Sunday, April 11, 2021

What is the State of the Cincinnati Mayoral Race?

May 4th is the date of the 2021 Mayoral Primary Election and we are less than one month away. I have no idea who is going to win or come in second, so don't expect any big predictions.  The top two vote getters make it to the General Election in November.  Six candidates are on the ballot for the primary and three of them are experienced elected officials.  The other three are not. That sums things up, pretty much.  This has been a damn quiet campaign thus far.  Still time for tricks, but with no Cranley in the race, I don't expect too much dirty campaigning.

This is the 20th anniversary, of sorts, of the first Mayoral Primary enacted after a City Charter Amendment re-establishing the direct election for the Mayor of Cincinnati. Back in 2001 the primary was held in September, unlike 2021.  The primary in 2001 was in fact held on 09/11/2001.  For some that date may ring a bell.  I lived in Mt. Washington at the time and my voting location was at the Mt. Washington United Methodist Church.  I left work early that day, around 4:45 or so.  I wasn't getting anything done, so I figured I would go vote.  I figure few others would do the same as many had other things on their mind. After driving from Downtown, I got there a little past 5 PM.  There was no line and the poll workers were quiet.  I asked how many had voted and they told me about 25 that day so far.  I nodded in appreciate for information, took my ballot and voted.  Not that many people voted that day, but I really don't blame anyone, it was 9/11.

Jump forward to May of 2017 and we are in the 4th year of John Cranley's terrible reign as Mayor, the man who has the vision of a suburbanite and vindictiveness of a spoiled brat whose parents didn't get him a purple pony.  The Mayoral Primary that year was in May, as another Charter Amendment moved it  to fit with the normal primary timing in Ohio.  May of 2017 was a normal day, nothing else to drive turnout way down or way up.  What we got was a smaller turnout than on 9/11. Our City's attention was clear to focus on the primary, but the turnout tanked.

A 4.25% LOWER turnout than on 9/11. Our City is that apathetic that we could not match 9/11.  Some I am sure will claim that patriotic fervor caught some, including myself, but no that's not valid.  Voting in the City has dropped massively over the last 20 years and even more so on these Mayoral Primary days.  We are choosing not to vote in massive numbers and it is a shame.  The numbers were better in the General Elections both years, but still not good.  Tens of thousands of Registered Voters who vote in Presidential Elections don't bother to vote in local elections, even in the local General Elections.  I know some apologists will point to voter suppression, but these are people who can and do vote, just not for local races.  They are choose not to vote.  This is not one party, this is a problem in every precinct. Calling this a primary may contribute to problem, as those who refuse to participate in the full on partisan primaries, but that is not much of an excuse.  People just feed on their ignorance.  They don't bother knowing details about national politics, but so many are even more foolish when they don't have a clue about local elections which they could have a much more direct impact on their lives.

People moan and complain about the voting system we have and think if we just had magic beans in the form of another voting system things would improve.  What those folks don't tell you is that their goals are more about getting other candidates or other political parties into office, not for getting higher turnout.  What we need now is for people to vote and for people to be less cynical and more pragmatic.  The problem is so many who voice opinions today do so in a method that is either at the extremes or one based on "Total Politics" a concept where purity is a requirement and any derivation from their dogma means you are the enemy and part of the problem. The ideas comes from "Total War" which was a concept used during WWII that had nations 100% at war with other nations, making anything and everything as part of the war effort and far game to the conflict and anything short of full destruction of the enemy is seen as failure.

I am not sure which, if any, of the candidates on the primary ballot think like that, even slightly.  I've not seen them do so yet.  I've seen some Council Candidates do that on Social Media in what seemed like a bad AOC or Bernie imitation/homage skip at the Cincy chapter DSA talent show. 

The Mayor's race has been very tame thus far.  The only item that has gotten notice is the very bad Issue 3 Charter Amendment on the ballot at the same time as the Primary.  That Issue may drive turnout.  Whether it drives it out significantly or just marginally is the question. Significant turnout has two directions that could affect things. If No voters come out, that could benefit some candidates, like David Mann, as Republicans would be considered more likely No on Issue 3 voters and would take Mann as the least worst candidate of those with a better than average change to get the top two positions.  Thomas and Pureval could get a boost from a No surge, as both are against the Issue.

The other possible turnout increase would be for Yes voters, which might help some of the other three candidates who have a mix of support and/or sympathy to the issue, which if high enough could put them in the number two spot.  While an increase for Yes voters could help the Issue pass, it would in my view need to be significant to help the three new candidates win.

Reports indicates that Aftab Pureval has the lead in the limited polling done so far.  It would be a big surprise not to see him in the top two.  The other spot is likely to be either David Mann or Cecil Thomas, but low turnout elections are wild cards. Getting your base to the polls is the key and that takes an organization.  I don't know who has that working on all cylinders right now and there is no time to start from scratch, so we'll who makes the cut.

For your review: The Candidates with links to their campaign websites:

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