Sunday, March 11, 2001


Not even a dollar for doughnuts

        It is a model of organizational efficiency.

        The epitome of party discipline.

        An unstoppable steamroller, flattening the opposition.

        It is the Democratic party in Cincinnati.

        No, we have not lost our senses. We are not mad as a hatter. We do not believe space aliens are talking to us through micro-chips implanted in our left foot.

        We are just stunned and amazed at how the Cincinnati Democratic Committee (CDC) managed to whittle a group of 14 City Council wannabes to five non-incumbent candidates deemed worthy of a party endorsement.

        Saturday morning, about 170 members of the CDC — all elected precinct executives from around the city — met in a union hall to consider the slate of candidates for this year's council election.

        This is not an organization rolling in dough; the chairman had to admit from the podium Saturday morning that the organization didn't even have enough money to buy coffee and doughnuts for everybody who had dragged themselves out on a sunny Saturday morning to do their duty as Democrats.

        Ever since the nominating committee came up with its list of five non-incumbent candidates to recommend to the CDC — David Crowley, David Pepper, Jane Anderson, Akiva Freeman and Lawra Baumann — rumors were flying that the Saturday morning meeting would be a riotous affair, full of rancor and dissension and outright revolution, coming mostly from the supporters of potential candidates who didn't make the cut.

        But that didn't happen.

        Not that it couldn't have happened. The Democratic party is a funny critter. Unlike the Republican Party — where everybody generally looks the same, acts the same, thinks the same — the Democratic Party is a hodge-podge of groups with very diverse interest. Organized labor. African-Americans. Feminists. Environmentalists. Gay and lesbian activists.

        Put them together in a room and chances are, they will find something to fight over.

        But the fight that everybody expected fizzed out Saturday, and the new Democratic slate — approved by all but a handful of CDC members — went on a chest-thumping jag of speeches about how the Democrats could win all nine seats on council.

        That's probably a bit optimistic. The one Republican incumbent running, Pat DeWine, is likely to be re-elected, and Jim Tarbell, the lone Charterite on council, has a leg up for re-election.

        But winning seven out of nine seats and the mayor's office (with Charlie Luken) is not out of the question.

        It may explain why the Republicans have yet to scrounge up a council slate to run in this increasingly Democratic city.

        If the Democrats do win seven seats, their party will, in fact, be the powerhouse in city politics, a force to be reckoned with.

        Maybe then they'll be able to afford a box of doughnuts and an urn of coffee.

       Howard Wilkinson can be reached at 768-8388 or e-mail at

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