Todd Portune, longtime Hamilton County Commissioner, has announced that he’s possibly running for governor. Nobody knows why he’s doing it.
Portune is a really, really nice guy. As the first Democrat to sit on the commission since the 60s, he has generally been the most attentive to the needs of regular Cincinnatians, and has participated the most in neighborhood projects.
That said, he’s also been really conservative. His transportation policies are very highway-centric and he generally opposes investment into Cincinnati’s cultural icons.
Unlike Portune, Ed FitzGerald has no liabilities on the left. He’s good on everything that you’d want him to be good on. I can’t think of anything on which Portune’s an improvement over FitzGerald.
Portune’s (valid) complaint seems to be that the FitzGerald campaign is overestimating his name recognition and the statewide appreciation of his accomplishments in Cuyahoga County. If a primary leads to an earlier product rollout for FitzGerald, then it could be positive all around.
Unfortunately, Portune is also connected to some of Hamilton County’s dirtiest campaigners on the Democratic side. There’s no place in a primary for practitioners of whisper campaigns, media leaks, triangulation, and scorched earth tactics–especially in a doomed campaign.
And, lest one think that Portune’s fiscal conservatism will lead to conservative votes, Portune’s electoral achievements are vastly overrated. Sure, he pulls around 57% of the vote in Hamilton County–but Sherrod Brown pulls 54%, and Obama has won the county twice. It should be expected that Democrats win Hamilton County; the fact that Portune has won 4 races (only 2 of them competitive) should only be read as a mark of competence.
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