First a personal note. I’ve been quiet around here due to some business travel followed by the worst kind of sickness. Two things I learned from my trip to Vegas: Fold aces preflop (lost with them in every way imaginable) and poker rooms and planes are flu breeding grounds! Ugh.
On to the topic du jour. While I was away we had a potential candidate to challenge Jennifer Garrison in a Democratic Primary for Secretary of State, Sharen Neuhardt. We had the ODP force Garrison out of the race and anoint their own candidate in hopes of avoiding a base revolt in the fall. Garrison responded by abandoning the party all together and announcing she wouldn’t seek re-election to her house seat either.
Boo fucking hoo. Good riddance I say. To those chirping about how this throws control of the house into jeopardy I say get better candidates in more districts and get to work. I give two shits about controlling a legislative body if those in control don’t subscribe to the basic underlying ideals of the party they pretend to serve. I’m not a big fan of putting Republican Lite candidates into “reddish” districts just to have more people at the Statehouse with Ds by their names. I think ODP got that message loud and clear. Kuddos to them for making the tough call here.
Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with moderates in the party and there will be those who disagree on one issue or another. What is unacceptable to me is to allow the worst kind of wingnuttery to exist in our own party. Those demons must be exorcised. Jennifer Garrison was no moderate.
Two big takeaways for me here. First, blogs deserve a shit ton of credit on this one. Not all of it, mind you. The activist communities within pro-choice and gay rights circles deserve the bulk of the credit, but blogs banged this narrative home for MONTHS. This is a big win for progressive blogs.
Second is that one of the biggest “progressive” organizations in the state, Progress Ohio has some serious egg on it’s face in all of this. They made the conscious choice to provide political cover for Jennifer Garrison in the form of an interview with my old boss and Executive Director Brian Rothenberg. The rationale was – and no doubt still is – that this was an effort to help pass HB 176, which was a bill to outlaw workplace discrimination based on sexual identity.
The gay community did not appear to be impressed by this identity cleansing apology tour given the recent moves by the party to stave off a complete meltdown in turnout come November. Additionally, HB 176 from what I can tell is stuck in the Senate Rules Committee. Probably going nowhere. All those involved knew of this impending fate before laying their valuable political capital on the line.
It was a political risk to be seen as providing cover for someone regarded in progressive circles as completely unacceptable as a statewide candidate. I questioned the move at the time and was very critical of both Brian and my former employer Progress Ohio.
It’s clear now the political capital spent both by the organization and Brian was not only wasted, but detrimental to the overall goals of the group. These are the types of candidates and officeholders that Progress Ohio was formed to combat. I personally look to them to lead the way to ensure Democrats give us the best most progressive candidates and leaders available. In this case, they’ve completely failed me and others who might support them. The party establishment has now gone so far as to purge this person completely from the Democratic ranks while you are stuck with this parting shot which will exist online in perpetuity:
Had Progress Ohio stayed true to it’s goals and not tried to triangulate on this one, they’d have come out smelling a whole lot better. As it stands, this one gets chalked up as an unmitigated failure. My hope is a great deal of hard won learning will come of this and some serious introspection will occur.
A lot has been made of what Garrison will do with her $300,000 cash on hand now that she isn’t running for anything. Maybe she can donate it to Progress Ohio for services rendered. At least they tried to help her rehab her image. She may be owed a discount.