Cranley Out, Harris In?

Facing term limits, Cincinnati City Councilman John Cranley announced today that he would resign his seat Thursday to join the Keating Muething & Klekamp law firm and concentrate on development projects in East Price Hill.—-

Cranley’s fellow Democrats on City Council will get to select his replacement, and that person will wield the power of incumbency and greater name recognition in November’s elections. Several sources at City Hall indicate the top contender for the position is Greg Harris, who’s previously run for council and Ohio’s 1st Congressional District seat.

Harris, 37, is a West Price Hill resident who works as a public policy officer at KnowledgeWorks Foundation and is a former Miami University instructor. He placed 15th in the 2007 council race, and ran twice unsuccessfully for Steve Chabot’s congressional seat, in 2002 and 2004.

During the 2004 race, Harris got some campaign help from former Democratic presidential contender Howard Dean and also appeared on “The Al Franken Show” on the Air America radio network.

An Illinois native, Harris moved to the region more than a decade ago to attend graduate school at Miami University in Oxford. He stayed here after graduation, and served for a time as executive director of Citizens for Civic Renewal, a non-profit public advocacy group that promotes good government, volunteerism and civic involvement.

If Harris does get the council appointment, it would mirror Cranley’s rise in local political circles.

After Cranley ran unsuccessfully against Chabot in 2000, he was appointed to City Council later that year to replace Todd Portune, who had won election to the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners.

Although Portune had wanted political consultant Scott Seidewitz as his replacement, labor unions and then-Mayor Charlie Luken successfully lobbied for Cranley, then a recent Harvard Law School graduate. He won election in his own right four times since then.

Also, Cranley was the founder and co-director of the Ohio Innocence Project at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, from 2002-06. Using DNA-technology, the group exonerated three innocent men who were on Death Row.

Cranley is remaining mum about his political future, but there’s widespread speculation he might run for mayor or for a seat in the Ohio House of Representatives.

For now, however, he’s content with his work as an attorney.

“I chose KMK for two reasons,” Cranley said in a prepared statement. “KMK’s reputation as a law firm is superb. Also, I will have the opportunity to work with Dick Spoor, who, I believe, is the best bond attorney in the Greater Cincinnati region.

“I enjoy helping businesses make things happen,” Cranley added. “The use of government-revenue bonds is a key element to making business ventures work. While I want to focus my practice on bonds and municipal finance, my clients will have the advantage of a full-service corporate law firm.”

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