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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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Portune grows 'increasingly distant' from party boss

Today's Enquirer reported on the criticism Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Timothy M. Burke was getting -- some of it from within his own party -- for attacking GOP mayoral candidate Charlie Winburn's comments on religion and politics in his 1989 book.

Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune, a Democrat, led the criticism of Burke. But Portune's letter also hinted at deeper issues with his party boss:
I am distressed that your approach and mine to electoral issues seems to be growing so increasingly distant and apart these days. My hope is that we will find a way to bridge these gaps and move forward. Nonetheless, I cannot allow a desire to accomplish a better relationship, or a concern about how my comments might affect your or the local party’s support of me in other matters, influence my reaction to your comments that I find so wrong and potentially harmful to our party and its candidates.

What are the issues that have Burke and Portune "growing so increasingly distant?" Portune didn't say, and neither would Burke.

"I treated it as a personal letter," Burke said. "I’m going to leave my discussions with Todd, since he told me they were personal, just that way."

Here's one issue: In an e-mail in June, Portune - a Green Township resident - complained that he's excluded from the city Democratic caucus meetings that Burke holds at his law office Wednesday mornings: "I needn't have to remind you or anyone on Council that had we been meeting regularly as a Democratic Caucus, city and county together, we might all be on a much better page on this and many other issues. But I digress and that was a proposal long ago dismissed by, or not really taken seriously by, others," Portune wrote.

Whatever the issues, they'll have to get along a little longer. As Enquirer reporter Kimball Perry reported today, Portune said he would not seek statewide office, ending a short exploratory campaign for Ohio attorney general.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Theories of grassroots campaigning

Pleasant Ridge resident Eileen Krauss lectures Democratic Mayoral candidate Mark L. Mallory about abortion Saturday at the St. Aloysius-on-the-Ohio Festival in Sayler Park, as campaign staffer Dan Phenice watched. Krauss is anti-abortion; Mallory supports abortion rights. Confrontations about social issues are a job hazard of grassroots campaigning.

This past weekend marked the height of Cincinnati festival season, and politicians took advantage of the crowds to boost their name recognition and hear directly from their constituents. Some assorted notes on the campaign styles of several candidates:
  • Republican Councilman Chris Monzel lost his seat in 2003 because he was too much of a "regular guy." He hasn't changed. Monzel seemed to have too much fun with his family at the festivals to do much campaigning. He could be found handing out softballs at the dunking booth at Holy Cross-Immaculata Church (his former parish) in Mount Adams Friday night, and with his kids at the face-painting booth at St. Aloysius-on-the-Ohio in Sayler Park Saturday. "My kids are really excited because I told them we could go to two festivals today," he said.
  • State Rep. Steve Driehaus, D-West Price Hill, has a different philosophy. As daughter Clare tugged at his arm, Driehaus kept moving through the West Side festivals. "Circulation is good," he said. "There's no point in going unless people see you're there."
  • Democratic mayoral candidate Mark L. Mallory took some advice from Driehaus and spent some money at the "Baseball Wheel" at St. Al's festival. He won $1.75 by betting 50 cents on the Reds. The always impeccably dressed state senator arrived wearing a suit; only the absence of a necktie suggested a nod to practicality.
  • Speaking of overly dressed candidates, David Pepper was the only person at the Over-the-Rhine Community Festival wearing a tie Saturday. (The Democratic mayoral candidate took it off by the time he got to the St. Teresa of Avila Festival in West Price Hill.) Unfazed by his 5 percent showing among African-American voters in the latest WCPO poll, Pepper worked the predominately African-American crowd like he lived there. "People seem to forget I was the top vote-getter in two consecutive elections -- and the top white candidate in African-American wards," he said. "Am I talking trash?"
  • At St. Teresa, Pepper met up with his father, former Procter & Gamble CEO John E. Pepper Jr., who spent most of the weekend campaigning for his son on the West Side. "Coming to events like this, you learn the variety of wonderful neighborhoods that exist in Cincinnati," the elder Pepper said. "You learn the pride people have in their neighborhoods."
  • Vice Mayor Alicia Reece did hit some church festivals, but seemed to focus her efforts on Krogers. She shook hands outside the Kroger store in Corryville for 15 minutes Saturday before the store manager booted her from the premises. Undeterred, she went to the Winton Place store. "We go to a lot of festivals," she said, "but we go wherever people are."
(Photo by Keli Dailey/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

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