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, September 02, 2005

Reece keeps campaign money in the family

Steve and Barbara Reece pose in front of their Bond Hill office and apartment building shortly after purchasing it in 1988. Daughter Alicia Reece pays her father rent to live there -- and her campaign pays him rent for her campaign headquarters in a neighboring building.

Of the $44,661 that Alicia Reece spent on her mayoral campaign in the last reporting period, $12,600 of it went to business interests controlled by her father, according to campaign finance reports filed Thursday.

Steven Reece Sr. owns the Bond Hill building where Reece has her campaign headquarters, and the campaign has paid him $2,000 a month in rent since she opened the campaign office in April. The campaign also spent $472 to fix up the building.

The campaign has purchased $4,600 in radio and television advertising through Steve Reece's advertising agency, Communiplex Services.

Steve Reece has said the expenditures were necessary because the city's election laws prohibit him from giving more than $1,000 in non-cash, or "in-kind," donations to his daughter's campaign. He said Communiplex has always served as a pass-through for advertising buys on local radio and television stations.

The reports also show that the campaign spent $1,500 in fees to attorney Rasheed Simmonds to defend Reece against a residency complaint. The Board of Elections threw out a complaint last week that alleged she did not live where she was registered to vote, in an apartment building behind the campaign headquarters.

Steve Reece said he could prove his daughter pays rent to live there -- he owns the apartment building, too.

(Photo by Dick Swaim/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Give to your favorite council campaign TODAY!

There's something about campaign finance reporting deadlines that make City Council candidates sound like used car salesmen.

The next campaign finance report for City Council candidates is due with the Cincinnati Elections Commission Sept. 9, which will disclose contributions through today. Candidates know that reporters and donors look at their fund-raising totals as a sign of organizational strength, so they start getting pushy around the deadline.

Here are three pitches that have gone out in the last 24 hours:

David C. Crowley, Democrat, in a campaign e-mail: "Help us meet our fundraising goal TODAY! Today is one of the last filing deadlines for the City Council election. In order to meet our fundraising goal, we really need your help. Please make an online donation TODAY and give whatever amount you can spare. Visit www.CrowleyForCouncil.com to make a safe and easy donation."

Jeff Berding, Democrat, in an e-mail from campaign manager Alyson Steele: "An Urgent Message from Jeff Berding: The next campaign finance report is due next week for contributions through the end of the day today. Would you consider making an online donation TODAY at www.jeffberding.com? Any amount will help ensure that I can present my message of new leadership for change in the fall."

Nick Spencer, Charterite, on his campaign blog: "Tomorrow is the last day for contributions to the next Campaign Finance Filing report. While not quite as big a deal as the 120-day report, I'm working around the clock to get our number up as high as possible. This report is always the toughest, because so many donors aren't around for the summer, or at least aren't thinking about the campaigns too much. One way we can get that number up is if some of you wonderful blog readers hit the PayPal as hard as possible. I could definitely use your help: we don't want to lose the momentum we got off that first report. Please, give now."

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

But who won the debate over post-debate spin?

Mayoral candidate David Pepper answers a question at Tuesday's WCET debate, as Sylvan Grisco reviews his notes.

State Sen. Mark L. Mallory started it off with a press release 82 minutes after the WCET debate ended. "Mark Mallory Wins First Televised Mayoral Debate" was the headline.

David Pepper's campaign manager, Greg Landsman, sent an e-mail to supporters the next day, claiming Pepper was the victor. "David showed energetic, visionary leadership, and proved that he understands we need change. Unfortunately, Mr. Mallory and Mr. Winburn continued to attack David, spending the better part of the evening engaged in the blame game."

Unlike presidential debates, there were no giant "spin rooms" where campaign partisans tried to doctor the pundits. In fact, WCET banned other television media from its studios. So the campaigns -- some without need for prompting, some at the request of The Cincinnati Enquirer -- sent their spin via e-mail.

Here are excerpts from the post-debate statements of the top five mayoral campaigns (in order received):

Mallory: "At a televised debate tonight, Ohio Senator Mark Mallory continued to gain momentum in his campaign for Cincinnati Mayor by standing out as the only major Democrat running who is not part of the mess at City Hall. Mallory distanced himself from City Council Members David Pepper and Alicia Reece during his remarks at today's debate broadcast live on CET. ... Mallory laid the blame for Cincinnati's problems at the feet of squabbling leaders at City Hall. 'The plain truth is this: Our leaders at City Hall have failed,' Mallory stated. 'They've failed our families; they've failed our children; they've failed our seniors; they've failed our neighborhoods.'" (Mallory campaign news release.)

Charlie Winburn: "Winburn spoke with experience at the forum last night. As a father and husband he knows the importance of ensuring the safety of one's family. And as the only FOP-endorsed candidate, he is the only option to bring law and order back to Cincinnati." (E-mail statement from Hamilton County GOP political director Maggie Nafziger.)

