What happened to Jennifer Brunner?  What happened to the make-no-apologies progressive candidate who was all about “courage?”

At the end of July, Brunner was at the Columbus Athletic Club nodding in agreement to a speech by Governor John Kasich.   She was all too happy to explain her seemingly agreement to Kasich’s speech:

“Not everyone agrees with those changes, but he’s making an effort. You can tell that he cares.” . . .  Kasich is “dedicated to reforming Ohio,” Brunner said.

After many of her followers on her Facebook page asked her what the blue blazes she was doing, Brunner defended her remarks:

Those taking the free market view often believe they are working for the public good, but with an entirely different approach and emphasis. Sometimes you throw rocks; other times you use them to build bridges, even when rocks have been thrown at you. It’s up to each of us to decide for ourselves what we will do. I respect all of your opinions.

Jennifer Brunner,  who said she would fight like hell as a courageous progressive champion in the U.S. Senate… one year later says she wants to build a bridge with John Kasich.   And to what end?  Today, we got our answer [Source: Columbus Dispatch]:

Not long ago, Jennifer Brunner said something nice about John Kasich.

And today, the Republican governor appointed the former Democratic secretary of state to the Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission.

Not even the Dispatch can believe it.  That’s some payoff for the progressive movement.  We now have Jennifer Brunner working inside the Kasich Administration… on… cultural facilities issues.  Behold the power of the Commission!

The Commission does not have discretionary control over decisions regarding capital funds. Likewise, the Commission does not play a formal role in deciding which projects to fund, but can assist communities and state officials in determining project eligibility upon request. Rather, our role is to establish and implement operational policies and oversight mechanisms to ensure that the state resources entrusted to our care are spent properly. We protect state interests by verifying that each project has significant community support and a solid management plan.

The reality is that the power establishment didn’t hold Jennifer Brunner’s Senate campaign back.  She did.  For all the talk about how Lee Fisher was stepping on her oxygen hose, the reality is that Brunner wasn’t even trying to breathe until the very end of the primary campaign.  She wasn’t even trying to raise money.  After the campaign, she formed Courage PAC to supposedly help elect courageous progressives like her to office.  It’s reported raising $3,000 for the first half of the year.  It’s made ZERO donations to a single political campaign since being founded.  Is that Lee Fisher’s fault, too?  You know who passed Jennifer Brunner over for Lee Fisher for the Senate nomination?  Democratic primary voters by some 70k votes.  She didn’t even carry her home county.  Did Lee have institutional support?  Sure, but less than he could have and it wasn’t like anyone looking at the field beforehand wouldn’t have known as such.  Heck, I remember people telling me I was nuts for suggesting we could prevent an ODP endorsement (and yet, Chairman Redfern wisely recognized the long last harm such an endorsement would cause even though there was no doubt Fisher would have gotten it if the State Central Committee took it up for a vote.)

Brunner attacked Lee Fisher by suggesting she was more progressive on GLBT issues than Lee was and on other issues.  But the reality is that Lee Fisher was part of the very Administration who’s record on GLBT issues Governor Kasich has been rolling back.  Where was the comment from Jennifer Brunner on Governor Kasich removing protections from harassment and discrimination by the State of its transgendered employees?  Nowhere.  Would Brunner have me believe that we can’t build a bridge to Lee Fisher, but we can trust that John Kasich just wants to “reform Ohio” with his caring heart?  Seriously?!

If Lee Fisher was a political opportunist because over a twenty-year career he flip flopped on the death penalty and gay marriage/civil unions and then tried to run from his very pro-gun control past, what do you make of Jennifer Brunner who in a year went from unapologetic, courageous champion of progressivism to “John Kasich is dedicated to reforming Ohio” and progressives should try to build a bridge to him rather than fight him?

Jen Brunner and Lee Fisher ran a primary to see who could run the worst Senate campaign of a statewide officeholder.  Lee, given all of his advantages, technically won that fight, but it was incredibly close.  But before the Brunner apologists jump down my throat completely forgetting that I was the first blogger in Ohio to sign up for her campaign and supported her vocally and loudly, ask yourself one question:  if you substituted Brunner’s name from this story for Lee Fisher’s, would you have the same reaction?  Or Rich Cordray?  Or David Pepper?  Jennifer Brunner stopped being the exception to the rule when she stopped being exceptional and instead chose to build a bridge with Kasich so she could get a political appointment (you have to apply for these things, after all.)

The reality is that Jennifer Brunner has said nicer things about John Kasich than she has Ted Strickland.  Enjoy the appointment, Secretary of State Brunner, I can’t believe this is all your “bridge building” to a man that has demonstrated himself to be the enemy of all you claimed to represent was for this—a crummy political appointment.

