Wednesday, December 12, 2018

A Voter's Call To Arms: Limit Ohio's Legislature

The State of Ohio's wonder years date from its post-Revolutionary War land-of-opportunity allure to its post World War II prosperity. Growth in the Buckeye State was fueled by an expanding middle class, whose labor and taxes built robust public infrastructure and scores of competent public school systems. High school graduates from Ohio or elsewhere could attend a variety of affordable and admired liberal arts colleges and universities that helped the state hits its stride.

The Ohio Statehouse in Columbus
From its birth in 1803 as the Union's 17th state, Ohio has traveled from being the sought-after Northwest Territory newly minted Americans bet their futures on to today's modern Republican Party-driven state that prides itself on mean-spirited social engineering and regressive tax policies that benefit few except the already wealthy and corporations seeking public subsidy for their private profit-making.

Unlike the planet Mars that confused early astronomers who didn't understand why it periodically moved in retrograde motion, Ohio GOP political leaders have over the past quarter century consciously put it in reverse with laws that represent their extreme social- and fiscal-conservative thinking.

After 216 years of statehood, and now just weeks away from the start of 2019, Ohio finds itself inextricably caught in the grasp of modern Republican Party activists who pride themselves on passing laws that further push the one-time state-on-the-move toward being a dysfunctional state that's losing the race for the future by forcing government to be the handmaiden of corporate shareholders who relish shifting the burden of taxation from fat-cat business to lean-income individuals.

With moribund population growth that leaves those who won't or can't move to 21st century states of opportunity, including Colorado, California, Washington, or Oregon, Buckeyes are now older, fatter and less educated than ever before. The so-called "forgotten man" of President Donald Trump's base, who believed his incredulous fake-news promises of bringing back well-paying manufacturing jobs that will never return, cry for handouts when a giant, very profitable corporation like General Motors shutters auto assembly plants to move jobs out of state, and even out of the country.

Republican candidates have controlled the gears of government—occupying the state's five constitutional offices and both chambers of the legislature by mostly large margins—for a quarter of a century. With the exception of four years from 2006-2010 when Democrats occupied four statewide offices and ran the Ohio House of Representatives for a lonely two-year stint, the heartland battleground state, whose well-paying, middle-class job industries of rubber, steel, glass and a host of other attendant automotive supply chain business, now confronts a future made less bright future, as knowledge-based tech industries like Amazon, Google or Apple reject it for other states where leaders and lawmakers value government's role instead of trying to hobble it.

Ohio's slide from its once mighty manufacturing prowess may have started in the 1970s, but accelerated when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) became law in the 1990s. NAFTA greenlighted the dismemberment of communities, large and small, who suffered as manufacturers sought cheaper labor in countries like Mexico or China, where unions are weak if they exist at all.

For a state that has consistently trended red Republican—with 2016 demonstrating it could support a crooked real estate developer male over a seasoned and experienced female government leader by nearly nine points and 2018 demonstrating again that GOP candidates can sweep away their Democratic rivals—allowing its legislature to be in perpetual session runs counter to Republican beliefs that government that governs lease governs best. This notion was espoused early on in America by Thomas Jefferson, a Founding Father who in 1776 authored The Declaration of Independence, who aligned with farmers and states over Alexander Hamilton's fondness for bankers, manufacturers and a strong federal government.

With a full-time legislature comes full-time employment for lobbyists, as the Buckeye State ranks among the top states with registered lobbyists whose job is to win special deals for their special-interest clients.

With the exception of its lone Democratic leader, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, winning a third term
Term-limited Ohio Gov. John Kasich
in Washington this year, Ohio continues under GOP control. Years of scandal under out-going Gov. John R. Kasich went virtually challenged by Democrats and their candidates despite the low-hanging fruit their scandals offered.

In the 40 days between this year's November elections and the swearing in of lawmakers early next January, Ohio's lame-duck legislature is doing its best to pass a posses of bad bills that will further earmark the state as a state to stay away from, especially if you're a woman seeking your health rights as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Legislators can be expected to do some or all of the following in the coming weeks: raise their pay at will, pass more anti-women bills related to abortion that criminalize participating doctors and cater to National Rifle Association demands for loser gun laws.

With statewide Democrats held captive by their low numbers to the resolve of majority Republicans to have their way on core issues, the last hope of citizens to change how their government work is through citizen initiatives. But Ohio GOP leaders are working to keep citizens at bay by raise the bar for thresholds to let all Ohioans have a say on any single issue. Once issue that might well work, if sold to voters who think government spending is always bad, is to limit the time the legislature can be in session in any year. Much like a state like Maryland, where the legislature comes in for a few months to do its work, then sends elected officials back home to do something else, Ohio should take control of their government by enacting a constitutional amendment to turn a year-long legislature into a very limited session.

It's precisely during lame-duck sessions when the goblins of greed come out to insert provisions into bills that may have languished in committee or never received a hearing at all, only to rise from the dead as their next life as an addition to another bill is assured by leaders of one party who make the ill-tasting sausage they are famous for.

Retrograde motion comes from retrograde thinking, and Ohio stands second to none on this score. Gov. Kasich, a performance showman who wants a gig in the media to keep him alive for two years when he'll get schellacked again if he makes a third run for president, believes that low taxes create jobs, despite decades of his belief not working out in real time. He's done his best over eight years to exacerbate income inequality by lower taxes across the board, enriching the rich while expanding those who struggle to make a living at minimum wage jobs that often come with no benefits, especially healthcare.

America's National Chaplain, Kasich turned a blind eye to billions in wasted government funding that went to for-profit charter schools, that almost always underperform the worst public schools. Outrageous fees charged to pension funds for little in return, was a fruit ripe for the picking, but Democrats were oblivious to how to tackle this scandal to their advantage. Signing more than a dozen bills that put Ohio among the states with the harshest anti-women's health measures will be among Kasich's most harmful actions.

Former President Barack Obama
speaks at a "Vote Early" rally at The
Ohio State University in Columbus
Ohio media, from its newspapers to electronic outlets including TV stations, chose again to chase the stick of political press releases and contrived comments instead of asking candidates questions that would have put their feet to the fire. Questions about policies and programs, and who will pay for them, were absent from discussions and debates. Until Buckeye media grows a backbone strong enough to confront candidates with tough questions, the he-said-she-said, ping pong of daily talking points will further confuse those voters who bother to vote.

It was a point of pride this year that voter turnout was over 50 percent. It was seen as proof citizens were engaged. The sad reality is that 48 percent of registered voters didn't vote. And more discouraging democracy is that, of the 7-million-plus registered voters, many more who are eligible to vote are not registered. Gov. Kasich won his re-election in 2014 by a 2-1 margin, and while that sounded impressive, he received fewer than one in four votes from registered voters.

Republicans want to run government like a private operation instead of public interest institution. The challenge for change now resides in the hands of ordinary voters. But voter apathy of voters, even during trying times like these when the nation's president lies every day with impunity, is the biggest obstacle to representative democracy.

