With this morning’s announcement by the Ohio Democratic Party of the endorsement of Maryellen O?Shaughnessy by Governor Strickland and likely countless union endorsements to follow (for a candidate who reportedly won’t officially declare for another ten days), we’re all waiting around to see if there’s going to be a contested primary or not. ’08 Seventh Congressional candidate Sharen Neuhardt has been rumored by Ohio Daily Blog to be considering a run for weeks now (when all it’s been has been a “draft” movement by some NARAL folks in Ohio to get an acceptable alternative to Garrison.) First, we were told that she’d make an announcement on Friday, but when the Dispatch reported that ODP might use an endorsement of O’Shaugnessy to get Garrison out of the race, no announcement was made.
On Saturday, Anthony said he had news about the Secretary of State’s race coming Sunday. The clear implication was that Sharen Neuhardt was going to announce that she would still run, this time against O’Shaungnessy. No [BREAKING] news was made on Sunday, however. And yet, Anthony bristles when I characterized Neuhardt as being indecisive or dithering.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. I could care less if Sharen Neuhardt runs or not. All I wanted was Jennifer Garrison out. All the complaints over at Ohio Daily Blog about O’Shaungnessy being “forced down our throats” are from people forcing Neuhardt down our throats. You can’t attack O’Shaunghnessy for being a political opportunist and then praise Neuhardt. You just can’t. Because the truth of the matter is that Sharen Neuhardt also waited the last seven months doing nothing while Chris Redfern’s hand was forced to either do something bold to get Garrison out, or live with her being potential turnout poison come November.
Don’t get me wrong, now that Garrison is out, I’d prefer to not see ODP issue an endorsement in this race. However, given that it took Redfern to make the threat of an endorsement to get Garrison, the House Majority Floor Leader, out of the race, I can’t blame Redfern if he’s committed to fulfilling a promise he made or else he’ll look he was bluffing and won’t be taken seriously the next time (if, god forbid, a similar situation would occur.)
According to the posts on the Draft Neuhardt Facebook page, they have less than $6,500 in pledges, not actual money, just pledges. This is hardly the makings of a groundswell of progressive support, especially when almost all of those pledges were made as a symbolic gesture to get Garrison out of the race. Now that Garrison is out, I doubt those pledges get fulfilled.
In 2008, a tidewater Democratic year, Sharen Neuhardt lost every county in her district but Franklin County… widely. She lost by 16-points. That’s in what is supposed to be her geopolitical base. The very notion that Neuhardt’s primary challenge, alone, would have forced the House Majority Leader who had secured countless endorsements and was sitting on over a quarter of a million dollars to the curb is political fiction. Neuhardt wasn’t a threat, but Redfern was. It wasn’t until Chris Redfern publicly stated that the party would endorse someone other than Garrison did she get out.
Does this mean I support O’Shaunghnessy? Not necessarily, but I’d be a fool to ignore the inherent advantages she has over Neuhardt who as of this writing still hasn’t said whether she plans to run or not.
And that’s why I’m having a hard time feeling any “outrage” over O’Shaunghnessy’s entrance in the race. It’d be different if Neuhardt actually announced she was running, was already in the race for some time, and these things occurred to shove her aside. But to get shoved aside you first have to step forward. Simply having a “draft me committee” take 40 pledges and pulling petitions isn’t enough, especially when you’re saying the whole time that you’re still “weighing your options.”
Someone asked me how is this any different from the Fisher-Brunner situation. I assumed the person meant it to be a rhetorical question, but it’s not. There’s a huge difference (other than the fact that I’m working for the Brunner campaign, which has in no way should this post be considered as any opinion by Jennifer Brunner or a statement about the race from the campaign. This post is my opinion and mine alone.)
First, there’s a huge difference between having two successful statewide candidates going for another statewide election and a situation in which the GOP candidate has a huge financial advantage and both of the Democratic candidates have an incredibly late start. Second, an endorsement by ODP was necessary to get Garrison out of the race because she was shaping up to be ballot box poison, no such case can be made in the Fisher-Brunner race. Third, at the time, the only candidate who expressed a willingness to actually run against Garrison was O’Shaunghnessy, as Neuhardt has refused to do so. Fourth, Brunner announced and announced first. I could go on, but the situations are completely and obviously different.
If the SoS race becomes an excuse for an endorsement in the Senate primary, I’ll feel betrayed and will be outraged. But I cannot say I feel the same over a potential primary race when the other candidate has had more than enough time to make her intentions known. Chris Redfern couldn’t wait any longer for Sharen Neuhardt to make her decision; he had to pull the trigger.
And I think we, as a party, will be better off this November because he had.