Politics Extra
Enquirer reporters give the scoop on what your politicians are doing

Jessica Brown,
Hamilton County reporter

Jon Craig,
Enquirer statehouse bureau

Jane Prendergast,
Cincinnati City Hall reporter

Malia Rulon,
Enquirer Washington bureau

Carl Weiser,
Blog editor

Howard Wilkinson,
politics reporter

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Friday, August 05, 2005

Comings and goings

Has Republican Jean Schmidt's win in Tuesday's special congressional election scared away all the liberals? Consider:
  • Cincinnati Democratic Committee co-chairwoman Jenny O'Donnell (right) is leaving Cincinnati for France in November, likely ending her longtime ambition to someday become the chairwoman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party. (Her mother, Priscilla O'Donnell, was chairwoman of the Clermont County Party and still sits on the Board of Elections.)

    "The ambition is still there," said O'Donnell, a Linwood psychologist. "I have this extra Democratic gene. The thing about this, is I don't think I'll be able to be chair. This was my time. I don't think I'll have this opportunity again."

    Her husband, Patrick McDevitt, is taking a job in France. On Wednesday, Mayor Charlie Luken nominated Ginny Corsini to replace him on the Lunken Airport Oversight Advisory Board.

  • Green Party candidate Andrew Warner has dropped out of the 2005 City Council race to join the staff of Charterite Nick Spencer.

    Warner, a University of Cincinnati senior majoring in English and political science, made the announcement on his campaign blog Tuesday. He will be the Spencer campaign's field director, helping to coordinate door-to-door and phone-banking operations. The move came after Spencer posted a comment on a local blog saying young candidates who haven't raised money should get out of the race and work on a major-party campaign for experience.

    "You have to have a big ego. You have to love people talking about you. You have to really truly believe everything you say, or at least fake it -- and I think a lot of politicians are faking it," Warner said. "That's what I like about Nick. He's not afraid of saying what he wants to say."

  • Adam Michael Rosenberg, the former director of the Hamilton County Democratic Party, is leaving Cincinnati this month for his native Connecticut. He plans to join the Peace Corps next year.

    Rosenberg headed the local party during the 2004 presidential campaign, and said he got job offers in Columbus and Washington after the campaign. But he said he got burned out on politics and hopes to make a difference in Africa.

  • J. Wes Flinn, a 2001 Green Party candidate for City Council, left for Massachusetts last week. "Got a job up here teaching at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts," he reported in an e-mail. "Though Schmidt getting elected would have driven me out anyway."

    Flinn, who referred to his 2001 campaign as the "Wes Flinn No Chance '01" Tour, was perhaps best known in town as the author of the progressive blog Walk in Brain.

Poll finds a three-way race for mayor

The latest WCPO/Survey USA poll has Alicia Reece, David Pepper and Mark L. Mallory all competing for the top two spots in the Sept. 13 nonpartisan primary.

Reece (27 percent), Pepper (25 percent), and Mallory (23 percent) are all within the poll's 4.1 percent margin of error. Winburn trails at 13 percent. "Other candidates" as a group polled at 7 percent, with 5 percent undecided.

So where are those votes coming from? Read the cross-tabs and you, too, can be a political insider:
QUESTION: On September 13th, Cincinnati will have a Primary for Mayor. If the Primary for Mayor of Cincinnati were today, and you were standing in the voting booth right now, who would you vote for? Mark Mallory? David Pepper? Alicia Reece? Charlie Winburn? Or some other candidate?

All likely voters
By sex
By age
By race
By party affiliation
Not Sure12%4%17%38%9%19%
By education
Grad School27%33%18%14%5%2%
Some College24%24%31%9%8%5%
No College21%18%35%13%7%6%
By ideology
No Sure15%8%41%10%4%21%

WCPO surveyed 2,000 Cincinnati residents by telephone from July 30 to Aug. 1. Of them, 1,722 were registered voters, and 583 were judged to be "likely" voters. The results above are of likely voters.

Some observations about this poll's methodology:
  • The number of undecided voters -- 5 percent -- seems unusually low for a poll conducted six weeks before a mayoral primary. That's a number you'd expect days before a presidential election. Are Cincinnati voters unusually attuned to this race, or is the pollster underestimating turnout?
  • The pollster didn't ask specifically about Justin Jeffre, Sylvan Grisco, or Sandra Queen Noble. Survey USA and WCPO dropped their names from the poll questions after a previous poll reported their name recognition at less than 40 percent each. Jeffre, the former 98 Degrees singer who is supposed to be a celebrity candidate, was unfamiliar to 66 percent of voters. Noble was unfamiliar to 69 percent; Grisco to 80 percent.
  • The methodology -- a touch-tone poll in which randomly selected respondents answer recorded questions read by WCPO anchor Clyde Gray -- remains somewhat controversial among many professional pollsters, although Survey USA has had a good track record in previous Cincinnati elections.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Winburn's drug challenge: Day 7

Since he released the results of his drug test last week, GOP mayoral candidate Charlie Winburn has e-mailed almost-daily press releases suggesting, inviting, challenging, goading, daring and shaming his opponents to do the same.

At first, Winburn said he was only addressing his own campaign, and that he wasn't necessarily making an issue out of his opponents' failure to take a drug test. But with each day, Winburn's challenge has become ever more forceful. A recap:

Day 1: "I will not tolerate drugs on the street, at City Hall or in my own personal life. We will have zero tolerance of drugs at City Hall under my administration. I believe that one who seeks to become the next mayor has an obligation to be open about themselves to the citizens of Cincinnati."

Day 2: "Charlie Winburn remains the only candidate for Mayor willing to show the voters of Cincinnati that a double standard will not exist in his administration and that the Mayor should not be above city policy."

