A Charter Committee leader says the group wasn't aware that one of its endorsed candidates — who also happens to be a Charter board member — was seeking the Democratic Party's endorsement.
But Charter chairwoman Dawn Denno said Yvette Simpson, the board member who's running for Cincinnati City Council this fall, won't have to give up her Charter endorsement. Simpson can remain cross-endorsed in the race because she first sought Charter's endorsement, Denno added.
As detailed in this week's Porkopolis column, some candidates and other party insiders are upset about the process used to recommended the Democratic Party's nominations for City Council. Simpson was a last-minute addition to the Democratic slate, which will be voted on April 7 by precinct executives.
Simpson was added for diversity because the Democratic slate didn't include any African-American women — although it does include two African-American men, a Latino man, a gay man and two white women.
Other candidates who sought both the Charterite and Democratic endorsements said they were told by Charter leaders that non-incumbents couldn't be cross-endorsed by both parties. Also, some rank-and-file Democrats involved in the process dislike that Simpson was abruptly added onto the recommended slate; they would've preferred someone with a history of working for the party.
“We didn't weigh in at all on this,” Denno said. “This happened outside of Charter.”
The Charter Committee will allow its candidates to seek a secondary endorsement, but won't endorse any candidate actively seeking another party's endorsement either before or at the same time that the person is seeking Charter's nod.
Denno said she spoke to Simpson and is comfortable the candidate didn't have to agree to any stipulations or deals with the Democrats that would be untenable to Charter, such as changing who her successor-designee would be or agreeing to vote a certain way on specific issues.
“They didn't seek anything from her. They didn't ask for her to give anything away,” Denno said. “We do not want to give another party an advantage over one of our candidates.”
With that in mind, it's unclear exactly why Democrats sought to add Simpson to their slate, other than she is a black woman.
Reportedly, Simpson was encouraged to run for City Council by Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, while Simpson was a student in Qualls' public administration classes at Northern Kentucky University.
Asked if a candidate could seek Charter's endorsement while simply keeping it a secret that the person also is seeking other endorsements, Denno conceded it's possible.
“Now, could people mislead us? Yes, they could,” she said. “We've been burnt like that in the past. We've lost a seat that way before.”
Although Charter often is treated like the city's third political party, it doesn't qualify as one under state law. As such, its candidates are registered with other parties. For example, Qualls, Simpson and Kevin Flynn are registered Democrats, and Chris Bortz is a registered Republican.
Several non-incumbent candidates in this fall's council race said Simpson's cross-endorsement gives her an unfair advantage that was denied to others, and possibly was granted to ensure another Charterite was elected to council.
Billing itself as “the good government people,” Charter was formed in 1924 to help end the corrupt political machine created by "Boss" George Cox that ran City Hall. The group successfully pushed to create the city manager form of government, which was designed to depoliticize the daily administrative tasks of municipal government.