Appointed State Senator Eric Kearney has somehow become The Man. Last night, his main opponent in the primary, State Representative Catherine Barrett dropped out of the race. The Cincinnati Enquirer's Howard Wilkinson has the story.
It's not easy leaving a roomful of politicians speechless, but State Rep. Catherine Barrett pulled it off Wednesday night, when she told the Hamilton County Democratic Party executive committee she is dropping out of the 9th Ohio Senate District race.
Democratic party leaders gathered in the basement of the Norwood Community Center Wednesday night for the purpose of deciding whether or not to endorse in several primary contests, including the 9th District, where Barrett was taking on State Sen. Eric Kearney, who was appointed to the job in January when Mark Mallory left to become Cincinnati's mayor.
Barrett, who is about to be term-limited out of the Ohio House, was sore at being passed over in favor of Kearney for the appointment, so she launched a campaign to defeat Kearney in the May 2 primary.
This opened up the prospect of a costly and assuredly nasty primary battle that many in the paraty wanted to avoid.
Party leaders decided to split the baby. State Rep. Steve Driehaus and Tyrone Yates played the role of Solomon as the co-chairs of the party's nominating committee. They recommended that the party's executive give both candidates a party endorsement, but before that could be acted on, Barrett got up in front of the group Wednesday night and said she was quitting the race.
"I want a healing process tonight,'' said Barrett, who a standing ovation from the group.
Party leaders applauded; and also breathed a sigh of relief.
Kearney said Barrett's announcement took him as much by surprise as it did the rest of the Democrats in the room. Her decision, Kearney said, may have had something to do with the fact that he has raised at least five times as much campaign money and had polling that showed far ahead.
But Kearney gave Barrett credit.
"It took a lot of gets for her to get up there and do that,'' Kearney said.
Below is a response from Barrett's campaign manager, Jenny Edwards.
Let's see if you can start really doing some reporting. First of all, Barrett announced her intentions to run for this seat in April 2005. As a political reporter you are off your beat. When she sought to reannounce the matter in the summer of 2005, during a hotly contested mayoral race, she was asked to hold off by particular local party leaders until the heat was over. Reporters used to get to know their venues, evidently the Enquirer does not require this matter.
Sore, no Howard, she, and other Democrats were hurt, especially well qualified members of the party who also interviewed. She had plan the run regardless of what happened. She is no knee-jerk reactionary. A formal letter for 4 of the 6 candidates heaped them all intoone letter to let them represent themselves and present their wares. Barrett wnet into her interview with around $20,000 available and the pledges of close to $100,000 if she were appointed. The appointee's named was pencilled in as addendum on the letter for the 4 of 5 campaign proven and registered Democrats interviewing. In case you ever need them, I have the e-mails for the exchange between myself and the State Senate administrative person showing that there was no written record submitted for Mallory's replacement as there was for the rest; only phone conversations with "people" was noted in my phone contacts. Seems like an awful responsible position to go on the words via phone and with no written statements.
Barrett was on target November 8th with the mayoral race ended; I came on board that evening. Officially done on December 15th; you were there. The interesting fact that your paper has not covered a non-Democrat with a tepid personal citizen voting record is interesting; that's the appointee, not Barrett. BOE has all of the records. Man hasn't voted as a Democrat for close to 9 years; most recent party visibility was as a Republican. These are facts Howard. Please report them AND interview the person who is the main topic of your article.
The nasty battle has not been Representative Barrett's, it has been waged from day one by lack of Democratic leadership which 1)refused to place her name on the lists for tax contributions when it was known she was running, 2)"HACKETTING" her access to funds she has applied for in endorsements through PACs/Unions. Howard, working with a candidate like Barrett is a pleasure in that she is a professional businesswoman citizen servant and dedicated to the benfits of all members of the Democratic unit, especially the grassroots organizations. She has 7 of 8 strong wins, 4 of them coming in the 31st/32nd House. The contender's efforts was one loss.
Costly, hell yes. Costly to the heart and soul of the Democratic party that has already been fractured, drawn and quartered during the last 6 years. Barrett's other races were run on small funds and great solid connection in the communities. When you field over 61% of the vote in 3 races with oppponets, then have the Republicans leave you alone in a year when they could have sunk money into the 32nd seat, 2004's Bush-Cheney vs. Kerry-Edwards race, you have earned the base and the allegiance from the voters.
Driehaus and Yates are to be both commended and otherwise tremendously respected for their efforts with the overall scope of their committees. These men are as committed to the health of both the Democratic process as they are to their constituents, both in the party and in the 31st and 32nd respectively. Efforts like theirs and dedicated Democratic regulars have held this party together, and now coming forward to heal divides.
The recommendation committee was a duly balanced act that can be delineated at another time. The members of the group looked at candidates for several races, not just the 9th. Let's just say that for half of a co-chair to continue to cross the bounds of leadership, and trying to enforce his personal opinion for a selection, in any race, is offensive to the process itself and the service of the party. That committee ended about 6 weeks ago and the half co-chair held on as long as he could to convene this matter yesterday evening.
The standing ovation came from a gathering that contained over 80 Barrett supporters. The decision was made after Barrett arrived. Howard, I am Catherine's campaign manager, money is a factor. Capping a candidate who is a dedicated Democrat for a backroom deal spun with glitz and loyalties owed outside of the party is bad enough, but our meeting was about the many people disenfranchised by this local party. This was not just about this race, it's about the love of the constituents and the respect and dedication a citizen servant owes them first over business connections and debts to be paid off.
Howard, some breathed a sigh of relief, others are aghast, and some are now unsure where their futures are. When the book is printed about this race, it will be interesting who is true to Democratic Blue....and who just doesn't give a damn. Barrett gives a damn, will continue in her positon as a duly elected by the citizenry official who was the only registered Democrat in the 9th race (still not made it to the BOE?).
Kearney's speculation on money has some merit, but both our recent push polls and extended poll showed more interactive recognition for Barrett at over 11 points in both situations. So the surprise for me tonight is a bit great......but it is with the pride of recognizing that, in the rugged nastiness of politics, where a seasoned vateran ahould have been hateful, Barrett is the winner. Her forthrightness in care and helping steer the party toward a new day through healing and activist participation is the example that serves as bedrock for the energizing of the local party.
Catherine Barrett's dedication with respect to her party is not a commendable as much as it is a mark of great character, courage, and true concern for the real big guns for HCDP......the hardworking activists that made her campaign able to be participative for both Democrats and citizens who demand their officials be responsible to them and not the big L....lobbyists.
Any e-mail or Columbus research you need on this matter, Howard?
Just let me know. We did not lose a candidate tonight....we gained back the heart of the party based on a true Democrat's principle of service to all citizens.
Barrett for 9th Ohio Senate