Justin P. Jeffre: "I won last night's debate because I am turning people on to the process while the career politicians are turning them off with politics-as-usual rhetoric. ... I won because I've set an example and sounded the call for an engaged citizen solution revolution. I have no strings attached and my only interest is empowering the people of Cincinnati and building our sense of community and a brighter future." (E-mail from candidate.)

Pepper: "What matters most is who the viewers and voters think won the debate, and who they think can lead our city forward. Not more candidate grandstanding. ... The last thing Cincinnatians want is the status quo politics of grandstanding, passing the buck, and blaming others for personal gain. Mr. Mallory and Mr. Winburn did win that competition, spending the better part of the evening engaged in the blame game. These are two men who've been in elected leadership positions far longer than others in the race. ..." (E-mail statement from campaign spokeswoman Anne Sesler.)

Reece: "While two of her opponents Mallory and Winburn focused on recycling old ideas like a Safety Director and ideas that will raise taxes on the citizens, Vice Mayor Alicia Reece showed that she was not only knowledgeable about the issues but that she has a progressive agenda to move the city forward. ... In her closing statement Vice Mayor Alicia Reece, hit her opponents the hardest with the leadership litmus test, where she reminded the citizens that when Cincinnati was at its lowest point and need leadership the most, all of her opponents were ... MISSING IN ACTION!" (Formal Reece campaign statement.)

(Lead photo by Jeff Swinger/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

Log Cabin Reps keep Winburn at arm's length

The question, which came towards the end of Tuesday night's mayoral debate on WCET, was about diversity.

And while the questioner didn't ask Republican mayoral candidate Charlie Winburn specifically about gays and lesbians, Winburn made a point of saying he would include them in his administration if elected in November.

Winburn has made that promise repeatedly in recent weeks. But when Cincinnati Log Cabin Republican President Ted Jackson heard it Tuesday night, he quickly dashed off a post-debate statement pointing out Winburn's "history of anti-gay activism."

After all, isn't this the same Charlie Winburn who was behind Article XII of the city charter, which barred City Council from passing a gay-rights law from 1993 to 2004? And wasn't he a $3,125-a-month paid consultant to the Equal Rights Not Special Rights Committee, which fought to keep the charter amendment in last year's repeal campaign?

"Article XII sent a message that gay people aren't welcome in Cincinnati, and to say that gay people are going to be included in city government seems to be a contradiction in terms," said Jackson, who served as field director on the repeal campaign. "We can see what he's trying to do. Republican neighborhoods voted for the repeal. He's trying to court those Republicans and piggyback on our work."

Winburn said he stands by his promise. "He doesn't know my heart and he doesn't know my sensitivity when I was on City Council," he said of Jackson. "I said what I said last night, and I don't have anything else to say."

The Log Cabin Republicans say they won't endorse Winburn for mayor, but will make endorsements from among the GOP council candidates next week.

(Photo courtesy the Winburn campaign.)

Cross-tabs! We have cross-tabs!

Here are the breakouts for the WCPO/Survey USA poll of 504 likely voters conducted Aug. 27 to Aug. 29 on the Cincinnati mayoral primary:

All likely voters
By sex
By age
By race
By party affiliation
Not Sure20%18%5%36%0%21%
By education
Grad School27%40%13%11%4%5%
College 25%31%19%17%5%4%
Some College21%24%33%15%4%4%
No College16%27%35%17%2%2%
By ideology
Not Sure16%13%49%4%3%14%

The big story here is that Democrat David Pepper is doing even better among Republicans than the endorsed Republican candidate, Charlie Winburn, 48 percent to 27 percent. That's a big jump from the Aug. 1 WCPO poll, when Pepper and Winburn split the GOP vote more or less evenly.

Even among self-described "conservatives," Pepper and Winburn are in a statistical tie. That's why Winburn keeps touting his Fraternal Order of Police endorsement and identifying himself as the only endorsed Republican in the race.

But Pepper continues to struggle among black voters, getting 7 percent of the African-American vote in a field with three strong black candidates as alternatives.

Alicia Reece and Pepper are tied for the lead, but it's worth noting that Reece's support comes from demographic groups -- young people, the lesser educated and those "not sure" of their ideology -- who are least likely to vote, especially in a mayoral primary with nothing else on the ballot. Expect the Reece camp to concentrate on get-out-the-vote efforts in the next two weeks.

The usual methodological caveats apply: In addition to the statistical margin of error (plus or minus 4.5 percentage points for the overall results, higher for demographic sub-groups) the poll could have biases inherent in touch-tone polls (e.g., a 5-year-old who can answer the phone can pass herself off as a "likely voter.") Also, the number of undecided voters -- 3 percent -- defies credibility.

Still, WCPO is the only news organization doing scientific polling in the mayor's race, so it's the best data we have.

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