This morning’s Cincinnati Enquirer features a piece by reporter David Holthaus on the “faith and feistiness” of mayoral candidate John Cranley. He is portrayed as a fierce critic of our appallingly inept current mayor Mark Mallory, but it isn’t clear where he would differ in terms of political philosophy. Cranley’s idea is a taxpayer-funded “Marshall Plan” for the city, so he’s essentially running to the left of fellow Democrat Mallory by embracing 1930s-era Keynesianism. As for how his faith informs his politics, it’s mostly in terms of his schooling, e.g,. his time at St. X high school. Unfortunately, Mr. Holthaus lacks the competence and comfort level of fellow reporter Dan Horn on this topic. Mr. Cranley is an affable enough fellow, and his family and ours run into each other around town. But I don’t see how recycling the unworkable ideas of the first half of the 20th century will help Cincinnati in the first half of this one.

Viewing public policy through the lens of moral certitude may have come from his upbringing and education. “I’ve been blessed with faith in my life,” he says. “Catholic schools have been a big part of that.” At St. Xavier, he traveled with the Jesuits to the Dominican Republic to work with poor children. “That had a very profound impact on my life,” he says.

After graduating from Harvard Law School, rather than jump right into law practice, Cranley stayed at Harvard and attend its Divinity School for a year. Not in preparation for the priesthood or the life religious, but to devote time to contemplating larger issues.

“I thought it would be interesting … to spend some more time thinking about some of those issues and get a sense of what I thought I was really called to do with my life,” he told The Enquirer.

He and his wife, Dena, are committed to Catholic schools for their son Joseph.