Sunday, June 04, 2000

Eggemeier flirts with endorsing

Calls Callery next mayor

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Mayor Jim Eggemeier says he isn't ready to endorse a candidate in Covington's November mayoral race.

        But during a corporate groundbreaking last week the lame-duck, 16-year city commission incumbent sure sounded as if he is going to back fellow Commissioner Irvin “Butch” Callery over Bernie Moorman in the mayor's election.

        Mr. Eggemeier, who has been Covington's interim mayor since March, finished third in the May 23 mayoral primary, behind Mr. Callery and Mr. Moorman.

        The top two finishers face off in November.

        Mr. Eggemeier has said he is going to hold off giving his support until later in the campaign.

        Last Wednesday, Mr. Eggemeier was among local officials on the stage when Fidelity Investments announced a $30 million expansion of its Midwest regional headquarters in Covington.

        While introducing the officials, Fidelity site general manager Paul Smith called Mr. Eggemeier “Butch Eggemeier,” a mistake that drew laughs from the crowd.

        As the audience chuckled Mr. Eggemeier smiled and said, “Butch is the next mayor.”

        Then when it was his turn to speak, Mr. Eggemeier had this to say:

        “I don't know if (Mr. Smith) is psychic or not but maybe in November we'll have a mayor named Butch, hopefully.”

        Immediately after the ceremony, Mr. Eggemeier — who had 666 votes in the primary — refused to characterize his comments as an endorsement.

        “Please,” he said, “I'm not ready to do that yet.”

        Mr. Callery was pleased by Mr. Eggemeier's comments anyway.

        “We have an agreement right now that Jim will do what he wants to do when he's ready,” said Mr. Callery, who collected 763 primary votes.

        “But I would certainly welcome his support. Jim has done an excellent job as commissioner, and I think he has done a great job as mayor. He has a pretty strong constituency, and I think the support he would offer would certainly be helpful.”

        Mr. Callery went so far as to say that Mr. Eggemeier's endorsement “would turn the tide as far as would I win or lose” the mayor's race.

        Mr. Moorman, who finished first in the primary with 1,046 votes, said he would like to have Mr. Eggemeier's support.

        “But I'm not counting on it,” he said.

        Mr. Moorman ran an aggressive race against Mr. Eggemeier, portraying him as a city hall insider who had forgotten the city's neighborhoods during his years in office.

        Mr. Moorman said he expects Mr. Eggemeier to endorse Mr. Callery.

        “They are buddy-buddy; they pat each other on the back,” Mr. Moorman said.

        “It does not surprise me, but I don't think it will hurt me. There were only about 3,000 people who voted in the primary. We'll have two or three times that in the general election, so there will be a lot of new voters out there.”

        Mr. Moorman said he thought a lot of Covington residents didn't like Mr. Eggemeier's track record.

        “That was evident in the election,” Mr. Moorman said. “The voters are angry with the incumbents, and that includes both” Mr. Callery and Mr. Eggemeier.

        Meanwhile, Ray “Radar” Murphy, who finished fourth with 612 votes, said he will make an en dorsement in July.

        “I was asked by both (Mr. Moorman and Mr. Callery) for my endorsement election night, but it's too early to make any decisions on that,” he said.

        He added that he wants to “examine the issues the candidates are proposing to see where they fit in” with his beliefs.

        Mr. Murphy does think that Mr. Eggemeier's endorsement would help Mr. Callery. Mr. Eggemeier is well known, Mr. Murphy said.

        “He's proven he can get votes. And there are people who will support Butch if Jim is behind him.”


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