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  • JB will NEVER again get my vote for any office.  Turns out she IS a phony who had her own agenda.  What that is still baffles me.  Whatever she sees in coddling up to Wall Street John (after pretending to be a pure progressive) will only tell others she can’t be trusted…Jim, Columbus

  • Anonymous

    She is just providing fodder to kasich so he can claim bi-partisanship in his appointments now, showing everybody how fair he is.

    what a load.

  • Decker


  • Anonymous

    Sorry you can’t recognize blatant azz kissing when you see it. It’d be like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity suddenly joining a union.

    Oh wait, they already are in a union…. 

    It’d be like State Senator Frank LaRose accepting union endorsements a year ago from the FOP and other blue collar groups, then voting to severely weaken them…

    …oh wait, he did that too.

  • Anonymous

    J-Bru’s quest for the Dem gubernatorial nomination in 2014 just took another, perhaps fatal, hit.
    And all the hits have been self-inflicted.

  • WellDuh

    So she accepted a Democratic-designated seat on a commission that has no real authority to choose which projects to fund, receives no pay or benefits, and is labeled a traitor to the cause? Sounds like she should be run out of town for throwing working people under the Kasich Express!

    I’m outraged that you neglected to mention the fact that the Governor had to choose a Democrat, and why not Brunner? If not her, it would have been someone else! She even states, why not serve if given the opportunity! Especially to the Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission, a board dedicated to working with local communities to better their museums, arts complexes, and publicly owned sporting complexes…did anyone think this would actually be a plumb position to be in come next election? The contacts she can make?

    Write about how Governor Kasich is screwing the people of Ohio, and not punish Democrats for trying to work to help the state even as it’s governed by an idiot. This article sounds like the person who wrote it got denied a job with Brunner at some point. Try to remember that public servants want to serve, no matter who’s in charge.

  • Modern Esquire

    How does this “help the State”?  It doesn’t.  Does the State of Ohio need a courageous progressive in the Cultural Facilities Commission?  Is that what Jennifer Brunner is all about now?

    The fact is Jennifer Brunner gets a political appointment after publicly praising John Kasich.  Sorry that you want to try to feebly attack the messenger over it. (And fail.)

  • Modernesquire

    Look, I didn’t fault Brunner for running for the Senate, and that hasn’t changed.  It was an open seat that wouldn’t likely be available again.  Brunner was more than qualified for the position and would have been a great addition to the Senate had her Senate campaign not been so inept.

    As for Vardon, I actually like him as a reporter and think he’s far more fair and objective than most of the Dispatch.

    Brunner didn’t spend the last two years of her term running for the Senate, at least not that I can find any evidence of.  The first she indicated any consideration of the seat wasn’t until Voinovich announced his retirement in early 2010.

    As a Christian, I’m personally offended at the attack of her as a “Bible-toter.”  

    There’s plenty of valid reasons to criticize Brunner, but I think this is as over-the-top and off the mark as those who believe Brunner can do no wrong.

  • Modernesquire

    Yet again, you miss the point.  I support Kasich’s sentencing reform (although it is largely an unfunded mandate on already crowded local jails.)  I’ve applauded many of his commutation decisions.

    But for Jennifer Brunner to present herself as some proud, courageous progressive champion and then turn around an applaud Kasich publicly when he represents the opposite of everything she has claimed to support is pretty guiling. 

    I have never proposed opposing Kasich for Kasich’s sake.  Every one of them has been based on a factually-based argument, like JobsOhio.  Yet again, you’re talking out your arse.

  • Green Iris

    wow, that’s harsh.
    is this lee fishers son?

  • Anonymous

    Stick a fork in her; she’s done.

  • eds

    This is why a misguided progressive can be more dangerous than the nutjobs they mean to break bread with.  Incredibly naivé of her to claim that restricting peoples rights in arbitrary and politically motivated ways has anything to do with “the free market”.

  • It’s already starting.  Quote from Gongwer today:

    “Mr. Kasich said he didn’t think the (redistricting) proposal was overly
    partisan either and noted that he just appointed former Democratic
    Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to a position on a state board.
    “We’ll have her involved in other things as well.”

  • Anonymous

    “Cultural Facilities?” Isn’t that office in the basement level *underneath* the Department of Navel Gazing”? Geez, Jen. If you’re going to sell out, you should have at least gone big.

    I’m a SAHM, and even I get it that this is how Kasich is neutralizing a potential opponent with name recognition. Duh. Any ninth grader who watches “Gossip Girl” would see this for what it is. ::shakes head sadly::

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