CINCINNATI - After the chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party accused Republican officials of attacking local black female Democrats as incompetent, the Republican leader called it "a scurrilous, underhanded political attack."
In a letter widely distributed to media outlets, Democratic chairman Tim Burke called out Republican chairman Alex Triantafilou for calling new Democratic city council member Pam Thomas "incompetent" in Wednesday's Cincinnati Enquirer.
Burke said that followed previous "repeated attacks" on Democratic Judge Tracie Hunter. Burke also accused Republican Judge Ralph "Ted" Winkler of attacking attorney Janaya Trottier as "incompetent." Trottier challenged Republican Prosecutor Joe Deters in last November's election.
Triantafilou responded to 9 On Your Side reporter Tom McKee Wednesday afternoon by saying: "I think it's a scurrilous, underhanded political attack that has no basis in reality whatsoever. I'm happy to describe other Democrats as incompetent as well. We don't see race. Mr. Burke sees race in these things. We don't."
Burke wrote to Triantafilou, in part: "I cannot help to note a disturbing pattern that has developed with repetitious Republican Party attacks on black woman (sic) as incompetent.
"Is it any wonder that your party continues to struggle in its efforts to communicate with and respond to the need of the African American community, other minority groups and women in general?"
The story in Wednesday's Enquirer, headlined "Another Thomas takes a seat," reported on Pam Thomas taking her husband's seat on city council last week after Cecil Thomas resigned.
"I think it's outrageous," Triantafilou is quoted in the story. "This smacks of the kind of decision that Cecil Thomas would make, which has never been good for the future of his city."
The story notes that Pam Thomas ran a strong race for clerk of courts last year, receiving almost 48 percent of the vote countywide against Republican Tracy Winkler.
"I found her to be incompetent," Triantafilou says in the story. "She didn't understand the basics of how the courts work."
The clerk's race was Pam Thomas' first run for public office, the story noted. She is now a substitute administrator at Cincinnati Public Schools, where she has worked for more than 20 years. She was the district's first ombudsman and led the district's customer service department.
Talking to 9 On Your Side Wednesday afternoon, Triantafilou said, "I stand by what I said regarding Mrs. Thomas.
"Look, we're the party in opposition. What we think is happening is Mr. Burke recognizes the policies of city hall right now, including things like the debacle of the streetcar, are very bad. And he's looking at a difficult election year, and this is just motivated politically to energize part of his base in the African-American community," Triantafilou said.
"It's underhanded. It's shameful. It's wrong.
"We're going to win races all over Hamilton County in 2013 and I think Tim knows that, and we're going to do that with all kinds of people voting for us," Triantafilou said.
You can read Burke's letter below or at http://goo.gl/qRkZN .
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