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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Saturday, September 17, 2005

Cincinnati's political landscape: the 2005 primary

The 20 students in Dr. Gene Beaupre's Mass Media and Politics class at Xavier University asked more more information on where the candidates' votes came from in Tuesday's mayoral primary.

Full downloadable data is below, but the maps tell the story. The darker the map, the greater the support (the darkest shade represents more than 74 percent; blank precincts had less than 3.8 percent):

David Pepper

Mark L. Mallory

Charlie Winburn

Alicia Reece

Justin P. Jeffre

Sylvan Grisco

Sandra Queen Noble
The maps (and the precinct-by-precinct data below) graphically reveal a number of trends:
  • David Pepper's strongest base was among East Side Republicans in Hyde Park, Mount Lookout and Mount Washington.
  • Mark L. Mallory received the broadest geographical support. He was the only candidate to come in no lower than fourth in any precinct.
  • Charlie Winburn's voters were West Side Republicans in Covedale, Westwood, Mount Airy and Sayler Park.
  • Alicia Reece got only moderate support in neighborhoods that were supposed to be her strongholds -- Bond Hill, Avondale, Evanston and East Westwood -- and no support anywhere else.
  • Justin P. Jeffre got a smattering of votes in young professional enclaves like Oakley, Clifton Heights and Over-the-Rhine.
For complete precinct-by-precinct numbers -- from the final, unofficial count -- in Microsoft Excel format, download the following file:


Friday, September 16, 2005

What happened to Justin Jeffre?

Cincinnati mayoral candidate and pop singer Justin Jeffre, a member of the rock group 98 Degrees, poses inside his campaign office Aug. 23. (Photo by Al Behrman/The Associated Press)

There's probably not much point in a postmortem on the fifth-place finish of an independent mayoral candidate. Then again, Justin P. Jeffre was never your typical also-ran.

Some of the more interesting perspective on the 98 Degrees singer's political defeat this week came from the entertainment media. Joal Ryan of E! Online talked to Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Timothy M. Burke:
"He didn't put together a campaign," Tim Burke, chair of Ohio's Hamilton County Democratic Party, said Wednesday. "I think he assumed he was far better known than he was."

To Burke's eye, Jeffre's get-out-the-vote effort consisted of "huge -- and I mean huge -- yard signs."
Terry Kinney of the Associated Press quotes Jeffre as saying he's not throwing away those signs yet:
"We're going to collect our big yard signs and leave the door open for another run," Jeffre said Wednesday. "Don't be surprised if you see JJ2k9 (Justin Jeffre 2009)."

Jeffre, 32, said he accomplished what he set out to do in his first run for mayor of his hometown.

"A lot of what we wanted to do is turn people on to this process, people who have been disconnected or don't buy into what they see as a spoiled or corrupt system," he said. "It was my way of bringing a little bit of fun and pop culture into what is usually thought of as a boring process."

Former Enquirer staffer Gil Kaufman, writing for MTV.com, noted that Jeffre wasn't even the first member of his band to think about running for Cincinnati mayor and making a reality television show about it:

Maybe Nick Lachey should have run after all.

Even with fund-raising help from his 98 Degrees bandmates, Justin Jeffre couldn't overcome voter skepticism -- and let's face it, with only 20 percent turnout, voter apathy -- about his campaign for Cincinnati mayor. The singer, 32, who announced his unlikely candidacy in April at his hometown alma mater, came in a distant fifth place in the nonpartisan primary held on Tuesday, garnering just 2 percent of the vote.
Finally, United Press International spun the loss as a good thing for 98 Degrees fans:
Justin Jeffre of 98 Degrees lost Cincinnati's mayoral primary, but fans of the former boy band have won because the campaign has spurred a reunion. ...

But a non-singing 98 Degrees reunion at a rally earlier this month got the guys talking and now, Jeffre said, they have plans to reunite in the near future and start working on their next project.
For all his international fame, Jeffre had fundamental problem for a politician: Cincinnati voters didn't know his name. A July 19 WCPO/Survey USA poll found his name recognition three percentage points higher than Sandra Queen Noble's. Even some of his 708 voters remembered him only as "Nick Lachey's friend," or "the kid in the boy band," or "Jeffries."

"I voted for Jeffries, believe it or not," said Christine Brown, 55, as she voted in Bond Hill Tuesday. "I saw him on WCET when they were debating the issues. He had some new, innovative ideas, and that's what Cincinnati needs. It wasn't so much a protest vote. I know the others will probably win. But if he has enough votes, he might think he has enough support and might run for City Council."

Voters found Jeffre unprepared to be mayor, but there's another City Council campaign in two years. Will he consider JJ2K7?

Lemmie gives herself an 'A', but flunks City Council

When WLW talk show host Bill Cunningham asked former City Manager Valerie Lemmie to assign a letter grade for her three-and-a-half years in office, she gave herself an "A."

When asked to grade Vice Mayor Alicia Reece, defeated in Tuesday's mayoral primary, Lemmie pointedly declined: "I think the voters gave her grade on Tuesday. I have nothing to add to that."

The rest of Cunningham's 20-minute interview with Lemmie on Thursday afternoon gave the city's former CEO every opportunity to exact her revenge on the City Council members that she felt mistreated her during her rocky tenure at City Hall.

It wasn't all bad. Lemmie had high praise for the compassion and temperament of Democratic Councilman David Crowley, and singled out Republican Chris Monzel as a decent guy as well. Mayor Charlie Luken, she said, was absolutely dedicated to improving the city. And she complimented the competence of Police Chief Thomas H. Streicher Jr. and Fire Chief Robert Wright.

