Here we are, just a few days away from the 2014 primaries in Ohio – or so it always seems with the political class – and there are more eager and ready wannabes in the field than you might find in the annual NFL draft.  For the sake of brevity, let’s ferret out of the list just three well-known Republican candidates who, if reelected, could continue to malform another four years of life in Ohio.

But first, there was more than a little conjecture – on those  evenings when TV offered no equally fetching  sitcoms –   about how a win by Mitt Romney would extend its benefits to Ohio’s  GOP headliners in Ohio. They would be  the critical mass of Mourning in America.

(1) Gov. Kasich,  who was never cut out for a day job dealing with ordinary people, would be appointed to a cabinet job – any job that would get him out of dealing with budgets, unions, school teachers and the like.

(2) Sen. Rob Portman, the guy who emulated Mitt’s  pathetic attempt to be casually voter-friendly (i.e. likable) in white open neck shirt and blue jeans during the campaign,  also would be  appointed to a cabinet position in the city where he once worked felicitously for George W. Bush.

(3) Kasich would appoint Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor to be governor, which she would like very much since not one in a thousand people could tell you the name of the lieutenant governor.  It would even be a tough question for the Jeopardy buffs.

(4)The office of lieutenant governor would be left blank, since it’s not easy for anyone to describe what a lieutenant governor actually does anyway.

But Mitt screwed everything up by losing – at least we think he did, the diehards notwithstanding –  and Mr.  Kasich now finds himself running for reelection.  For a guy who won a narrow plurality his first time around, it may be even more difficult the second time.  He still has the noose of Senate Bill 5 hanging  around his neck (remember,  the public-union busting issue was rejected in a landslide by voters).

And he is saddled with an anthology of crony-appointment stories that include the naming  of Mike Gonidakis, the head of Ohio Right to Life,  to the state medical board,  which is supposed to judge the qualifications of physicians.  Gonidakis has no medical experience.

Then there’s Secretary of State Jon Husted, a fellow obsessed with restricting  the vote of  groups not likely to vote Republican.  If there were voting booths at country clubs, there would not be the usual long lines,  do you think?  It will be dreadful to have to put up with more of his saintly explanations of why he had no intention of suppressing the vote.  But the subject will surely come up.

Finally there’s Attorney General Mike DeWine, who campaigned in a bad Democratic year (2010) that his first act would be to file suit against Obamacare.    The Supreme Court upended that notion for him.  He’s also the guy who dumped Mitt Romney in a the closing months of the campaign and switched to Rick Santorum in the belief that Rick would be a sure winner in Ohio.   If he had stuck with Romney, DeWine could have at least been credited with a whit of consistency.

OK. That’s where we are with the three amigos seeking reelection, baggage and all.

But a big question remains.  Will the Democrats find a way to capitalize on their political wealth  or tangle themselves into defeat?  I’m not  smart enough to answer that, but it could happen even if an inviting table has been set for them.

  • sluggo

    I think this will be a tougher climb than you’ve let on. All three are incumbents which is powerful. Kasich will be riding a strong recovery and he has generally kept a low profile. Who do the Democrats have to take him down? The four frontrunners are Strickland, FitzGerald, Ryan and Cordray. Ted will be running against the past and will face questions about his age. FitzGerald and Ryan are unknowns. Cordray would have to leave a a good gig with the. CFCB and is not a great campaigner.

    As for Husted, he is vulnerable because of his election administration but you need a viable name candidate with adequate resources to take him down.

    Finally, DeWine has taken on some populist issues with internet cafes and recovery of damages for public pensions and he has a name.

    Last, it is a midterm election which is generally bad for the party of the incumbent president. That’s how this gang got into office in the first place – Democrats stayed home on election day and Republicans swept statewide.

    The challenge will be how to keep the Obama voters energized and engaged against all the headwinds I’ve listed. As much as I hate to admit it, I think it will be a difficult task.

  • I think this is a pretty fair assessment.

  • John W.

    You’re right that it won’t be an easy election. Because of their incumbency, these Republicans have a lot of power. However, they are unpopular in their own party because of their anti-middle class agenda. People won’t forget SB5, which their own party electorate rejected.

    Sluggo mentioned Strickland, FitzGerald, Ryan and Cordray, who would all be great candidates. I would love to see Dennis Eckert’s name in the mix for some of these offices, too. Eckert is a bright guy and a champion of middle class institutions.

  • sluggo

    There are some elements to the race that will help the Democrats.

    I’d like to think that SB5 will make a difference but in all honesty the only people I’ve found who still care about it are public employees. The rest of the state has forgotten it.

    And we aren’t done with union busting – Right to Work is coming to the ballot in 2013. If labor doesn’t get on top of the messaging on Right to Work they will lose that election even after the SB5 victory – polling showed it had majority support when it was introduced.

    Governor Kasich could play it safe for re-election but it looks like he’s going to put the pedal to the metal on conservative policies instead. This could provide an opportunity to engage voters and erode Kasich’s built in strengths.

    The Republicans look as though they are going to pursue hard line policies in 2013 such as defunding Planned Parenthood and the Heartbeat bill – the governor will sign both bills in 2013.

    The Governor is going to unveil his school funding formula in the 2013 budget which could include a “money follows the child” provision to it. “Money follows the child” means that a student in Ohio will be allowed to enroll in any school public or private and take public dollars from their local school with them. A money follows the child formula would be a death blow to public education in Ohio. It’s hard to imagine that it is constitutional but the legislature had hearings on this idea last summer.

    The Governor also looks poised to lease the Ohio Turnpike. This would be an enormously unpopular idea in Northern Ohio.

    The governor’s budget in 2013 will likely include another income tax cut paid for by bank and fracking taxes. An income tax cut while the economy is growing would be very popular.

    If the Dems can engage their coalition and use the Obama infrastructure to do so, then they have a chance. But they need dollars and energy in greater quantities than in 2010. The cry of “Remember SB5!” alone won’t do it.

  • dmoore2222

    Very good assessment. But I’m reminded of a the saying “when your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” This is the republican outlook. Instead of acknowledging unfavorale demographics along with all the things you listed as bad ideas, they keep hammering away at the very stuff Ohio voters, and American voters in general, have said “no” to. I’ve said it repeatedly that Kasich’s insistance on Turnpike privatization will be his undoing, along with, of course, a strong showing of democrats at the polls. Egotistical, arrogant people eventually self-destruct. Short of saying “anyone but Kasich” will win in 2014, I don’t think democrats need a highly charismatic candidate to beat this chump. He’ll do more to beat himself than any opponent could do. People are sick of the bellicose, disdainful and divisive republican approach to everything and want a “grown up” in the room.

  • John W.

    I think you’re right that Kasich is going to try to pull a lot of shenanigans that turn public interests into private interests (school funding, turnpike, cutting fracking taxes). You’re also right that “remember SB5” alone won’t defeat him — but it is going to be a big factor. Public sector workers won’t forget it and the private sector unions that built this state from the ground up won’t forget it either.

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