Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sun papers endorse McCormack

This summer, I asked Tim McCormack, the former county commissioner who’s running for county executive, what he’d say to voters wary of electing someone who served in the old government.

“I think they’d get best of both worlds,” he replied: “Somebody who knows the government and somebody who has a good reputation.”

That argument won over the editors of the Sun papers. The suburban newspaper chain endorsed McCormack this week.

“At a time when honesty and experience are paramount in this election, Tim McCormack more than fills the bill,” they write.

The editorial dismisses Ed FitzGerald for accepting campaign contributions “tied to the old county regime” (without mentioning he’s gotten rid of most of them) and Matt Dolan for running “divisive” campaign ads. The Sun News admits McCormack isn’t well-funded, but says he “has something worth more than gold: his good name.”

When I interviewed McCormack, I thought he stood out in two ways. He’s the candidate most likely to pursue the ultimate step in regionalism: an actual merger of the city, suburbs, and county. “We can build a region if we unite,” he said at the City Club debate this week. “Pittsburgh has done so. It’s growing.” (Pittsburgh and Allegheny County haven’t merged, but they’re talking about it.)

He’s also the candidate who defends human services most passionately. With a budget briefing in hand, he complained hotly to me about cuts to county child-health programs. He did the same when a City Club questioner asked how to fight human-services cuts if budget-slashing Republican John Kasich is elected governor.

“I served with John Kasich,” McCormack replied. “I know him well. Should he succeed, what I would emphasize [is] -- people die. They will die without funding for these programs. The Help Me Grow program, visiting young women who are pregnant. The Early Childhood [program], the only chance most kids in Cleveland have. … Kids that drop out of school -- we need to heavily invest in those children or they won’t make it.”

This summer, I talked to people who saw McCormack as a short-tempered lone crusader when he was county commissioner. The Sun editors have heard that too. “If elected, we urge McCormack to temper his reported testy demeanor,” he says. McCormack agrees – he told me he’d have to set a “positive tone” as executive.

Reading the Sun editorial, though, and thinking about McCormack’s chances in the unusual six-way race, I wondered about a different scenario. What if McCormack doesn’t win, but pulls just enough liberal voters away from FitzGerald to help Dolan edge him out?

McCormack seems to dislike FitzGerald. He praised Dolan’s temperament during the City Club debate. So maybe that ending wouldn’t bother him too much.

No comments: