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Lucas County Auditor to Have Republican Write-In Opponent?

Wife of Late Former Auditor May Make Bid

Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez was visibly sweating in the evening heat Thursday night, as she furiously worked the patio outside El Camino Real, where she was celebrating a "40-something" birthday with more than 100 of her closest Democratic pals at a political fundraiser.

But she also was feeling the heat of a furious rumor: that the widow of the incumbent she beat four years ago plans to wage a Republican write-in campaign to unseat her.

The buzz of the Democratic fundraiser was that Ms. Lopez no longer had token opposition in her race for re-election, because Gina Kaczala, widow of the late Larry Kaczala, planned to make a comeback bid official on Monday by filing to run.

The Toledo Blade ran the story as breaking news on its website Thursday afternoon, confirmed by the candidate-to-be, along with word that perennial GOP auditor candidate Norm Witzler would withdraw and GOP leaders would meet this weekend to endorse Mrs. Kaczala's candidacy.

Ms. Lopez has been waging a more furious campaign of late, dusting off old signs proclaiming her as the endorsed Democratic candidate for auditor and placing them around metro Toledo. Her fundraiser was less-than-subtle, with brand-new large yard signs attached to every square inch of the patio fence at the Maumee restaurant. Two signs were even mounted atop a Jeep Wrangler, a rolling billboard of sorts, in the parking lot of El Camino Real.

Mr. Kaczala jumped to his death recently from a parking garage at Toledo Hospital, the reasons for which are still unknown. Mrs. Kaczala, for her part, is certainly familiar with the operations at the auditor's office, having worked there when she met her future husband some years ago.

This is a significant development, because the last time a GOP candidate entered a race this late was when Maggie Thurber, then Toledo Municipal Court Clerk, jumped in to oppose long-time Democratic Lucas County Commissioner Sandy Isenberg and beat her handily in 2002. But there was controversy brewing back then, when it was revealed Ms. Isenberg had never paid for a $10,000 roof job done by a developer who did business with county government. She had also been considering an attempt to retire, run, and resume her role in the same office-- a classic case of double-dipping, in order to collect a publicly-funded pension and a government salary at the same time.

One must ask if there's a controversy yet to be revealed which would cause Mrs. Kaczala to consider such a bold move.