Thursday, August 16, 2001

Fuller says he won't seek endorsements from groups




By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Courtis Fuller, running for mayor of Cincinnati, said he wants to appeal directly to individual voters and will not seek group endorsements.

        Political parties, labor unions, business groups, political action committees, newspapers and other interested groups often endorse political candidates, but Mr. Fuller said he's not interested in any of them.

Fuller
Fuller
        He'd rather get the endorsement of voters on Election Day, he said.

        Mr. Fuller's latest tactic is unusual, but not unheard of — especially for anti-establishment candidates in local elections.

        But it's uncertain whether Mr. Fuller would have gotten many of those endorsements anyway.

        His main opponent in the city's first direct election of a mayor in decades, Mayor Charlie Luken, has historically gotten endorsements from the Democratic Party, many unions and even the Republican-leaning Fraternal Order of Police.

        Mr. Luken said he thinks endorsements are an important part of the political process — even without regard to the end result.

        “His decision is his decision,” Mr. Luken said. “But I think it's perfectly fine for groups to ask us how we feel about issues and make endorsements if they choose.”

        Still, many group endorsements don't mean as much as they once did. “The leadership is important, but what's really important is what are individual voters going to do when they have to push the pin through the ballot?” said Donna Rogers, a spokeswoman for Mr. Fuller.

        Mr. Fuller will still meet with interest groups and fill out their questionnaires, she said. But he'd prefer to invite the group's entire membership instead of a small group of leaders.

        And if those groups decide to endorse Mr. Fuller, he won't trumpet those endorsements in advertisements, Ms. Rogers said.

        It's unclear just how far Mr. Fuller will go to avoid an endorsement. After all, he already accepted the endorsement of the Charter Committee, an independent political party, on day one of his campaign.

        Allison Steele, a spokeswoman for the AFL-CIO, said Mr. Fuller still plans to attend the union's candidate's forum next Wednesday. But if he doesn't want the group's endorsement, that's fine, she said.

        “That's his prerogative,” she said. “It's not like our feelings are hurt.”

        Perhaps one of the most-watched endorsements in any campaign — and especially this one, considering the recent unrest and violent crime wave — comes from the police union.

        FOP President Keith Fangman was out of town and could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

        But earlier this month, he said the FOP was proud that most politicians actively seek the FOP endorsement.

        “Voters want to know who the police officers have faith and trust in,” he said. “And voters want to know which candidates are supportive of law enforcement.”

        Mr. Fangman said the FOP has had its differences with Mr. Luken in the past, but insisted that the endorsement was “wide open.”

       



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