Chris Littleton got amazingly lucky this year.
For nearly a year, Littleton, the co-founder of the Ohio Liberty Council – a conglomeration of Tea Party groups in Ohio – had been trying, with limited success, to collect enough signatures to get his ‘anti-Obamacare’ constitutional amendment on the ballot in Ohio.
Then Kasich and Ohio’s Republicans pushed through Senate Bill 5, the bill that effectively bans collective bargaining for Ohio’s public workers. In response, 1.2 million Ohioans signed petitions for what would eventually become Issue 2 – the ballot measure to repeal Senate Bill 5.
Realizing they were suddenly in a crap load of trouble and worried that Kasich’s signature piece of legislation would likely be repealed, Ohio’s Republicans turned to Littleton and his Tea Party, throwing loads of cash and resources their way to help get their anti-health care amendment on the ballot hoping it might help turn out voters sympathetic to their union-busting, SB5/Issue 2 cause.
They eked by with enough signatures to get it on the ballot (It’s amazingly what tons of cash can accomplish) and the language now appears on the state ballot as Issue 3. With the help of the Republican money machine, Littleton’s Tea Partiers got their ballot initiative and despite the fact that it’s unconstitutional and the unintended consequences of the amendment could result in serious health and safety issues for Ohioans, PPP’s last poll it passing by 30 points. Unfortunately for Republicans, it doesn’t seem to have had much of an impact on Issue 2 – which continues to poll at 20+ point in favor of repeal.
As we reach the final weeks of campaigning, you’ll find some of the Pro-Issue 2 folks finally trying to tie the two issues together, hoping to improve their chances of closing the gap on Issue 2. For example, I got an email today from Americans for Prosperity urging me to “support Issues 2 AND 3 [by] making volunteer calls”. And you’ll find some local GOP groups tying the issues together as well.
But what you won’t find is any individual Republican candidate or office-holder out supporting Issue 3.
Everywhere you look you’ll find State Senators Jones and Faber, Governor Kasich and any number of other Republicans working directly with the pro-Issue 2 folks. They are out doing debates and press conferences and rallies about Issue 2. They are giving interviews and quotes and statements and writing emails about Issue 2.
But none of them – so far as I’ve seen – has given an official statement in support of Issue 3.
Instead, Tea Partiers like Chris Littleton, Maurice Thompson and Jack Painter seem to be the only people out there trying to sell Issue 3 to voters and the media.
Unfortunately, voters actually seem to be considering this amendment, probably because they haven’t heard the whole story. The papers have done at least the minimal amount research (in this case) and realized that Issue 3 is a disaster waiting to happen. As a result, every major Ohio newspaper has come out against Issue 3 including the traditionally conservative Dispatch and Plain Dealer, papers that endorsed Issue 2. It seems most of the editors had a chance to read the research Innovation Ohio put out about the amendment regarding its unintended consequences.
It also seems like a lot of Republicans did as well.
I scoured the internet looking for any Republican in Ohio who has explicitly endorsed Issue 3 and I can find exactly zero. Not one. I’m hoping someone will correct me here and point me to an example. NOTE: I’m planning to use their Issue 3 endorsement against them in the next election, so please be specific and post a link and their full quote if possible.
I did, however, find a lot of non-endorsements. For example the non-endorsement from State Rep Peter Beck kinda-sorta says he’s happy some sort of health care issue is on the ballot but he refuses to actually name the Issue or endorse it. “Regardless of outcome, I am happy that Ohio’s voters will finally be able to dictate the course of the health care debate.”
Judging by their complete lack of support for the Tea Party healthcare initiative, it seems individual Republicans don’t really give two craps about Issue 3 except as a means to draw out pro-Issue 2 voters. And the fact that none of them will publicly support the measure seems to indicate that most likely understand the basic components of the amendment violate the US Constitution and the other problems with Issue 3 are going to cost the state immense amounts of time and money.
The only reason the Ohio Republican Party invested the money to get it on the ballot in the first place was to turn out support for Issue 2 – and the fact that no Republicans are willing to come out and publicly state their support for Issue 3 despite their very vocal support of Issue 2 seems to confirm this.
Littleton got amazingly lucky with the timing of his health care initiative. He got money and help from the Republican Party to get it on the ballot and, based on current polling, it may just end up passing. Unfortunately for Chris, he still hasn’t gotten any real respect from GOP leaders – or even from low-level, GOP lackeys. Considering the standard, boiler-plate response from Republicans about the bill, and the fact that none of them are supporting it publicly, it seems they all got the same memo.
It seems like the Republican Party knew they were helping to put a dangerous amendment on the ballot, the potential long-term problems with the bill, the problems that conservatives around the state must be dreading right now. It’s likely someone figured this out early and warned every Republican who might be running in the next two years to avoid expressing support for Issue 3.
These problems are not minor.
For example, if Issue 3 passes, Kasich would be unable to attempt many of the reforms on Ohio’s Worker Compensation system that he’s been promising. And conservatives would likely find any new anti-abortion laws to be in violation of Ohio’s constitution under the changes implemented in Issue 3. Reporting of new contagious diseases? Banned under Issue 3. New school immunizations? BANNED!
The Tea Party supporters of Issue 3 want you to believe it’s strictly about “obamacare” and the individual mandate. But the way this amendment is written, MANY more things would be impacted, and GOP politicians know that and are doing their best to avoid taking a stance on the amendment. It’s time for them to be called out on it.
Every reporter in the state – and every citizen with a camera, email address or telephone – should immediately begin asking every politician in Ohio to publicly take a stance on Issue 3. We need to get everyone on the record stating their opinion so when Issue 3 backfires, wreaking legal and financial turmoil on the state, we know who to blame.