Then Cunningham pressed Lemmie for quick takes on some other City Hall figures, and this is what she said:

Christopher Smitherman: "His idea of racial reconciliation was different than most people's in Cincinnati."

Former Luken press secretary (and Cunningham crony) Brendon Cull: "Brendon was the mayor's staff person and a political junkie."

LaShawn Pettus-Brown, the so-called "developer" convicted of defrauding city taxpayers of more than $180,000: "I actually never got to meet him." ("Thank God," Cunningham replied.)

Councilman John Cranley: "He was fun to work with."

Councilwoman Laketa Cole: (Pause) "Let me think about it."

Former Assistant City Manager Rashad Young: "Extremely talented."

Former Councilman -- now Hamilton County Commissioner -- Pat DeWine: "Very challenging, and very, very difficult to work with."

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Pepper campaigns in Malone's front yard

Councilman David Pepper walks with Walnut Hills neighborhood activist on Lincoln Avenue Wednesday, part of the Pepper campaign's 52-Neighborhood van tour. (Photo by Michael E. Keating/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

The morning after his victory in the mayoral primary, Councilman David Pepper ventured to Walnut Hills to go after votes he lost to Republican Charlie Winburn.

How do we know there are Winburn supporters in Precinct 7-C? If the yard signs didn't give it away, that's GOP Councilman Sam Malone's house on the right.

Back to the bellwether

Jennifer Egbert shows some beans to Arlene Corsaw, a 57-year College Hill resident. The weekly Farmer's Market, begun by the College Hill Gardeners, has prompted greater cooperation among the neighborhood's organizations. (Photo by Michael E. Keating/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

Back in August, the Enquirer visited Precinct 23-FF in College Hill, which has historically been one of the best predictors of the city as a whole.

So what did this microcosm reflect on primary election day? The final, unofficial results:


Mark L. Mallory6250.8%

Charlie Winburn3528.7%

David Pepper2318.9%

Alicia Reece10.8%

Justin P. Jeffre10.8%

Across Ward 23 -- which includes College Hill, Mount Airy and part of Northside and is also a pretty good barometer of the city as a whole -- the results tracked closer to the citywide outcome:


Mark L. Mallory1,53733.9%

David Pepper1,16525.7%

Charlie Winburn1,15725.5%

Alicia Reece61613.6%

Justin P. Jeffre441.0%

Sylvan Grisco100.2%

Sandra Queen Noble90.2%

Turnout in Precinct 23-FF was 30.3 percent, and in Ward 23 it was 24.8 percent -- both much higher than the 20.3 percent citywide.

Voters here know the candidates well. It's always been fertile ground for David Pepper, who has spent more than one Saturday afternoon knocking on doors from one end of College Hill to another. It's also in Mark L. Mallory's senate district, and he has his campaign headquarters down the street. Republican Charlie Winburn has his church down the road and has a strong following here, which might have hurt Pepper a little.

This is a racially integrated neighborhood where voters say the intangible issues -- leadership skills and an ability to unify the city's fractious politics -- are paramount. College Hill has millions of dollars of city investments in the pipeline, and there's a palpable optimism not seen in other city neighborhoods.

What does this mean for November? It's difficult to extrapolate citywide trends from one precinct. But at least in this one corner of the city, voters are looking for an outsider (look at the vote for Vice Mayor Alicia Reece). The challenge for Pepper, then, is to win over Winburn Republicans and convince Democrats and independents that College Hill is on the verge of a renaissance -- and that he's the best candidate to keep that momentum going. Mallory just needs to remind them he's not a councilman.

The day after, Reece looks to her future

Cincinnati Vice Mayor Alicia Reece walked in a few minutes late at City Council's weekly meeting Wednesday, less than 24 hours after a disappointing defeat in her bid to become one of two finalists for the mayor's office. (Photo by Michael E. Keating/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

Her fellow Democrats greeted Vice Mayor Alicia Reece with well-wishes and platitudes Wednesday, as Reece showed up for work despite a fourth-place finish in her bid for mayor the night before.

Laketa Cole: "Surely when one door closes, another door opens up."

John Cranley: "It took a lot of courage to get in that race. I didn't have it. You did."

David C. Crowley: "You have so much to give the public, and I hope you will find the appropriate fit in time."

Sam Malone: "I hope you stay in public service. Keep that chin up and keep fighting."

Up last was David Pepper, the councilman who came in first place in Tuesday's mayoral primary. He praised Reece's "tenacity" and "vision for the city," and credited her with running an "unbelievably positive campaign."

"It was actually a pleasure to be out there with you," Pepper said. "I will miss you out on the camp trail, because you added what this city needs, which is a passionate advocate for the city."

Reece repaid the compliment, and thanked Mayor Charlie Luken for appointing her vice mayor. Her term as councilwoman ends Nov. 30, and the city's charter bars candidates who accept a nomination for mayor from also running for City Council the same year.

"I have no regrets," Reece said. "I don't see this as a funeral, but I see this as a rebirth, and I look forward to the future ahead of me."

What does that future hold? Father and campaign manager Steven Reece Sr. said they're in no hurry to jump into another campaign, but they're looking at "things that could be available politically that could be attractive to her." One of those possibilities -- which was given close consideration before she jumped into the mayor's race -- surely includes a bid for state Sen. Mark L. Mallory's seat in Columbus if he's elected mayor in November.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

What happened to Charlie Winburn?

Mayoral candidate Charlie Winburn talks with voter Cathy Bolten at her polling place in Westwood on Election Day. (Photo by Tony Jones/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

Charlie Winburn's strategy -- drafted months before he even announced his campaign for Cincinnati mayor -- was a foolproof, can't-lose road map to 801 Plum St.

