Allow voters, not political parties, to pick nominees

We may have spoken too soon.

It was just about a month ago when we commented in this space that it appeared Ohio Democrats may have finally gotten the message about the importance of choice in America’s elections — including primary races when voters get to choose their party’s nominees.

Throughout the years, we have been consistently critical of political parties that attempt to limit choices or even endorse candidates before voters have made their decision.

In January, we commented in this space how pleased we were to see that the state Democratic Party was welcoming competition from multiple candidates.

Since then, however, several Democrats vying for the Ohio governor’s seat have dropped out of the race to throw support behind other candidates, again triggering limited choice.

This week, Connie Pillich became the third female candidate to leave the race, throwing support behind candidate, Richard Cordray. Others who dropped out include U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, who is now Cordray’s running mate, and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley. That leaves four other Democratic contenders in the race — former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, former Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O’Neill, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni and Cleveland physician Jon Heavey.

Schiavoni, of Boardman — the only local candidate — seems to get what we’ve been saying.

“We all know Democrats lose when we follow the political playbook,” he said this week.

He’s right, and we are sad to see those choices becoming more and more limited.

Likewise, it seems leaders of the Trumbull County Democratic Party are laying the groundwork for their own local playbook.

Elected and appointed leaders of the Trumbull County Democratic Party will meet Saturday to endorse candidates, including those in important countywide contested local races. Among those races are the Trumbull County commissioners race, in which incumbent Frank Fuda will face challenger Lisha Pompili Baumiller, and the race for Trumbull County Family Court judge, in which Samuel Bluedorn will face John J. Pico.

The party’s endorsements will come nearly three months before the May 8 Democratic primary, clearly paving the way for the party to offer financial and other campaign support to the candidates they decide the public should support.

But isn’t that what the primary election is intended to do? Why do party leaders on both the local and state levels believe they know better than the constituents?

Handpicking candidates before the primary only triggers suspicions of backroom political deals.

Choice is what makes America great. And it’s the voters — not the party — that should be making these decisions.