Mar 19, 2024 - News

Michael O'Malley fends off challenge in Cuyahoga prosecutor primary

A photo of Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Mike O'Malley, flanked by Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb and Rep. Shontel Brown.

O'Malley stands between Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb and Rep. Shontel Brown. Photo: Courtesy of Friends of Michael O'Malley

Incumbent Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O'Malley has defeated challenger Matthew Ahn in Tuesday's primary, according to unofficial results from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

Why it matters: Given the makeup of the county electorate, O'Malley is all but assured to retain his seat in November.

What they're saying: "Our campaign, grounded in county-specific data and facts, rang true with voters who value experience and proven solutions over absurd hypotheticals," O'Malley said in a statement.

The intrigue: Ahn, a Cleveland State University professor of law and former public defender, mounted a stiff challenge, rallying support from out-of-state donors and local progressives.

  • Throughout the campaign, he criticized O'Malley's reactive approach to criminal justice, including his treatment of juvenile defendants and his support of the death penalty.
  • Ahn's camp considered it a major achievement that O'Malley failed to win the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party's endorsement in January.

Yes, but: O'Malley's significant fundraising advantage in the race's final months gave him a big leg up.

Catch up quick: O'Malley was first elected in 2016 in a race that was largely viewed as a referendum on O'Malley's predecessor, Timothy McGinty, who had failed to indict two Cleveland police officers in the shooting death of Tamir Rice.

  • O'Malley previously served as a Cleveland City Councilman, an assistant county prosecutor under Bill Mason and an assistant director of law for the city of Parma.
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