I admit that nothing would make me happier to see the headline next year: “Ken Blackwell to face Sherrod Brown in November.” And I hate to be a wet blanket, but it isn’t going to happen unless Blackwell is the only decent candidate to run for the GOP nomination.
Ken Blackwell announcing a Senate bid isn’t likely to dissuade rivals from not running. Quite the opposite. Let’s review the problems Blackwell faces:
I. John Kasich
John Kasich hates Ken Blackwell and vice versa. In 2006, Kasich was threatening to run for the GOP gubernatorial nomination if it looked like Blackwell was going to get the GOP nomination instead of moderates Betty Montgomery or Jim Petro. John Kasich would like to Sherrod Brown out of the Senate, but not to the benefit of Blackwell. Kasich will do all he can do to undermine Blackwell, even if he is the nominee.
Second, the ‘12 election seems to be shaping up to be about GOP extremism. Kasich’s radical agenda has woken a sleeping giant on the left and shocked the middle away in droves. I can’t imagine a worse candidate for the GOP to run than the symbol of conservative extremism, Ken Blackwell. Ken Blackwell had a better chance last year than he’ll have next year, unless there’s a serious change in the political environment.
The only reason Blackwell is being considered is due to a PPP poll that showed him “leading” the GOP back at a whopping 17%….in an eight-person race…. where the biggest response was 25% being undecided. I’ve already said this before but it bears repeating: the PPP poll is more of an indication of the indecision and weakness of the GOP field to GOP voters than it is a testament of Ken Blackwell’s strength. The fact that the guy who only got 36% of the vote in 2006 and bled GOP votes is the leading candidate shows how unimpressed the GOP field is to the primary voters.
National Review is reporting that Ken Blackwell’s “supporters” (i.e.-Blackwell) commissioned a poll. Here’s what the numbers say on a head-to-head of Blackwell vs. Brown:
If the election for U.S. Senate was held today, and the only candidates running were Ken Blackwell and Sherrod Brown, for whom would you vote?
According to Nate Silver, Brown’s number gives him a two out three chance of winning re-election. Also, Blackwell’s numbers shows him doing no better against Sherrod Brown in ‘12 than he did against Ted Strickland in ‘06. In fact, Blackwell’s numbers show him doing worse against Brown than he did against Strickland in Rasmussen’s 2006 polling. Rasmussen was the only poll that showed Ken Blackwell with a fighting chance in 2006, too. Time has not repaired Ken Blackwell’s public image in the mind of Ohio voters.
I know, because I was called, that Blackwell’s poll tested Mandel in a head-to-head against Sherrod. The fact that they didn’t release that number is telling. Regardless, until Ken Blackwell can show he can beat Brown, GOP voters who want to win aren’t going to dismiss Blackwell’s 2006 loss as a major liability.
III. Health care reform.
All Josh Mandel or some other GOP challenger has to do to send Ken Blackwell’s conservative support crumbling is say the word: RomneyCare.
Ken Blackwell ran in 2006 on implementing RomneyCare in Ohio, the same program that President Obama largely based his health care reform plan on. It’s Blackwell Achilles Heel. How will any Tea Party voters support Ken Blackwell then?
IV. Michael Steele
Another liability for Ken Blackwell besides his disastrous ‘06 campaign (worse of just about any Ohio GOP candidate) or his public support for RomneyCare is former RNC Chairman Michael Steele. Ken Blackwell ran for RNC Chair, but when was knocked out in a round of voting, Blackwell lent his support publicly and whipped his supporters behind the candidacy of Michael Steele.
Ken Blackwell just has too many liabilities to become the Senate nominee. John Kasich and the Ohio GOP establishment will never let it happen. Sorry to be the wet blanket, but I just don’t see how it happens.