Published: Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Cafaro's eligibility hinges on residency
A former Trumbull County commissioner says he is interested in the Senate seat.
The candidacy of Capri Cafaro to replace Marc Dann in the state Senate could be in jeopardy because of a residency issue.
Cafaro, a two-time failed congressional candidate, changed her voter registration location to her parents' Liberty home Aug. 15 from Sheffield, a village in Lorain County, according to records at the Trumbull County Board of Elections.
Article II, Section 3 of the Ohio Constitution addressing the residency of state legislative candidates reads: "Senators and representatives shall have resided in their respective districts one year next preceding their election, unless they shall have been absent on the public business of the United States, or of this state."
The Ohio Secretary of State's Office says it is up to the Democratic Senate Caucus to interpret the state constitution and determine if Cafaro is eligible to seek the seat.
Others in the race include:
State Rep. Sandra Stabile Harwood of Niles, D-65th, re-elected to her third two-year term last week.
Anthony A. Latell Jr. of Girard, who served eight years in the state Senate and two years in the Ohio House. He is also a former Trumbull County commissioner and a 2002 failed congressional candidate.
Matthew J. Cataline of Hubbard, who was disqualified as a candidate for the 65th House District race in 2002 because he didn't have enough valid signatures on his nominating petitions.
Trumbull Commissioner Dan Polivka of Warren and Martin Hume of Liberty, an attorney who unsuccessfully ran for the 11th District Court of Appeals in 2000, say they are considering runs for the post.
What's to happen
The incoming 10-member Democratic Senate Caucus including state Sen.-elect John Boccieri of New Middletown will meet, probably Dec. 5, to appoint a successor to serve the final two years of Dann's Senate term. Dann is resigning because he was elected last week as state attorney general.
Dann's 32nd Ohio Senate District includes all of Trumbull and Ashtabula counties.
The Trumbull Democratic executive committee will meet at 6 p.m. Friday at the Sunrise Inn on East Market Street in Warren to choose up to three candidates to recommend to the caucus.
The Ashtabula Democratic executive committee is meeting Thursday. Don Tredent, the party's first vice chairman, said he is supporting Cafaro. As of late Monday, Tredent said Cafaro is the only candidate to express interest in getting a recommendation from Ashtabula Democratic leaders.
Recommendations to the caucus are due by next Monday.
After reading the constitutional law, Boccieri said Cafaro's candidacy may be challenged.
Harwood also questions Cafaro's eligibility because of where she's lived.
Cafaro moved to Sheffield earlier this year in her unsuccessful bid for the 13th Congressional District seat. The secretary of state's Web site shows she listed New York City as her home on Aug. 17, 2005, when contributing money to the gubernatorial campaign of Ted Strickland.
Cafaro changed her address in 2004 from Liberty to Hunting Valley, a wealthy suburb of Cleveland, during her unsuccessful bid for the 14th Congressional District seat.
Cafaro couldn't be reached Monday to comment. But Susan Maruca, an attorney speaking on her behalf, said, "We've looked at it previously. It's a fair question, but it's a nonissue."
Cafaro spent more than $2.6 million of her own money on her two congressional races.
Dann, who is endorsing Cafaro, received $30,500 from her family as of Oct. 18 for his attorney general's race, and received another $26,000 from the wealthy and prominent family for his state Senate races. Of that $56,500, $10,000 came from Cafaro's father, J.J., and none from Capri.
Three of the 10 Democrats voting on Dann's successor received campaign contributions from Capri, J.J., and/or Capri's uncle, Anthony, in this election cycle as of Oct. 18.
"I'm hoping [the 10 senators] look to see who's eligible and who has the experience, qualifications, accomplishments and electability when making this decision," Stabile Harwood said. "I'm obviously electable."
Boccieri, who received a $5,000 contribution from Anthony Cafaro, said he's been heavily lobbied by Cafaro and Stabile Harwood as well as their supporters for his vote. The two, along with Latell, are excellent candidates, Boccieri said, and he'll wait to hear what they have to say before casting his vote.
Latell plans to be in Columbus today or Wednesday to lobby the 10 Democrats and says his lengthy legislative experience makes him the best candidate.