On paper, anyway.

In October 2004, Winburn commissioned a secret poll to test the waters for a mayoral campaign. When the pollster said he could win, Winburn shared a copy of the poll and its conclusions with the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Pollster Verne Kennedy of Florida-based Market Research Insight wrote:

Can Charlie Winburn place at least second in the mayoral primary? Can he win the primary? If he gets into the general election, can he win? The data indicate that the answer to all three questions is a qualified "yes."

With respect to the primary, if the field turns out to be more than one Democrat and only one Republican, it can be expected that the Democrats will divide up the Democrat vote and thus eliminate much of the Democratic voter advantage that exists, making a second or even first-place showing by Winburn possible....

As the data indicate, a targeted campaign aimed at Republicans, informing them of Winburn's support by Republican leaders and law enforcement organizations, and Pepper's and Mallory's liberal positions on issues such as gun control and abortion, would make Republicans much less likely to support Pepper and Mallory and much more likely to support Winburn.

Winburn must gain support of white Republican leaders in the area who have the ability to influence other Republicans. There is no chance that a white Republican will be mayor of the city; however, Winburn, an African-American Republican, does have the ability to become mayor. White leaders should use the time between now and the election to introduce Winburn as their candidate to Republicans in small groups and in direct mail. Winburn must work separately with African-American voters, especially churchgoing Christians, to ensure minority support.
Kennedy put together a magic formula of 80 percent Republicans, 50 percent of African-American Democrats, and 50 percent of independents.

How did Winburn do on that plan? According to a WCPO poll released on the eve of the election, Winburn had 35 percent of Republicans, 15 percent of blacks and 21 percent of independents.

"I've done 458 campaigns in 25 years, and this is the damnest one I've ever seen," said Bethel Nathan, a Texas-based political consultant that Winburn brought in to help with his campaign.

"When it gets right down to it, I don't think white Republicans voted for him," he said. "They walked in the booth, and they couldn't pull the lever for Charlie Winburn. I don't call it racism. I just call it not being able to change the status quo."

Bethel said the campaign had a textbook "flushing" operation, identifying likely Winburn voters who had not yet cast a ballot in key precincts and reminding them to vote -- even offering transportation to the polls.

Once they got there, they voted for business-oriented Democrat David Pepper, Nathan said.

Even the absentee ballot campaign backfired, he said. "There's no way we should have been running second on absentee ballots," Bethel said. With their superior organizations, Republicans always get the lion's share of absentees. Tuesday, Pepper had 12,012 to Winburn's 8,054.

But Winburn himself said he's not bitter at GOP voters, and insists that it wasn't Pepper who cost him the election. "If you look at my 9,000 votes, they're anti-Pepper people," he said. (Winburn is putting off his endorsement of one of the remaining candidates until he has a chance to meet with Pepper to talk about his crime platform, though Winburn and Mark L. Mallory seemed especially chummy toward the end of the campaign.)

Winburn blames a late start on his campaign (he didn't announce until June 16), and said he needed another three weeks to capitalize on the momentum from recent endorsements from the Fraternal Order of Police and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

"We tried to squeeze in six months into 90 days," he said. "We really did our best."

Turnout highest in Pepper strongholds

This map shows turnout percentages by precincts. The darkest green had the highest turnout.

Regular blog reader Fred Tivin of Finneytown writes:

I really enjoyed your election night blog. Lotsa' good stuff.

I have a suggestion. In addition to publishing votes cast by ward, how about posting percent turnout by ward. I bet this would be an eye-opener. The 20 percent overall turnout masks what must be some of the lowest ward turnouts in the history of the city.
Here are the ward-by-ward turnout percentages:

Ward (no of precincts)



WARD 1 -24-

Mount Washington/California

23.00 percent

WARD 2 -24-


21.36 percent

WARD 3 -11-


24.21 percent

WARD 4 -17-

Hyde Park

24.36 percent

WARD 5 -19-

Mount Lookout

29.44 percent

WARD 6 -6-


13.21 percent

WARD 7 -19-

Roselawn/Bond Hill

25.78 percent

WARD 8 -9-

Mount Auburn/Mount Adams

19.92 percent

WARD 9 -10-

Walnut Hills/East Walnut Hills

16.13 percent

WARD 10 -7-


13.38 percent

WARD 11 -9-

Mohawk/Clifton Heights

10.33 percent

WARD 12 -12-

Clifton Heights/ University Heights/ Fairview

9.01 percent

WARD 13 -16-


21.32 percent

WARD 14 -18-

Pleasant Ridge/Kennedy Heights

28.83 percent

WARD 15 -19-


23.97 percent

WARD 16 -1-


17.45 percent

WARD 17 -8-

West End

12.00 percent

WARD 18 -4-

West End

16.41 percent

WARD 19 -8-

Sedamsville/Sayler Park/Riverside

18.17 percent

WARD 20 -12-

Price Hill

14.25 percent

WARD 21 -11-

South Fairmount/East Westwood

10.91 percent

WARD 22 -6-

Camp Washington/South Cumminsville

11.65 percent

WARD 23 -32-

College Hill/Mount Airy

24.83 percent

WARD 24 -18-


17.96 percent

WARD 25 -23-


20.05 percent

WARD 26 -33-


17.63 percent

SOURCE: Unofficial canvass report, Hamilton County Board of Elections

Highest turnout in the city: Precinct 2-X in East Hyde Park, which votes at the Deupree House on Erie Avenue. Turnout was 45.08 percent, and David Pepper won 54.4 percent of the vote.

