Jerry Springer: The Cincinnati-ization of Jerry Springer

I came to Cincinnati in 1969. I’d just passed the bar in Ohio and the firm was Frost & Jacobs. When Bobby died [he’d been working on Robert F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign] they said, “Whenever you’re ready to practice law we’d like to have you.”

I immediately got involved in a campaign to lower the voting age to 19. I showed up for a meeting and I was the oldest person there at 25, and so they made me the chairman. That was my first campaign, and that’s how I became known in Cincinnati. In 1970 I decided to run for Senate since I was still ticked off about the war. [The primary took place the day after the Kent State tragedy.] I believe to this day I got the votes I did because of this horror right up the road.

Cincinnati was very conservative; I clearly was an aberration. But the people of Cincinnati have always been incredibly kind and voted for me—not always agreeing with me.

Best job I ever had was mayor. Back in the years when I was on city council, the other people were giants: Charlie Taft. Ted Berry. Bobbie Sterne. Bill Gradison. You had people whose names were synonymous with Cincinnati. I was clearly way too liberal for everyone. Tom Luken basically took me under his wing. He Cincinnati-ized me. The very first resolution I introduced was to ban Cincinnati residents from serving in the Vietnam War because it wasn’t Constitutional. I knew it wouldn’t pass but I was hoping for a lawsuit. —Jerry Springer, Former Mayor and Current Host of The Jerry Springer Show

Illustration by Kathryn Rathke.
Originally published in the October 2011 issue.

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