Dems may have finally learned choice is key

Choice is what makes America great, and it appears Ohio Democrats finally may be getting the message.

As primary elections approach, we are pleased to see that it appears the Democratic Party this year is welcoming competition from multiple candidates.

More than once, we have used this space to criticize that party for often handpicking political candidates in statewide races, thereby limiting the choice for voters. We always have championed for the voters — not the party — to make these decisions.

Finally, the Democrats may have learned from past errors. Remember Ed Fitzgerald, for example? He was the candidate handpicked by the Ohio Democratic Party in the 2014 run for Ohio governor. After being unopposed in the Democratic primary, his campaign imploded as voters learned more about him and began to form their own opinion. He eventually was defeated handily by Republican Gov. John Kasich.

And what about the attempt by former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland to recapture statewide office in his bid for U.S. Senate in 2016? A primary challenge by young, energetic Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfield and at least one other Democratic candidate went unrecognized by the party at the time, and the results were disastrous for the party in that race as well.

We have often argued that all this could be avoided if Democrats would simply foster an authentic contested primary rather than making backroom deals on candidacy based on issues like fundraising capabilities long before the voters have their say.

This year, however, it appears that come May, Democratic voters will see many choices in the primary gubernatorial primary election.

Last week, former Cleveland Mayor and former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich filed paperwork indicating plans to run for governor. Longtime Youngstown-area state Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-Boardman, and now former federal consumer watchdog Richard Cordray also are in the race, along with several other Democrats. Those include Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, ex-state Rep. Connie Pillich and Supreme Court Justice William O’Neill. And there may be more to come.

The bottom line is that it appears the state Democratic Party is realizing the value of allowing all candidates to throw their hats in the ring, put their best feet forward and let the voters make their own decisions. Ultimately, it’s the constituents — not the party leaders — who should decide who represents them in public office.

It’s that choice, after all, that makes America great.