News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Hennes Paynter Communications

Wayside Furniture


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Government and Politics


Politics can be a family business, for better or worse
Ohio's term limits are leading to political baton-passing
by WKSU's TIM RUDELL


Reporter
Tim Rudell
 
Steve Brooks says political names are often a plus, but not always.
Courtesy of Video capture, C-SPAN
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

The family name can be critical to continuing success for a family business.  And as WKSU’s Tim Rudell reports, that is especially true when the family business is politics.

LISTEN: What's in a name?

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:54)


Tuesday, the Democratic Primary ballot in three northeast Ohio Statehouse districts will include the last name of a current office holder who is not allowed to run anymore…because of term limits.

In the 9th House District, Janine Boyd of Cleveland Heights is running for nomination to the seat her mother Barbara is leaving. Michele Lepore-Hagan of Youngstown hopes to succeed her husband Bob Hagan in the 58th district.  And, the daughter of 34th District’s Vernon Sykes, Emilia Sykes, of Akron, wants to follow her father in office.

Leaving a positive impression
Stephen Brooks of the University of Akron’s Bliss Institute says the legacy connection can be a plus. “Especially if a person has been term limited, that means they’ve been elected a number of times the overall impression of the person that is leaving is a positive one.”

Brooks stressed the theoretical “rules” of local elections say they are driven by familiarity and impression — so name-recognition and what it triggers can be critical.  Frank Comunale of Akron, who is running against Vernon Sykes daughter, Emelia, thinks so too, and that there can even be a second-tier effect on voters who shy away if they feel their favorite can’t win.

“The name has held the office since Ronald Reagan was president, that’s challenge A.  B, because the name has been in existence for a long time people say ‘Golly Frank, you don’t have a chance.’”  

Cutting both ways
But, one of the family-name candidates, Michele Lepore-Hagan, says the being related to a popular office holder is double-edged. She’s found significant backlash. And she says she feels that either way, people are missing the point by dwelling on her family ties.

“You know…being the wife of Bobby Hagan does not qualify me to run for this office. But is certainly doesn’t disqualify me.”

Professor Brooks says that in reality, comments by voters about things like a candidate riding coattails are more after-the-fact observations, rather than decision making matters.

“Much of how we vote is rationalization.  We choose who we want and then we choose the pieces that come out of it to justify our vote; especially in low-information elections—which local elections are.  And so, the people that are not inclined to vote for the former office holder or the relative use that as a convincing point to themselves and to other people.”

Not so simple
But both Michele Lepore-Hagan, a legacy-linked candidate in a Youngstown race, and Frank Comunale, running against a family-connected opponent in Akron, say the family factor shouldn’t be over stated. There are other challenges.  

“This is also coupled with running as a woman," says Lepore-Hagan. " have people saying I’m just running because I want to replace my husband, to continue it.  But also, are you qualified because you’re a woman?” 

Comunale say he’s finding that being an older person running against a younger one, his age is also an issue.

“The name has held the office since the 1980s.  But the current candidate wasn’t even born yet…and I have gray hair.  So there are lots of challenges. “

But, in Lepore-Hagan and Comunale’s races, and the one in House District 9, there is the family factor.

So is there an advantage, and if there is, for whom?

“The specific question you’re asking has some unique aspects," Brooks says. "But it essentially follows all the rules of local elections.And those rules end up, I would argue, favoring the relative.”

Candidates
Emilia Sykes is the relative running against Frank Comunale in the 34th district; Michele Lepore-Hagan is the one in the 58th…running against Michael O’HaraCynthia McWilson, and Janet Tarpley.  And in the 9th District it is Janine Boyd, opposed by Sean Malone

Related WKSU Stories

Ohio's primary Tuesday is filled with challenges of incumbents
Friday, May 2, 2014

Northeast Ohio Republicans ask 'Who's right?' in the race for the 14th Congressional District
Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cuyahoga sin tax opponents to launch ballot initiative for facility fee
Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cuyahoga County Council to vote on absentee ballot application mailings
Tuesday, April 8, 2014

FitzGerald asks feds to investigate Ohio's new early-voting restrictions
Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

Canton's proposed Timken-McKinley school merger is drawing spirited debate
From a sports opinion Varsity would have a lot more talent to choose from So Im sure varsity sports would improve.Also Timkens name would be much more published...

Canton school board will decide whether to merge high schools
I really hope we can save those jobs, usually we try to cut budgets but the demand is still the same. Then we look bad a year or two after the descion is made. ...

FirstEnergy wants PUCO guarantees on nuclear and coal prices
Would just comment that the plant has admitted the following (as reporting in the Akron Beacon Journal): "The utility has said it may have difficulty keeping t...

Mozzarella's easy when you have a way with curd
Hello, Where can I get such a heater that you have? Does it hold temperature that you set? What brand and model is it? Thank you in advance!! :)

Pluto: A healthy LeBron James is the key for the rocky Cavs
It's time to back our Cleveland professional teams through thick and thin. I've seen management, players and coaches come and go and it hasn't changed a thing. ...

Legal marijuana group offers new details about ballot issue
Americans feel as if they should have the right to decide on their own if and when it is or is not a responsible time to have a drink or smoke a joint. The fac...

The PUCO is assessing what happened in Akron's AT&T outage
not the first time for that steam pipe break... happened in the late 70's when the office was being converted to electronic switch ESS.. was a big mess then but...

The freeze of green-energy standards hurts Ohio wind and solar industries
What do we do at night and when the wind isn't blowing? Where does the power come from to back-up these renewable sources?

Gov. Kasich may still face budget battles with Ohio lawmakers
Governor Kasich continues to disappoint many of us who voted for him when he was elected Governor four years ago. It is way past time for charter schools to b...

FairlawnGig could bring super-fast fiber optic internet to the city
Sign me up! When can we have it. It is not nice to tease us with the possibility and then make us wait. Though I have to add that the speed to China does req...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University