Media could inform their readers with more than chase-the-stick reporting. But that seems a bridge to far for reporters who want access to officials and for editorial boards that seem to see the light only after elections are over.

Universal voting would make a 52-percent voter turnout seem terrible instead of the great turnout it was heralded this year. If Democrats ever want to win again in Ohio, they ought to be rattling the cage for a statewide initiative to amend the Ohio Constitution to provide for universal voting.

If everyone had to vote or suffer a significant civil penalty for not voting, Republicans would have to fear the will of voters, 99-percent of whom would not be millionaires because they scap along as best they can when GOP policies favor owners over workers.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Is Tim Ryan the Jim Jordan of the Left?

Now that the 2018 mid-term elections are over, the so-called "Blue Wave" that's been building since the minute after Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of The United States in January of 2017, had its ebb tide in the Senate, where Republicans actually expanded their slim majority, while crashing ashore in the House by regaining control.

Placards used at a John Boehner rally \
in West Chester in Cincinnati in 2010.
Continuing their proud tradition of internecine fighting following a victory they desperately need, and finally won, reports say the opposition to Pelosi was spearheaded in part by Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio. A centrist who challenged Rep. Nancy Pelosi for the post of minority leader in 2016, Ryan is among the 16 Democrats who have promised to oppose the restoration of Nancy Pelosi as the next Speaker of the House, arguing fresh leadership faces are needed.

The New York Times ran an article Monday titled "‘Message of Change’: 16 Rebel Democrats Vow to Oppose Pelosi,'"that names Ryan as an instigator of the dump Pelosi gambit, but also said the multi-term congressman has not stepped forward to be that fresh face.

Maybe it's the water or the weather in Ohio, but Ryan's long-shot scheme to topple Pelosi — the first women to be speaker who during her time in leadership moved the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Dodd-Frank through to victory without help from Republicans — apes a similar long-shot attempt by uber-right-wing Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan to become the House's Republican leader.

Both Jordan and Ryan made unsuccessful runs at leadership posts, but as second in command of the Freedom Caucus, a couple dozen conservative and libertarian Republicans, Jordan and his caucus were defined by University of Akron political science professor David Cohen as “a highly motivated, highly ideological wing of the Republican Party that has been desperately seeking power within the Republican Party for several years,” according to The Dayton Daily News.

Jordan came to congress in 2007, and like all Republicans vowed to oppose first-term President
The Tea Party (Taxed Enough Already)
helped Jim Jordan win and helped
Republicans unseating Democrats in 2010
when Nancy Pelosi was House speaker.
Barack Obama at every turn. In 2010, Jordan and his allies, which then included the noisy, anti-government, anti-Obamacare Tea Party movement, attacked Pelosi with such vigor that she became an election-year punching bag. This year saw one reporter after another quiz one Democrat candidate after another one whether he/she would vote for Pelosi as speaker again, if they were elected?

About two years ago, House Democrats shot down Ryan's challenge of Pelosi. Ryan received plenty of media attention for declaring Democrats needed new leaders to win back disaffected voters, and that re-electing Rep. Pelosi of California to an eighth term as House leader would hurt the party's chance to reconnect with the American working class. While Ryan lost to Pelosi, 134 to 63, those who voted for Ryan revealed a worrisome measure of internal discontent in the party.

Democrats like Ryan have allowed Republicans to tear down one of their most effective leaders without forming any counter defense to push back on her attackers. Much like Republicans did to Hillary Clinton through hearings on Benghazi and other costly wild goose chases, that turned the most qualified women to be president into the most reviled women to be president, Pelosi has undergone similar attacks, as Ryan and company sat back without punching back.

Democrats might take a cue from President Trump, of all people, who to the great amazement of many has put forward a strong defense of Pelosi. Trump said Pelosi "loves her country" and could actually help her win flanking moves like Ryan is party to present a problem.

"I can get Nancy Pelosi as many votes as she wants in order for her to be Speaker of the House. She deserves this victory, she has earned it - but there are those in her party who are trying to take it away. She will win!" Trump tweeted.

Press badges
During my active reporting days, I asked Ryan to explain what a fresh face really means, and what issues that fresh face would expound on that were different from the litany of traditional Democrat positions that speak to workers and their rights? Ryan was curiously non-responsive on what new message a new face would deliver that Pelosi couldn't also deliver.

Ohio glows Trump red after another election that seated GOP candidates in all the statewide constitutional offices while simultaneously holding scary majorities in the legislature in Columbus. The Buckeye State now sports two congressmen, one Republican and one Democrat, who are throwing haymaker punches in order to disrupt what should be a time to rally their wagons around a central theme of coalescing, not breaking ranks.

With next year's congress now evenly divided, as Republicans control the Senate and Democrats control the House, Ryan should either man-up and step forward to run for the speakership or put down his sticks and stones so a tested leadership, with the capacity and capabilities Pelosi has demonstrated when the chips are down can resume her winning ways with legislation that, new face or not, connects with the new working class, made up of mostly women, and women of color at that, instead of the so-called "forgotten" uneducated white man who appears to want a handout without working for it.

Ryan and Jordan may smile at what they are doing, as media eggs them on to be the respective skunks at their garden parties. What they are doing, sadly, is feeding their inner egos at a time when their outer egos ought to push for unifying their numbers instead of dividing them.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Kasich's Dreams of Glory to be Rudely Interrupted by Reality

"I have no idea what I’m doing in 2020,” Ohio Gov. John Kasich recently told a group of Saint Anselm College students in New Hampshire, Dave Weigel reported in "The Trailer" in the Washington Post.

Weigel, who mostly covers the conservative, Republican wing in American politics, said Ohio's term-limited CEO added, “What I don’t want to do is go into it again and diminish my voice, to get back out here and get the beans beat out of me."

On night in 2010, Gov. elect John R Kasich
speaks in downtown Columbus
Like his national and state media colleagues, Weigel appears to have fallen into the trap of thinking that Kasich has a chance in hell of emerging from the Republican primary in 2020 as the party's nominee. To do this, the 66-year old multi-millionaire must knock off President Donald Trump in two years, should the New York real estate titan and reality TV show host still be president, or one of the stable of GOP candidates who decide to enter the race.

After 40 years as a trained politico, 18 years of which he spent in the U.S. House and the last eight years as Ohio governor, the Buckeye State's departing executive leader is both temperamental, easily angered and quixotic. At heart, though, he's a former Catholic boy from McKees Rocks, PA, who gave up a life in the priesthood for the fame and fortune that comes with partisan public office.

Kasich has spent two terms cutting taxes, accomplished by redistributing billions that formerly went to local governments and schools upwards to the already wealthy. Kasich has honed his bashing of others, which ranges from deriding Democrats for no agenda, Republicans for kowtowing to Trump and Trump himself for, well, being Donald Trump.

