Former Ohio congressman, mayor running for judge

Voters in Cincinnati will find a familiar name back on the ballot this fall: former two-time Mayor Charlie Luken.

The former congressman and local TV news anchor has filed to run for Hamilton County probate judge. Luken, 62, finished his second stint as Cincinnati’s mayor in 2005, then practiced law and lobbied. His father, Tom, was also a Cincinnati mayor and congressman.

Luken, a Democrat, is expected to face another official who is well-known locally — Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Ralph “Ted” Winkler, a Republican.

Winkler, 52, has been a judge or prosecutor for more than two decades. He is married to Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Tracy Winkler; his father, Ralph, was a judge; and his late mother, Cheryl Winkler, was a state legislator. His brother Robert is also a common pleas judge.

Both men are running for a six-year term in a post that pays $121,350 annually. Estates, adoptions, guardianships and a variety of other matters are handled in probate court. Current Judge James Cissell is ineligible to seek another term.

Luken said Tuesday that his administrative experience as mayor gives him a good background to run the court, but he expects a spirited race.

“It’s going to be a tough fight,” Luken told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “I’m not naive about the challenge, but I think people are open to a new way.”

Winkler said his experience as judge and as a prosecutor better qualifies him for probate matters.

“I want to help people get their lives straightened out,” said Winkler, who expects to soon file his paperwork.