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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Rumors Fly That Jim Tarbell Will Fold Commissioner Bid: Dems Now Gearing For Two-Person Primary?

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Word has it that former Cincinnati Vice Mayor Jim Tarbell -- who failed to nail down a party endorsement last Thursday -- could be preparing to abandon his campaign for the Democratic nomination as Hamilton County Commissioner. Nothing official from Tarbell yet. Dem Chair Tim Burke is openly backing Cincinnati City Councilman Cecil Thomas, who pulled out the race but now is officially back in. A third Democrat, Whitewater Township Trustee Hubert Brown, has already filed nominating petitions and says he intends to be on the primary ballot no matter who else is running. Brown, 58, a former International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers organizer and business agent, tells The Daily Bellwether: "I'm in. I'm already on the ballot. I'm not going away."

All three Democrats want to succeed David Pepper as county commissioner. Pepper is running for state auditor. Brown, Tarbell and Thomas all sought the Hamilton County Democratic Party's endorsement last Thursday night. None got it. Tarbell seems to be the odd man out because Brown has labor support and Thomas has Burke. Thomas, an African American who is serving his third term on Cincinnati's City Council, appears to have the most inside support. Gov. Ted Strickland and Dem Chair Burke believe Thomas' presence on the fall ballot will help Democratic candidates by boosting the turnout of African American voters in Hamilton County. While Thomas is not Obama, he is seen by party elders as offering some ability to rekindle 2008's Obama effect at the local polls.

Brown, who has held elected office for 14 years, points out that he has been able to win in his township by attracting Republican and independent voters. "At one point, Whitewater Township was just 4% Democratic," Brown said. "I'm in this because I think I'm the better candidate." Brown adds" "We want to keep this a Democratic (commission) seat. If you don't get any votes in the county, how are you going to win?"

[Ed. Note: The Daily Bellwether hopes to hear first hand from Jim Tarbell about his plans. He's welcome to send a statement to The Bellwether will be glad to publish it.]

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