As some in the media already know, Kasich isn't widely embraced by many in his own party, and is an outright foreigner to Democrats, despite their gushy adoration of him for accepting extended Medicaid in the Buckeye State. Ohio's itinerant governor loves the allure media courts him with, which further shows how out of touch major media stars are to his history of bad policy, as they already dream of the next political horse race in less than two years.

A former Fox News host who often substituted for now disgraced Fox star Bill O'Reilly was also a banker for Lehman Brothers, the storied Wall Street firm whose collapse from being over-leveraged in the sub-prime mortgage triggered the Great Recession of 2007. Kasich claims he has the political chops to heal what ails America by bringing divergent, polarized groups together. With sparse proof of having performed similar miracles before, whether in Congress or as governor, Kasich counts on media ignorance of his past and its inability to confront him with his own lackluster track record, which on hindsight is built on his own calculated rumor mill.

Kasich has such a poor performance record, in fact, that Ohio Republicans are so at odds with the 66-year old multi-millionaire that they have dismissed or severely clipped most of his major policy advances during budget debates in Columbus.

Now entering his last lame-duck session, Kasich confronts the real possibility that his own party will  override vetoes he makes of key legislation in the remaining weeks of his governorship, before he leaves to wander the political graveyard.

But with the divide between pro- and anti-Trumpsters raging, Kasich has found a niche bashing
Gov. Kasich in the Lincoln Room of 
the Ohio Statehouse.
Trump on style when possible while staying silent on Trump policies like tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. But that's enough to garner elite media attention to a contest still two years out that won't bode well for him after he's shed his governor's cloak for the garb of his next gig, probably that of another talking pundit contributor on CNN or MSNBC or another media outlet that thinks his headline grabbing rhetoric will attract viewers.

“All options are on the table," says Kasich, who by making such a statement ignores history's cold facts about independent runs from third-party candidates. Spoiler alert for "The Trailer," independent and third-party challengers get clobbered.

For Kasich, who repeatedly whined about not raising much money in 2016, he'll encounter the same ebb tide of support going forward. Contrary to what he says about how good his future is, reality will send him to the showers early again. All options may actually be off the table for him, as any media pundit or reporter who cares to calculate his chances of being the victor in 2020 will realize.

Ohio media seems completely unconcerned that Kasich milks the public to advance his personal designs. His big new trick is yet another new website, that preaches his same sermon on the mount, through which he wants donors to give him money to fix America.

In what promises to be an even nastier and more costly contest for president, if that's possible (and it is,) Kasich should have red-flagged record of legislation — which includes many bills that harm women on healthcare, limiting voting options, attacking unions, teachers and local governments, being blind to outright graft and corruption on for-profit charter schools, outrageous pension fund fees, increasing the age limit to receive Social Security, not supporting Medicare negotiating for lower drug cost, and his sleeper issue, forcing a would-be challenger off the 2014 ballot  — picked through like bargain hunters at a church bazaar.

How can anyone think Kasich can bring anyone together over anything since he has little if anything to show he's done it before? Saying and doing are two different and sometimes mutually exclusive things. Soon to be gone is taxpayer funding that paid Kasich to spend an inordinate amount of time over the last three years out of state, running for an office Ohio voters didn't elect him to run for.

If John Kasich wants to bring people together, he can start by apologizing to me for ripping up my press availability to him in 2014 at his State of the State address in southern Ohio. Kasich knows me from the days when we first met as Ohio Senate staffers in 1977. He also knows me from the 1980s, when I worked at the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce and he was a central Ohio congressman from a reliably Republican district.

Weigel reported from New Hampshire, Kasich adopted state, where he bet his future in 2016 on doing well in the tiny, sometimes libertarian-leaning Granite State. But even in his new home, New Hampshire voters went for Trump in a big way, with Kasich coming in a distant second. His phony prophecy of being above politics, when he's actually the ultimate politician, was in clear view even on a hazy day.

Gov. Kasich in 2011 making his first and
only State of the State address from the
Statehouse, before turning it into a road
show, much like Trump does with his
campaign rallies.
As a persona non grata in the Republican Party, and a distrusted carpetbagger in the Democratic Party at best, candidate Kasich will have more to whine about without taxpayer resources propping him up. His biggest support group comes from loyalist on his payroll who cheer him on. In short order, former Gov. John Kasich won't have Ohio Highway Patrol protection to tap as he has over the last eight years, enabling him to be both governor and Buckeye World expat.

Run, John, run. Show us you can do what you say you can. Maybe then you'll have a platform to ride through the GOP primaries.

Until and unless media start challenging him with his own dismal record, Kasich will be the favorite dancing bear of reporters, whose most hard-hitting question is to ask him, it seems, is his favorite softball question: "Are you going to run in 2020?"

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Universal Voting: A Solution To Dems Winning Again

Over the many months leading up to the General Election this past Nov. 6, the anxious, excited and hyped 24/7 cable news and print coverage was all about who would turnout to vote.

President Barack Obama rallies 
students in 2012 at The Ohio State
Coverage ran the gamut from Democrats fretting about whether their base constituencies—Millennials, African Americans, Hispanics, students and seniors—would show up at the polls to Republicans who tried yet again to suppress or depress those same constituencies by simultaneously ginning up anger in President Donald Trump's base over "caravans" of unarmed, mostly women and children immigrants walking through central America to the nation's southern border.

The famous "forgotten man" that Republicans relied upon to pull off the national magic trick in 2016 that turned New York billionaire and reality TV host Donald Donald into the occupier of the White House, again came to rescue some GOP candidates in several key races. But not all of them, as Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown showed when he won his third term in the U.S. Senate in a state that glows ruby red.

Headlines across all media were bloated with various versions of turnout possibilities: From NPR, "Millennials Now Rival Boomers As A Political Force, But Will They Actually Vote?" or from Pew Research Center, "Younger generations make up a majority of the electorate, but may not be a majority of voters this November." On African-Americans, The Guardian asked, "Will Alabama's black voters turn out in this year's midterms? or from The Washington Post, "Groups work to energize black voters in key midterm contests." For seniors, Money USA revealed "Why Older Citizens are More Likely to Vote" while the ACLU declared, "Let The People Vote: How Can We Increase Voter Participation."

Now that the 2018 mid-term elections are over, voter turnout was higher than in previous cycles, but still far below the number of people who are over 18 and eligible to vote, who have not registered to vote or didn't vote if they are indeed registered.

With a polarized and divided nation operating in a broken and very much "rigged" system, as Trump claimed America's system was when running his first campaign for public office just two years ago, any hope that voter turnout will skyrocket to higher levels is a fantasy.

Democrats argue that the more people that vote, the more issues central to their everyday lives, like healthcare, workers' wages and retirement benefits, among others, will benefit Democratic candidates. Trump Republicans and all those former establishment GOPers who are wondering in the wilderness between who they were and who they are now in the era of Trump, know that their core value agenda—tax breaks for the wealthy, valuing corporations over people, distrusting government and limiting healthcare because they believe it's a privilege and not a human right—conflicts with the overwhelming plurality of Americans who are not millionaires, who wonder about their jobs and wages, who want a good education for their children and who desperately want a solid retirement system they can depend on.

