Primary Colors

Despite the rejiggering of election dates in order to make Ohio part of a Super Tuesday slate, the Democratic presidential primary March 2 is pretty much an afterthought. Yet a number of important r

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Despite the rejiggering of election dates in order to make Ohio part of a Super Tuesday slate, the Democratic presidential primary March 2 is pretty much an afterthought. Yet a number of important races will be sorted out Tuesday.

The highest profile race has been the Hamilton County Commission Republican primary between incumbent John Dowlin and City Councilman Pat DeWine. CityBeat endorsed Dowlin in his two previous commission runs in 1996 and 2000, praising him for his independence from the GOP party line.

We also endorsed DeWine in his council races in 1999 and 2001, praising him for his dedication to principles — particularly his backing of the ballot initiative that allows the city to hire a police chief from outside of the department's ranks, for which police leaders have hammered him — and for working across party lines with other young council members. We didn't endorse him in 2003 because we thought he didn't have a very good term (likely effected by the upheavals in his personal life).

Unless the Democrats pull out a miracle candidate between now and November, whoever wins the Dowlin-DeWine race will be commissioner — which is why you're seeing such a knock-down-drag-out battle now.

The other Republican primary for county commission is a less bruising five-way battle, with former Councilman Chris Monzel and former judge David Grossman the big names. The winner faces Todd Portune in November, with Portune the favorite to become the first Democrat incumbent re-elected to the commission since 1964.

Another important primary race is the Democratic contest between Greg Harris and Richard Lerner to determine who will face U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot in the 1st District.

Harris ran unsuccessfully against Chabot in 2002 and expects much more support from the national Democratic Party this year for whoever challenges Chabot in the fall.

As for the Democratic presidential contest, Tuesday would seem to be Sen. John Edwards' final chance to forestall a Kerry coronation. With Ohio, California and New York voting Tuesday, something has to give — either Sen. John Kerry is the nominee or there's a two-man race.

I'm voting for Edwards, if for no other reason than to make Kerry work a little harder to wrap up the nomination. It's come a little too fast and a little too easy for him, and more hard campaigning over the next month or two will shape Kerry into a better national candidate for November.

After all, it's all about beating Bush this year. Whatever Kerry needs to make him a better candidate to take on and defeat President Bush, he should get. And that means keeping Edwards in the race a bit longer.

For recent CityBeat coverage of these and other election issues, see:

· Challenging Chabot, issue of Feb. 18-24

· Why Not Dennis Kucinich?, Feb. 18-24

· The Truth About Diebold and Your Vote, Feb. 11-17

· Fixing Judicial Elections, Jan. 28-Feb. 3

· Museum Center: The Cost of Remembering, Jan. 21-27

· Elephant Walk, Jan. 14-20

Issue 11: Levy for Union Terminal: Yes
This new tax levy would provide funds to maintain, operate and repair Union Terminal, which houses the Cincinnati Museum Center, at a rate of 0.2 mill for five years. The levy would provide more than $3.6 million a year to the Museum Center and cost the owner of a $100,000 house $5.89 per year. (If the levy fails, of course, you pay $0.)

The old train station is tough to keep in decent shape. Not only has the Museum Center's endowment been slashed to fund upkeep, but 20 percent of its annual $13 million operating budget goes to the building, too. The new levy funds would cover maintainance and repair, allowing the museum to focus on programming and the endowment.

Union Terminal is a fixture in Cincinnati and in the West End. By collecting area museums into one place, it's become one of the most popular local attractions — and not just for tourists. Cincinnatians use these facilities over and over, a model for what museum centers should be (that's a hint for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and even the Contemporary Arts Center).

The "No taxes" crowd has it wrong. Taxes are valuable to a community if the community benefits from the taxes — and the Museum Center is a true benefit for all of us.

POLLS IN OHIO are open 6:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday.

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