Sunday, February 15, 2004

Straw poll win no surprise

Dowlin, Sumner rank as local favorites

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

SHARONVILLE - A straw poll Saturday on the two GOP primaries for Hamilton County commissioner, while highly unscientific, highlighted the seven GOP candidates' strengths and weaknesses.

Pancakes and politics proved a potent combination, drawing 250 people to the Sharonville Convention Center for the Northeast Hamilton County Republican Club's annual breakfast.

The two candidates from areas covered by the club - John Dowlin and Jim Sumner - were runaway winners in the straw poll.

Incumbent commissioner Dowlin - the former longtime mayor of Sharonville - handily bested challenger Pat DeWine, taking 73 percent of the 167 straw votes cast in their race.

"You can tell what area of town we're in," organizer John Applegate joked. "It's going to be close" on March 2.

DeWine, a Cincinnati councilman, said he puts more faith in his own formal polling last month, which showed him ahead 56 percent to 26 percent.

Indeed, there were signs even in this Dowlin stronghold Saturday that he might be in trouble.

Fellow Sharonville resident Martha Selzer said she'd like to see DeWine win because she thinks he could bring some new ideas for reducing taxes.

"It's nothing against John Dowlin, but he's just been in so long," she said of the 13-year incumbent.

Blue Ash Councilman Jim Sumner took 53 percent of the 172 votes cast for the five-way primary to run against Democrat Todd Portune.

Beth Pope of Loveland, attending the breakfast with her husband and three of their four children, voted for Sumner after meeting him there.

"He's just like us," Pope said. "He's got kids. I can relate to him."

Still, she'd barely heard of him before the breakfast and wants to learn more about him and the other candidates before casting her real vote next month.

Pope and others probably won't learn about Sumner from TV ads, as he said he probably can't afford them. Meanwhile, retired Judge David Grossmann, who placed third Saturday with 16 percent, started airing ads two weeks ago.

Chris Monzel, who was just on TV in his failed bid for re-election to Cincinnati council, was second with 19 percent.

Bringing up the rear with single-digit finishes were Anderson Township Trustee Russ Jackson and financial planner Sandy Hall.


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