One solution in plain view, that would solve the trick of voter turnout that Democrats and others fail to see but need to see, is universal voting. Instead of wondering ad nauseam about who will turnout to vote on Election Day, what if the starting point for voter turnout is 100 percent?

The headlines above would suddenly be obsolete, as everyone 18 and older votes as part of their new civic duty as participating citizens. Carrots and sticks would apply. One carrot to voting would include a federal or state tax credit. Examples of civic penalties could include limits on eligibility for credit or home mortgages, or other privileges taken for granted now that could become troublesome if they failed to vote. Sounds harsh, but the simple act of voting would avoid the heartache of not voting.

Australia and Argentina use universal voting. Australia, a strong
"Populism" breaks out in Washington D.C
democracy by any measure, embraces everyone voting with a voting holiday and celebrations.

The State of Oregon shows the way forward with universal mail-in ballot voting. Every registered voter receives a paper ballot, that is filled out and sent back at the voters's convenience. Allowing everyone, no matter their economic or physical circumstance, a chance to exercise their voice and their choice should be the goal of American democracy.

Reasons not to vote, like bad weather or transportation to polling locations or not having time from work to vote, would instantly disappear. Unlike with voting machines, antiquated as they are in many states, paper ballots can't be hacked and represent the ultimate paper trail.

Instead of future elections costing billions to keep voters from voting, what if money in politics was relegated to educating voters on the issues at stake because everyone will vote? Bi-partisan Boards of Elections would be obsolete since they represent the last vestige of a dilapidated system based on two-party rule and control over voting laws and regulations. Seriously, what sporting event has judges or referees that represent the interests of the contestants? Who would vote to have referees at the upcoming Ohio State versus Michigan game wearing one team's colors? No one. Such a proposition would be absurd on its face, but that's exactly the standard America has grown its system of elections on.

Is it any wonder, then, that election battles over who is eligible vote, how they voted, and how votes are counted produces the election confusion and anger that's now standard practice?

The White House in Washington D.C.
Here in my home state of Ohio, Democrats lost all statewide seats again this year, as they've done for virtually all of the last 30 years, except for the anomaly elections in 2006, when Democrats won four of five constitutional offices, only to lose them again in 2010 after The Great Recession crippled the state, giving Republicans like John Kasich an open door to blame Gov. Ted Strickland for a national economic mess that could have further devolved into a second Great Recession.

If Democrats want to win in Ohio again, or in so many other states that glow red, leaders need to start rattling the cage for universal voting as the simplest, most effective way for eligible citizens to register the electoral preferences.

Otherwise, Democrats and third-tier parties will continue their losing ways as Republicans continue to control legislative mapping panels that will put their candidates in Congress even though Democrats win more votes.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

It's The Most Dangerous Time Of The Year

The Christmas season is generally lauded as the most wonderful time of the year, as good cheer and good will abound all around.

Depending on whether you've got a dog in the fight or an iron in the fire in the state legislature after elections are over, the holiday season for many Capital Square agents represents the most dangerous time of the year, as the clock runs out on the current General Assembly (132nd) but before a new two-year clock starts for the incoming 133rd.

The Ohio West entrance to the 
Statehouse in Columbus
Last minute deals, some of which are made in the dark, are real threats to representative democracy. Stuffed into larger and larger bills, these threats taken collectively represent a veritable Christmas tree of gets and thank-you's for past sausage and future recipes.

Gov. Elect Mike DeWine, a Republican, wants to be friends, not enemies, with the incoming Republican-controlled General Assembly so together they can enact laws that the first-term governor and his much younger and future gubernatorial candidate Lt. Governor-elect candidate Jon Husted will use to warrant reelection in 2022.

DeWine—the former state representative, state senator, Lt. Gov and attorney general—knows what can happen in Columbus during lame-duck sessions. Elections are over, but still-seated losers use their vote for what's in their best interest. New winners and returning champs haven't been sworn in yet, so the old guard is still in charge.

What happens next week when the legislature convenes again for the final time after the campaign recess is over, will be another mystery drama that will bring smiles or frowns to many. What bills will make their way to Gov. Kasich's desk, that didn't make the cut over the last two years? More and harsher restrictions on abortion, more wild-west gun law bills like "stand your ground," or other measures that only a right-wing, Trump-loving legislature could love.

Casting for this year's year-end drama comes courtesy of out-going governor John Kasich and his irritable personality disorder, which has earned him media stardom by cultivating his potential as a viable challenger to President Donald Trump in 2020.

Opposing Kasich's dreams of being president is a super-majority, right-wing legislature that has trashed his agenda time and time again, and can do so at will still. Mike DeWine, already transitioning to take over, doesn't want to inherit anything Kasich might want to do on his way out to further advance his fantasy for a 2020 candidacy, that then prevents another unwanted political obstacle for the in-coming administration to overcome.

When a shroud is thrown over the lock, as tradition has it, so legislators don't know what time it is and keeps on working, the witching hour has arrived. The most dangerous time of the year is officially open for business. Kasich players who want to keep their state employment status, with the associated taxpayer funded health care and pension funds, are in the twilight zone between one political leader and another. Despite DeWine and Kasich both being Republicans, they march to the beat of different drummers.

Gov. John Kasich in the Lincoln Room
of the Ohio Statehouse.
Kasich marches in his own lane, as he was proud to say he did when running for president over many months that forced Ohio taxpayers to pay for his many months on the campaign trail outside Ohio. Kasich well-known self-righteous attitude provides ample reason for his fellow party members to withhold their deepest embrace for him.

His outlook for his own hide has always been masked by a sacrosanct call to come together, as he and close advisor Jesus Christ would want it. No slouch on playing the religious card, especially on his strict Catholic-raised opposition to abortion, DeWine has arrived at the apotheosis of his political career. At age 71, DeWine is old enough to know that his age is a natural barrier to any dreams he may harbor of higher office, should that opportunity arise, which it won't. Should age or health impact DeWine going forward, his young, handsome Lt. Governor, Jon Husted, will first say a prayer for DeWine, then thank the Lord for the break to ascend to state CEO.

Students of Kasich knew that after he won in 2010, his ambition would be to run for president in 2016. His second run for president, following his first failed one in 2000, netted him a lopsided win in 2014, when the Democratic candidate imploded and turnout was the lowest since World War II (37%). His 2-1 "big" win gave him the ammunition he needed to join the crowded Republican field. At the end of the race, though, Kasich, who DeWine and every other Republican with Ohio horse sense endorsed for president, got shellacked by Trump and other contenders like Ted Cruz. But the petulant and easily riled Kasich used his reluctance to quit the race earlier, holding on to the very last despite no national numbers to warrant staying in the race, used his great showmanship for media looking for a reliable anti-Trump dancing-bear.

