Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Cranley lashes back at GOP critics


City Hall

Greg Korte

Four days after Republicans attacked Democrats John Cranley, David Crowley and David Pepper in a cable television ad, Cranley has taken to broadcast television with his response:

Why are partisan hacks attacking Councilman John Cranley? Cranley fights for the east side and stops Lunken from expanding. Do they want bigger jets? Or is it because an agent of the smear campaign plotted to raze English Woods with "a quick vote?" But John Cranley helped west siders and English Woods families and stopped him. It can't be "budget hawk" Cranley's "fiscal responsibility." Cranley got 75 more street cops and built "the best shot for a leaner, more efficient Cincinnati" with a budget "taxpayers should give... enthusiastic support." I guess partisan hacks can't stand it that John Cranley "builds coalitions to get things done."

The "partisan hack," one presumes, is GOP chairman Michael Barrett, and the "agent of the smear campaign" is GOP vice chairman Chip Gerhardt, who heads the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority and voted to tear down English Woods - a sore point with some west siders.

Of course, Cranley doesn't mention them by name in the commercial, but the ad's title is revealing: "Thanks Mike & Chip."

More reaction to the Republican "Exit Stage Left" ad, which started this unusual - and, arguably, entertaining - round of negative campaigning:

• Democrats are accusing the Republicans of selectively editing footage of Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell out of the GOP attack ad, which pointed out Democratic votes for the Empire Theater "con job." Blackwell also attended the ribbon-cutting of the Over-the-Rhine theater and spoke highly of fugitive developer LaShawn Pettus-Brown. ("Ken didn't get a vote on this thing," Barrett said.)

• Republicans deny that the ad was the opening salvo in the 2005 mayoral election. "We're focusing strictly on a week from Tuesday," said Barrett. "If we were focusing on two years from Tuesday, we'd have (Mayor) Charlie Luken's bobblehead in there as well."

• Charterite John Schlagetter has a technical quibble with the GOP script, which says, "It's time for Cranley, Crowley and Pepper to exit stage left." But the shepherd's crook pulls them off stage right - house left.

• Republican Pete Witte says he wishes his party would spend more to help non-incumbent candidates like him "with a fighting chance" than on an ad that primarily helps Republican incumbents move up. But Witte says he knows his place in the world. "I'm a team player," he said. "I'm at the bottom of the Republican food chain."

Geography 101

Notes from the West Side United Neighbors candidate forum Monday night:

• Witte, of West Price Hill, had home field advantage in the forum. Indeed, some candidates who couldn't claim west side roots instead tried to hook their wagon to Witte's star.

"I love Pete Witte and encourage everyone to vote for him," was Republican John Connelly's opening line, prompting laughter.

But when independent Damon Lynch III tried to say he lives in East Price Hill, he just got heckled.

• Crowley may have committed the gaffe of the campaign when he told a crowd in the Covedale Theater, "It's good to be in Westwood." The theater, the audience reminded him, is in West Price Hill.

• Republicans Pat DeWine and Sam Malone were the most longwinded candidates at Monday's forum, according to official timekeeper Victor Fabro of East Price Hill. Most to the point was independent Brian Garry, followed by Connelly and Witte.

• Democrat Alicia Reece wasn't allowed to speak at the Covedale Theater on Monday because she didn't return a candidate questionnaire. But that's not how campaign manager and dad Steve Reece spun it: "We're not going to a whole lot of meetings between now and the election. We're going straight to the voters."

E-mail gkorte@enquirer.com




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