Toledo Republicans may back Independent Mike Bell - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Toledo Republicans may back Independent Mike Bell

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The Toledo mayor's race may be a crowded affair but so far no viable Republicans.

All seven announced candidates have to first file petitions and be certified by the Lucas County Board of Elections.  So far, the Democrats have two major candidates running, there are three Independents, there's even a Libertarian.  But no viable Republican (other than fringe candidate Opal Covey who announced she's now a Republican after years running for office for other parties).

The reason Republicans may be shying from the race is Mayor Mike Bell's philosophy on budget balancing without raising taxes and in how to create jobs.

Bell is a former life-long Democrat who switched to Independent when he ran for mayor four-years ago.

Former Lucas County Republican Party chairman  Bob Reichert, was a member of Bell's inner circle in the 2009 campaign.  He told 13abc reporter Bill Hormann, "I think Mike Bell fit better and Mike Bell was more electable."

And seeing no viable Republican on the bench, this year, Reichert and other Republican donors have raised more than $75,000 dollars for the independent mayor's re-election.  He says, "You gotta find the right individual with the right qualifications that can get elected– and in Toledo, Ohio– that's a tough position for a Republican."

Ohio's Republican governor has all but officially *endorsed* Mike Bell and many local Republicans may feel they owe the mayor for so publicly backing John Kasich on Senate Bill 5/Issue 2.

Current party chairman, Jon Stainbrook, understands Bell's appeal, admitting, "The Republicans are drawn towards Mike Bell because they see him as one of their own."

But that makes it difficult for Stainrbook to recruit viable *Republicans* in the mayor's race.

Several Republicans are considering jumping into the race yet Bell could end up with the party's endorsement.  Stainbrook believes Independent Bell could ride to victory with Republican help.  "I think Mike Bell is an independent who enjoys the support of the Republican party and I think that will help him win a victory in November."

Democrats and Republicans will endorse a candidate after the top two are picked in the September primary.

But if two independents square off, it could be a very interesting endorsement process.

Right now, though,  there are two viable Democrats running and no Republicans.

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