Friday, May 04, 2001

GOP targets west-side court seat

Democratic Judge Kenney to face big-name opposition in Winkler

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Hamilton County Republican Party plans to challenge an incumbent Democratic Municipal Court judge with one of the GOP's most potent political names - Winkler.

        And two African-American incumbent judges - one Republican and one Democrat - may have no opposition if a deal proposed by the Democratic Party holds.

        GOP leaders announced Thursday that Robert C. Winkler - son of Ohio 1st District Court of Appeals Judge Ralph Winkler and former state Rep. Cheryl Winkler - will take on Judge James Patrick Kenney this fall in the 7th Municipal Court District, which includes most of western Hamilton County and Cincinnati's west side.

        Mr. Kenney is running for a second term. Robert C. Winkler is a former assistant county prosecutor. His brother, Ralph E. Winkler, is already a Municipal Court judge.

        Seven Municipal Court judgeships are up for election this year.

        In the 5th District, which includes most of Cincinnati's northern suburbs, incumbent Republican Jack Rosen is retiring. Heather Stein Russell, an assistant county prosecutor, will be the GOP candidate, party leaders announced Thursday.

        The Democrats have yet to name a candidate for the 5th District seat or any of the other seats now held by Republicans.

        The Republican incumbents running are John Burlew, appointed this year to a seat on the bench; Karla Grady; Ethna Cooper; and Elizabeth Mattingly.

        Hamilton County Democratic Party co-chairman Tim Burke said the Democrats' judicial candidate committee would meet over the weekend. At least two of the Republican incumbents will have Democratic challengers, Mr. Burke said.

        The Democrats, Mr. Burke said, have made the Republican Party an offer to not challenge their African-American incumbent, Judge Burlew, if the Republicans agree not to challenge Democratic incumbent Nadine Allen, also an African-American.

        “We thought that given the situation this city is in, it would be a good thing if both parties could make sure they keep African-American representation on the bench,” Mr. Burke said.

        Chip Gerhardt, vice chairman of the Hamilton County GOP, said that at this point the Republicans have no candidate to field against Judge Allen and may not get one.


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