Lowest turnout in the city: Precinct 12-H, a Clifton Heights precinct heavy with University of Cincinnati students, which votes at Old St. George Church on Calhoun Street. Turnout was 1.9 percent, and Mark L. Mallory won 53.33 percent.

What happened to Alicia Reece?

Though her mayoral dreams were averted, Alicia Reece and supporters were still in high spirits as they danced to "Ain't No Stopping Us Now" at her Bond Hill Election Night party. (Photo by Keli Daily/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

A random, completely unscientific sampling of voters at the Bond Hill Recreation Center Tuesday afternoon made clear that Vice Mayor Alicia Reece's mayoral aspirations were in trouble.

After all, this should be the strongest of Reece's strongholds. But it took nearly an hour to find a single voter willing to profess his support for the 34-year-old Bond Hill councilwoman.

Mostly, they were for state Sen. Mark L. Mallory. Even when they didn't mention Reece by name, their reasons for supporting Mallory implicitly criticized Reece for her focus on gangs as the root of the crime problem and what they saw as disrespect for former City Manager Valerie Lemmie:

Doug Crooms, 40: "He's like the lesser of all the evils. Everybody else is talking about crime, but no one's doing nothing. All these killings in Bond Hill and Avondale, they're trying to make it a gang war. It's just a bunch of stupid kids, but hype sells."

Pecola Wise, retired: "He's riding the coattails of his daddy, but his daddy has done some good things. He'll do what he says. I really believe he'll at least try to do some of the things he says he's going to do. He's a good man, and he comes from a good family."

Willie Bell, 50, bricklayer and tree-trimmer: "I'm voting for change. I'm voting for Mallory myself. He's been upstate a while. He understands what's going on, and he understands how to make decisions. He knows the process, with the city manager. I don't like how that came out -- they didn't let her do her job. The mayor didn't step up to say, 'This is who I hired. Let her do her job.'"

Mallory beat Reece in the four precincts at the recreation center -- which had a higher-than-average 26.2 percent turnout -- by 21 votes, according to the final, unofficial count. Across Ward 7 -- which encompasses Bond Hill and Roselawn -- Mallory's lead was 280 votes.

Mallory, for one, said he wasn't surprised at besting Reece in her own back yard.

"I've been telling people all day -- when they told me that Ward 7 is Alicia Reece's base -- I told them, 'It's my base, too. We share that base,'" he said.

Whatever base Reece had didn't show up. Precincts that supported Reece had the lowest turnout in the city:

Candidate Precincts

David Pepper 160 22.3%

Charlie Winburn 29 20.6%

Mark L. Mallory 156 19.3%

Alicia Reece 39 15.0%

So what do you do when you have a turn-out-the-base strategy and the base doesn't show up?

Briana Hansen, a 20-year-old Xavier University student from Indianapolis, volunteered for Reece in the final weeks. She summed up the flaw in Reece's campaign strategy this way: "They were relying on people to turn out to vote for her, rather than getting people to want to vote for her."

"I loved working for them more than anything. They are amazing people -- friendly, and welcoming. I felt she was very qualified," she said. "But toward the end I thought, 'Is this all there is? Where is the momentum?"

Reece's father and campaign manager, Steven Reece Sr., said this morning he has no regrets.

"I think we ran the right campaign, had the right strategy," he said. "The turnout is not what it should have been, in terms of people being aware there was an election."

If you're still reading a politics blog at this hour...

We have a reward for you. We have just posted ward by ward results for the mayoral primary.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Fangman says vote was partial victory

Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police Vice President Keith Fangman had these comments after the results were in: "Obviously, we're disappointed that Charlie Winburn did not finish in the top two. We really believed that he would have been a strong law-and-order mayor. However, we do consider this election to be a partial victory due to the fact that one of the harshest critics of the police department, Alicia Reece, will now be removed from City Council. We targeted her for defeat and we believe the voters agreed with the police that she would not have been an effective mayor.''
-- J.P.

2001 overvote didn't repeat itself

Of all of the numbers in today's mayoral primary, here are the ones the Hamilton County Board of Elections is most proud of:
  • Undervotes (ballots cast but not marked for any candidate): 295, or 0.68 percent.
  • Overvotes (ballots improperly cast for more than one candidate): 217, or 0.5 percent.
That's a big improvement over 2001's first ever mayoral primary, when 4.7 percent of votes were voided because voters selected more than one candidate.

Another number to consider: 701. That's the number of provisional votes left to be counted, which could theoretically give Mark L. Mallory a chance at finishing in first place over David Pepper.

Turnout was a disappointing 20.34 percent. Elections officials had optimistically predicted 30 percent. In the 2001 primary -- which was on Sept. 11 -- the turnout was 15 percent.

Pepper will tour neighborhoods

Starting Wednesday morning at 11 a.m., Councilman David Pepper starts a 15-day "barnstorm'' tour of all Cincinnati's 52 neighborhoods. By van, he'll stop at all the neighborhoods to get citizens' views on neighborhood needs, thank people for voting for him Tuesday as well as pass out his plan for Cincinnati. The tour will end with a "major speech'' about Pepper's plan for his first 100 days in office.

The tour starts in the parking lot of his campaign headquarters, 1525 Madison Ave.

-- J.P.

Pepper: "I love Election Day!"

In his victory speech, Pepper first thanked his two unsuccessful opponents, Reece and Winburn, for running such spirited, energetic and passionate campaigns. He said he would work hard between now and November to earn the votes of their supporters and to build on that passion.

"I love Election Day! I love it. It's a day where I'm reinvigorated about our great city. It's a day where I get to talk to citizens again and again and again.''

"We can make Cincinnati the best hometown in American once again. For all Cincinnati.''

