Cranley Bests Qualls by Almost 20 Points in Cincinnati Mayoral Primary
September 11, 2013
Everyone knew that former councilman John Cranley and current councilman and vice mayor Roxanne Qualls would be the two candidates to make it past yesterday’s primary, but we didn’t know Cranley would come out with such a big lead: he beat Qualls 56%-37%, or about 3 to 2.
Since 2001, Cincinnati has had direct elections for mayor preceded by a non-partisan primary, in which party affiliations do not appear on the ballot and the top two vote getters advance to the general election in November. This year, there were four candidates on the ballot, but Libertarian candidate Jim Berns himself observed that “Anyone with a lick of sense” knew that he would not be one of the top two, and tried to withdraw from the race (though he also tried to “withdraw his withdrawal” the next day), while the other candidate, Sandra Queen Noble, is even more, er, special (see also coverage in Mediaite). So everyone knew that Qualls and Cranley would be the ones to make it past the primary, and this was absolutely the only item on the ballot yesterday.
Maybe that’s why turnout was a record low 6%, but don’t let pro-Qualls commentators tell you that means the results don’t mean anything (“Qualls supporters dismissed Cranley’s big lead by saying that because it was almost a given that she and Cranley would end up the top two, her supporters didn’t feel they needed to show”); on Monday, the news media were reporting that “Both campaigns have worked hard to motivate voters to get to the polls in the primary.” Cranley voters knew just as well as Qualls voters which two would advance to the general election, but they turned out and voted for Cranley anyway.
In this Democratic city, no Republican even bothered to run this time; Qualls and Cranley are both Democrats, but that’s not to say that there’s no difference between them.
- Cranley has presented himself as the sensible candidate who will balance the budget and focus on basic services, like police, fire, and repairing the roads. (Cincinnati has struggled with a structurally unbalanced budget for years, and the city’s credit was downgraded earlier this year; we could really use a sensible candidate who will balance the budget.)
- Roxanne Qualls, meanwhile, has been a notable proponent of the Cincinnati Streetcar project, an odd aesthetic obsession for some voters (We could be like Portland!) whose planned service area keeps shrinking but whose projected cost keeps increasing. (Incidentally, there is also apparently a much more cost-effective alternative.) Qualls was also one of the people who brought us the parking deal, which she has never apologized for—a bad deal for the city in which City Council sells the rights to our parking meters for 30 years to cover the deficit for 2-3 years. The people gathered signatures to stop the deal and put it to a referendum in November, and the Mallory-Qualls city government used the courts to take even that recourse away from us. (Cranley was one of the leaders of the campaign against the parking deal.)
Maybe that’s why Cincinnati primary voters overwhelmingly supported Cranley yesterday. WCPO and the Cincinnati Enquirer have further coverage; the Enquirer also has color-coded maps of yesterday’s results. COAST has its own map (or from source unnamed) and, looking at it, argues that
people who hope to profit off of all the “goodies” (Streetcar, Parking Plot) Roxanne Qualls is pushing through Council are voting for her; while all the people who realize that they will be on the hook for paying for all these things are voting for Cranley.