What witches brew of legislative stew will be served up to Gov. Kasich, and what parts will he eat and what will he spit out? What battle will he pitch with a legislature that can override any veto he executes? What anti-women measures will he approve, that will add to his long list of terrible acts against females? What other provisions will he agree to because they sync with his like-wide lopside political ideology that favors corporations over people? Which ones will rile him up enough that opposing them will be a feather in his hat as he leave officing looking for new work? Does he land another high-paid, TV talking-pundit job (he's did that on Fox News). Does he land another big corporate board slot, where he'll earn big bucks for being the former governor of the once great State of Ohio?

Or, as I've long forecasted, will he find a way to become the next president of The Ohio State University, his alma mater? He's appointed many of the university's board members, he can make big bucks, provide jobs for his loyalists, speak to thousands of students as their leader, transition OSU from a land-grant university to a charter institution, and command attention by state and national media. What presidential hopeful wouldn't want that platform to run for president on? There are no term limits for college presidents, so Kasich could run for a third time and lose but know he's still president of one of the biggest universities in the world.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar
speaks on ODP dinner and fundraiser
And what about the role Democrats play in the most dangerous time of the year? The donkeys have lost so many statewide races over so many years that it's hard to imagine any future candidate can win, especially given the gerrymandered state grid Gov. Kasich and like-minded Republicans put in place in 2011. Current district maps will likely remain mostly intact in 2021, when the Ohio Apportionment Board (controlled by Republicans again) convenes following the 2020 census to map out districts.

For all their failings of message or strategy or tactics, Democrats will have un-winnable maps as their nemesis.

Aside from statewide issues that make the ballot, and Republicans are trying to raise the bar on what citizens can do to end-run the legislature, Democrats are effectively irrelevant. They have lost so many statewide races over so many years that it's hard to imagine any Democrat candidate win any state policy-making position, especially given the gerrymandered state grid Gov. Kasich and like-minded Republicans put in place in 2011, that will likely remain mostly in tact in 2021, the year when the Ohio Apportionment Board convenes following the 2020 census.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Ohio glows red hot in 2018 as Dems are vanquished again

The so-called "Blue Wave" that was fueled over the last two years by the so-called "Resistance to President Donald Trump and his administration, produced a dramatic change in Washington Tuesday, when control of the U.S. House of Representatives flipped from Republican to Democrat.

John Kasich ran for 
governor in 2010 on lower
taxes and less regulation.
In Ohio, a perennial bellwether state in presidential elections, that much-ballyhooed movement failed to make a dent in Ohio's statewide elected officials in the 2018 midterm elections. Republicans won all important races again, including the retention of strong majorities in the Senate and House. This marks the third midterm election cycle that Ohio Democrats went home big losers.

The Ohio Democratic Party lost it all again when it came to statewide candidates and their message to voters. Some said Cordray went soft on the spending scandal tied to The Electronic Classroom of America, a for-profit charter school that Republicans from Kasich to Yost and DeWine could have been pilloried for but were let off the hook.

History shows Democrats can win when Republican scandals are ripe enough to be picked. Charter schools, pension-looting and Medicaid expansion are Kasich-era scandals Democrats could have but didn't exploit. Kasich and Republicans slashed The Local Government Fund, forcing cities to raise taxes to maintain service levels. Pay-to-play is alive and well in Columbus, but Dems couldn't figure it out enough to run with the bounty of scandals Kasich and company offered to hungry Democrats.

Ohio is solid red today despite major cities and the largest counties going blue. A statehouse observer commented on Tuesday's election results, "The boys with the greenbacks own both city and state and love the business certainty of uncompetitive races." 

After shamelessly fondling term-limited Gov. John R. Kasich for the one good policy decision he made since first being elected in 2010, that being accepting expanded Medicaid, Gov. Kasich has never reciprocated Dem's adulation foolishly dished out to him. The adoration of Kasich by Ohio Democrats was a case study in stupidity and foolishness. The former Fox News TV host and Lehman Brothers banker has surfed to national stardom with DC media as a result, offering his mantra of bringing people together when he done little of that at home as the Ohio's CEO.

Kasich, who has never spoken two words of praise for Democrats over his nearly 40 years in office and repeatedly says he doesn't know what they stand for, became the object of idol worship by Democrats. Worshipping Kasich as a golden calf, as Democrats from Ohio's senior senator in Washington, Sherrod Brown, who won a third 6-year term, to the party's losing gubernatorial candidate, Richard Cordray, and other down ballot candidates, was a terrible political blunder.

By not hanging Kasich's terrible record as governor around the neck of Ohio's now 70th governor-elect, Mike DeWine, who previously beat Cordray for the "top cop" job in 2010, the Ohio Democratic Party and its leadership squandered an arsenal of ammo that could have shot holes in DeWine's campaign enough to put Cordray in the driver's seat.

By coddling Kasich as it did, instead of shooting fish in a barrel of scandals, ODP's strategy was foolish from the outset. ODP argued that, because Kasich wasn't on the ballot and because he was "popular," attacking him and his record wasn't a good idea. It was, in fact, the best idea. 

Republicans, who had no second thoughts about running commercials tagging Cordray for conspiring with former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland to lose hundreds of thousands of jobs and leaving the state budget with a giant hole in it over a decade ago, had no such squeamishness dredging up Strickland's one term from 2006-2010, when the Great Recession sucker punched Ohio and virtually every other state. Republicans created the very dynamics that triggered the Great Recession, then fought President Barack Obama at every turn to recover from it. 

This year's elections for Ohio were critical because Republicans will again control the Apportionment Board (Governor, Auditor, Secretary of State) and will again draw legislative districts to advantage their candidates following the next census in 2020. Their last effort at this task, done in 2011, created gerrymandered districts that made and will make it virtually impossible for Democrats, their candidates and their issues, to win statewide or key legislative seats.

Ohio's leading in dependent
reporter speaks with Sen.
Sherrod Brown.
After getting blown away for the third midterm election in a row, does ODP and its leadership have much promise going forward? Other than winning some mayor and county commissioner seats, Democrats have worked themselves into a corner they will be stuck in for another decade or more.

Meanwhile, Gov. Kasich is lauded by Democrats who thought cozying up to him would draw so-called moderate voters to their cause. What a silly strategy. It drew all jokers and not one ace. Kasich, who loves being courted as a presidential contender in two years, won't ever give Dems the time of day while he basks in their praise for expanded Medicaid, a decision he did for reasons that don't coincide with the reasons Democrats wanted it.

Ohio Republicans will continue to control the gears of government in a state that makes or breaks presidents. For years to come, Ohio Democrats are left to continue their wondering ways in the desert of irrelevance.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Night On Trump Mountain

Growing up in the 50s and 60s, films made by Walt Disney were staples of American culture. From "Snow White" to "Pinocchio" to even "Song Of The South," a nostalgic cartoon that featured a Black character, and the film's docile and loveable yarn teller, that were it made today would create a controversy of untold proportions. 

