Frank Jackson Endorses Kevin Kelley for Cleveland Mayor


  • Cleveland City Hall Facebook Live Video
  • Frank Jackson (5/4/2020).

Outgoing Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson has endorsed outgoing City Council President Kevin Kelley to succeed him as mayor of Cleveland.

Jackson, whose recent endorsement of Nina Turner in the OH-11 special congressional election failed to move the needle in his own Ward 5, now lends his name to Kelley, a City Hall ally who has served as council president since 2014 and who has overseen Cleveland's most high-profile anti-democratic actions in recent years. Jackson vaguely alluded to these actions — including the effort to quash a local $15 minimum wage hike and the machinations to sabotage the Q Deal citizen referendum — in his statement of support. 

“I have worked with Kevin for more than 20 years and during this time, he has made hard decisions," Jackson said in the Kelley campaign's press release. "Those decisions weren’t always in his own political interest, but they were the right decisions for the people of Cleveland. His decisions have helped position Cleveland for the future and are motivated by the need to continue to make our neighborhoods stronger and safer.

"I am confident that, as Mayor, Kevin Kelley will continue to lead with integrity and put the best interests of Clevelanders first."

Kelley, to whom mayoral candidate Dennis Kucinich referred Tuesday as the city's "co-mayor" for the past seven years, has made "forging a new path" a campaign slogan. But a common criticism of Kelley is that he represents the status quo. An endorsement from Jackson, a 16-year incumbent, is unlikely to persuade voters otherwise.

Kelley leads the field of candidates in available cash, and is happy to accept Jackson's endorsement, especially if there's a chance it could give him some legitimacy among Black voters. According to a poll commissioned by the AFL-CIO released Wednesday, Kelley was favored by 13% of likely primary voters. He topped a cluster of candidates behind leader Dennis Kucinich.

But Kelley was the top choice for only five percent of Black voters, according to the survey's notes.

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