The contenders for Cuyahoga County executive filed their campaign finance reports last week, providing a clearer picture of who owns each candidate. Most backers were fairly predictable: Endorsed Democrat Ed FitzGerald got $10,000 from the Democratic Party and significant labor union support, while endorsed Republican Matt Dolan, whose father Larry Dolan owns the Indians, got almost $450,000 from his dad, his uncle, and loans to his own campaign. Democrat Terri Hamilton Brown and independent Don Scipione loaned more modest sums to their own campaigns, in part because they had no baseball players to sell to the Yankees.
Take a quick drive around town and you won’t be surprised to hear that independent Ken Lanci was the beneficiary not only of his own money, but of the services of his printing company, which has produced copious billboards, bus posters, banners, and signs. He’s spent almost $400,000 and has frequently said he’ll spend a million or more to acquire the powerful position, which he claims only he can fill effectively. Voters have little reason to doubt him, apart from his total lack of experience in politics, government, and social services.
The biggest surprise was confirmation of the rumors that Democrat Tim McCormack, running as an independent, has the backing of at least one Republican powerbroker who helped established the executive position. Of the $18,000 McCormack has raised, $10,000 came from wealthy Lake County businessman and big GOP donor Ed Crawford, who is credited with launching the Issue 6 reform initiative in private meetings with county Prosecutor Bill Mason. It’s an interesting turn for McCormack, who was ejected from his county commissioner seat in 2004 when the business community backed Tim Hagan; McCormack was perceived as not friendly enough to their interests, particularly the construction of a new convention center.
And while Dolan and Brown have both received Forest City money, if the region’s corporate community — the same people who paid to pass Issue 6 — have a favored candidate in the race, they haven’t tipped their hand yet.