Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Mike O'Malley this morning endorsed Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley for mayor outside the Justice Center.
In a statement following the event, O'Malley emphasized — as virtually all of the candidates in the 2021 race are now emphasizing — the peril of violent crime in Cleveland.
“We need a mayor who is going to put community safety at the top of his priority list," O'Malley said. "A mayor who demands that EVERY neighborhood is safe. A mayor who demands that every citizen can walk their neighborhood without fear of becoming the next victim of a violent crime. A mayor who will stand behind our police officers as they protect the residents and visitors to our great city and will hold them accountable if need be.”
O'Malley — perhaps unaware that public safety has quickly (and regrettably) been established as the race's preeminent issue — said that Kelley had the unique qualifications and temperament to address rising crime in Cleveland. His statement concluded with a line about making Cleveland "not just the greatest location in the nation, but the safest location in the nation.”
All this one-upmanship on the campaign trail regarding public safety is a little disorienting, as it arrives one (1) year after the so-called "national reckoning" with police brutality and racism in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.
But the rhetoric makes sense from O'Malley, a hardened law-and-order tough guy who served as both Cleveland City Councilman and Safety Director for the City of Parma. O'Malley ran to unseat Prosecutor Timothy McGinty in 2016 with promises of building bridges in the community and returning to what he called "community-based prosecution." He won largely due to the wave of anti-McGinty sentiment following McGinty's failure to indict officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback in the killing of Tamir Rice.
O'Malley is now nationally known for the rabidity with which he seeks the death penalty
O'Malley might be considered a high-profile endorsement for Kelley in a crowded race where any edge with voters is worth pursuing, though it's not like the county prosecutor would have thrown his weight behind anyone else. O'Malley and Kelley go back a ways. They're buddies and allies in the local political machine's back-slapping old guard. O'Malley, in fact, is the man who launched Kelley's career on City Council. In 2005, when O'Malley resigned from his post in what was then Ward 16 to take a job in Mayor Jane Campbell's administration, he appointed Kelley to take his place.
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