Every four years, the presidential campaigns come to Ohio and fight like crazy for the Buckeye State’s Electoral College votes. They know that Ohio is the prototypical evenly divided swing state, with Democrats in the cities, Republicans in the rural areas, and a gaggle of independent voters who tend to vote for the candidate, not the party.
So why has Ohio’s gubernatorial race this year turned into a pathetic rout?
According to the most recent poll, incumbent Republican Governor John Kasich leads Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald by a whopping 22 points, and FitzGerald is even losing 1 in 4 Democratic voters to Kasich. Even more damning — because we know that modern politics is all about money — in September Kasich raised $1.6 million, whereas FitzGerald could only scrape together a measly $54,000. The race is so uncompetitive that Kasich and Fitzgerald aren’t even going to debate, which is the first time that has happened in an Ohio gubernatorial race since 1978.
FitzGerald’s candidacy teaches a good lesson about the judgment, loyalty, and cover-your-ass mentality of our political classes. FitzGerald was the chosen candidate of the Ohio Democratic Party, which engineered the process so that he did not face primary opposition. It’s not entirely clear why they picked FitzGerald, a Cleveland politician who is largely unknown outside northern Ohio, but it is undisputed that they did a poor job of looking into his background. When news surfaced that FitzGerald had been found in a car with a woman not his wife in the early morning hours, which in turn led to revelations that he had weirdly gone for years without a driver’s license, voters began to strongly question his ability to run the state and the flow of contributions turned into a tiny trickle.
FitzGerald’s campaign staffers — showing the commitment and dedication we have come to expect from our steadfast political classes — promptly jumped from the sinking ship, and the Ohio Democratic Party began pointing fingers in every direction in an effort to avoid the blame for a likely disaster. Party Chairman Chris Redfern says there is no way he could have known that FitzGerald didn’t have a driver’s license and blamed the company that vetted the candidate, saying he wouldn’t hire them “to clean out my bird cage.” Left unexplained is why the Ohio Democratic Party doesn’t do its own investigation and why they settled on FitzGerald in the first place, rather than allowing a primary that might have unearthed some of these issues before FitzGerald became the anointed candidate.
It’s sad that Ohio has ended up with an uncompetitive gubernatorial race, but at least it means we won’t be seeing as many political TV ads this fall. And the rest of us would do well to remember this debacle the next time party leaders assure us that they know better than voters do and try to rig the process to avoid an honest test for a chosen candidate.
Ohio Republicans and Democrats have agreed to a final, revised map for Ohio congressional districts. It has been a contentious issue that might have produced yet another referendum vote.
From the hyperbolic e-mails sent by Ohio Democratic Party Chair Chris Redfern, you’d think this was the greatest victory for representative democracy since the Revolutionary War. Is it, really? A Cleveland Plain Dealer article shows the new map and provides links that allow comparison to prior versions. Are there material differences in terms of how the districts have been drawn? Are those in the new map more soberly rectangular or geographically cohesive than those in the prior map? Not so far as I can tell. Both maps feature spidery and sprawling districts with notches and carve-outs than can be explained only by conscious decisions to move blocs of voters from one district to another in an effort to make a district more “safe” for the Democrats or the Republicans.
And that, at bottom, is what I find so galling about the redistricting process. Our political classes view neighborhoods and communities like bricks to be moved from here to there, as if the voters who live in those areas will always mindlessly follow the same voting patterns. Their goal is always to protect their parties and their incumbents. Fortunately for everyone, voters aren’t robots. They move from one area to another, and they change their minds about candidates and parties based on actual performance. That’s why, despite the most carefully drawn redistricting plans, incumbents still can lose.
So forgive me if I don’t join in any hosannas about the changed Ohio map. I’ll just trust the voters of Ohio, instead. So long as they remain healthily skeptical of our political leaders and willing to evaluate their actual performance, the machinations of people like Chris Redfern and his Republican counterparts won’t irretrievably damage our state.
Today I got another email from Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern about his use of a crass obscenity in a recent speech. Amazingly, he doesn’t apologize, or even act embarrassed about his blunder. Instead, he tries to convert it into a fundraising opportunity! He says that he has received an outpouring of support for his “forceful” speech and asks people to make a contribution to his “Swear Jar” because it will send a message to the “Tea Party” — that is, the people he used the f-bomb to describe in the first place.
Doesn’t this incident aptly capsulize what is wrong with our modern political process? The head of the Ohio Democratic Party says something that should be the source of personal humiliation and deep regret. Instead, it is touted as a reason to contribute to the cause of the Democratic Party. Haven’t we reached a new low when the head of a major political party attempts to capitalize on using the Queen Mother of Curses in a political speech? And doesn’t the quick development of the “Swear Jar” fundraising effort indicate that this resort to brainless vulgarity was an intentional, “hey look at me” gimmick?
The Ohio Democratic Party must be desperate for attention if it must resort to curse words to get its message across. Redfern should be embarrassed, and so should anyone who contributes to his “Swear Jar.”
Today I got a weird email from the Chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, Chris Redfern. In the email, Redfern said he was being criticized by Republicans for using obscene language while giving a speech, but that he wouldn’t apologize for being passionate about the issues in this campaign, etc. The email ends with an appeal for voters to be as passionate as he is and volunteer to work for Democratic Party candidates.
I hadn’t heard anything about the incident Redfern was referring to because, to be honest, I could care less about political party chairmen. I’ve always viewed them as complete shills for their slate of candidates, always ready to mouth the latest spin rather than giving any kind of honest reaction. Why would I waste my time reading about what Chris Redfern has to say?
Still, I was intrigued, so I did some checking and learned that Redfern dropped an f-bomb while being videotaped giving a speech. He used a derivation of the word to refer to people who oppose health care (i.e., more than half of Americans, according to polls). If you want to see the video, it is available here. Does it look like a mistake of passion to you, or a calculated statement by a guy wearing a dress shirt who is hoping to get some free publicity as the election approaches?
Pretty classy, Chris! Nothing like some reasoned discourse to sway voters to your position! Is it any wonder that so many people are fed up with the politicos and their minions, like Chris Redfern?