Published: Thursday, April 27, 2006
Wilson supporters get write-in tips for voting
The congressional candidate missed the event because of a car problem.
AUSTINTOWN About 50 Mahoning Valley union leaders and members who are supporting state Sen. Charlie Wilson in Tuesday's Democratic primary learned how to write in the candidate's name on ballots.
The union leaders and members learned how to write in Wilson's name Wednesday and say they will show their labor brothers and sisters the process.
Local labor leaders say union members will be at numerous voting precincts throughout the 12-county 6th Congressional District, that includes Columbiana and most of Mahoning, to provide information about the write-in process.
Writing in Wilson's name wouldn't be an issue if his campaign had been successful in collecting the minimum 50 valid signatures on nominating petitions needed to get him on the ballot. Wilson's campaign submitted petitions with 96 signatures, but 43 were from outside the 6th District, and seven others were ruled invalid.
Wilson and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee are waging an expensive campaign to educate voters on writing in his name on Tuesday's Democratic primary ballot.
If Wilson, of St. Clairsville, is able to win as a write-in candidate in the primary against two Democrats whose names are on the ballot, he will be only the fifth congressional candidate to do so.
Wilson was supposed to attend the session at the American Federation of State, City and Municipal Employees Council 8 office in Austintown, but he had car trouble in East Liverpool and couldn't make it.
Not in the district
Like the 43 people who signed his nominating petitions and Wilson himself, the union hall is also not in the 6th Congressional District. Congressional candidates in Ohio don't have to live in the district they represent.
The union hall was selected as a central location for Mahoning County union members to learn about writing in Wilson's name, said Ben Waxman, national field director for the Alliance for Retired Americans in Washington, D.C.
Waxman is traveling through the district educating union members about how to vote for Wilson.
"Perhaps when [Wilson's] done training volunteers on the mechanics of political canvassing, he can start teaching courses on waste management and banking," said Ed Patru, a National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman.
Patru was referring to NRCC attacks on Wilson's tenure as a director of a waste authority that dumped raw sewage into the Ohio River, and the state senator's part in a $2.65 million lawsuit settlement accusing him and others of negligence and breach of fiduciary duties.
Jim Kaster, president of the United Auto Workers Local 1714 at the Lordstown General Motors complex, said Wilson made a mistake with his petitions, but organized labor will help him correct it by getting him elected.
Congress has ignored organized labor for too long, and unions need candidates like Wilson in Washington, D.C., fighting for their rights, Kaster said.
"This year is do or die for labor," he added.
Larry Fauver, executive vice president of the Mahoning/Trumbull AFL-CIO Labor Council, said, "We're losing enough jobs, and we need to send someone like Charlie to Washington to bring those jobs back."