As expected, there was some political excitement at the Crawford County Fair.

Years ago, the Fair Board made a ruling that no political campaigning could be done except under respective booths in the grandstands. That was made after many people complained about too much campaigning and too much literature left on the fairgrounds.

However, there was nothing written in the fair book, and Neil Fratus rented space for a booth in Home Show Building 1.

The board agreed he could stay there despite concerns raised about violating the rules.

I recall one year an organization supporting pro-life had a campaign poster for state Rep. Teresa Forcier, which brought complaints (rightfully so under the rules) from the Democrats. They had to take it down.

It's hard to regulate the various booths at the fair and hard to say what is freedom of speech and what should be tolerated.

Fratus also campaigned with the Democratic statewide judicial candidates — which is allowed.

His opponent, Dave Powers, worked at the Rotary booth and a supporter had a Powers for Sheriff sign on his demolition derby car, both of which are allowed.

It's no secret that this race is the one drawing the most interest.

The race is also causing division in the parties. One local couple who have worked at the GOP booth for years were not there as much this year.

They reportedly are Fratus supporters.

One former Democratic candidate is openly supporting Powers.

• • •

We were surprised with the resignation of Bill Winters, who has served nearly 30 years with the fair. Winters was very involved and was not afraid to tackle any issues.

He said he is the last of the "old guard" and was ready to turn it over to the younger guard. He called it the "old guard," but in the past, the Fair Board was described by opponents as "the good old boys club." That was because they were old males who had served many years. Many of them took the criticism and name with honor.

One thing is certain: Whether you agreed with what they did or not, they put a lot of time in the work and made a lot of money that was put back into the fairgrounds over the years — hundreds of thousands of dollars (maybe a million or more). Profits each year are dedicated to improvements, which benefit everyone who uses the fairgrounds.

The fair will be 75 years old next year, so obviously somebody was doing something right!

Winters will be missed. He has a lot of experience and knowledge.

• • •

In the meantime, several people are having write-in campaigns, including former commissioner Sherman Allen for county commissioner. As you may recall, his name was taken off the primary ballot after he didn't have the required number of signatures on the petition.

Glenn Tuttle also reportedly is having a write-in campaign for commissioner, and Karen Rice-Haun is conducting a write-in campaign for prothonotary, challenging incumbent Emmy Arnett.

• • •

Many candidates have added T-shirts to their campaign material this year with supporters being able to purchase one.

• • •

The Democratic Party had a "straw" vote at its booth with visitors voting for one of five candidates — or "other." The winner was Joe Biden with 201 votes. Other vote totals were Elizabeth Warren, 121; Pete Buttegieg, 118; Bernie Sanders, 72; and Kamala Harris, 57. "Other" received 78.

• • •

A few potential candidates have come out as challengers to President Donald Trump in the GOP primary.

One thing is certain: Next year will be interesting.

• • •

With only a little more than two months before the November election, the campaigns are in full swing.

Campaigns can be tricky. If you start too early, people lose interest. If you wait too long, the other candidate may gain advantage. Timing, like in many things is life, is crucial.

Many have said all elected officials campaign as soon as they take office. That to some degree is true. The trick is knowing how to campaign without being so obvious.

As with many things in life, name recognition is crucial, and the newcomers often have to work a little harder to gain that recognition.

• • •

It appears voters will still be able to vote straight party in Pennsylvania. The governor vetoed the bill that would end that practice.

Some people have suggested the names be on the ballot without party affiliation. I don't see that happening for a long time.

At the same time, the state does require the statewide judicial candidates to have their home county listed on the ballot with their name. That was done years ago as a means to allow voters to know where the candidates lived.

The underlying reasoning was there were too many judges from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia on the courts. By putting their home county on the ballot, the theory was that voters can still vote for them, but at least they will know where they reside.

• • •

I would be remiss if I didn't send condolences to the family of Nick Bernard Menist, who was a news reporter with the radio and for the Tribune. Menist passed away last week. He was always very interested in politics, although not quite as much as I.

Jane Smith is a retired Meadville Tribune reporter who specialized in covering government and politics.

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