Passed Over

The Cincinnati City Council seat vacated by Hamilton County Commissioner Pat DeWine sat open nearly two weeks as the man he charged with filling it, Councilman Sam Malone, the only other Republica

Jan 26, 2005 at 2:06 pm
Anthony Antal

Leslie Ghiz likely won't run

The Cincinnati City Council seat vacated by Hamilton County Commissioner Pat DeWine sat open nearly two weeks as the man he charged with filling it, Councilman Sam Malone, the only other Republican on city council, dug in his heels against what seemed the obvious choice: Leslie Ghiz.

In the 2003 city council elections, Ghiz landed 11th in the race for nine seats, finishing 775 votes above incumbent Republican Chris Monzel, who lost his council seat.

Yet Malone chose Monzel for DeWine's empty seat, bucking what seemed to be overwhelming Republican support for Ghiz.

Published reports that Ghiz came out the heavy favorite in a vote during the nominating committee's closed meetings at the Queen City Club are unfounded, according to Tara Kriss, executive director of the Hamilton County Republican Party.

"There was not a vote taken at all," Kriss says. "The only vote that was ever taken was a vote to allow (Republican Party) Chairman (Michael) Barrett to discuss it with Sam Malone and to go from there."

The numbers making the rumor rounds — about 30 in favor of Ghiz versus about three for Monzel — were probably just a committee member's estimation of how the first meeting went, according to Ghiz's former campaign manager, Dan "Buzz" Deters.

There was apparently some indication of preference at the first meeting, though.

"Everybody said the vote count was X (for me) to three people in support of Monzel," Ghiz says. "I do know when they went in that second time, (Barrett) essentially said, 'Sam will not appoint her.'

Everybody bitched for about an hour: 'What are you talking about? Where is Sam?' Finally someone threw a motion out (to) let Mike and Sam make this decision."

Malone didn't attend either meeting. He also didn't return a reporter's calls. The most widely circulated theory about why he refused to appoint Ghiz is her support for the repeal of Article 12 of the city charter, which had legalized discrimination against gays and lesbians. Even so, she doesn't regret her stance.

"I supported something and I didn't remove my support just because it would get me to where I wanted to go politically," she says. "I'd rather give up my appointment than give up my integrity."

Another possible strike against Ghiz is the perception that she's pro-choice.

"I'm pro-life and I've always been," she says. "It's very easy to say about a single woman that she's pro-choice, and that's not true. It's somewhat upsetting."

Further underground circulate rumors that billionaire Cincinnati businessman and political heavyweight Carl Lindner leaned on Malone to reject Ghiz for supporting the repeal of Article 12, which voters passed in November.

"I did meet with (Lindner), and my understanding was that was not the issue," Ghiz says. "The issue was Sam."

Having twice narrowly missed a seat on council, Ghiz isn't sure she'll try again in this fall's council elections. She loves her job in labor law at Freking & Betz, and campaigning exacts a large toll.

"I'm leaning toward not," she says. "I'm going to try to do everything I can to find a way, but right now it's not looking good."

Ghiz says leaving the Republican Party isn't an option.

"That's the first question, of course, that everyone asks me, but I'm not going to leave," she says. "This was a decision that was made by Sam, which he has the right to make by the city charter. This isn't the party that did this."

She also refuses to turn her back on the other women in the party who steadfastly backed her.

"I can do more for the Republican Party as a female than I can for the Democratic Party as a female," she says.

All The News That Fits: Leads, entrails and tales we couldn't get to.