Breaking with a State Senate tradition that has, never, ever been broken, the Columbus Dispatch reports today that some Senate Republicans have declared that they will not confirm any Strickland appointee that has been pending confirmation unless the appointee agrees to resign by the end of the year.  And in case you thought these were lame-duck appointees:

The Senate has gone more than five months without holding a voting session, allowing the number of unconfirmed Strickland appointees to pile up even though they already are serving in their posts. They include numerous university trustees, some Bureau of Workers’ Compensation board members and a Third Frontier Commission member.

The article goes on to note that Governor Strickland accepted a significant number of Taft appointees.  In fact, when it was revealed that Taft had failed to strictly comply with the process of nominating appointees to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), Governor Strickland reappointed them instead of taking advantage of the situation to appoint his own preferred appointees.

Gubernatorial administrations have always had to live with the fact that certain appointments from the prior administrations, and that’s been by design.  After all, why else would Ohio law create terms that allow appointees that exceed the people who appointed them unless it was by design to create a bridge of experience from one Administration to the next.

This isn’t a principled stand by these Republican State Senators, it’s just a naked partisan act to try and increase the number of patronage jobs they themselves might get as they face term limits.

John Kasich’s margin of victory was roughly two points in an election in which turnout was so low he failed to get the majority of the minority of people who actually voted.  So, yet again, we see Republicans insist that the man who was elected to the office with the vote of over 60% of the people, in an election where more than half the registered voters voted bow the will of a Governor-elect who didn’t get a majority of the vote in an election when most registered voters stayed home. 

So far, only one Republican State Senator gets it. Senator Kevin Coughlin:

“Unless there is an extraordinary problem with a governor’s appointment – an ethical breach or a legal problem – I don’t believe it’s our place to deny those appointments,” he said. “It sets a poor precedent for the future. I think it undermines the institutional integrity of the Senate to do that.”

Article III, Section 21 of the Ohio Constitution says:

When required by law, appointments to state office shall be subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.

Much like the U.S. Constitution, the advice and consent role of the State Senate was no different.  It has never stood, in Ohio or federally, that the Senate could sit on appointments for five months, wait out the result of the election, and then wholesale declare them unfit for appoint for no other reason than the result of the gubernatorial election.  Many of these very same Senators were in office in 2006.  Not a single one of Governor Taft’s appointments were denied because he was a lame-duck Governor and the appointee’s term went into the new Governor’s Administration.

Nothing in Ohio Constitution’s has ever said that the Senate should reject the appointment upon the plurality election of a Governor of their party.  And yet, the Ohio Senate Republicans expect us to believe this isn’t a naked partisan act.

Governor Strickland, despite the strong mandate he was given when he won,  was never given the “flexibility” that outgoing Senate President Bill Harris insists the mandate-less Kasich be given (even though Strickland got a larger share of the vote than Bob Taft ever got even against nominal opposition in 2002.)  And if you think that Governor-elect Kasich has nothing to do with this issue, you are fooling yourself.  The only reason the Senate Republicans would even consider this is because Kasich has already indicated to them that they want to free up even more jobs that he can pass around as political patronage.

How do you write a story like this and not even ask Governor-elect Kasich for comment, let alone inquire whether he has any role in this?  It’s because the Dispatch isn’t interested in finding out the answer because they’re afraid they know what it is.

It’s been eight days since Kasich was declared the winner of an incredibly close gubernatorial election.  The closest one since at least 1978. And already we’ve seen:

And he’s not… even…. in …. office… yet.

Is this really a New Way, New Day in Ohio?  Because it sounds awfully like the Taft Administration to me… but worse.  (I guess that’s change.)

 
  • Tpiteo65

    the commercial kasich played during the election of two paths and asking which path is better. one a paved modern road, the other a dirt road. looks like turd ball kasich is taking us down the dirt road.

  • James Renner

    If Coughlin is the voice of reason, we’re really in trouble!

  • No surprise here. If the Senate wants to set the precedent of rejecting appointees because they want their party’s governor-elect to have the right to appoint, that is their right to do so. I am not saying that is the right thing to do, but that is their right uner the rules of the Senate.
    I recall suggesting to Governor-elect Strickland’s CoS that they might consider utilizing the June 2006 SCOTUS ruling on Redistricting (as the Dems had just picked-up two Apportionment Board seats (Gov/SOS). I was told, “that’s not how we will govern.” Interesting now nearly 4 years later, there is no reciprocity for “being nice.’

  • Anonymous

    I disagree, Ian. The constitutional power for the right to advise and consent to the appointments made by the elected Governor was never intended to be abused in this manner. Particularly when you factor in that the Senate has taken no action on appointments that have been piling up over the last five months. We’re not talking about “lame duck” appointments Strickland made. But appointments he made back in June or earlier.

    You’re right that the lesson here is that no good deed goes unpunished in politics. But that’s what should be shaming the Bill Harris. Ted Strickland worked with Bill Harris in good faith for four years. Even Harris as said that he had a better working relationship with the Strickland Administration than he ever had with Taft’s. And yet, he’s playing this cynical and nakedly partisan game.

  • Victoria

    I only remember this happening once before and that was one nominee who was appointed after the election. Kasich is an incredibly dishonest man who learned his dishonestly from the most egregious liars in the country from Karl Rove to Rupert Murdoch. We can expect no less. People I know who are aquainted with his family in Pittsburgh say that he is stunningly evil even to his family.

  • Ian

    I said I was not saying what they are doing is right, but under the rules of the Ohio Senate, what they are doing is permissible – they will have to approve or reject, if they reject and the clock runs out, then the governor-elect will appoint (and I predict a quick approval).
    I hate to beat this horse, but wouldn’t it have been nice to hear more about the languishing appointments in the Senate? Perhaps a weekly mention of who has not been confirmed or rejected and the connection that those people have to improving Ohio? We lost this election because the base did not get out to vote. And the base did not get out because of a failure to communicate directly with it.
    We can’t expect people to be upset or frankly have much concern for the process when we do not make the process relevant or even make them aware of the problem.

  • Anonymous

    john kasich (quoting b.h. obama) replied to plunderbund by saying: “I won.”

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  • Anonymous

    Except Obama never said that. Like to make up quotes, do you?
    Regardless Obama won with a substantially majority and a sizeable electoral college majority in a high turnout election. Kasich has NONE of those things going for him.

  • Thomas Green

    Let me set the record straight as far as one portion of your comments with reference to Strickland reappointing PUCO members that “Taft had failed to strictly apply the process of nominating appointees to the PUCO.” Attorney General Marc Dann (remember him?) seeking publicity as always, said the nominees had been chosen by “secret ballot” which violated the “open-meetings law.” This, notwithstanding that the nominatinc council was acting in full compliance with a directive from former Ohio AG Anthony Celebreeze.” But rather than give Mr. Dann continued headlines at our expense, we agreed to a “do-over.” The incumbent commissioners were appointed according to law, Mr. Dann’s objection was bogus. I know this because I was (and am) chair of the PUCO Nominating Council. Tom Green

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Tom. I don’t remember the nuance from four years ago, but I remember that Strickland was roundly criticized for not reappointing those members.

    Thanks for the clarification!

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