Thursday, May 13, 2010

One Lap Down, Three to Go in Race to November

Last week’s primary election marked the quarter-pole of the critical 2010 political season. The major political parties settled on their statewide tickets, while on the county level, several candidates for county executive popped through the starting gate and began running. Also, nearly a hundred people — an intriguing mix political novices, veterans, and perennial also-rans — have pulled and in some cases have filed petitions for the new eleven member county council to be elected this fall.

The second quarter — the next six weeks until the June 24 filing deadline to run in the September partisan primaries for county executive and county council — would be a fairly quiet time of candidate maneuvering and alliance building were it not for the end of the Jimmy Dimora reign as Democratic Party chair. The party’s central committee is scheduled to elect a new chair on June 5. Dimora, who has been under the cloud of a federal investigation for nearly two years, long ago made clear that he would not seek to retain the post he has held since 1993.

Intra-party politics in the past have usually resulted in a closed-door selection process of the party chair. A small but influential group of party faithful, calling themselves Cuyahoga Democrats for Principled Leadership* [CD4PL] is making plans for two forums on May 25 [Cleveland Heights] and May 27 [Rocky River] for candidates for party chair to state the case for their election.

The names most commonly bandied about include longtime party insiders Tom Day, clerk of the Bedford Heights Municipal Court, and Rudy Stralka, currently serving as party treasurer. But it appears that senior party officials, including Rep. Marcia Fudge, county prosecutor Bill Mason, and Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson have decided to support attorney Stuart Garson and commission him to restore integrity to party process, rebuild infrastructure, and unify Democrats for what will be a challenging election season. Assuming Garson becomes chair, he will face stern early tests: a county primary in September and the general election in November.

One key to watch: whether Garson steps forward to attend the CDPL forums later this month.

Grits ain't Gravy [Miscellaneous Political Notes]

Last week also offered a possible preview of what may be a new future for the county Democratic Party, which is sorely need of a new young leadership cadre. We refer to the kick-off party for Phil Robinson’s campaign for the District 11 county council seat. Robinson is a bright, young, articulate aspiring public servant who in his first try for public office just missed winning a seat on the University Heights City Council last year. These sorts of events are usually attended by one’s oldest and closest friends, so the ethnic, religious and geographic diversity — to name but a few measures — of his kickoff crowd was notable insofar as it suggests his appeal might carry across municipal boundaries stretching from Euclid to Beachwood.

Speaking just before the candidate was State Senator Nina Turner, who encouraged Robinson for the new county council. Turner was the leading black public official to support the change in county government. Also in attendance was Julian Rogers, like Robinson a progressive political activist and African American male seeking a county council seat and enjoying Turner’s support. Rogers is running for the District 10 seat that covers Cleveland wards 10 & 11, Cleveland Heights, East Cleveland, and Bratenahl.

Two candidates for the county council District 2 seat — State Senator Dale Miller and independent Stephanie Morales — also found their way east to be at the kickoff.

*Disclosure: I am an active member of this group, whose statement of principles may be found on their website: (

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