Look, I’ve been really hard on the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus, its leaders, and particularly Ohio Senate Minority Leader Capri Cafaro.

It’s hard when you are so outnumbered by the Senate Republicans to be politically relevant, or to convince Democratic donors to donate to your caucus in your campaign to chip away and eventually take over a legislative body most of us have always known to be controlled by the Republicans.

But I think Senate Minority Leader Cafaro has listened to that criticism and is responding, and therefore, she should be applauded.

Watching the Senate Republican majority trying to find a way not to delay tax cuts and thereby give House Democrats and Governor Strickland political cover, Cafaro has seen a political opportunity for her caucus to make a power play and be a political relevant minority:? she’s told Senate President Harris that if he’ll go along with the Governor and the House’s plan to suspend the final installment of the income tax cuts, her caucus will support it, but anything else and the Senate Republicans better be ready to go alone.

The practical result is that Harris is only five GOP votes away from getting the Strickland plan passed, but any GOP alternative is going to need the support of 17 GOP Senators.?? And his caucus has yet to unite behind an alternative plan that will get the 17 votes.? And it’s not looking good for them that they’re going to be able to by their promised deadline of tomorrow.

It’s pretty clear that the Senate GOP is trying to reach for the 17 instead of the 5.? Why else would they jettison the House’s provision calling for a 5% cut in legislative salaries unless they were planning to vote down the House bill, but want to do so without the political baggage of voting on the record against a legislative pay cut to help balance the budget?

The problem then is that if the Senate goes a different route, it’s not likely going to have much of a shelf life because the House is not likely to concur to the Senate’s changes thus throwing the entire thing into a conference committee to work out.

Harris has to either get 17 out of 21 of his members to unite around a plan that will then be subject to further negotiations with the House majority leadership or they can give the Democrats 5 votes and move on.

And none of their alternatives is really any politically more palatable than what Strickland proposed, either.