Mike O'Malley formally launched his campaign to unseat Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty Thursday night, casting himself as the underdog in a David-vs-Goliath battle.
"It's never an easy task to take on an incumbent county prosecutor," O'Malley told the crowd of gathered friends, family and political supporters at the downtown press conference. "Especially this one... I made a very difficult decision to run for this position because I truly feel in my heart that it is needed."
O'Malley said that ever since McGinty took office in 2013, there's been a steady, in fact "complete," deterioration of public trust in the position. He pledged to restore that trust by prosecuting fairly and impartially, bringing his 30 years of experience to bear on a "ship that needs turned around now."
In particular, O'Malley cited McGinty's handling of the Tamir Rice case — its duration, its assorted controversies, McGinty's "insane desire to selectively release information," — as grounds for loss of faith.
O'Malley is a former city councilman and assistant county prosecutor (who served under County Prosecutor Bill Mason). He pitched himself as the anti-McGinty, a candidate who will "build bridges," especially with members of the African-American community who feel that the system is no longer working for them.
But his policy initiatives, at least Thursday, were thin. He alluded to a press conference next week at which he'll make a more specific announcement related to grand jury reform. But he said that in general terms, he'd bring the spirit of collaboration that he learned in city council to the office, especially as it pertained to reforms at the state level. He also said he wouldn't object to a special prosecutor in police use of deadly force cases.
Out on the campaign trail, O'Malley said, he is often asked about "politics in the office." That's presumably a reference to the heydey of Bill Mason. Mason's assistants frequently held political positions. O'Malley said nosireebob — that wouldn't be happening when he
takes over, and on that score he's following in McGinty's footsteps. But the first thing on the docket for him, he said, would be getting out to "every last corner of the county" to help residents understand the office and restore their faith in leadership.
The candidate was preceded in his remarks by an assembly line of suburban Mayors and local politicians lending their support. NAACP leaders were in attendance, as were Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley and Councilmen Kevin Conwell and Brian Kazy.
Parma Heights Mayor Michael Byrne gave a short statement about O'Malley's work ethic, reportedly gleaned from his father (though no doubt his mother, who raised all 11 O'Malley children, was equally hard-working). But Byrne concluded by saying he was proud to endorse Mike O'Malley for County recorder.
A harmless faux-pas, surely; but it may have reminded some in attendance that that position was held by Mike O'Malley's brother Pat, the disgraced county official who pleaded guilty to a felony obscenity charge and, while in office, had been associated with a number of shady dealings.