CINCINNATI (TDB) -- This might not herald a political sea change in Republican-dominated Southwest Ohio, but it is nonetheless very interesting that Sen. Barack Obama's new book has landed on a local best-seller list in Cincinnati. That seems to suggest the city -- despite its history of racial unrest and animosity -- is more than slightly curious about the the black Democrat from Illinois who may be preparing a run for president in 2008.
Over the years, Cincinnati has been tiptoeing away from its once rock-solid Republicanism. Today, Democrats are ascendant at City Hall. They also hold a majority on the Hamilton County Commission for the first time in more than 40 years. Now, Sen. Obama's book appears to have found an audience in a town where race relations have often been stormy and his political party spent most of the last century locked out of power.
At the large Joseph-Beth Bookstore on the city's East Side, Barack is a strong No. 2. His sales are being topped only by Crosley, a biography about the brothers who were famed local entrepreneurs. Powel Crosley owned the Cincinnati Reds at one time, and the team played for years in a beloved old ballpark named ''Crosley Field." He was also a radio pioneer and built 700, WLW-AM as one of the nation's first radio stations. Its 500,000-watt signal was the most powerful of its era and eventually was cut back to 50,000 watts. Crosley manufactured radios, refrigerators and compact cars before anybody thought much about saving gasoline. He is a Cincinnati icon, and Barack probably would be No. 1 if Crosley had not been published.
There are signs up at Joseph Beth showing that Sen. Obama is a hit and holding No. 2. A clerk at the information desk said sales have been strong since November and that they haven't slowed down after Christmas. She said many buyers mention that they are buying the book to get a feel for him as a politician.
[UPDATE, 5:57 P.M: Recently reported that Ken Blackwell's recent work as an author isn't even in the Cincinnati-Hamilton County public library in his hometown. Neither is Obama. It looks like everything new by the senator is completely checked out.]
[UPDATE 2, 7:27 a.m. Jan. 4, 2007: Tom Blumer, at the excellent Bizzyblog.com took a look at all the Obama phenomena a few weeks back. The early handicapping from Bizzyblog's corner of SW Ohio: the Democratic wunderkind might wind up in the White House. Mr. Blumer is no enthusiast. But his views are well worth reading.]
Sen. Obama has an active Web site, but there is nothing on it about his presidential ambitions.