Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mayor Jackson, Rep. Fudge endorse Terri Hamilton Brown for county executive

Here's Terri Hamilton Brown's big break, her chance to step up and compete with Ed FitzGerald: Frank Jackson and Marcia Fudge have endorsed her for county executive.

"We believe Terri Hamilton Brown is the one candidate who understands the complex challenges of our city and its suburbs, especially those suburbs immediately surrounding Cleveland," the mayor and congresswoman said in a joint statement.

What to make of that line, especially since FitzGerald is mayor of Lakewood, a suburb next to Cleveland? Sounds like they're saying FitzGerald's experience is narrow, confined to one town. Brown worked in Mike White's City Hall and ran University Circle and the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, which owns housing complexes in Cleveland and four suburbs.

Jackson must like Brown's connections to the city. (He also has a personal connection to her: Her husband, Darnell Brown, is Jackson's chief operating officer.) As for Fudge, my hunch is she's turned off by FitzGerald's ambition and not sure his coalition is diverse enough for her liking.

"I think we should avoid a person who’s trying to just do this as stepping stone to someplace else," she told me a few weeks ago when I asked her about the race, which sounded like a dig at FitzGerald's rapid political rise. The executive, she added, should be "someone who has some experience in running large organizations" and "a person who can garner the respect of all the groups in this community."

That's echoed in Jackson and Fudge's statement today:

She is highly qualified, has the right temperament and reflects the experience and educational credentials to lead our county. If we are to rejuvenate the economy and streamline our county government, we must elect Terri Hamilton Brown as County Executive...

Of all the candidates, we believe Terri Hamilton Brown is the only one who can work with the many small businesses, governments, educational institutions, corporations and other partners in the economic and cultural mosaic of Cuyahoga County.
Did you note the "must," the "only one"? Pretty striking for a Democratic primary endorsement. They could've said she was "the best" candidate and hedged their bets in case FitzGerald makes it to the general election. Instead, it sounds like they're all in for Brown.

Jackson and Fudge "could be the king or queen-maker if they banded together, and worked very hard," a political observer told me several weeks ago, "but I’m not seeing it." Now they've made their move. But some endorsements are backed with more firepower and drive than others. So the question now is, how hard will they work for Brown?

(To read about my June interview with Brown, click here.)

No comments: