Embattled Prosecutor Tim McGinty Loses Democratic Primary to Mike O'Malley


McGinty and O'Malley at the City Club - SAM ALLARD
  • Sam Allard
  • McGinty and O'Malley at the City Club
Embattled Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty lost Tuesday's primary against Democratic challenger Mike O'Malley. McGinty made the concession call just after midnight. With 95% of precincts reporting as of 12:30 a.m., O'Malley held a 55.4% to 44.6% margin and led by about 18,000 votes. No Republican or Independent has declared in the race so Tuesday's primary was essentially the race for the seat. McGinty took office in 2013.

McGinty had come under local and national fire for his handling of the grand jury in the Tamir Rice case, in which he advocated against charges for the two Cleveland police officers involved in the death of the 12-year-old, as well as his handling of other cases involving police use of force including those of Tanisha Anderson and Kenny Smith. Given tonight's results, it's hard not to see the vote as a referendum on McGinty's handling of those cases. 

O'Malley was a relative late comer to the primary race, only officially entering the fray in early to mid-December just as the Cuyahoga County Democrat city leaders were gathering to hear from candidates before giving a recommendation to the executive committee. O'Malley got that recommendation, but the race didn't make many headlines otherwise. (He didn't even hold his official campaign kick-off event until January 21.)

The two traded blows at the City Club and battled in media interviews on the topics of police, grand juries, transparency, and O'Malley's criticism that McGinty's office had failed in building relationships with the community. They debated the general perception that O'Malley, who until recently served as Parma's safety director and who had been Bill Mason's No. 2 during Cuyahoga County's more patronage-loving days, was nothing but a return to the old, shady business.

But rarely did one or the other grab the headlines, nor did the race seem to gather the sort of momentum that one would have assumed given tonight's vote. Among casual voters, and even among local reporters, that it was a close vote was a surprise. That O'Malley gradually ran away with it — every update throughout the evening pushing his lead higher and higher — was a bigger one. Inside the party though, at least from conversations late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, the result wasn't all that surprising. And it was the result many top level Dems had not-so-secretly been hoping for all along.

O'Malley echoed his sentiments tonight that the office needed to reconnect to the community and rebuild what he says has been trust lost in the system.

“I truly believe that over the last three or four weeks people started hearing the message that my campaign team was putting forth, and it was that this county needs to rebuild confidence in the criminal justice system and they need an individual who is willing to work to do that,” O’Malley said.

“They need an individual who is willing to go out and meet with individuals and restore some type of confidence in that office and I’m that individual and I will be doing that. I will be meeting with people I will be talking with people on the streets. It’s going to take a large effort to bring this system back, but I am willing to work with the common pleas judges, the public defenders, all the people who thought they were perhaps bullied in the past will have a partner, and that partner will be me and my team,” said O’Malley.

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