Whenever an incumbent politician moves up the ladder to a new office — local to state or state to federal — a round of musical chairs typically ensues. This time, it might involve Cincinnati’s mayor.
As CityBeat’s blog first reported on June 30, Mayor Mark Mallory is on the short list compiled by the Ohio Democratic Party of the likeliest replacements for Richard Cordray. Cordray was state treasurer until his election last week as state attorney general; he replaces the scandal-plagued Marc Dann, who resigned earlier this year.
Top Ohio Democratic leaders would prefer that an African American fill the treasurer’s spot to give the party more diversity at the state level, according to sources. Besides Mallory, another possible replacement mentioned is Columbus City Councilman Kevin Boyce. But Mallory has a leg up if he wants the job, sources add.
Mallory has remained mum about whether he wants the treasurer’s job, but some of his friends and associates say a return to Columbus is probably more fitting for the first-term mayor’s laid-back style.
The scion of a powerful Mount Airy political family with roots in the West End, Mallory was elected mayor three years ago in a close race against David Pepper.
Mallory jumped into the mayor’s race once he faced term limits in the Ohio Senate.
Mallory served at the statehouse for more than a decade. He was elected to the first of two terms in the Ohio House in 1994, replacing his father — the venerable William Mallory Sr. — who retired after three decades in the legislature.
Under Cincinnati’s charter, Mallory could run for another mayoral term next year. If he chooses to leave early, as many insiders suspect, Vice Mayor David Crowley would fill out the remainder of his term unless Mallory quickly appoints someone else as vice mayor to give that person a leg up in the 2009 election. One rumor buzzing through City Hall is that Mallory could appoint City Councilman John Cranley, a fellow Democrat who’s facing term limits on council, as vice mayor in preparation for a mayoral run.
If so, that’s news to Cranley, the councilman said recently. In fact, Mallory and Cranley often have been on the opposite sides of issues and aren’t particularly close.
Because it’s unlikely that Crowley, who’s also facing term limits on council, will run for mayor next year, expect to see a wide-open race develop for Mallory’s office.
People mentioned as likely contenders for the big chair at City Hall — whether Mallory leaves or not — are Cranley; City Councilwoman Roxanne Qualls, who served as mayor for several terms in the 1990s when the office held much less power; state Rep. Tyrone Yates, a popular ex-councilman; and Hamilton County Coroner O’dell Owens, who’s had a high-profile presence on public safety and crime issues.
One person who won’t be leaving his job anytime soon is David Singleton, director of the Ohio Justice & Policy Center. The outspoken advocate for prison reform and civil rights issues was mentioned in a Nov. 9 Cincinnati Enquirer article as a good fit for President-elect Barack Obama’s revitalized Justice Department.
Singleton was Obama’s Harvard Law School classmate and an early supporter of his candidacy. Unlike Mallory, though, Singleton didn’t mince words: He’s staying put.
“That’s just wild speculation,” Singleton said. “I am not interested in moving to Washington, D.C., to serve in the Justice Department, though I certainly would be flattered if asked. My focus is on solidifying the Ohio Justice & Policy Center and on working to make this community a better place for all. I have unfinished work to do here.”
Back to the mayor: The clock is ticking on the state treasurer’s appointment, and we’ll know by year’s end if the dynamics of the next mayoral race will be dramatically changed. Stay tuned.
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