Sunday, August 05, 2001


Ohioans ask, 'Mike who?'

        Just about everybody in Hamilton County knows Mike Allen, the county prosecutor whose face is on the TV news almost every night and who has cemented his credentials as a get-tough-on-criminals kind of guy.

        But if Mr. Allen walked down Euclid Avenue in downtown Cleveland at high noon, eight of the first 10 people he'd meet would have never heard of him and the other two might not recognize him.

        But those two might well think he is a pretty good guy.

        That, in essence, is what we learned this week from the University of Cincinnati's Ohio Poll, which tested the name recognition of a wide range of Republican and Democratic politicians.

        Mike Allen was among that number.

        The Hamilton County prosecutor has been sniffing the air for a chance to run statewide for some time. He has a rather long resume — Cincinnati cop, council candidate, municipal court judge, county GOP chairman — and could end up as a candidate for Ohio secretary of state. However, he says he is far from making up his mind about that.

        Because of a game of musical chairs going on in Ohio Republican politics, the job will probably be open next year. The Republican incumbent, J. Kenneth Blackwell, said he will run for state treasurer, a job he held before. The current treasurer, Joe Deters, is hell-bent on taking on State Auditor Jim Petro in the GOP primary for Ohio attorney general, now that incumbent Republican Betty Montgomery is term-limited out.

        It is a somewhat confusing scenario, but it does offer Mr. Allen his opportunity to debut on the statewide stage.

        The bad news for Mr. Allen is that the Ohio Poll released last week shows that he has a long way to go.

        The good news for Mr. Allen is that so does just about every other potential candidate for secretary of state, from either party.

        Statewide, 70 percent of registered voters said they had never heard of him. Among likely GOP primary voters, the number wasn't much better — 65 percent. Even in Southwest Ohio, where the Cincinnati TV market spreads his fame on the nightly news, 51 percent said they had never heard of him.

        Among GOP voters, 11 percent said they had a “favorable” impression and zero percent had an unfavorable opinion.

        He should not feel too badly about the fact that most Ohioans don't know who he is. Most Ohioans probably don't know who their own county prosecutor is, much less Hamilton County's.

        Even Mr. Deters, who has been in a statewide office for four years now, is unknown to 56 percent of Ohio voters, according to the Ohio Poll.

        So Mike Allen can walk down Euclid Avenue with his head held high.


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