Among Disney's lesser known works was "Fantasia," a piece featuring cartoon renditions of several classical music masterpieces. Among the arrangements featured was "Night On Bald Mountain," based on the symphonic poem of the same name by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky, with an arrangement created by his friend Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov. 

The simple background to the episode is what takes place one night in a country village surrounded by mountains. The highest peak of those mountains turns out to be the giant body of a massive black winged demon who uses evil powers to summon all the dead spirits, witches and other lesser demons to perform for its pleasure. After wreaking havoc all night long, just as the demon is eat its last supper, the tolling of distant church bells in the village douse his hunger and rage and drive him back into his mountain lair. When dawn arrives, the beast retreats.

What appears to be happening in America today is a political version of this episode. The emergence of another long night of demons running amuck started two years ago when a minority of voters installed New York City reality TV star, phony businessman and inveterate liar and misogynist Donald J. Trump into the Oval Office in Washington D.C.

The witches and spirits dancing on Trump mountain now are white nationalists, xenophobism, and a full cast of characters who comprise the core and sympathetic outer layers of the alt-right movement, whose plan to make America First will turnout to make America Last, and alone.

Two years of Night on Trump Mountain has degraded our once great democracy into a scary turn to the hard right, that's unfortunately gaining popularity in countries other than the US.  The kind of representative democracy our founding fathers crafted when their revulsion was to turn away from the monarchical powers exercised by the then King of England is now endangered 

Night on Trump Mountain is producing stories about pipe bombs being sent to political figures like George Soros, Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack and Michelle Obama. CNN, Trump's leading contender for so-called fake news, also got one at the media company's New York City office.

Demons supporting Trump had a field day last year in Charlottesville, Virginia, where torch-carrying white nationalists proudly marched in the city, creating an atmosphere that incentivised one young man from Ohio to drive his car into a crowd, killing one woman and injuring many more.

One of Trump's first efforts to make America worse again, centered around banning Muslims, especially from selected countries, from entering the country. Called "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States," Trump's executive order, while losing in lower courts, won a 5-4 opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts ruling the president's travel restrictions “squarely” within the president’s authority.

Trump's most recent lies about terrible immigrants come in advance of elections on Nov. 6. Trump accuses Democrats of being behind the movement of thousands of migrants desperately hoping to reach the Southwest border, where they will turn themselves over to U.S. immigration authorities in order to seek asylum. With about 20 tweets from the president on the flow of central Americans northward, making undocumented claims that many among them are criminals and Middle Eastern terrorists, all funded by Democrats who he's labeled a "mob," the sheer volume of mendacious claims is both overwhelming and historic. 

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman weighed in on Night on Trump mountain in his latest opinion piece, "How to Make America America Again." Friedman offers a simple recipe and directive to force Trump and his dark minions to retreat from his mountainous momentum. 

It's centered around one ingredient: voting. Specifically, voting for any Democrat no matter who the candidate may be.

"So, this year: No third party, no Green Party, no throwing up our hands and saying, 'They’re all bad,'” Friedman writes. "All of that’s for another day. For today, in these midterm elections, vote for a Democrat, canvass for a Democrat, raise money for a Democrat, drive someone else to a voting station to vote for a Democrat. It’s the only hope to make America America again."

For Friedman and others like him, the church bells tolling that forced the black demon in Fantasia
back into its hidden lair are the mid-term elections on Nov. 6. Only through voting can Trump and his demons and witches be defeated. 

But voting in America, the single greatest political franchise in world history, is as uncertain today as millennials, hispanics, African Americans and women of color showing up in numbers to turn the ballot box into tolling church bells.

If Trump and his band of 21st century white nationalists retain their hold on both branches of congress, Night on Trump Mountain will turn into four, eight, or more years of evil spirits dancing on the grave of American-style democracy, as we know it.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

China is cucumber cool while Trump acts like dumb blond strongman

After three weeks touring China, starting in Beijing then traveling by high-speed rail to Shanghai and Changsha, then up the Yangtze River to Chongqing, in that order, the construction cranes in each of these mega-cities dotted the landscape by the dozens.

China today is planning for China tomorrow, while foul-mouthed leaders back Washington D.C, as detailed in Bob Woodward's book "Fear" based on The Donald's time in the Oval Office todate, act like mean-spirited, xenophobic, paranoid abusers who know that the American century is over.

The Asian century is unfolding before our eyes. America's lunch will soon be eaten alive by China and others, with lots of hot sauce, chili peppers and MSG. 

From half a world away, hurricane Michael that devastated the Florida panhandle looks like a regular rain storm compared to the political hurricane headed to the entire country on November 6. These midterm elections will show whether sleepy-time-tea American voters will again squander their franchise by deciding to again forego voting.

When a minority of the country--as Trump calls his base--is able to control 100 percent of the nation's assets, because the majority of registered voters are too apathetic or lazy to do their civic duty, then the meanness that embodies the America First attitude of the president's swamp will open the doors to more shrinkage as world leaders watch as China advances.

Graham Allison writes in his editorial in China Daily that 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up. Over these four decades, the author of  "Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides' Trap?" says "the country has become an economic giant with the world's largest foreign reserves ($3.2 trillion) and second-largest GDP ($12 trillion), while foreign direct investment in China reached $135 billion last year."

With tens of thousands of miles of high-speed rail to ride on as America watches its rail system dissolve further, despite more than a decade of talk and little action on California's quest to build just one line of similar capability between San Francisco and Los Angeles, one respected economist has facts to show that China already has already become the world's largest economy. Other economists say it will take a dozen years, maybe by 2030 for that to happen. What isn't in doubt is that China is moving inexorably forward despite President Trump's silly claims to the contrary.

Through innovation, inclusiveness, sharing and embracing global values, China knows those cards are the winning hand compared to Trump's cards of closed borders, rewarding the already rich with more largesse, and continuing to promote the false claim that reduction of income tax rates is the road to growth and prosperity will only further widen the gap between rich and poor. China's middle class is expanding while America's once great national asset is shrinking.

If democracy is still a value worth pursuing, maybe it's time for mandatory democracy? Australia and other countries have done it. American democracy is in free fall, as the 2016 elections showed with great clarity. Billions are spent to keep voters home. While the USA may complain and point to the horrors of communist or socialist systems, the rise of a once poor but rapidly expanding country like China shows that regular pragmatism, combined with accurate planning, can make a one-party ruler state whose leader is a progressive strong man like Xi Jinping equal to a nation run by elected leaders who think going backward in time, in thought and action, is the same as going forward.

If Trump world retains control of the House and Senate this election cycle, Democrats may be the next political party to be thrown on the trash heap of history. With more voters not voting than voting, Washington's legally dumb blond and wannabe strong man will declare his reprisal brand of democracy to be the best ever.

