Sunday, July 01, 2001


GOP plays find the candidate

        It's early, but the best campaign speech in the race for Cincinnati mayor so far has been delivered by somebody who isn't a candidate.

        Mike Barrett, chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party, ended months of fruitless searching for a mayoral candidate Wednesday by delivering a speech in which he announced that (a) he thinks Democrat Charlie Luken is a lousy mayor and (b) he has no one to run against him.

        The four-paragraph statement read by Mr. Barrett could have been the draft for a pretty darn good stump speech. It was full of old-fashioned name-calling, all aimed squarely at Mr. Luken.

        Mr. Luken, Mr. Barrett said, has for years “successfully sailed without either an ideological compass or philosophical anchor.”

        Shiver me timbers! Them's harsh metaphors, matey!

        Mr. Barrett wasn't through, though. He went on to say that Mr. Luken is “actually adrift without philosophy or principle.”

Head hunting

        But with no candidate to deliver this speech between now and the Sept. 11 mayoral primary, it will have about as much impact on who will be Cincinnati's first directly-elected mayor as Franklin Pierce's inaugural address.

        Embarrassing as it was for the Republicans that they could not find anyone willing to take on Mr. Luken, an even more humiliating moment came later on the same day Mr. Barrett delivered his remarks. That's when the Charter Committee, an organization that has been on life support for some time now, came up with a real live candidate at the last minute.

Anchor deux

        Courtis Fuller chucked his job as a WLWT-TV (Channel 5) news anchor for a new career in politics.

        Now there are those in the Republican party who are eyeing Mr. Fuller to see if it is not too late for their party to also endorse Mr. Fuller and get in on some of the fun.

        The internal argument in the GOP for this kind of move goes like this: Endorsing an African-American candidate who is likely to bring a whole lot of new black voters to the polls is going to help our fast-fading chances of getting our council candidates elected.

        The argument against endorsing Mr. Fuller is a bit easier to understand. It says that a political party that already looks pretty foolish for not fielding a candidate in the first direct mayoral race — after pushing for this new system for years — is going to look even more foolish if it endorses a candidate who describes himself as a Democrat, is running as a Charterite, and who is probably never going to be mistaken for a Steve Chabot conservative.

        Mr. Fuller said the other day he plans to talk to Mr. Barrett, but said he doesn't know “if anything will come of it.”

        The Charterites, who have a hard time electing people on their own, could probably use the help, but the real question will be whether or not Mr. Fuller would feel comfortable carrying that Republican tag.

        Maybe he could just borrow their stump speech.

       Howard Wilkinson covers politics. He can be reached at 768-8388 or via e-mail at


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