Progressives in Cincinnati lost a lot on Election Day 2017.
The stage had been set. The votes had been cast. And the city with the 28th largest economy in the nation — and largest in Ohio — anxiously awaited to see the direction it’s voters decided to take. One option stood as a leftward lurch towards a progressive frenzy. The other, to remain on the successful, and largely moderate (as far as large cities go, anyways) path it has been on for four years. While there were dozens of candidates on the ballot, all of them reflected either one path or the other. Cincinnatians chose the latter.
No race exemplified this more than the race for mayor, which pitted incumbent Mayor John Cranley against the head of the Progressive Caucus, Councilwoman Yvette Simpson. Back in May, Simpson emerged victorious in the three-way primary — shocking political operatives, insiders, and citizens alike in what was one of the most astonishing outcomes in recent memory. But she soon lost all momentum after her not-too-well-thought-out attempted shakedown of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. This cost her big-time, and deservedly so.
An adamant supporter of the streetcar, Simpson has proven herself sympathetic to outrageously expensive initiatives that plunge the city further into debt. The streetcar debacle ended up costing the city over $100 million (that’s despite $45 million in federal grants). The initial mismanagement exacerbated the problem and postponed the time of completion. Mayor Cranley’s appointment of Amy Murray — a candidate who ran for office opposed to the streetcar — to head oversight of the project likely saved even more time and money, as she was determined to curtail the reckless spending so far associated with the project.
A Yvette Simpson-led Cincinnati would see far more of these reckless expenditures accompanied by vast amounts of governmental growth. Cincinnatians chose to stay the course that has been quite successful over the last four years. A similar story is told in the City Council race as well. With all six incumbents winning re-election, the status-quo on council is largely the same. However, with the departure of Yvette Simpson, the Progressive Caucus is left without its figurehead. Chris Seelbach, in all his humility, is left only with his Twitter feed to fend for himself in his heroic quest to rename every street in the city.
“One option stood as a leftward lurch towards a progressive frenzy. The other, to remain on the successful, and largely moderate path it has been on for four years.”
Among those re-elected was Christopher Smitherman, Cincinnati’s favorite family-man and responsible middle-of-the-road legislator. Joining him and Amy Murray — the staunchest conservative in the race — is newcomer Jeff Pastor, the now-second Republican on City Council. Joining him is Greg Landsman, a seemingly Cranley-esque Democrat with a focus on education and public safety. This group, along with Mayor Cranley, will ensure the Seelbach’s of the world cannot run roughshod over city government.
Along with the Mayoral and council races, the progressive rejection continued. Ryan Messer, a business-oriented and fiscally-minded Democrat took home the top spot in the race for Cincinnati Public School Board. Second place was taken by sitting School Board President Ericka Copeland-Dansby, whose tenure has refocused the board towards child-centered decision-making, rather than following lockstep behind the unions. Tough decisions must be made when in office, and these two — along with newcomer Mike Moroski (all endorsed by the Democratic Party) — look the part necessary to provide Cincinnati’s Public Schools with essential guidance.
Perhaps the largest blow to Progressivism was delivered not in executive or legislative offices, but in judicial ones. Four out of the seven Municipal Court seats up for election were won by Republicans — and in two out of the three contested races, Republicans Curt Kissinger and Jackie Ginocchio emerged victorious by wide margins. Their Democrat opponents campaigned on judicial activism, a notably progressive trait. This creed was rejected and the proper role of judges, that of applying the law as it is written, was opted for instead.
Last Tuesday was a rebuke of the Progressivism that has gained steam throughout the city of late. Cincinnatians, come January, could have been faced with a Mayor Simpson and Vice-Mayor Seelbach free to impose their progressive will upon what has been an economically thriving city. Luckily, this is not the Twilight Zone, and we still live in a city with a largely successful Mayor, and a council that is hopefully locked from taking on any more reckless projects. The last of the major Ohio cities not monopolized by Progressives stubbornly remained as such — and we will all be better off for it.
Follow this author on Twitter: @bradjCincy