Former Mayor Donovan expected to lead city Democrats


After 20 years, former Mayor Charles Donovan hopes to step back into the political limelight as chairman of the City Democratic Committee.

The committee was scheduled to meet last night at 7 in the Oakland Beach Volunteer Firefighters hall for the purpose of electing officers.

“I’ve been in politics long enough to know things can change,” Donovan said Tuesday night. But judging from comments of committee members and those in the party, it’s highly unlikely Donovan will be challenged.

Rather, it seems, Donovan was recruited to succeed Jeff Gofton for the leadership post.

Donovan said he started getting calls from a number of elected officials within the last two weeks urging him to run. He’s not sure who started the ball rolling.

“I haven’t chased down the culprit,” he laughed.

Donovan, whose son “CJ” is the Ward 7 councilman, has been a registered Democrat since 1960. He served on the Ward 4 Democratic Ward Committee and in 1966 made his first bid for elective office, running for the Ward 4 Council seat. He held the seat for 10 years before losing the 1976 Democratic primary for mayor to Joe Walsh, who went on to be elected.

In 1982, Donovan made a comeback to elective office, winning a seat as state senator after beating incumbent William Inglesby in a primary. Then, in 1990, he won the race for major, a post he held for two years before losing in a three-way contest to Republican Lincoln Chafee. Donovan chose to run as an independent rather than face a primary with Michael Brophy, who was the party-endorsed candidate.

Should he be elected party chairman, Donovan said, “One of the first things I would do is to bring people together.” He observed each of the eight Democratic council members “have their own base” and his thought is to meld them so that the party can win the mayor’s job that has been held for the last 12 years by Republican Scott Avedisian.

“I think he is going to go higher. He’s worked hard. He’s earned his spurs,” Donovan said of Avedisian.

Gofton said yesterday he hadn’t accomplished what he hoped to as party chairman and is happy to step aside for Donovan.

Looking ahead to 2014, and the possibility that Avedisian won’t seek re-election, he said, “We have got to get the party organized in anticipation of a real mayoral contest.”

Donovan, 74, is not contemplating another run for mayor.

“I have no hidden agenda for anything,” he volunteered.

“I believe, in these times, everyone should be rowing the boat in the same direction, regardless of party,” he said.

CJ is excited for his father. He said he thought he would be great for the party.

Asked whether he thought running as independent for mayor in 1992 would hurt his ability to lead the party, Donovan observed he never disaffiliated from the party.

Gofton said he would nominate Donovan for the leadership job.


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