He didn't mention Mallory's name, but he said there were "clear differences'' between him and his opponent. He said his priorities would be: safety; working with youth and with schools; and spurring economic growth.

"And I'm ready to get it done. ... We've laid it out. It's clear. It's too late the day after the election to start thinking about what we do next.''

"We've had years of failed leadership. But this election is the moment when we can change it.''

Pepper's new slogan: "Get It Done From Day One."

-- J.P.

Reece will back candidate who supports agenda

In admitting defeat, Vice Mayor Alicia Reece called for David Pepper and Mark Mallory not to ignore those she believes have been ignored too long – but she refused to say who she would support for mayor.

"I will look at both agendas and see which one incorporates the ideas that my supporters want to hear," Reece said after her speech at Integrity Hall, the Bond Hill business run by her family.
"I’m looking for the progressive agenda that my constituents care about. That means inclusion and jobs."

Reece, who raised $83,000 for her campaign, called for both candidates to stress inclusion or allow Cincinnati to suffer the consequences.

"I want (the eventual mayor) to represent those who have been voiceless in this city," Reece said in her concession speech. "It is a voice that is not part of the establishment that represents the diverse ideas that our city and our citizens have. Until we do that, we will continue to be a divided city."

Reece spoke vaguely of her defeat being a start but refused to say when – or if – she would seek elective office.

"I’m weighing all of my options," Reece said. "I’m going to always have my foot in politics."

After taking a vacation, she said she would go back to work for her family’s business after she leaves City Council when her term expires at the end of the year.

Reece looked back on her time on City Council and noted how she helped provide leadership – something she stressed was not often seen in the city from a 34-year-old black woman educated in the city’s public schools.

"I managed to lead the city without the title (of mayor)," she told supporters. "We stepped out on a dream and got a little setback today, but don’t give up."

Hers was a voice rarely heard, but one that should, more and more, lead to others like her speaking loudly for opportunities, Reece insisted.

"When I went to the boardrooms, I represented your voice. Rooms you couldn’t get into," Reece told supporters.

While boasting of her previous election record – "I have never lost a race," she said – she wants to help the Queen City succeed but wouldn’t say how.

"I want to hear (of) Cincinnati as the comeback city," she said. "I’m 34 years old. It’s just the beginning."
-- K.P.

Winburn: A little late and short of money

Michael Barrett, the former Hamilton County Republican Party chairman who recruited Winburn to run for mayor, showed up at Winburn headquarters to stand by his candidate.
"I'm out of politics now,'' said Barrett, who is facing Senate confirmation for a federal judgeship. "But I did recruit Charlie. We got in a little late; we ran a little short of money at the end, but Charlie Winburn did shape the debate in this race.''
-- H.W.

Mallory might turn to TV ads for November race

State Sen. Mark Mallory spent no money on campaign television ads, instead relying on some radio and direct mail pieces.

"We went neighborhood to neighborhood, block to block, and that’s what we’re going to continue to do," he said.

But now that he’s going head-to-head with David Pepper, he could pop up on television, he said. "We have to make an assessment tomorrow to determine what we need to do to get through this election," he said.

Mallory had mingled around the crowd gathered at the Millennium Hotel downtown for nearly an hour before his speech greeting supporters.

In the minutes before his victory speech he stood by himself in front of the speaker’s podium quietly for several minutes and noticeably relaxed once the results came in.

"You know this is actually kind of fun," he said. "This has been a fantastic experience."

The mood was jovial Tuesday night, but Mallory said the celebration would be short with the General Election coming in a few weeks.

"We’re going to celebrate tonight, but we’re going to get to work tomorrow," he said.
-- F.H.

Mallory declares victory

State Sen. Mark L. Mallory just arrived at the Board of Elections to greet the waiting television cameras.

"We're going to keep doing what we've been doing, which is to talk about leadership, and talk about consensus-building," he said. "People have seen that there's a mess at City Hall for quite some time, and I haven't been a part of that mess."

He said he had not yet talked to his opponents in the race, but would make the calls in the next 20 minutes.

Winburn thanks Ware

In a raucous half-hour speech to supporters at his Hamilton Avenue headquarters, Charlie Winburn thanked nearly every one in sight, calling them to the front of the crowd. Toward the end, he called on Lincoln Ware, the radio talk show host from The Buzz radio, and hugged him. "Lincoln tried to help us get that ghetto vote,'' Winburn said. "But we just didn't get too many ghetto votes.''
-- H.W.

Winburn says he had fun

Charlie Winburn arrived at his Hamilton Avenue headquarters shortly before 10 p.m. to a standing ovation from about 50 supporters, who, moments before, had been deadly silent when they learned the final results.

"First of all, I want to tell you we won tonight,'' Winburn said to thunderous applause and shouts from the audience. "I still have the city of Cincinnati. I still have my wife and family.

"You don't have to worry about me,'' said Winburn, with his wife and three children at his side.

"I'm at peace. I've had more fun than I have ever had before. The only thing I am disappointed about is that I won't get to lock people up.''

Winburn said that "within 24 hours, I will announce who I am backing for mayor.''

Councilman Chris Monzel, a Republican who supported Winburn's candidacy, showed up at Winburn headquarters shortly before 10 p.m.

Winburn was the last of the major candidates to enter the race, and Monzel said he is convinced that if Winburn had had more time, "the outcome would have been different.''

"He only had eight weeks to try to pull this off,'' Monzel said.
-- H.W.

Mallory says voters heard change message

State Sen. Mark Mallory ran a campaign on creating civility and affecting change in Cincinnati government and tonight voters embraced that message, Mallory said. Mallory joined councilman David Pepper in advancing to the General Election in November.

