The in-and-out Akron mayor's race took still another turn Monday: Summit County Councilman Frank Comunale withdrew from the Democratic primary, shrinking the field to a twosome. And that couldn't make supporters of Summit County Clerk of Courts Dan Horrigan happier. Or his lone remaining Democratic opponent, Mike Williams, more at a loss.
Once upon a time there might have been four candidates as State Sen. Tom Sawyer teased his party with the prospect that he would run, too. Didn't happen, and there's nothing to be gained by revisiting that bit of Kabuki politics.
So on Sept 8, Democratic primary voters will be choosing Horrigan or Williams and be done with it. The Republican candidate in the general election is Atty. Eddie Sippien, but the political reality in a Democratic city is that his name on the ballot is little more than a formality.
For now all of the behind the scenes pushing and shoving has produced little interest around town. Much of the campaign narrative has been awash in intrigue - as well as it should have been. The departure of Mayor Don Plusquellic left a huge vacancy at City Hall after 28 years and Council chairman Jeff Fusco has bravely served as an interim mayor in the office that he isn't seeking (He wants to retain his council-at-large seat)
Still there was this thing about a contentious council faction that opposed Plusquellic and was now carrying Williams banner to haul the city off into a murky direction. Besides, Williams, an Afican American who was hostile to Plusquellic, worried not only his Democratic opponents but some business interests who saw him as little more than an opportunist banking his future on the race card.
Horrigan, who is white, does have support from some black leaders , but a three-way primary could open the door to City Hall to Williams. Horrigan's backers rightly tried to remove the racial factor and define the race on the ability of either candidate to serve the city well.
Comunale's departure will make that point more clearly.