As the common wisdom goes, voters will warm to Bedinghaus if the Bengals can win a few games and justify the $453 million spent on their new home. And if not, Bedinghaus is in trouble.
But what does a professional football team's record really have to do with whether or not Bedinghaus deserves re-election? Shouldn't he be judged on his performance as a county commissioner instead of how well a privately owned team plays football?
"I think that's a very good point," says Nancy Forbriger of the non-partisan Cincinnati Area League of Women Voters.
When CityBeat asked Bedinghaus what he should be known for besides the stadium and riverfront development, he mentioned his pro-life position, shrinking the county's welfare roles from about 47,000 people to about 27,000 and eliminating 300 jobs from the Human Services Department.
"I think I'm responsible for raising the level of county government in the region," Bedinghaus says.
When City Councilman Todd Portune was asked about issues besides the stadium, he mentioned building a regional transportation network that includes commuter rail extending from Cincinnati to the east and west on existing tracks, encouraging more development inside Cincinnati and making county government more responsive to the public. Portune believes the county hasn't listened enough to concerns in western Hamilton County about poorly planned development.
Of course, Bedinghaus and his fellow commissioners did spend much of the past few years working on Paul Brown Stadium and riverfront development in general. And the next Hamilton County Commission will likely spend a lot of the next four years on Great American Ballpark, the new home of the Reds scheduled to open in 2003.
But Portune says he knows there's more to the campaign than sports teams.
"I've never assumed that the race is dependent on whether the Bengals win or lose," he says.
Portune and Bedinghaus are scheduled to meet in live debates Oct. 5 and 12 on WKRC-TV (channel 12). Portune expects to add two to six more debates to that list.
The League of Women Voters is planning a debate in late October between candidates for the two open seats on the county commission.
The league also publishes an annual election guide to raise the level of debate on local issues. The league sends a questionnaire to each candidate, asking three questions and seeking a list of the candidate's top three priorities. The guides -- about 75,000 of them -- will start hitting the streets in mid-October, according to Forbriger, the league's vice president of voter services.
For more election information, visit the Cincinnati Area League of Women Voters at www.lwvcincinnati.org. For a copy of the election guide, send $1 to League of Women Voters, 103 William Howard Taft Road, Cincinnati, OH 45216.