Aftab Pureval’s cool-down is over, and he’s reappeared on the Greater Cincinnati political scene with a humiliating defeat almost eight months after ending his bloody Congressional race.
The Democrat is preparing to run again in 2020 and may run another run in Ohio’s 1st Congressional District. This likely depends on how the US Supreme Court rules gerrymandering cases. Decisions are expected this week.
The more likely scenario: Pureval is running for re-election as an employee in Hamilton County or for another nationwide office. His county campaign account is listed on a flyer promoting a fundraiser at a local brewery on Wednesday night.
“I haven’t decided what I’m going to do,” Pureval told Politics Extra in his first in-depth interview about his political career since the November elections.
Regardless of this, one thing remains clear even after Pureval’s flawed campaign: the Democratic Party still has high hopes for him. Not only is he seen as a strong candidate, but party leaders see Pureval as a key player in recruiting progressive candidates for nationwide seats.
The 36-year-old Pureval has been mostly calm since the four-point loss to Steve Chabot. Pureval and his wife Whitney went on their honeymoon in Hawaii after the election. They moved to a new house in Clifton this month. He focused on his job as an employee. He helped the party behind the scenes.
He had plenty of time to ponder a campaign plagued by campaign funding issues and a local volunteer infiltrating Chabot’s campaign.
“I made mistakes,” Pureval told me over a beer last week. “I apologized for her. I took responsibility.”
In a 40-minute interview, Pureval stated that he was not fully prepared for the immense control that comes with running a nationally watched race, particularly the nasty attack displays from Super-PACs.
When asked if he regretted running, Pureval added, “You can’t be ready to run for Congress until you run for Congress. In a district as CD1-dominated as CD1, you have to You’re running a perfect campaign – and our campaign wasn’t. ” t perfect. “
More politics extra: Could Steve Chabot get a main antagonist in 2020?
More politics extra: ‘Aftab Effect’ triggers Chabot to reconnect with people
Pureval is free from all complaints from the election commission. He apologized to Chabot about Spygate last month. Pureval helped himself among the democratic leaders by taking possession of the self-inflicted campaign gaffes. He has said the right things publicly and handled criticism with grace.
“I think the experience will make me a stronger candidate,” said Pureval.
It’s possible Pureval will come back soon in another savage Congressional race – the March Democratic primary. If the US Supreme Court rules that congressional lines need to be redrawn to create fairer counties in Maryland and North Carolina, it could signal how a similar case could end in Ohio.
Most of Ohio’s top Democrats are not optimistic that the conservative Supreme Court will call for congressional district maps to be redrawn before next year’s election. Still, several Greater Cincinnati Democrats are making just-in-time plans, including former MP Alicia Reece and ex-Congressional candidate Jill Schiller.
A redrawn Ohio 1st Congressional District could benefit Democrats and result in an elementary school free for all. It is unlikely that any of these people would run if the district stayed as it is – it spans western and northern Hamilton Counties and all of Warren County.
Pureval has given a lot of fodder to future adversaries to use against him, no matter what position he’s looking for next. But he still has a strong base of followers. He remains popular with Democratic voters in southwest Ohio. This is especially true in Hamilton County, where Pureval scored a 10-point victory in that part of the district.
Pureval and Democrats saw his dominance in Hamilton County as a positive finding. They want to continue to benefit from Pureval’s popularity and hope this can improve their entire ticket in 2020.
Even some Republicans have quietly mentioned the power of the “aftab effect” in 2018, recognizing Pureval’s robust campaign for the election of little-known Democrats.
We’ve seen Pureval energize large crowds of all races and ages, and no other politician in southwest Ohio can do it better. His ability to raise funds and recruit dozens of volunteers for campaigning enabled other Democratic candidates to benefit from it.
Pureval’s efforts prompted the Washington and Ohio Democrats to pour outside resources into the county. Commissioner Stephanie Dumas and several first-time justice candidates rode Pureval’s coattails and defeated the incumbent Republicans.
The success has enabled Pureval to take on a role as kingmaker in the party.
“This will be the most skilled, experienced, dynamic, diverse, and best-funded plan Hamilton County has ever seen in 2020,” said Pureval. “I look forward to leading the effort.”
Subscribe to and listen to Jason’s free That’s So Cincinnati podcast on Apple Podcasts and most other pod platforms. Email: [email protected]