Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Race to replace Mason taking shape; Triozzi resigns to run for prosecutor

People call Labor Day the start of the fall campaign season, but that's much too simple. Here in Cleveland, the 11th Congressional District parade marked the point when two campaign seasons sped up.

The Democrats' campaign to repeal Senate Bill 5 in November got the attention -- it was Labor Day, after all. But it also marked the start of the 2012 race to replace Bill Mason as Cuyahoga County prosecutor.

Subodh Chandra, who was Cleveland law director in the Campbell Administration, and James McDonnell, former North Royalton city prosecutor and brother of county judge Nancy McDonnell, both marched in the parade as candidates for the prosecutor's job.

They launched their campaign websites earlier this summer, but you're forgiven if you didn't know that. Only serious party loyalists have been paying attention so far, with the all-important Democratic primary still eight months away, in May (or March, if the Democrats' petition drive to stop Ohio's new election law succeeds).

Not to be outrun, Cleveland law director Bob Triozzi resigned today and declared he's a candidate too. Triozzi ran for mayor in 2005 and got about 10 percent of the vote, impressing Frank Jackson enough to win City Hall's top-lawyer job as a consolation prize.

Chandra ran for attorney general in 2006 and lost in the primary to Marc Dann, a decision state Democratic primary voters surely regretted after Dann's ridiculous scandals knocked him from office.

It's the first wide-open prosecutor's race in Cuyahoga County in 55 years, the first since Frank Cullitan, Eliot Ness' partner in crusading anti-corruption battles, retired in 1956 and John T. Corrigan won the race to take his place. We've only had three prosecutors since then, and Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Bill Mason both got the job through mid-term appointments by Democratic party insiders.

I wouldn't be surprised if even more candidates jump into this race. Given the office's history, it's an opportunity that opens up once in a lawyer's lifetime.

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