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Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman opts not to pursue Cincinnati mayor's office in 2021

Christopher Smitherman
Posted at 4:17 PM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-18 16:17:19-05

CINCINNATI — Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman will not run for Cincinnati mayor this year.

Once considered one of two front-runners for the city's top office, Smitherman in 2020 dropped his ambitions of running, a year after his wife, Pamela, succumbed to a two-year battle with cancer in early 2019. Following a scandal at City Hall involving then-mayoral front-runner, P.G. Sittenfeld, Smitherman -- along with a who's who of political heavyweights across the city -- said he again was considering a bid last November.

"After much prayer and consideration, I have decided not to run for mayor," Smitherman said in a statement Thursday afternoon, less than an hour before the filing deadline. "I look forward to serving the citizens of Cincinnati for the remainder of my term as vice mayor."

The timing of Smitherman's announcement that he was reconsidering a mayoral run was significant, on the day following Sittenfeld's indictment on federal public corruption charges.

Smitherman and Sittenfeld have a tumultuous history on City Council. As early as 2018, many predicted Cincinnati's 2021 mayoral race would come down to the Independent versus the Democrat. But what was purely political tension took a personal turn during the "Gang of Five" text message scandal of 2019, when a text message exchange between Sittenfeld and fellow Councilman Chris Seelbach went public, in which they seemed to accuse Smitherman of using his wife's recent death for political gain.

Earlier Thursday, Sittenfeld announced he would not seek the mayor's seat amid his criminal trial.

Mayoral candidates had until 4 p.m. Thursday to submit the necessary signatures from city voters.