Area political wonks have floated some interesting theories in light of the outrage about a deal cut by Democratic and Republican party chairs to quash competition in this fall’s races for the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners.
Alas, the subjects of the two most prevalent rumors — Jim Tarbell and Ed Rothenberg — say there’s little credence to them.
Under the deal, the Democratic Party promised not to run a candidate against Republican candidate Greg Hartmann and persuaded a potential challenger to drop out of that county commission race. In return, the local GOP wouldn’t endorse any candidate who challenged incumbent Democrat Todd Portune in a separate commission race.
The backroom wheeling and dealing has angered groups across the political spectrum ranging from the local NAACP to the League of Women Voters and from CityBeat to The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Some political observers, though, have pondered possible scenarios that could throw a monkeywrench into the deal.
One scenario involves Rothenberg, a Republican running as an independent against Portune, giving up his spot on the ballot to former Hamilton County Commissioner Phil Heimlich, a better-known conservative Republican unseated in 2006 by Democrat David Pepper. Heimlich, who recently dropped out of the race for Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District seat, has said he’s considering other political opportunities.
Rothenberg agreed the situation is interesting but added, “I am a friend of Phil, but we haven’t talked about it.”
Another frequent speculation involves having a well-known person enter the race as an independent against Hartmann. The deadline for independents to file isn’t until March 3. The name most commonly mentioned is Tarbell, a Charterite who served several terms on Cincinnati City Council, most recently as vice mayor.
Tarbell said he considered entering the race before incumbent Commissioner Pat DeWine chose not to seek re-election, but decided against it. He’s plenty busy with two new jobs — one as a consultant with the Steed/Hammond/Paul architectural firm, the other teaching urban planning at the University of Cincinnati.
“I don’t have any time and I don’t have any money,” Tarbell said. “I’d be starting from scratch.”
— Kevin Osborne