Analysis: If Sittenfeld is out, who could take part in Cincinnati’s mayor’s race now?

I can’t assume the political ambitions of Cincinnati Councilor PG Sittenfeld, which was hotter than a match until his most recent criminal bribery and extortion charges, have been erased for good.

From this point of view, Sittenfeld’s immediate concern is to avoid convictions and to stay out of prison. Not elected mayor of Cincinnati in 2021.

The bottle rocket that was Sittenfeld’s political career appears to have sputtered, flamed and fallen to the ground.

Who should say that

In a video on his Twitter account, he emphatically proclaims his innocence in the charges. Ken Katkin, a professor at Northern Kentucky University’s Chase College of Law, writes a column for CityBeat suggesting that the indictment against Sittenfeld could be “a trespassing of prosecution by a politicized Justice Department by Trump.”

Perhaps the 36-year-old councilor could beat rap in a court of law and resume his life where he left off before the FBI agents knocked on his door last week.

Again who knows?

For the foreseeable future, however, he can no longer be considered an active candidate – and certainly no longer a front runner to win the seat of temporary mayor John Cranley.

That leaves a huge hole at the top of the 2021 race for the Mayor of Cincinnati.

There are three democratic candidates who actively organize and lead. Councilor David Mann, a former mayor and congressman, has already announced his intention to run and is by far the best known of them. The other two are Kelli Prather, an occupational therapist and long-term candidate for various offices; and Raffel Prophett, a retired Cincinnati firefighter.

After a political career that dates back to the 1970s, Mann has the advantage of almost universal fame in the city.

However, if Sittenfeld is not a candidate, then one or more high profile candidates will likely be drawn into the race. There is a long list of potential candidates, but this is what we hear most about scuttlebutt:

Christopher Smitherman: The Vice Mayor is the only independent member of the council and is closely associated with Cranley. He has appealed to Republican voters with his conservative views on many issues. But earlier this year, Smitherman said he wouldn’t run and said he needed to spend more time with his children after his wife Pamela’s death in 2019. Let him think again now.

A Smitherman run would surely unite the town’s Democrats behind Mann or some other yet-to-be-named candidate.

Mark Mallory: Mallory, a former two-term mayor, admitted to WVXU that since Sittenfeld’s indictment, people have come up to him asking him to run. “I really have no plans to do this right now,” said Mallory. With three councilors charged by the government on corruption charges this year – Sittenfeld, Democrat Tamaya Dennard, and Republican Jeff Pastor – Mallory could on the subject that earned him the mayor’s office in 2005 – that he was the candidate to start the mayhem in town hall to end.

One complicating factor is that Mallory was one of many public figures who advocated Sittenfeld as mayor long before the federal indictments. And the Mallorys, a dynastic family in Cincinnati politics, value loyalty above all else.

Denise Driehaus: The former Democratic State representative has been re-elected as Hamilton County Commissioner for another four-year term, meaning she can run for mayor under the guise of a job that she can return to if she loses. Driehaus has emerged as a distinguished name in Cincinnati politics. She told WVXU that she was not currently considering running for mayor. Though she has said that she was approached by people pushing her to run, “and I understand others did too.”

Aftab pureval: The young, charismatic Democrat has just been re-elected to another term as court clerk – the job he held in 2019 when he ran and lost to Congressman Steve Chabot. Like Driehaus, Pureval could run for mayor as he is guaranteed employment as a clerk for the next four years. We think it is more likely that he will continue his search for a seat in Congress or run for national office rather than run for mayor.

Greg Hartmann: The former Republican district commissioner could raise a ton of money for a mayoral campaign, and maybe this is the year for it, with all the turmoil in town hall. But it’s hard to imagine this heavily democratic city electing a Republican mayor. More likely, he’s waiting for Joe Deters to retire as a district attorney.

Read more “Politically speaking” here.

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