New Poll Favors Pepper

A new poll released by the campaign of Democratic challenger David Pepper could indicate some trouble for incumbent Republican Phil Heimlich, his opponent in the race for Hamilton County Commissio

Jared M. Holder

Praying for peace in the Middle East, Kankeb Malik (left) and people of various faiths participate in a candlelight vigil at the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati.

A new poll released by the campaign of Democratic challenger David Pepper could indicate some trouble for incumbent Republican Phil Heimlich, his opponent in the race for Hamilton County Commission. The poll shows Pepper leading Heimlich by five points, 42 percent to 37 percent, among likely voters. Because the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent, the results mean the pair is in a statistical dead heat as campaign season begins in earnest.

But other poll results indicate support for Heimlich, who has been in office for three years, is weakening. First, the results show an improvement for Pepper from a poll six months ago, when each candidate drew 33 percent. Pepper's support is gaining in the latest poll, while Heimlich's is hovering around the same level. Also, the poll shows a full 21 percent of voters remain undecided. Any large percentage of voters who haven't made up their minds traditionally means bad news for an incumbent, who is supposed to be a known quantity.

Other polling trends indicate trouble for Heimlich. In the latest poll, 58 percent had a favorable impression of Pepper, up slightly from 57 percent in the February poll.

By comparison, 49 percent of voters had a favorable impression of Heimlich, down from 53 percent in February. Further, 55 percent of voters rank Heimlich as doing a fair or poor job as commissioner. Fifty-seven percent of voters believe Hamilton County is headed "pretty seriously" on the wrong track; just 31 percent of voters believe the county is headed in the right direction.

Predictably, the Pepper campaign released the poll numbers because they cast their campaign in a positive light and show it gaining traction with county voters. Still, the company conducting the poll is well respected in nationwide political circles, and the firm clearly outlines the methodology it used. Washington, D.C.-based Lake Research Partners conducted the telephone poll July 26-30, interviewing 400 Hamilton County voters of both political parties who said they were registered and likely to vote in the 2006 general election.

No polling numbers have yet been released by Heimlich. Insiders say some polling has been completed but hasn't been released because the results clearly show Heimlich faces a serious re-election challenge.

Careful Cranley and Si's Secret
Cincinnati City Councilman John Cranley is proving to be an artful politician, trying to score political points on the war in Iraq without ever taking a position against it. Last week he lashed out at U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, the Republican incumbent whose job Cranley wants, for his uncritical support of the war.

"Steve Chabot has refused to ask the Bush administration the many questions the people of the 1st District have about Bush's lead-up and handling of the Iraq War," said a statement by the Cranley campaign.

This is true so far as it goes. But when has Cranley ever demanded answers? He certainly hasn't been a critic of the war. Soon after the U.S. attack began, he refused to support a city council resolution opposing it. Since then he's been all but silent, even though the war is a defining issue for Democratic congressional candidates across the country. A Reuters story that appeared July 26 in The Washington Post charitably called Cranley's posture "careful." Again given the opportunity to oppose the U.S. occupation of Iraq, he couldn't bring himself to do it.

"Cranley is careful about Iraq," the story said. "He has said the war is not going well but has not called for a troop pullout.

"Look, Iraq is a complicated thing," Cranley said in the story. "We need accountability and we need to restore checks and balances."

That might not be leadership, but, yes, it is careful.

Meanwhile, peace lovers of many faiths gathered Aug. 7 to pray for the victims of another war, Israel's fight with the Hezbollah militia. The candlelight vigil at the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati was sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Muslim Mothers Against Violence, the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center and Peace Village.

If you missed CityBeat's Porkopolis blog, you missed a sighting of Sheriff Simon Leis Jr. in a place you wouldn't expect him and Margo Pierce's reports from New Orleans, where she's covering Give Back Cincinnati's volunteer home-building project. Visit and get today's news today.

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