Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ronayne vs. Brady race tops county council races so far

Chris Ronayne isn't running for county executive -- he's taking a shot at joining the county council instead. The former City Hall chief of staff has decided to run for the part-time council, as I suggested he would a couple of weeks ago, so he can remain president of University Circle, Inc.

But Ronayne will hardly have an easy path to the new council. He's running against Dan Brady, the former state senator, in the most dramatic matchup so far in the 11 new county council districts.

It'll be a generational battle of sorts: the new guy with new ideas versus the old-school veteran. You could call both men "progressives," but with two different meanings of the word: Ronayne, a favorite of the young, professional, believe-in-Cleveland crowd, and Brady, a classic pro-labor liberal.

Brady moved up from Cleveland city council to the state house to the state senate in the 1990s, then aimed at Mike White in 2001, running for mayor when most people thought the embattled White would run for a fourth term. I remember the Free Times running a cover story on him and his candidacy, a hopeful profile by Roldo Bartimole. Once White left and the mayoral race got crowded, Brady tried to stand out with a left-of-everyone pitch that he'd lead a "labor government" at City Hall. The pitch fizzled: he finished with 2 percent of the vote.

Still, Brady was easily re-elected to his senate seat in 2002. His biggest strengths are his experience and knowledge of the district he's running in (the light green one on this map): it's Cleveland's middle-west side, neighborhoods he represented in the senate. (His wife, Dona Brady, represents part of the area on city council.)

Brady is about to launch a campaign website: I'll link to it once I get the address. He spoke with me for my October profile of Jimmy Dimora: click here to read it.

Nelson Cintron, the controversial former city councilman, also plans to run in the same district. He finished fourth in his attempt to rejoin council last year, so it's hard to imagine him beating Ronayne or Brady. But that makes three interesting personalities in one race.

The other races look less exciting so far. Well-known names include state Sen. Dale Miller, who's running for the Lakewood/Brook Park/West Park district, and Parma's former mayor, Gerald Boldt, and city council president, Chuck Germana, running in district 4.

To me, the most interesting candidate in the other races is C. Ellen Connally, the former Cleveland Municipal Court judge. (She's running in a district that sweeps from Shaker Heights and Cleveland's far-southeast wards to Orange and Bedford.) She wrote a feisty op-ed piece in August calling George Forbes an "out-of-touch, salty-mouthed curmudgeon" who overplays the race card (and that was before the Call & Post's Jemima-gate!). It's one of several entertaining missives Connally has sent to the Plain Dealer opinions page. (See my August blog post, full of links to her writing.) Weird trivia about Connally: She figures prominently (through no fault of her own) in a bizarre left-wing conspiracy theory about the 2004 election in Ohio.

Backgrounding all the county council candidates is too big a task for my little blog, but the Plain Dealer's county politics reporters are on the case: Henry Gomez surveys the field in this post at the Cuyahoga County Insider blog. Ohio Daily Blog has also been reporting on some new candidacies. To see the board of elections' list of early petition-pullers, click here. (Here's the district map again.) But it's a long way to the June filing deadline -- lots more people will probably take a shot.

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