American under Teddy Roosevelt once spoke softly but carried a big stick. Today, China can make the same claim, as it's economic stick grows stronger by the day. America's big stick remains its nuclear power. The social fabric is bound up in false issues that the rest of the world appears to have moved beyond.

As one former Ohio budget director told me, his fears for the future align with mine. "I share your concern these Asian countries will out hustle and out organize us."

Thursday, August 16, 2018

John Kasich's White House plans include being the next presidential 'asterisk' candidate.

After two terms of questionable policies, programs and initiatives that have left the once-great State of Ohio ranking in the lower half or near the bottom of states on so many issues, term-limited Gov. John Kasich will soon find himself wandering the political graveyard like a lost soul in search of a new promised land.

On election night in 2010, governor-elect
John Kasich addresses Republicans in
downtown Columbus.
For his early years in hometown McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, Ohio was Kasich's promised land. One of Kasich's favorite family stories tells of his uncle calling Ohio the promised land. And for most of Kasich's nearly 40 years in politics, the 17th state in the union was that promised land, indeed.

He represented the 12th Congressional District close to nearby Columbus in Washington for 18 years. After resigning to run his first failed campaign for president in 2000, Kasich spent most of the next decade either working for Lehman Brothers on Wall Street or hosting his own political talk show on Fox News. The crusty 64-year's eyes are still set on winning the White House.

Kasich mounted a second campaign two years ago to win the hearts and minds of GOP primary voters, but like 15 other candidates, he fell far short to New York real estate magnet and reality TV star Donald J. Trump. Kasich had never tasted defeat in a real political race until then, when he only won one state--Ohio--and collected only one Electoral College vote, leaving him 269 votes short of becoming the 45th President of The United States.

From the day he bowed out of presidential contention in 2016, having stayed the longest of any other candidate in the race even though he had little money and less support for voters, Kasich's new reputation is built around criticising the president.

In his role as critic, Kasich relishes cameo appearances on national TV pundit shows as the dancing bear who will criticize Trump. As a sitting governor for a few months more, Kasich receives the respect he so desperately needs from pundits who keep him on their list of guests because they know he has to keep the notion alive that he will challenge Trump in 2020 and be successful at it. But with Trump winning the support of 80 percent or more of Republican voters, as polls show he has, the disgruntled Kasich seeks media attention wherever and whenever he can.

Now that President Trump has been announced as the keynote speaker at the Ohio Republican Party's main event later in August, betting has already started on where the two politicos will sit when POTUS comes to town to rally his faithful and bash his critics, among whom Kasich has a front row seat.

While Democrats are poking Kasich on Trump sucking all the oxygen out of the room, for this very reason, Kasich may not even be there. Look for the petulant state CEO to be in New Hampshire, where he finished a distant second to Trump, drumming up support in this tiny libertarian-leaning state. And if he's not in the Granite State, Kasich, who's been auditioning for a media gig post being governor, will be on a national TV show doing analysis of what's going on back home in Columbus.

There is one thing that is certain. When 2020 arrives and Trump launches his re-election, which has already started, Kasich will be forced to run as either an ant-Trump Republican or gin up an independent run for Commander-in-chief.

Based on history from 2016, Kasich will assure himself a place on the list of failed candidates who mounted campaigns outside their party or as independents. Others pundits, like Ramesh Ponnuru writing at Bloomberg News, have multiple reasons why Kasich and his Master (The Lord) won't be showing up for work in the Oval Office.

Just like so many other failed candidates, from recent losers like Gary Johnson or Bill Weld or Jill Stein to older attempts by Jon Anderson or Ross Perot, who won about 20 percent of the vote in 1992, John Richard Kasich will have an asterisk next to his name in the graveyard of politicos who couldn't make the grade.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Ohio Dems adore Kasich on healthcare even as he mocks them on everything else

Ohio's crusty, petulant and now term-limited governor had yet another softball cameo appearance on national television Sunday, on Meet the Press with host Chuck Todd, where he sounded like a Democrat on health care.

Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich in The
Lincoln Room of the Ohio Statehouse.
At the same time, the former Fox News host got to browbeat and shame President Donald Trump by invoking his favorite Superhero and Master, The Almighty, The Lord!

Kasich told Todd he's just trying to lead the best life he can by lifting people up through divine pathways. A media hound by training, after 40 years of winning impossible-to-lose elections, the easily angered governor who got shellacked two years ago by Trump said he doesn't know what Democrats stand for.

Meanwhile, Democrats, who currently hold no statewide seats in Ohio and who have no legislative clout in Columbus, quote Kasich like he's Moses leading seniors with pre-conditions to the promised land, making him sound as if he's one of their very own lambs, just gone astray, as he did Sunday.

"You can’t be talking about being in a fight here where maybe people could lose their health care if they have a pre-existing condition… these kinds of messages, plus the overall chaos, the chaos here, the chaos overseas. Chuck, people just want the government to do its job to improve the situation for them," Kasich said.

Kasich has cleverly used his acceptance of expanded Medicaid to batter Republicans and Democrats alike. He said while campaigning for the Oval that Obamacare would probably go if he were elected, that for-profit market places are America's solution to its unfair, unjust and immensely complicated health care system, as T. R. Reid eloquently explained in 2010 in his seminal work, "The Healing of America: A Global Quest For Better, Cheaper And Fairer Health Care."
"There's no question that people sent a message to the Party, to Republicans to knock it off; the chaos, the divisions. I mean kids being separated from their parents at the border. These crazy tariffs, and we're gonna take your health care. We're gonna kill Obamacare. Which means you're not gonna have any health care. You know if you have a pre-existing condition, well you know, you might be out of luck," Kasich said on MSNBC.
Trump won the got-to-win Buckeye State over Hillary Clinton by more than eight points. As Kasich heads for the exit come year's end, after eight years of lagging job growth and questionable policies, Ohio's gerrymandered legislative districts--made possible by Kasich in 2011--appear ready to function as the chief tool to elect another Republican chief executive despite so-called Democrat "Blue Wave" enthusiasm.

When Kasich repeats his unbelievable mindset that he doesn't know what Democrats stand for anymore, his ego reveals its history of panning others, especially when his long-held but unworkable ideas--conveniently dubbed "The Ohio Model"--aren't credited or listened to.

Kasich's favorite gambit when asked about whether his presidential aspirations include making a third run at the Oval Office in 2020, is to say he doesn't know what he's going to do tomorrow, let alone two years from now. If his third try to capture today's hearts and minds of primary Trump Republican voters is undertaken without protection of public office, it will be his great loss, one that will extinguish any devine hopes he holds of the Lord lifting him up to be president. 

Trumpism, long in the making, just waiting for the right Trump to come along, has captured the soul of the GOP, leaving old-school politicos and new political bi-sexuals like Kasich to wonder where his next political meal will come from.

