Dayton Mayor Rhine McLin, who was endorsed by the Montgomery County Democratic Party late last year.

“We weren’t just going to put someone out there to have a race,” Gantt said.

Both McLin and Leitzell have submitted petitions with at least 500 signatures to the Montgomery County Board of Elections as required of candidates by Dayton’s City Charter….

Foot soldiers for the county’s Republican party spent the weekend collecting signatures to support the candidacy of Joshua S. Smith for city commission. In November, Smith was defeated by Ohio Representative Clayton R. Luckie (D-Dayton) in a bid for the 39th District seat.

Gantt said Smith entered the Dayton City Commission race late and that the party is scrambling to collect the required signatures to get him on the ballot.

via GOP committee picks Leitzell to challenge McLin.

Apparently, the GOP foot soldiers weren’t very effective, since Smith didn’t turn in petitions today. The complete list is here
There will be a primary if all signatures clear.

Since the election is non-partisan, and party names don’t appear on the ballot, the only thing that a party endorsement does (other than get the Dayton Daily News editorial board to take notice) is grant you access to funding and party resources (auto-dialers, endorsements from other office holders, etc).

The Republican endorsement in Dayton, which is often stated as 90% Dem, is typically the kiss of death in a general election. Other than Mike Turner, the last R on the Commission was Abner Orick, who only won in Special Elections.

If buying a house and restoring it is the only qualification the GOP needs to endorse, I’ve done 5 in South Park, and owned a business for 20 years.

The real interesting part will be if James R. Green III manages to get on the ballot- and splits enough votes from the African American base that Rhine McLin has typically sewn up- giving Leitzell a better showing in the primary.

Then we may have a race on our hands. Just remember, until the Board rules- no petition is valid and certified. That meeting is 11am on Tuesday the 10th.

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