In recent weeks, it’s been easy to forget that Hamilton County has politics of their own. The county that makes up Greater Cincinnati has stayed under the radar, as Cuyahoga County and their Head Jester, Ed FitzGerald, have been occupying Twitter feeds all over the state. But this week, a story developed with some pretty heavy implications.
The County and the City of Cincinnati have been at odds over who, if anyone, should pay for upkeep and renovations for Music Hall in Over-the-Rhine, and Union Terminal on the westside, now housing the Cincinnati Museum Center. This week, two-thirds of the Hamilton County Commissioners voted down the proposal, dubbed the “Icon Tax”, countering with a mild compromise that opponents of the tax view as a win. They approved some funding for Union Terminal only.
In the wake of the Icon Tax more or less failing, its supporters have been drawn into a frenzy, foaming at the mouth and coming directly after Commissioner Chris Monzel. Sitting Cincinnati Councilman Chris Seelbach has been leading the charge on Twitter using #FireMonzel.
Conservative Monzel, being up for re-election this year in a left-leaning county, would be in trouble, one would think. But during primary season, the Hamilton County Democratic Party failed to recruit a legitimate candidate. They were left to choose between two candidates, neither of whom had ever held public office.They ended up electing Sean Feeney in May.
But now, with a new found fury against Monzel, they are charging to put up a candidate who can beat him. But if they can’t get Feeney to resign by 4pm today (August 8th), they are plum out of luck.
Seems like a dire situation for Hamilton County Democrats, but the implications are larger. It’s yet another sign of a weakened Hamilton County Democratic Party.
During the election in which John Cranley, a Democrat, won the Mayor’s seat, HCDP chose to not endorse a candidate, resulting in very low voter turnout. And without a contender from their own party, conservatives chose the “limited-spending” Cranley over Roxanne Qualls, pushing him over the top. (Thoughts from both Chairman as reported by the News Record).
Weak candidates don’t unite the base. Weak party leadership will sink the ship. Especially when your opponent is strong. GOP Chairman Alex Triantafilou is as effective a county chair as their is in the state. Not only has he managed to take back the 3 member Board of Commissioners, but he is widely thought to have been key in lining up supporters for Cranley, after Cranley promised to kill the streetcar.
The GOP is gaining steam. The fact that Monzel was viewed as unbeatable, and the Democrats couldn’t recruit a legitimate candidate in the spring, further proves it. It’s only a matter of time before the conservatives who were instrumental in getting Cranley elected have a serious candidate of their own to get behind, for Mayor and beyond.
If the GOP sweeps the statewide ticket in November, you can bet Hamilton County won’t be far behind, leaving Tim Burke and the Democratic Party behind them in a cloud of dust.