Friday, October 30, 2015

Political Notes on the Weekend before Election Day 2015, Part I

There are local and state matters on this year's ballot, but since all politics is local, let’s start closest to home:

In a move that smacks of desperation as well as contempt for the intelligence of black voters, the campaign of a sitting judge is distributing fliers that wrongfully imply an endorsement he does not have.

James Hewitt III was appointed to the Cleveland Municipal Court by Gov. Kasich early this year. To retain the seat he must win next week’s election.

Judge James H. Hewitt III
Hewitt is a Republican, which doesn’t bother us but apparently bothers him because he obviously thinks Cleveland’s overwhelmingly Democratic electorate will disdain him in favor of one of his three opponents.

In a pretty blatant effort to deceive voters, his campaign is distributing handbills that show Hewitt standing alongside popular Democratic Congresswoman Marcia Fudge. Problem is she has endorsed Suzan Marie Sweeney, one of his three opponents and the one rated most highly by the highly regarded, which provides composite ratings from four area bar associations.

The flier also shows Hewitt with Cleveland's Democratic mayor, Frank Jackson, who has not endorsed anyone in the race but typically supports the party's endorsed candidate, which happens to be Sweeney. A close political ally of the mayor's told us the mayor is too busy to be concerned with this kind of politics, but that "somebody ought to look into the ethics and the law" of appropriating another's image without permission.

Flier produced and distributed by the Hewitt campaign showing top local Democrats pictured
with Judge Hewitt. The picture at right was taken at this year's 11th District Labor Day Parade.

Hewitt’s campaign manager told us “we’re just running a race” and declined further comment.

While some may see Hewitt’s campaign tactic as a small matter, or chalk it up to “politics”, a judge is expected to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

Check out the November issue of The Real Deal Press here to see why we think voters should choose Annette Blackwell to lead the city’s efforts to pull out of its decades-long tailspin.

[While there, take a look at our discussion on endorsements in general, particularly our observation on what can happen when a narrow closed process leads a once-respected organization like the Black Women’s Political Action Committee to unprincipled choices. We'll have more to say about this in Part II.]