Wednesday, January 19, 2000

Hyland stays in fight vs. Portune

She won't run as independent

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Marilyn Hyland said Tuesday she will fight Cincinnati City Councilman Todd Portune in the March primary for the Democratic nomination to take on Hamilton County Commissioner Bob Bedinghaus this fall.

        “I have nothing against Todd. He has been a fine councilman, but I feel I am better equipped to run in the county,” Ms. Hyland said.

        Ms. Hyland, an Indian Hill Democrat who ran against Republican Commissioner Tom Neyer Jr. in 1998 and lost, filed her petitions to run as a Democratic candidate weeks before Mr. Portune decided this month to make the race. Mr. Portune got the endorsement of the Hamilton County Democratic Party.

        On Jan. 7, the day Mr. Portune filed, Ms. Hyland picked up petitions to run as an independent candidate for county commissioner this fall — a prospect that unsettled Democratic party leaders, who feared a third candidate would kill their chance of taking out Mr. Bedinghaus in the fall.

        Tuesday, Ms. Hyland said she was giving up the idea of running as an independent. Instead, she will take on Mr. Portune in the March 7 primary.

        “Emotionally, that's what I would like to do,” Ms. Hyland said of running as an independent. “But rationally and intellectually, I realize that would be a big mistake. My goal is to defeat Bob Bedinghaus.”

        Mr. Portune said Ms. Hyland's candidacy is “democracy at work. Marilyn's free to pursue whatever opportunities she chooses.”

        The issue for Democratic voters in the primary, Mr. Portune said, “is who is the better candidate to carry forward the issues. I bring a broad level of support and years of legislative experience to the table.”

        Both Ms. Hyland, who operates a marketing and lobbying firm, and Mr. Portune, a four-term councilman who ran second in last fall's council election, have been directing much of their criticism of Mr. Bedinghaus at his handling of the lease agreement for a new stadium for the Cincinnati Bengals, which they think gave away too much to the football team at the taxpayers' expense.

        Democratic Party leaders hope to tap into public dissatisfaction with the Bengals deal and turn it into an opportunity to win a seat on the county commission for the first time in 32 years.

        But whoever wins the Democratic primary will face a well-funded incumbent in a county where Republican candidates routinely win 60 percent of the vote, as Mr. Bedinghaus did when he was elected four years ago.

        Ms. Hyland, who has been actively campaigning for months, said she does not think she was treated fairly by Democratic Party leaders.

        “If there is a back room boys' decision that doesn't allow everyone to participate, then I feel like I have to run,” Ms. Hyland said.

        Hamilton County Democratic Party Co-chairman Tim Burke said party leaders made it clear to Ms. Hyland months ago that they were looking for “somebody who would be a stronger candidate. And we have one.”


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