Cincinnati progressives marked President George W. Bush's inauguration with a celebration of their own, forming the Progressive Alliance of Southwest Ohio. The new group threw a "Paint the Town Blue" party Jan. 20 at alchemize in Over-the-Rhine. Blue has shades of meaning these days, as in "liberal," although on the date in question "sad" likely applied — or "raped," as former Kerry campaign volunteer Michael Gallagher described his feelings about the election.
"Blue" encompasses the Democrats, independents, Republicans for Change and members of groups such as Americans Coming Together, MoveOn, Democracy for Cincinnati and others that have come together to advance the progressive cause and back progressive candidates.
"Our long-term goals are to win the 2006 Ohio gubernatorial race and the 2008 presidential race," according to www.progressiveallianceonline.org.
The first floor at alchemize featured live music by The Wolverton Brothers and none other than Jerry Springer, who might be running for Ohio governor next year if he can bear to leave his unbearable TV show. Other politicos who made appearances included mayoral candidate State Sen. Mark Mallory (D-West End) and his family, rival mayoral candidate City Councilman David Pepper and fellow council members John Cranley and David Crowley.
Political operatives Brewster Rhoads, Jene Galvin, Jody and Terry Grundy and Gary Wright mixed with council hopefuls Jeff Berding and Brian Garry. Nick Spencer, council candidate and part owner of alchemize, identifies himself as a Republican. He watched in amusement.
"They all drink the same," he said.
But the mostly Democratic crowd did have a different feel, according to Spencer.
"They're nicer to me than the Republicans are," he said. "Republicans never come out to bars, and I don't golf, so I never see them."
Not all the guests were Democrats, but the party runs through Hilary Ellison's veins. She said her great-grandfather called President Abraham Lincoln "nothing but a goddamn Republican."
Partygoers were invited to convey their sentiments to Bush on a giant greeting card. Though someone offered to front the postage to actually send it, event organizer Cheryl Crowe nixed the idea.
"We're new and we don't want the FBI on our tail," she said. "We're not really negative. It's sort of a fun thing for the party."
Upstairs, slides from the local Kerry campaign flashed across a flat-screen TV while activists mingled and wrote captions under photos of the Bush administration. Under a picture of First Lady Laura Bush embracing her husband, someone wrote, "What was she thinking?"
Another poster invited partiers to name their issues: "$Iraq$" and "publik edjumacation" topped a list that included crime in high places, election fraud, reproductive rights and sexual health, war crimes and social security. Marji Mendelsohn and Janice Weiss manned a table for WE, an organization they formed the week after the election to encourage peaceful dissent.
"We were physically traumatized," Weiss said. "We decided to be productive."
So they made WE (as in "we the people") buttons to replace their Kerry buttons. The Web site (www.weunite.org) also solicits op-ed and cartoon contributions.
Before the party Jan. 20, a handful of protesters picketed the Federal Building downtown to protest the start of Bush's second term.
Council Candidates, Who Are Trying
Shameless speculation: Maybe Republican Councilman Sam Malone refused to appoint Leslie Ghiz to the vacant council seat because he feels threatened by the first-time success of the popular upstart female, who finished 11th in her first council run in 2003. After all, it was a full six years ago, in 1999, when Malone first approached the party — the Democratic Party. The Cincinnati Post reported March 1, 1999, that Malone had interviewed with Tim Burke, chair of the Hamilton County Democratic Party, for its endorsement to run for city council. He ended up earning just 1.2 percent of the votes as an independent candidate.
Malone ran again two years later, this time with the Republican endorsement. He improved his showing, coming in 12th with 4.1 percent of the vote. He finally won his third bid, in 2003, in a surprising surge of support many attribute to a series of incendiary TV spots in which Malone, an African American, all but promised to run boycotters out of town.
Brian Garry, who had actively supported the civil rights boycott after the uprising in Over-the-Rhine in 2001, hopes to get support from the Democrats this year. In his first campaign for city council in 2003, running as an independent, Garry received more than 5,000 votes.
"As I did last time, I will be running as a progressive Democrat," he says. "We hope to receive an endorsement from the Hamilton County Democratic Party."
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