ELYRIA — The effort to replace Ray Noble as the Republican candidate for mayor of Elyria continues despite Noble’s insistence that he won’t step aside in favor of former City Councilman Jack Baird.
“There is no way that this is going to happen,” Noble said Monday.
Noble said that he will take a leave of absence as chairman of the city’s Republican Party following a meeting Friday in which the party’s local precinct committeemen and committeewomen are being asked to vote on whether they’d like to see Noble or Baird on the ballot in November. His departure from his party job, Noble said, is so he can focus on campaigning.
Noble also said that it doesn’t matter what the result is of the party leaders’ vote — he intends to keep the spot he won in the Republican primary in May when he defeated David Ursi Jr.
He will square off against Democrat Holly Brinda, an Elyria school board member, in November. Brinda defeated longtime Mayor Bill Grace in the Democratic primary.
“If Jack Baird wanted the job, Jack Baird should have run for it,” Noble said.
But some believe that Baird, who is already on the ballot in the race as a Republican candidate for an at-large Council seat, has a better chance of beating Brinda in November.
“Sometimes you’ve got to look at who can win,” Baird said. “In my opinion, the party people have to look at who’s got the best chance.”
Citing his experience in city government, Baird said he counts himself among those who believe he has a better shot at delivering the mayor’s race to his party than Noble, who has run and lost for mayor in the past. But Baird said he’s not the one leading the charge to replace Noble.
“I’m just the alternative,” he said.
Dan Graves, who served as party chairman before Noble, said he too thinks Baird would make a better general election candidate than Noble and, at the behest of others in the party, has asked him to consider letting Baird take his place on the ballot.
“I don’t think anybody’s saying Ray wouldn’t make a good mayor,” Graves said. “I think it’s more about who’s the most electable.”
Under state election law, the party can’t remove a candidate who’s won a spot on the ballot through the primary process. Noble could willingly remove himself, but beyond that only his death would allow the party to name a new candidate.
Graves said he respects Noble and his decision to remain on the ballot, but there’s also the possibility that Noble may change his mind.
“I feel that Jack has the better chance, but if Ray stays in I’ll vote for him,” he said.
Noble said he has every intention of winning the race, even though Elyria has traditionally been a Democratic bastion.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.