Days 3 & 4: (Winburn campaign takes the weekend off.)

Day 5: "Charlie Winburn has nothing to hide.... It is DAY FIVE. Neither of the other candidates for Mayor has felt the need to do the same as Charlie Winburn and take a drug test then release the results and show voters that they have nothing to hide."

Day 6: "Where are the other Mayoral candidates? ... The other Mayoral candidates continue to ignore the voters of Cincinnati and remain MISSING IN ACTION on releasing the results of their drug test. Could it be the other mayoral candidates are unwilling to take a drug test?"

Day 7: "The issue of drug testing has been placed squarely on the table. Tuesday, April 2, Cincinnati City Councilmen Chris Monzel and Sam Malone introduced legislation that would require the Mayor, Members of City Council, and their respective staffs to undergo drug testing as a condition of employment. ... The only true option is to vote for passage of the ordinance, any other vote says: YOU WANT TO RUN FROM THE ISSUE."
Still, Winburn has had no takers on his drug test challenge. And while his daily e-mails have gotten some attention, the reviews aren't all good.

"I almost feel like a hostage in captivity," said WDBZ talk show host Jonathan "Jay" Love Tuesday, the sixth day. "If this is the only thing you've got to send to the press, you have to work on your campaign plan."

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Reece targets 'base' in three-foot-high letters

New billboards arrived this week for the Alicia Reece campaign. The message is straightforward, and stylistically they look a lot like her previous ads for City Council.

But what's interesting is where they're located: Three in Camp Washington, two in South Fairmount, and one each in North Fairmount, Bond Hill and Avondale.

That's a decidedly West Side focus. They're in the lower and lower-middle-class neighborhoods along the Mill Creek Valley, but they're on streets -- Queen City Avenue (photo, left), Harrison Avenue, Sunset Avenue, Colerain Avenue and Hopple Street -- that thousands of Westwood residents pass by them every day.

It shows that the Reece campaign believes that the traditional stereotype of a West Side voter -- white, middle-class, Catholic and Republican -- has changed.

"The market that we’re looking at is African-American, women, youth and average everyday working people. And our billboards primarily are focused on reaching those people. We put them in spots that we think are important to us in terms of targeting the primary voter," said Reece's father and campaign manager, Steve Reece.

The Reece campaign's billboard contracts expire Sept. 13, and Steve Reece suggested that the campaign might change its strategy if she makes it to the general election.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Mark Mallory's favorite restaurants

State Sen. Mark L. Mallory has a legendary appetite. He gets grumpy when he's hungry. And his Statehouse and mayoral campaign staffs are under strict instructions not to schedule meetings anywhere near noontime -- unless there's lunch.

Often, Mallory's campaign contributors pick up the tab.

In just the first five months of the year, Mallory's mayoral campaign spent $3,664.95 on meals, according to filings with the Cincinnati Elections Commission. That doesn't even include food purchased for fund-raising events.

By comparison, David Pepper has spent $244.63 on meals; Justin P. Jeffre, $123.75; and Alicia Reece, $0. (Charlie Winburn was not a declared candidate at the last Elections Commission filing deadline.)

Sometimes, two or three meals a day are charged to the Mallory campaign. His favorite eating places:


Shane's Gourmet Market, Columbus$600.801

Brownstone on Main, Columbus$408.811

Sam's Club, Green Township$342.615

LaRosa's, College Hill$258.846

RJ Snappers, Columbus$199.023

Tony's Restaurant, Columbus$162.901

Mejana Restaurant, Downtown$160.612

Montgomery Inn Boathouse, Downtown$138.544

Red Lobster, Sycamore Township$138.172

Bacalls Cafe, College Hill$121.063

York Street Cafe, Newport$105.511

T. Marie's Restaurant, Winton Place$100.001

Genji Japanese Steakhouse, Reynoldsburg$94.582

Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse, Downtown$93.541

Tinks Cafe, Clifton$87.651

Kroger Co., North College Hill$77.981

BD's Mongolian Grill, Columbus$59.601

Chung Ching, College Hill$58.502

Millenium Hotel, Downtown$49.091

Steak-n-Shake, Oakley$43.711

Famous Dave's BBQ, Springdale$43.051

Lenhardt's, Clifton Heights$41.551

Joe's Crab Shack, Bellevue, Ky.$41.221

Outback Steakhouse, Colerain Township$37.961

Buffalo Wild Wings, Columbus$33.221

McFadden's Restaurant, Downtown$32.631

Vernon Manor Hotel, Avondale$27.691

Buckeye Fried Chicken, Columbus$25.621

Roadhouse Grill, Oakley$22.231

Redfish, Downtown$21.881

Mayura, Clifton$19.211

Goodies BBQ, College Hill$17.171

Now, there's nothing illegal or even unethical about using campaign funds for meal and entertainment expenses. In fact, state law forbids elected officials from using taxpayer money for in-town meals and entertainment, so many politicians use their campaign coffers for business lunches that the private sector would put on the company expense account.

And that's what Mallory says he did in many cases. "I am the Senate minority leader, and that puts me in a position of working a lot not just with my own caucus and my campaign staff, but other lawmakers," Mallory said. "There's a bunch of situations where I have to bring a lot of people together and buy the meal."

Mallory said Shane's Gourmet Market provided box lunches for participants in a hybrid-fuel car show after he sponsored a bill to encourage the state to buy more hybrid vehicles.

But Mallory said there's a simpler explanation for the meals: He's not going to skip lunch for a work meeting.

"Let me see if I can say this the right way," Mallory said, measuring his words carefully. "I gotta eat. That's the bottom line."

(Photo by Steven M. Herppich/Cincinnati Enquirer)

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