CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Making a list and checking it more than twice. Ohio's Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland would get to make the appointment if Attorney General Marc Dan resigns or is forced out of office. And Number 1 on the marquee of potential replacements who might get a star turn could be former Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken, a lawyer who served longer as mayor of the Queen City than anyone in history. Luken is a lobbyist, a former TV anchorman (Channel 5, WLWT-TV) who replaced Jerry Springer, an ex-Congressman, and serves as an appointee on the State Racing Commission. He is a popular figure in SW Ohio and supported Strickland in the 2006 contest. Over the years, Luken reportedly has been interested in a statewide office. He has some baggage: A divorce and rumors about a relationship with a female journalist during his TV days. But the rumors never affected his political career in Cincy, and they may have been little more than spiteful gossip spread by rivals trying to hold him back. Here are some other names that are floating around in Democratic circles as Dann replacements:
JULIA BATES -- She is the prosecutor in Lucas County, a job she's held since 1996. She grew up in the Cleveland area and went to college at Wittenberg U in Springfield, so she knows a large chunk of the state. Bates was the first woman to ever head the Ohio Prosecuting Attorney's Association, and she has instant cred as a law enforcement figure. Her job in Toledo makes her extremely well-known in NW Ohio, which would be an advantage if former Republican AG Betty Montgomery seeks the office again in 2010. Montgomery is from Bowling Green. Bates would appeal to women voters, too.
KENT MARKUS -- He is one of Gov. Strickland's top aides, and was Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher's chief of staff when Fisher held the AG's office in the 1990s. Markus is a Harvard Law grad who has held high positions in the U.S. Justice Department, taught law at Capital University and was chief of staff for the Democratic National Committee. He has Cleveland area ties. He was slated to become a federal appeals court judge on the 6th Circuit, but the appointment never made it through the Senate in the final days of the Bill Clinton Administration. Markus reportedly has been interested in a statewide office. He has not held an elected position.
SUBODH CHANDRA -- He ran against Dann in the 2006 Democratic primary and impressed a lot of progressives. Chandra is an Obama delegate, a former Cleveland law director and assistant U.S. attorney. He served as the city's acting mayor when the top dog was out of town. Chandra is a Yale Law School grad. Some Democrats believe that he should get any opening as AG -- should Dann depart -- because Chandra sought the office and campaign statewide. His experience running Cleveland's law department -- which has 82 attorneys -- would offer some preparation for taking over in Columbus.
LEE FISHER -- He's been attorney general before. Right now, Fisher is running Ohio Department of Development. He might be better suited for the legal end.
BEN ESPY -- Dann's chief deputy was an Ohio State running back. Espy is running the investigation of the sexual harassment case involving AG office employees. He is an African American and well-respected around the state after a long career in Columbus city politics and the state legislature. Espy ran unsuccessfully for the Ohio Supreme Court in 2006.
SHARON ZEALEY -- She was the U.S. attorney for the southern half of Ohio during the Clinton years. Zealey is not well known statewide, and she has been working in private practice and as an adjunct law professor at the University of Cincinnati since her term as federal prosecutor ended. She is an African American, and the Democrats would have to make a big push to increase her visibility and name recognition around the state. She would be a longshot at best.
DICK CHEMA -- He was a former federal prosecutor from Dayton who ran as the Democratic Party's 2006 congressional candidate in OH-03. He lost to Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, a former Dayton mayor. Chema is seen as a man of absolute integrity, and he might be seen as just the prescription for an office that was tarred by scandal. He has fallen off the radar since his loss.
There are other names being mentioned. Perhaps this list will grow over the next few days, and additions are welcome. Luken and Bates probably are the top contenders.