Speculation over who will be Trumbull County's next engineer will continue through Aug. 9 when Democrats pick a successor for what's left of ex-engineer David DeChristofaro's unexpired term.
But at least now we know the finalists: Randy Smith of Hartford and Gary Taneri of Warren.
Smith at this point appears to have the inside track. He's not the ultimate party insider, but he's inside, at least, having run in political circles for years.
He's been a trustee in Hartford since 1994; his mother is a precinct committee person; and although he was on the losing end, Smith has election experience, which would come in handy for next year's election.
But don't count any chickens before they hatch, especially with what happened last month in Mahoning County.
Ken Carano, who many considered to be a shoo-in to replace Lisa Antonini as Mahoning County treasurer because of his many years of political activity (he's the party's executive vice chairman and was a former Austintown trustee, state representative and regional liaison for former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland), was easily defeated by Dan Yemma, Antonini's chief deputy, who also served on city council in Struthers.
Why? Because Yemma simply outworked Carano.
And it will all come down to who is willing to work the hardest in this race, too, despite previous party involvement.
Let the wooing begin.
Both candidates say they've mailed letters and resumes to all of the party's 237 precinct committee members. There will probably also be calls and home visits made.
Taneri said he is holding a candidate meet-and-greet at Alberini's Restaurant four days before committee members vote. Smith said he would continue to meet with precinct committee members over the next couple weeks.
The only way these candidates can overcome perceptions that surround them is to court precinct committee members.
Smith lost the 2008 Democratic primary to DeChristofaro, which raises the question, can he hold on to the office in the 2012 election if there is a challenger? Also that year, Democratic precinct committee members in Trumbull County endorsed DeChristofaro over Smith, then the deputy engineer under John Latell.
Smith's not concerned, saying the feedback he's gotten so far has been positive. He says people he has spoken with have told him he ran a strong race and presented himself well.
Taneri works for a company that consults D&L Energy of Youngstown, the gas and oil well development and production company DeChristofaro formed with a partner in 1986. According to DeChristofaro's bio, he sold his stock in the company and resigned as president and treasurer of D&L in 1990, but remains a joint venture member.
On his Ohio Ethics Commission financial disclosure statements, DeChristofaro lists D&L as a source of income.
Taneri, the head of engineering at Alidade and Associates, said he has an office at D&L's offices in Youngstown, but is not an employee of D&L.
Taneri said he knows DeChristofaro professionally and hasn't dealt with the former engineer in anyway while consulting for D&L.
The engineer's job pays about $99,000.