Norman B. Cummings is a Republican political consultant. He is originally from Bartlett, Ohio.
He was born March 25th, 1948, the same day as Cleveland Rocker Michael Stanley.
Also in the news that day: a flying saucer crashes in Aztec, New Mexico and, in Washington DC, President Harry S. Truman gives a news conference pledging US support for the newly-formed nation of Israel.
Norman kicked off his political career in 1970 working on the campaign of Senator Robert Taft Jr. (the current governor’s father). He has been an active Republican politico at the state and national level ever since.
Norman’s wife Grace is seven years younger. She was born Grace Wiegers on September 1st, 1955. She shares a birthday with Ann Richards (1933), Dr. Phil (1945) and the German invasion of Poland (1939). She is originally from California and has been working in politics nearly as long as Norm.
The Cummings have a daughter, Erin Alane, born July 25th, 1981- almost exactly nine months after election day, 1980- the year Ronald Reagan defeated Carter in a landslide victory. That, I imagine, must have been SOME victory celebration.
According to her resume, Grace started working in Washington, D.C. that same year- 1981- but Norman’s news trail doesn’t start until 1984, when he first surfaces as the Director of the Ohio Republican Party.
In 1984, Ohio was still controlled by Democrats even though the “Reagan Revolution” was in full swing nationally.
Ronald Reagan, the former Democrat, was finishing his first term as President- and about to win his second.
It was also the year that Ken Blackwell, taking Reagan’s lead, decided to switch parties- kicking off a ten-year losing streak that would take Voinovich, Norm Cummings and a shit-load of money from the Republican Party to break.
It started when Ken Blackwell tried to run in the 1984 Republican congressional primary.
At the time, Ohio had a 4-year rule that prevented a candidate from running as a member of one party if he/she had, in the past 4 years, voted as a member of a different party.
Then-Secretary of State Sherrod Brown (D) ruled that Blackwell could run in the Republican congressional primary even though he voted as a Democrat in 1980.
Unfortunately for Ken, he never even made it past the primary.
In 1986, Norm wasn’t having much luck either. After two years as director of the ORP, Norman was unable to improve things for the Republican’s in Ohio. In the 1986 elections, Governor Celeste and Secretary of State Sherrod Brown were both reelected.
Soon after, Norman left Ohio in search of greener pastures- which he quickly found in Washington, DC.
1987 to 1988
In 1987 Norman went to work for Lee Atwater who was then managing Vice-president Bush’s campaign for US President.
The campaign relied heavily on negative attack ads and wedge issues to divide the nation and guarantee the success of their candidate.
Bush defeated Dukakis in 1988, winning 426 of 538 electoral votes (only 270 are needed to win).
1989 to 1994
After the 88 election, Norman quickly rose up the party ranks- serving as political director for the RNC in Washington (1989 to 1992) and eventually as the RNC Chief of Staff (1992 until 1994).
In 1989, Ken’s pal Jack Kemp was appointed by newly-elected president George Bush (senior) to head the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Kemp gave Blackwell a job as a deputy undersecretary at HUD- but he didn’t stay long.
In 1990, Ken Blackwell left DC to run for U.S. Representative from Ohio’s District 1 against Charlie Luken.
The elections that year went well for most Ohio Republicans. They won the Governor’s race (Voinovich) and regained control of the Secretary of State’s office (Taft).
But Ken Blackwell lost again.
In 1991 he returned to Washington to work on the U.N. Human Rights Commission- where he served until early 94.
On March 2nd, 1994, John Kenneth Blackwell was sworn in as State Treasurer in Ohio.
He was appointed to the position by Governor Voinovich, replacing three-term treasurer Mary Ellen Withrow (D) who had been appointed U.S. treasurer by President Clinton.
Soon after, Norman Cummings returned to Ohio to manage Blackwell’s campaign.
And that’s where our story gets interesting?
Stay tuned for part III.