Text messages between Mahoning County Democratic Party chairman David Betras and county commissioner candidate Richard ''Oz'' Ouzounian are representative of the Democratic Party symbol, but certainly in the wrong way.
In a series of texts from Nov. 15, 2011, and Feb. 14, Betras insulted Ouzounian's appearance, weight and his chances of winning the primary election on March 6. Betras also used a number of curse words in the insults directed at Ouzounian.
Betras called the candidate a ''loser'' six times, referred to him as ''ox,'' likely playing off of Ouzounian's nickname, called him a ''bankrupt mama's boy,'' and ''fat,'' ''ugly,'' a ''joke,'' ''unattractive,'' and a ''freeloader.''
But Ouzounian didn't sit on his thumbs and take the insults.
''At least Jon Husted didn't call me incompetent to the entire state. Hahahaha! And u were a real tough guy with Tom Humphries. U r just a bag of wind people r tired of listening to. Funny how no one told u I pulled petitions or was planning on running, ought to tell u how little control u have over a party u chair.''
In another, Ouzounian also called Betras ''Boss Hogg AKA Mr. Incompetent.''
Ouzounian said the aggressor was Betras, who sent the first message on Nov. 15 unprovoked.
Ouzounian said he was texting the person with Betras, and Betras fired this off: ''Jim and I are having a delicious steak. I will buy u dinner ur choice if u finish anywhere but last. LOSER.''
Seconds later, Ouzounian replied, ''Enjoy your chairmanship while you have it, I'll buy you a steak dinner if you make it through your first term. Can you say Fiestaware!''
The texts from Betras then became increasingly more negative. Ultimately, the back and forth was a political slap fight between two former friends.
Betras said the first message was sarcastic and related to Ouzounian saying ''cronies'' of Betras were conspiring to unfairly influence the election, a charge Betras fully denies.
The second message, according to Betras, relates to his ''utter frustration'' with Ouzounian's character attacks and allegations he threatened a business person who contributed to Ouzounian's campaign.
Ouzounian released the messages to the media Tuesday, along with a letter to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted asking that Husted immediately remove Betras from the county elections board, a post to which Husted just appointed the party boss to a four-year term beginning next month.
Ouzounian has concerns about Betras' objectivity as a board member.
A spokesman for Husted said Betras won't be removed.
Betras apologized for the ''tone and tenor'' of the messages and remarking on Ouzounian's appearance. He also pledged to recuse himself from any decision or discussion that directly or indirectly impacted Ouzounian or his candidacy in this or future elections.