Protest started in Democrat-turned-Republican’s bid to be Republican on ballot for county commission

MONTGOMERY COUNTY — A protest challenging the certification of Mary McDonald, a Democrat-turned-Republican, as a candidate in the Republican Primary for Montgomery County Commission accuses her of several improprieties including improperly filing an intent to run and submitting defective petitions.

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The protest, detailed in papers filed Thursday by Mohamed Al-Hamdani, Montgomery County Democratic Party chairman, and Brenda Blausser, a Republican, requests a hearing before the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

“I’m absolutely shocked,” McDonald told News Center 7 on Thursday evening. “They have not wanted to support me as a Democrat. It’s a sad attempt to keep a successful public servant from being able to do more in public service. . . . I simply would like the opportunity to serve.”

McDonald, two-term incumbent mayor of Trotwood, was beaten in the November 2023 general election by Vice Mayor Yvette Page. Page took office Jan. 2.

McDonald was elected to the county Democratic Party Central Committee on May 3, 2022, and resigned her position as Democratic Precinct captain in Trotwood on Nov. 27, 2023, by email to Al-Hamdani, according to the filing given to News Center 7 in response to our request.

McDonald announced her candidacy for the commission seat that same day, but county Democratic Party officials said they would not back her.

Because she was an elected Central Committee member who was elected at a party primary, she was required by Ohio Revised Code to file a “declaration of intent,” which she did not do, according to the filing. She did not file the declaration, so “she is not qualified to be placed on the ballot for the 2024 Republican primary election for county commission,” according to the filing.

Al-Hamdani has not accepted McDonald’s resignation, according to the filing, “because it is deceptive and a fraud on the people in her precinct which elected her.”

The document also accuses McDonald of filing defective petitions because they were not signed by, at minimum, 50 qualified electors who are members of the same political party to which she belongs. The signatures on McDonald’s petition “appear to be signed by those who identify and voted in Republican primaries,” according to the filing.

“Mary McDonald has only voted in Democratic primaries and has never voted in a Republican primary,” according to the filing, which also said “her voting history at the board of elections demonstrate that she has never voted in the Republican primary.”

Al-Hamdani, in a prepared statement released Thursday evening, said, “Election laws are specific and must be followed. Just two months ago, the former mayor was running as a Democrat and lost the seat she held for eight years. Now, she failed to follow election laws properly, which is necessary to switch parties. Small mistakes can cause big problems.”

Commissioner Debbie Lieberman said, “As a commissioner, I oversee a billion-dollar budget, and mistakes like this aren’t acceptable.”

McDonald said she believes the Democratic Party is working against her because the members “fear change, fear of a different voice at the table.”

The primary is March 19.

McDonald said she’s not sure what step to take next.

“I hope people see through this,” she said of the protest.

There is no date set for a hearing.

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