In the recent special election between Franklin County Recorder, Democrat Danny O'Connor and Republican State Senator Troy Balderson, to determines who fills the unexpired term of Pat Tiberi--a one-time driver for then Congressman John Kasich--who represented the 12th Congressional District
as long as Kasich did before him, Balderson thanked many people, most especially President Trump. But Balderson didn't mention Kasich's name, even though the two-term governor endorsed him late in the election cycle.

Democrats are so enthralled with Kasich on healthcare that they've lost their voice on assailing him on so many other policies where he hurts or harms workers, teachers, women, seniors and others who the Lord would otherwise want to lift up. 

A cold and grueling assessment of Kasich mocked him as founder of the "Independent Weasel Party." Writing for Ohio GOP blog "3rd Rail Politics," author Scott Pullins reams the Wizard of Westerville on 2nd Amendment rights versus his gun-control plan, then uses Kasich's own reported campaign financing statistics to argue Kasich is dead in the water now and going forward, unless the Lord delivers a miracle.

As Pullins puts it, after declaring Kasich wouldn't run as a Democrat, he only has one extremely narrow path forward, and that path is hooking up with a billionaire running mate.  
"If one of these billionaires would join him on an independent ticket as running mate, Kasich would be free to use their personal funds on the campaign to fund the primary and general election efforts.  And perhaps that’s why he really has weaseled his way towards the left," Pullins speculates on why Kasich drifts leftward, at least in rhetoric. 
The Ohio Democratic Party and its top candidates feel they can't and shouldn't attack Kasich, since they says he's not on the ballot and the so-called "popular governor" polls above 50 percent. ODP hasn't learned what Republicans know, that it's never too early to demonize your opponent. Dredging Ted Strickland up after he's been gone for eight years is a classic example of never let go on a winning narrative, or as some might call it, the "Ohio Model." O'Connor had to fess up on whether he'd vote for the dreaded and much defiled former Democratic House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi. The San Francisco liberal won acclaim for guiding the Affordable Care Act through to President Barack Obama's desk in 2010, the year Tea Party fervor got ginned up over it, enough that Kasich saw his opening and used anti-Washington energy to eek out a two-percentage-point win as hurricane winds from the Great Recession had subsided.
Kasich, who claims Democrats have no agenda, won't like what one Republican is calling on other Republicans to do to save The Republican Party. In an opinion piece in the Washington Post by Michael Gerson titled "The only way to save the GOP is to defeat it," the author asks the question of "What should they do" when reality is that President Trump "is a rolling disaster of mendacity, corruption and prejudice."
Gerson's answer is simple: "They should vote Democratic in their House race, no matter who the Democrats put forward." After explaining why the House should flip but the Senate remain in GOP hands, Gerson ends this way: " ... a Republican vote for a Democratic representative will be an act of conscience."
Will Kasich's conscience win out over his inability to say one positive word about Democrats in general or certain office holders in particular, even though they herald him on high for one stand on one issue, that while terribly important isn't the whole ball game.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Ohio's 12th District: Danny O'Connor did great, if you don't count losing to Balderson

A friend asked me to call Tuesday's special election between Democrat Danny O'Connor and Republican Troy Balderson to fill the unexpired term of 12 District Congressman Pat Tiberi.

Kasich likes expanded Medicaid while 
Balderson doesn't.
With all the enthusiasm for O'Connor, Franklin County's Recorder, so-called Blue Wave Democrats hope their momentum will crash over the country in November to put a check on President Donald Trump by reclaiming the U.S. House of Representatives.

By the end of the night on special election Tuesday, the blue wave crashed short of winning.

Before midnight, O'Connor trailed Balderson, a state senator, 50.2 percent to 49.3 percent. By fewer than 2,000 votes out of 202,521, according to unofficial voting statistics posted at the Ohio Secretary of State's website, Balderson captured the rural red vote outside of Franklin County, where O'Connor crushed his opponent.

The winning votes for Balderson came from Delaware County, Ohio's fastest growing county for decades, where GOP voters may have been inspired by a visit last week by Trump or by a late endorsement from Gov. John Kasich, who wins coverage by being the anti-Trump dancing bear national media love, as he tries to keep his hopes to be a presidential contender in 2020 alive after he leaves office in just four short months.

Balderson thanked President Trump for his fly-in endorsement as well as Tiberi, who turned down another guaranteed term to take a job in the private sector. 

My election prediction
"When the theory (based on decades of voter statistics) that D turnout in midterms is lower meets the theory that Rs enthralled by Trump will vote for anyone except a D, I think Balderson squeaks out a narrow victory today."
Ohio Republican Party Chairman Jane Timken said in a statement that Balderson's win today reflects the nation's thinking that President Trump is on the right track.
"Tonight, Troy Balderson and the constitutents of Ohio's twelfth congressional district sent a message to Democrats and media pundits across the country. America is on the right track under President Trump and Republican leadership., and the so-called 'blue wave' is nothing more than wishful thinking. Troy Balderson will prove himself to be an incredible Congressman by working tirelessly for his district and come November, will win by an even bigger margin." 
The crescendo of campaigning and the crash of not winning will signal to Republicans that they can win Ohio's other statewide seats in November, especially the open seat for governor, where Richard Cordray, the Democrat, goes up against Mike DeWine, the Republican and current Ohio Attorney General.

Campaign spending by GOP allied sources dwarfed spending by Democratic allies by a 5-1 margin in this special election. Before November 6, the real fall General Election when the winner between O'Connor and Balderson wins a two-year seat in Congress, spending will be even higher when the stakes are the highest.

The O’Connor campaign released the following statement on tonight’s special election victory in OH-12:
“We always knew this was going to be a close race, and while we don’t know the results quite yet, I know that this campaign left it all on the field. There’s a lot at stake this November for the 12th District. The Republican notion that it’s more important to cut taxes for big corporations and the wealthiest among us, flies in the face of our belief that tax relief should be targeted to the working class, and that we should protect Social Security and Medicare benefits instead of showering the uber-rich with new tax cuts they don’t need. No matter what happens next, I’m proud to stand beside the thousands of volunteers who have made this campaign possible.”
Kasich v Trump

Gov. Kasich is as responsible as any politician can be for gerrymandering that took place in Ohio in 2011, when he went along with the terrible tilting of the electoral playing field that has benefited Republicans from then to today.

O'Connor won big in blue Franklin County, but lost, albeit by smaller margins than Trump won the district in 2016 or Mitt Romney won it in 2012.

Can Democrats cheer that the race in a ruby red district was as close as it was today? Yes the can. Can Democrats relish a win in a race that was supposed to verify that the blue wave was waving blue? No they can't.

In close races, it's always nice to win rather than lose. Democrats lost again. They will have another bite at the 12th District in November, but unless they raise more money or hit on issues not hit on before that resonate with more voters, Trump Republicans may be even more energized to not lose this fall. 

Another question to answer is will Kasich, who dislikes Trump, or Trump, who pans Kasich, earn the real laurels for endorsing Balderson? Of all the people Balderson thanked, John Kasich was not one of them.