Thursday, September 23, 2004

GOP gathers Allen's assistants

Party hoping Deters will take over office

By Dan Horn
Enquirer staff writer

Hamilton County's Republican leaders met with dozens of assistant county prosecutors Wednesday to discuss any fears they may have about the future of that office.

GOP county Chairman Mike Barrett described the private meeting at the Queen City Club as "a social hour" that he expected would lead to conversations about recent problems in the office.

Prosecutor Mike Allen withdrew his name from the Nov. 2 ballot last week because of a sex scandal involving a female assistant prosecutor. The move threw the race open to four write-in candidates, including Ohio Treasurer Joe Deters.

"We're just seeing what morale is like, talking to the troops," Barrett said before the meeting. "I'm going to tell them we're here to help with whatever concerns they may have."

When asked if the prosecutors would be urged to support Deters, a Republican and Allen's predecessor as prosecutor, Barrett said, "That's a personal choice."

Two other Republicans - Melissa Powers and James Rueger - also are running but are expected to endorse Deters if asked by party leaders to do so. Deters, who moved back to Hamilton County the same day he filed to run, faces a challenge to his residency today at a meeting of the Board of Elections.

If he wins the challenge Deters will be the best-known candidate in the race. He and the other Republicans are opposed by Democrat Fanon Rucker, a former city prosecutor who also was endorsed Wednesday by the Cincinnati Charter Committee.

Several assistant prosecutors said they were told the meeting Wednesday would be an informal gathering. They declined to say more.

Barrett said he notified the assistant prosecutors of the meeting in letters recently sent to their homes.

Republican prosecutors have run the office for decades. More than 100 prosecutors are employed in the office and many of them are active in the party.

Barrett said he wanted to give party members a chance to talk about what's happened in the office during a difficult month for Allen and the party.

"There's been a lot of stuff in the newspaper," he said. "I just want to touch base with everyone."


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