Here’s some key information on the 2017 Ohio election.
Politics Extra is a column looking inside Greater Cincinnati and Ohio politics (Scroll to the bottom to read “Micro-scoops & more”)
If you’re not excited about the Cincinnati city election, well, you’re not alone.
“There is a malaise over it all,” said West Price Hill’s Pete Witte, who this year resurrected the city election-focused Partnership of Westside Residents PAC.
Politics Extra also has sensed a general ho-hum attitude from voters. So PX this past week took a look at Board of Elections data and talked to 10 people – from voters to City Council and school board candidates to local political watchers and business leaders.
Early voting numbers are only up slightly from 2013, but not really when considering there are more registered voters now than four years ago. Some 5,504 voters had requested early ballots through Thursday, 733 more than at the same time in 2013. That’s up 15.4 percent.
There are 15,000 more registered city voters now than four years ago, based on records ahead of the May primary (new voter registration data is due out Monday). That uptick is due to the 2016 presidential election.
What happened to all the talk about voters being motivated by the Trump resistance?
Or where’s all that pent-up energy with City Council’s first four-year term coming to an end?
No one seems to have the exact answer why city voters are snoozing so far. Based on conversations, here are five potential reasons why voters are feeling blah:
1. No defining issue
This is certainly the case for the City Council race. The Children’s Hospital expansion is arguably the defining issue in the mayor’s race between Democrats John Cranley and Yvette Simpson. Nonetheless, 2017 is nothing like four years ago, when the future of the streetcar was on the line in the election. In fairness, the streetcar could be one of the most divisive issues in city history, and it’s hard to top the energy and emotional investment poured into it. But even then, voter turnout was just 29 percent.
2. Trump fatigue
Are voters taking a breather after last year’s intense presidential election? The energy around the Donald Trump resistance has subsided since all the marches and protests locally and nationally early this year. Two council candidates told PX they’re sensing voters are tired of hearing about politics and are in need of a breather before the 2018 midterms heat up.
3. Meh about top of ticket
Neither mayoral candidate has really given voters a really strong reason to vote for them. Mayor Cranley gets things done, but his abrasive personality has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Cranley’s campaign has focused on touting his record, but he’s not offered any new big plans for the future. Simpson has gotten little done in nearly six years on city council, and her puzzling decision on the Children’s Hospital expansion in August has raised serious questions about her ability to lead. She also hasn’t presented any solid, new plans.
4. City’s going in right direction
Conversely, almost everyone PX talked to said they believe voters generally feel like the city is in a good place and heading in the right direction. There are polls out there showing that, but PX is skeptical of all polling. Despite all the childish infighting at City Hall, Cranley and this council have overseen the arrival of GE at The Banks; made a commitment to public safety; improved basic services such as street paving and garbage collection; and fixed the pension system. In addition, someone pointed out we just drew 1 million people to Downtown for the Blink light show – and that’s said to be record attendance for a weekend-long event here.
5. Under-the-radar council candidates
Insiders had expectations of an exciting race, considering it’s the first since council terms moved from two to four years. But it hasn’t come to pass. It’s not a real deep field of serious nonincumbents. There have been few intriguing story lines. First-time candidate Seth Maney has stood out. The first openly gay Republican to run for council has gone after openly gay Democratic incumbent Chris Seelbach for making too big a deal of identity politics. Democratic candidate Michelle Dillingham has talked openly about overcoming a heroin addiction. But other than that, most nonincumbents seem content to fly under the radar.
MICRO-SCOOPS & MORE
• Rabbi Robert Barr this week became the third Democrat to file to run in the 1st Congressional District, a seat currently held by Westwood Republican Steve Chabot. Barr, 62, is the founding rabbi of Congregation Beth Adam in Loveland. He is the third Jewish clergyperson to ever run for Congress, according to the Washington Post. Rabbi Barr “is notable not only for being that rarest of birds, a running rabbi, but also for being the first who seems to have a good shot at winning,” the Post reported. That line presumably was referring to the primary, but Barr would be a long shot to unseat Chabot.
• Former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Thursday was in Southwest Ohio campaigning for Mike DeWine, who is running for governor. In Troy, the former U.S. senators talked about pro-life issues. While in the Senate, DeWine and Santorum co-sponsored legislation to ban partial-birth abortion.
• After an entire week without a Cincinnati mayoral debate, Cranley and Simpson will be back at it on Monday and Tuesday. EmpowerU will host a debate from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday at The Farm, 239 Anderson Ferry Road, Delhi Township. WLWT Channel 5 will televise its live debate 7-8 p.m. the next night. The debate also will stream live on WLWT.com.
• The Enquirer and media partner Fox19 are sponsoring a virtual town hall discussion involving Cranley and Simpson from 11 a.m. to noon on Thursday. You can watch it at Cincinnati.com or on the Enquirer app, Fox19.com or the Fox19 app, or the Facebook pages for The Enquirer and Fox19. To submit questions ahead of time, email political editor Carl Weiser at [email protected]
• Need some extra cash? The Hamilton County of Board of Elections is in need of Republicans and Democrats to work at the polls on Election Day. For more info, click here or call 513-632-7042 (Republicans) or 513-632-7041 (Democrats).
Read or Share this story: http://cin.ci/2zunbIO