“The message is clear, voters want to see change in the way we do business in City Hall,” Mallory said during a victory speech at about 9:45 on the 31st floor of the Millennium Hotel downtown.

Among the issues Mallory wants to tackle are beating back crime, cleaning up the environment and revitalizing downtown.

“But we can’t solve problems if we can’t work together,” Mallory said flanked by his family, including his father, former Ohio House Majority Leader William L. Mallory, Sr.

Mallory credited his message of bringing a calm head to City Hall and his grassroots campaigning for his success.
-- F.H.

Pepper arrives to greet supporters

David Pepper arrived at his party at 9:45 p.m., hugging his two brothers, father and mother, who'd been waiting for him as he finished his speech at home. A group of his Yale University buddies, as well as girlfriend Andrea Canning, former Channel 9 reporter, were with him. His mother wore a giant round button on her white blouse: "David's Mom.''

Said her son, the candidate, "We saw great energy all throughout the city today. We're very excited.''

-- J.P.

Reece concedes but says she's just beginning

At 9:30 p.m., Alicia Reece made her first appearance before her supporters after the polls closed to announce she had lost -- but wasn't giving up.

Reece was fourth and told the crowd she appreciated their help but said that big money beat her small money, telling them vaguely that "this is just a beginning."

When asked what that meant, Reece said she would always be active in politics but wouldn't say for certain that, at age 34, she would seek public office again.
-- K.P.

Winburn crowd waits for end, but eats

Even though their candidate appeared headed for defeat, the 50 or so supporters gathered at Charlie Winburn's Hamilton Avenue headquarters were ready to party, standing and cheering when, at 9:30 p.m., Colleen Winburn, the candidate's wife, announced that they would start serving food.

"Charlie will be coming to see us,'' Mrs. Winburn said. "But in the meantime, we don't want you people to starve to death. So let's eat!'' The crowd made a beeline for a table full of fried chicken, buffalo wings and tubs of potato salad.
-- H.W.

Crowd grows, but Pepper at home finishing speech

The group of David Pepper supporters grew after 9 p.m., watching their candidate in the neck-and-neck race with Mark Mallory. Pepper was at his house working on his speech. Among the guests: Councilman John Cranley and Pepper's father, John Pepper.
-- J.P.

Overheard at the Board of Elections

"Eighty-one percent of the precincts are in. We're 3,000 votes behind. It's not looking good."

-- Steve Rosfeld, campaign manager for Charlie Winburn, watching the results on a monitor and speaking to the candidate on his cell phone.

Mallory aide credits ground campaign

A crowd of about 90 supporters of state Sen. Mark Mallory erupted into shouts and applause as the campaign manager Simone Lightfoot announced that early into the race Mallory had pulled to the front of the primary pack, ahead of David Pepper, his nearest competitor.

Lightfoot, who announced the results at the swank High Spirits Lounge in downtown’s Millienium hotel at around 9:15 p.m., attributed the good showing to Mallory’s message and ground work. "People are ready for a new direction and a change in leadership," she said.

The campaign sent out about 100 volunteer poll workers to 134 precincts earlier in the day. Lightfoot said the campaign worked a phone bank and walked door-to-door to get out Mallory’s message.

"He just got out into the community to meet people," she said.
-- F.H.

Reece votes could still come

With 26 percent of Cincinnati's precincts reporting, Alicia Reece was in fourth place with 17 percent of the vote. That was 4 percentage votes behind Charlie Winburn and well behind leaders Mark Mallory and David Pepper. Reece's father, Steve, wasn't worried at about 9 p.m. when he heard the results. Noting that just about one-fourth of the votes had been counted, Steve Reece said "It's early yet."
-- K.P.

Where the votes are coming from

In early reporting, the biggest returns from are from Pleasant Ridge/Kennedy Heights (16 precincts), Westwood (12 precincts), Avondale (11 precincts), Madisonville/Oakley (9 precincts) and Riverside (all eight precincts).

No precincts are in from Ward 7, an Alicia Reece stronghold. Over-the-Rhine, West End and Mount Auburn -- which also should deliver for Reece -- have just two precincts combined.

Mallory and Pepper look like they're in good shape, but it's too soon to draw conclusions.

Winburn camp expects up and down night

About 50 Charlie Winburn supporters gathered early tonight at the storefront campaign headquarters on Hamilton Avenue in College Hill, next door to Sisters Cafe.

Most were members of the College Hill church where Winburn is pastor, and they greeted each other with hugs and handshakes much as they would in the church on Sunday morning.

Trays of fried chicken went untouched as the Winburn folks sat on folding chairs in front of two TV sets, waiting for election returns.

There were cheers when it was announced that Winburn was running second in the absentee ballots, but when Mark Mallory started moving up in the early precinct reports, the crowd got a little quieter.

"Don't worry,'' said Colleen Winburn, the candidate's wife. "It'll be up and down like this all night.''
-- H.W.

Pepper gets boost from firefighters

The crowd at David Pepper's party at the Havana Martini Club downtown started trickling in about 8 p.m. to snack on mini-cupcakes, chips and cookies. Among the early arrivals: Former federal judge Nathaniel Jones, for whom Pepper was a clerk, and Joe Diebold, president of the Cincinnati Fire Fighters union Local 48. On Diebold's bright red shirt: "Safety 1st. Firefighters for Pepper.'' Firefighters also stood outside polls today for Pepper, whom they endorsed, and worked a phone bank from their union office downtown. "We did what we could to see that David was victorious,'' Diebold said.
-- J.P.

