In the week between former Warren Mayor Michael J. O'Brien announcing he was going to try for a seat on the Trumbull County Board of Elections - a seat Niles Mayor Ralph Infante had and was going to try to keep - the match-up was a hot topic of interest.
Who was going to win was the big question. The answer always seemed to be Infante, the Trumbull County Democratic Party vice chairman.
That sentiment continued into Tuesday night at Trumbull Business College, where 77 of the 80 executive committee members met to vote. Inside the Ridge Road building, the mood was that the race belonged to Infante, and it ultimately would.
Infante won with an impressive 65 percent of the vote.
O'Brien said he knew defeating Infante would be difficult, but he probably expected to show better than just 35 percent.
Both men have impressive resumes - decades of loyalty to the party, support of Democrat candidates and their own public service.
What tipped the scale in Infante's favor was his previous service on the board and his role as a principal officer in the party.
Democrats in 2008 picked Infante for the seat and then did so again last month to fill what was left of the term he started. Infante gave up the seat to run for re-election and when his replacement left, also to seek elected office, he was restored to the board.
Some of what he did while a board member, along with former board member and party chairman Christ Michelakis, included objecting to Republican efforts to eliminate occupied precincts in Trumbull County.
Infante said he agreed to reduce precincts that were not represented, but he would not budge on any effort to eliminate precinct committee member posts that were filled. ''That's the type of thing I fight for because I know what this club means to all Democrats,'' he said before the vote.
He also objected to health insurance being provided to board members.
Also helping Infante gain the upper hand is his capacity as vice chairman, one of three principal party officers. The other two are chairman and secretary.
In that role, Infante has the ability to directly appoint or influence the appointment of some executive committee members.
Part of the executive committee consists of 40 at large members named by the principal officers. The chair, vice chair and secretary can collectively pick the 40 or each submit a dozen or so names to be on the committee.
When there is a vacancy, the three officers can decide collectively or rotate the ability to choose.
The other members of the executive committee are elected by central committee members in 30 districts across Trumbull County. Also, the eight vice chairmen below first vice chairman and three principal officers are executive committee members, giving the committee 81 members.
Democrats picking Infante still must be confirmed by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who has the ultimate authority to approve the recommendation.