Dems Target Berding's Endorsement

Sparked by festering resentment over several recent votes, some Democratic Party precinct executives are mulling whether to call for a special meeting to try to rescind the party’s endorsement of Cincinnati City Councilman Jeff Berding.—-

Several precinct executives are talking privately about stripping Berding of his party endorsement and instead giving it to City Councilwoman Roxanne Qualls. Although she is running as a Charterite, Qualls is a registered Democrat and has run as a Democrat in the past.

Some precinct executives are angry that Berding recently held a press conference with Councilman Chris Bortz, a Charterite, to criticize a budget plan hammered together by council’s Democrats, led by Councilwoman Laketa Cole and Mayor Mark Mallory. Berding was asked to contribute ideas to the plan to help avoid a $7.7 million deficit this year but chose not to, party insiders said.

Also, Berding voted against the environmental justice ordinance, a proposal supported by council’s other Democrats. Berding tried to introduce a motion last week that would’ve delayed implementation for up to a year pending more review, but Mallory blocked an immediate vote and sent the motion to a council committee for discussion.

Proposed by Vice Mayor David Crowley, the ordinance requires an environmental assessment be done for certain types of projects proposed in neighborhoods that are deemed already adversely affected by toxins and pollution.

Bortz recently met with The Cincinnati Enquirer’s editorial board to lobby against the ordinance. Although he’s running as a Charterite, Bortz is a registered Republican.

The angry precinct executives noted that Berding frequently votes in accordance with Bortz and council’s two Republicans, Leslie Ghiz and Chris Monzel, despite promising during the endorsement process to stop criticizing fellow Democrats and try to work with them.

Berding, an executive with the Cincinnati Bengals front office, is seeking his third council term. Berding has met some resistance each time he’s sought the party’s endorsement.

During an April 2007 meeting of Democratic precinct executives, when Berding made his pitch for the endorsement, he apologetically told the crowd, “I have tried to work with any and all members of council and our mayor to get the job done. I admit sometimes I have done well in that area, and other times I’ve been less successful,” before vowing to work better with his Democratic colleagues.

A month later, Berding publicly criticized Crowley for wanting more time to review details in the case of a convicted cop killer before sending a letter of objection to state parole officials; later still, Berding went on Bill Cunningham’s WLW (700 AM) show to criticize council Democrats for passing a climate protection plan.

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