A pre-election spat over polling

Hours before the polls opened, Charlie Winburn made an attempt to get WCPO-TV (Channel 9) to kill a planned broadcast of exclusive Survey USA poll results showing Winburn in fourth place.

Lawyer W. Stuart Dornette of Taft Stettinius & Hollister -- best known for representing the Cincinnati Bengals -- sent WCPO General Manager Bill Fee a letter Monday afternoon taking issue with the pollster's methodology. Among his beefs: Survey USA uses automated calls -- not human interviewers -- and underestimates Republican voters.

"WCPO's news organization has a great reputation in this community," Dornette wrote. "Publishing the results of a tainted poll on the eve of this election undercuts that credibility and is the wrong thing to do."

WCPO broadcast the results anyway -- which, as Fee pointed out in his response to Dornette -- weren't entirely negative for Winburn.

And that seemed to satisfy the Republican candidate from Mount Airy. "What they did, which turned out to be a blessing, is they showed how David Pepper went down 3 points and I went up 5 points," Winburn said tonight. "I have no problems with Channel 9. Take that letter and throw it away."

Fee said late this afternoon he plans more Survey USA polling in the general election. "They've been thoroughly reliable, I am convinced their methodology is sound. They are very professional," Fee said.

The ultimate test of Survey USA's reliability will come soon enough, Fee said. "It's going to be a moot point in a couple of hours."

Bootsy checks out Reece bash

Musician Bootsy Collins, the father of funk and a Cincinnati native, was the biggest name early at candidate Alicia Reece's election bash. The usually outrageously flashy dresser, Collins was wearing jeans, a white T-shirt and denim vest -- and dark sunglasses inside the dimly lit Integrity Hall -- while chatting with the DJ playing the music just after 8 p.m.
-- K.P.

Absentee voters favor Pepper

Standing around the Board of Elections watching the absentee vote come in, Hamilton County GOP Chairman George H. Vincent and executive director Brad Greenberg marveled at what they said was already a good showing by Charlie Winburn.

"We're calling him Landslide Charlie," Vincent joked.

But wait -- Winburn is in second place in the absentee vote, trailing Democrat David Pepper 36.6 percent to 25.8 percent. Aren't Republican voters supposed to deliver the absentee vote?

They are, Vincent said.

"Pepper and Winburn have more than 60 percent of the absentees. And most of the votes for Pepper are Republicans," he said.

TV helps pass time

At 7:30 when the polls closed, Integrity Hall, the building owned by Alicia Reece's family and site of her election party, had almost as many television cameras in it as supporters. There were two television cameras set up, along with six supporters and a few party workers. Most were sitting around a large television watching NCIS on CBS.
-- K.P.

Campaign victory parties

All four major candidates for mayor are having victory parties tonight, although at least two of them will be pretty somber places when the final results come in.

Here's where the candidates will have their victory parties:

Mark L. Mallory: The Millennium Hotel, downtown. It's a union hotel, and the Mallory family has a long-time fondness for this downtown spot. In fact, there's even a booth at the Bistro on Elm with Mallory's name on it. Check it out.

David Pepper: Havana Martini Club, Sixth and Walnut Streets, downtown. A favorite cocktail hangout for the Fourth Street crowd, with designer drinks like the "desperate housewife." It's also the closest to the Board of Elections.

Alicia Reece: Integrity Hall, Seymour Avenue, Bond Hill. No surprise here. The Reece family-owned banquet hall has Reece's campaign headquarters (left) out front. "You have to be where your people are," explains landlord, campaign manager and father Steven Reece Sr.

Charlie Winburn: Campaign headquarters, Hamilton Avenue, College Hill. This used to be home to Demetrio's Restaurant, a venerable old College Hill greasy spoon. Winburn, who lives in Mount Airy and is minister at a church about a mile away in College Hill, transformed this vacant storefront into a bare-bones campaign office, with little more than yard signs and hard folding chairs.

Pepper's plan: campaign, shower, celebrate

Councilman David Pepper campaigned outside polling places through the day and planned to do so until the polls closed at 7:30 p.m. Then he planned to go home, shower and change before his party at Havana Martini Club. His parents, former Procter & Gamble chairman John and his wife, Francie, helped their son campaign Tuesday. His parents, Pepper’s two brothers and several college friends were expected at the party at the downtown bar.
-- J.P.

About tonight's coverage

The Enquirer plans full coverage of the results of today's mayoral primary after the polls close at 7:30 p.m., with a team of dozens of reporters, photographers and editors giving regular updates throughout the evening.

In addition to the regular online coverage and results, watch this blog for all the election night drama, behind-the-scenes goings-on and instant analysis. Guest blogging tonight from around town will be four Enquirer reporters:
And City Hall reporter Gregory Korte is anchoring coverage from the Board of Elections.

Monday, September 12, 2005

It's (almost) anybody's race

Candidates (from left) Justin P. Jeffre, Mark L. Mallory, Sandra Queen Noble, David Pepper, Alicia Reece and Charlie Winburn at a Kids Voting event in the West End last week. Shainna Ward asks a question.

The latest WCPO/Survey USA poll, released this afternoon, shows that David Pepper (26 percent), Mark L. Mallory (23 percent), Alicia Reece (21 percent) and Charlie Winburn (20 percent) all have a good shot at getting out of Tuesday's mayoral primary.

With a margin of error of 4.2 percent, all the major candidates are within what pollsters call the "spread." That means that, for all intents and purposes, Pepper could be as low as 22 percent, and Winburn as high as 24 percent. Or not.

The Survey USA pollsters summed up the race this way: "Campaign is volatile, electorate is fluid."

