Never one for beating a dog while it's down, CityBeat has resisted the urge to point out the following until now. Our duty to highlight the inconsistencies uttered by elected officials, however, has won out.
The Cincinnati Enquirer's Politics Extra blog reported Monday that Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune says he's been sounded out about possibly replacing Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann, if Dann resigns as many Democrats and Republicans are urging him to do.
Although Portune wouldn’t specify for The Enquirer about who made the calls to him, he did say they were from persons in positions of influence, presumably within the Democratic Party. “I said I didn’t know if I would be (interested) or not,” Portune told reporter Jessica Brown.
Portune leaving open the option of his leaving the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners to accept a job in state government is at odds with his public comments during the past few months defending a controversial deal involving the November ballot. Under the deal struck in January, the Hamilton County Democratic Party promised not to run a candidate against Republican candidate Greg Hartmann in his commission race, and in return the local GOP wouldn’t endorse any candidate who challenged Portune.
Many Democrats disliked the deal, stating it forfeited the party’s best chance to win all three seats on the county commission in a presidential election year that probably will have a record-setting Democratic turnout. Some Republicans also were angered that it ensured a Democratic majority on the commission until at least 2010.
In comments to The Enquirer in January, Portune defended the deal by stating it would allow him to spend less time campaigning and he could devote his efforts to important issues facing county government that deserve his full attention. Portune repeated those arguments again in April, in a letter mailed to the party’s precinct executives.
“Since January I have concentrated on the business of the county instead of concentrating on campaigning,” Portune wrote. “County taxpayers have benefited by getting that constant attention to issues during a time period when (County Commissioner) David (Pepper) and I are literally picking up the pieces of failed Republican leadership.
“It has been hard work. We are making progress,” Portune continued. “But it, too, will be derailed if we endorse (Hartmann opponent Chris) Dole and I have to now run against a well-financed and supported opponent. I’ll now be behind the eight ball. And so, too, will our chances at retaining a majority.”
Where to begin?
It would seem reasonable if Portune feels the need to devote his undivided attention to county issues, then he should drop the coyness and outright reject the option of leaving his commission seat for a job in Columbus.
Also, if Portune’s primary concern in making the election deal was in keeping a Democratic majority on the county commission, then having another candidate replace Portune on the fall ballot would contradict that goal. Few area Democrats have the name recognition or popularity of Portune, and replacing him would mean removing an incumbent from the race and having two challengers face off for Portune’s seat. Under that scenario, it’s quite possible a Republican could take the office. Meanwhile, the seat sought by Hartmann also would be up for grabs and probably would go to the GOP without a Democrat-endorsed candidate in that race.
Why Portune wants to leave open the possibility of leaving his commission seat is known only to him but it undercuts his position on the deal and is a disservice to all voters, especially the ones who supported his choice in eliminating party-backed competition from the commission race.
Since Portune mentioned the calls to The Enquirer, both The Cleveland Plain Dealer and The Columbus Dispatch have written detailed articles about who’s in the running to replace Dann. Neither newspaper mentioned Portune.
— Kevin Osborne