The rumors may come to life if the Enquirer's report is true that Rob Richardson Jr., outgoing Chairman of the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees, enters the Mayor's race. He has schedule a press conference race for tomorrow (Tuesday) at 5PM.
The Cincinnati Mayor's election process is an odd construct and was made even more odd for the 2017 election. A non-partisan primary is held from which the top two vote-getters, regardless of political party, face off in the general election in November. In prior years this primary was held in September. It was a special election with exceedingly low voter turnout. The primary is only held if more than two candidates register.
In 2015 Issue 23 passed which amended the city charter to move the primary to May, along with a normal scheduled election, saving the city a bit of money. This was viewed as a positive for the incumbent by increasing the time between the elections to use the power of office to sway voters with selective attention to certain groups and neighborhoods.
If Richardson gets into the race, we will have a May 2nd primary between John Cranley, current Mayor, Yvette Simpson, current member of City Council, and Richardson. This would benefit Cranley who has made a more than obvious play to repeat his 2013 winning strategy of pitting the outlying neighborhoods against the urban core neighborhoods. This can be accomplished with a summer of grandstanding and "vote buying" to hurt anyone running against him.
The positives for this primary is that it will help with turnout, as other issues may be on the ballot. It also blunts the value of being the top vote-getter. A three way race with these candidates is big question mark. Cranley could take 1st place with a sold vote total, but he would likely gain very few of the other two candidates votes in the general, so unless he's over 50% with solid turnout demographics, he will need to start "vote buying" on May 3rd and not stop until election day in November.
If an actual GOP candidate gets into this race, then Cranley has little path to a primary win, unless he can pull out new voters to the primary. He is an easy target if a Conservative Republican ran against him from the right. He's a conservative Dem, but can't go far right and win in the City. This makes any GOP candidate unlikely this year. Their only hope is to build up a Hyde Park moderate Republican with charisma. The charisma from a Hype Park Republican is kinda lacking.
I am holding judgement on Richardson as a political candidate. He's never run for public office before, but was a leader in the efforts to get the Streetcar going, especially with the ballot issues. I don't know what kind of candidate he will or can be.