WCPO provides a link to all the cross-tabs, which show that Winburn has won back many of the GOP voters he was losing to Pepper early on. This is the first poll taken after Winburn got the endorsements of the Fraternal Order of Police and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Winburn, who had previously derided the WCPO poll as "bogus," now tells Channel 9 that "It's a great increase, it shows we worked hard. It makes a statement that our message is resonating."

Mallory in an e-mailed statement: "The WCPO poll confirms the surge in momentum that we have been experiencing on the ground. Our message is resonating with the people of Cincinnati and they are joining our efforts to move the city in a new direction."

Reece's father and campaign manager, Steven Reece Sr.: "Polls went out the window a while back. You don't talk about a poll the day before an election. It's all about turnout."

Front-runner Pepper told Channel 9: "This is a bigger lead than the other two polls you've done and I think it is showing when you bring out a positive vision, and I have, positively, people react better."

(Photo by Gary Landers/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

Campaigning comes first at City Hall

City Council chambers will be mostly idle this week.

After taking most of the summer off, City Council is getting a slow start on its fall schedule.

Last week, in a tradition that goes back at least six consecutive Septembers, City Council moved its regular weekly meeting from 2 p.m. to 12 noon. The rationale, according to council minutes: "The Harvest Home Parade, which is the largest parade in the region, is always on this Thursday. Since many council members will be involved, this time change will facilitate their participation."

This week, the only two committee meetings on the calendar -- the Health, Tourism, Small Business & Employment Committee and the Law & Public Safety Committee -- have been cancelled. They were scheduled to meet on Tuesday, but their chairpersons -- Alicia Reece and David Pepper, respectively -- will be running in the mayoral primary that day.

With no committees referring items to the full council, it's possible there won't be any roll call votes on Wednesday. Clerk Melissa Autry said most items will likely be referred to committee.

Elections panel accepts second Pepper complaint

The Ohio Elections Commission has found probable cause that David Pepper violated election laws for implying he was mayor in a second campaign commercial.

The commission had already ruled on Sept. 1 that Pepper had violated campaign laws by running a television commercial that had the word "Mayor" in bold print under his name.

The complainant in that case, Rev. Donald Tye Jr., has amended his complaint to include another Pepper ad in which Pepper said, "The only way to fight crime is when the mayor fights crime. David has that experience." A three-member panel, meeting this morning in Columbus, agreed to accept that complaint this morning. A hearing date will be set after Tuesday's non-partisan primary.

The commission's executive director, Philip C. Richter, said punishment was unlikely given that the commission has already found a related violation without seeking punishment. "This is not a typical case that the commission would refer for further prosecution," he said.

Further mitigating any violation, Richter said, was the fact that Pepper pulled the ads before Tye filed his amended complaint.

Pepper's opponents seized on the latest ruling with press releases implying Pepper has already been found guilty of a second violation.

"David Pepper broke the law again. Is it too much to ask David Pepper to obey the law?" said a statement from Hamilton County GOP Executive Director Brad Greenberg, who was also Tye's lawyer in the complaint.

Democratic state Sen. Mark L. Mallory, who is one of six candidates running against Pepper Tuesday: "It is outrageous that David Pepper refuses to follow election law. He is a lawyer, yet either he can't follow simple election laws, or he doesn't care about following the law. David Pepper has spent a lot money on television advertisements, but Cincinnati voters can't trust that his advertising is truthful. It is clear that David Pepper will say or do anything to try to win this election."

Pepper campaign spokeswoman Anne Sesler responded: "It's the same set of ads. It's the same person filing the complaint. It's all the same stuff all over again. Once again, we never would want anyone to think that David was mayor given what's been going on at City Hall the last few years."

Lemmie: No leadership, no direction at City Hall

She didn't say goodbye to City Council and she refused interviews with the local media, but former City Manager Valerie Lemmie opened up to a wire service reporter on her last day at City Hall.

Still smarting from an Aug. 9 Enquirer report that she had sought seven weeks of paid leave to take an early exit, Lemmie declined repeated interview requests from the Enquirer over the past month.

But Lemmie sought out Associated Press reporter Terry Kinney for an exclusive interview in her City Hall office on her last day of work Friday. Kinney reported that she "looked as if a tremendous weight had been lifted from her."

Excerpts from that interview:

  • On why she left: "I clearly expected a level of cooperation and responsibility. ... I found out that, ultimately, the recommendations the mayor and I made over day-to-day operations were very rarely accepted by Council. ... For me it's about growth, it's about change, and it's about having the opportunity for the first time in my life to have some flexibility. ... I get to sleep at night without being interrupted. I get to go someplace without somebody coming up with a complaint or a concern. It's a job that is often thankless, not recognized, and in this city we always found a way to celebrate and highlight the negative."

  • On her early problems with City Council: "We couldn't reach an agreement that, first of all, we should meet. ... Secondly, we could not come up with a concensus on a vision and a value. It certainly made my job more difficult, because when I know where the elected body wants to go, it's easy. Without that vision, without that sense of direction, without that ability to have the elected officials collaborate on the big issues, it means that you never reach the potential to be as good as you should be."
  • On her rocky relationship with Vice Mayor Alicia Reece: "My parents' generation worked very hard to get those doors open for me to be able to do what I do. ... I was first generation of African-Americans and of women to move into a position like this. So at some level, it hurts your soul and your heart when the people who are the least supportive are those that you expected to be most supportive."
  • On rapid City Hall turnover: "It's the culture of the organization. ... When I look back at the history of the last several city managers ... it has been a history of tumult, and dealing with elected officials in that environment creates a sense of there being no leadership, there being no direction and it certainly sends a negative message to staff."

(Photo by Michael E. Keating/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

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