The validity of some endorsements for one Wood County Commissioner candidate has come into question.
|File photo. Rick Ruffner. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Rick Ruffner, one of five Republican candidates running for the seat vacated by Alvie Perkins who retired earlier this year, considered it a real coup recently when he got the endorsement of Perkins, a longtime Democrat.
But others who know Perkins are questioning the legitimacy of the endorsement. In fact, some are suggesting that Ruffner has been a little loose in his interpretation of exactly what an "endorsement" is.
For example, Perrysburg Township Trustee Gary Britten was listed on Ruffner's website as endorsing him. While Britten has known Ruffner for several years, and initially offered support, he is also supporting two other candidates for the job - Doris Herringshaw, who was a friend to his first wife (who is now deceased) and a mentor to his daughter; and Terry Krukemyer, whose father was a friend of Britten's.
Britten, who is also a county employee, called Ruffner to ask that his name come off the candidate's website.
"I said, 'I got to stay a little bit neutral on this,'" he said he told Ruffner.
"My name was on his website," Britten said.
Britten said he is torn over the election. He has campaign signs for both Herringshaw and Ruffner in his yard.
"When I go to the polling booth, I'm still undecided how I'm going to vote," Britten said.
Perkins' endorsement raised a lot of eyebrows. First of all because Perkins is pure Democrat. Second, because he had already publicly supported Joel Kuhlman, who the county Democrats had put in this unexpired seat. And third, because the endorsement itself was fairly long-worded - and those who know Perkins, know that he no longer strings out long sentences.
Gail, Perkins' wife, did not find out about the questionable endorsement until she got a call while the couple was recently vacationing in Florida.
"I honestly did not know who Rick Ruffner was," she said.
She knew her husband had already endorsed Kuhlman, so she asked Ruffner to stop listing her husband among his endorsements.
Mike Zickar, head of the Wood County Democratic Party, said the incident is unfortunate.
"I was as puzzled as everyone else," Zickar said. After all, Perkins had been "grooming" Kuhlman as his replacement for years.
The confusion was cleared up, Zickar said, when Perkins came to a Democratic party gathering.
"Alvie and Gail came to the Democratic Executive Committee and said they unequivocally they are supporting Joel." In fact, Perkins said he planned to empty the remaining amount in his campaign coffers for Kuhlman's election campaign.
Ruffner, however, has a different description of how Perkins' endorsement was earned. Over the last few years, he said, Perkins had consistently told him that he was planning to endorse his run for the seat.
"Alvie and I have been friends for quite a few years," he said. "Alvie has said for years he will endorse me."
As for the long-worded endorsement that raised suspicions, Ruffner conceded that he wrote the quote and then had Perkins sign it.
"He told me what he wanted to say, and I wrote it down," Ruffner said. "He's fully supportive of me."
Doug Pratt, campaign chairman for Ruffner, backed up the candidate's story about Perkins' support.
"Alvie and I have known one another since we were in grade school," Pratt said. And while he did not witness Perkins signing the endorsement, he heard the former commissioner's words of support.
Ruffner said Perkins did struggle with endorsing a Republican, and expressed desire to think about it and share the wording with his wife prior to signing it. However, two weeks after first presenting the endorsement, Ruffner said Perkins called to tell the candidate that he had decided to go ahead with it.
Gail Perkins said she never saw the actual endorsement.
Ruffner said, out of respect for the Perkins', he has removed the endorsement from advertising and his website.
Britten has also asked that his name be removed from the list. Ruffner said "his has been removed as well." However, as of Sunday afternoon, Britten's name was still on the candidate's website.
Another person on the endorsement list, Pemberville Councilman Randy Rothenbuhler, said his support is official.
"I've known Rick for several years," Rothenbuhler said, noting that Ruffner first approached him about running for the position about two years ago. "I did endorse Rick Ruffner."