The road back from corruption to general incompetence is not without its potholes. The Cuyahoga County Democratic Party is learning this as its central committee prepares to elect a new party chair on June 16.
Attorney and Democratic fund-raiser Stuart Garson, the leading candidate to replace embattled Jimmy Dimora, has the support of Mayor Frank Jackson and Senator Sherrod Brown, among other key players. But a series of recent meetings held by independent groups to introduce party loyalists to the candidates has left attendees grumpy and confused.
At the first meeting, in Cleveland Heights, fellow attorney Mark Griffin was the only rumored candidate to show up, but he conceded that the party had all but settled on Garson. This prompted astute observers to ask So where is Garson? Five minutes before meeting’s end, Garson appeared, seemingly alerted to get his butt down there because his absence wasn’t going over well with the home crowd.
Garson was a no-show the following night in Rocky River. A week later, he did appear at a Shaker Heights meeting, where he was given the kingly allotment of 50 minutes of talk time. “I’m not the chair of anything yet,” he said. “If there’s a Stop Stuart Garson petition, I’ll be the first to sign it.”
But as he spoke about the urgency of focusing on the November elections and worrying about fixing the party later — an outlook many in attendance didn’t share — it was clear the reluctant chairman was already laying out priorities and policies.
Garson will face many challenges — everything from statewide elections in a difficult economic climate, to a chaotic county election schedule, to a party that serves up crooks like Panini’s serves up Dortmunder. Add to the list making sure that homegrown activists don’t feel railroaded yet again.