A million years ago, maybe a little longer, Ohio Republican Chairman Bob Bennett (then in his earlier term) and Summit County Republican Chairman Alex Arshinkoff insisted to me that their party would expand its base to include you-know-whos. It would be a magisterial commitment by two GOP draft horses to make the party whole for generations to come.
Didn’t happen quite that way. Not even close. So after its Comeback Team Romney/Ryan debacle in November – a presidential election that even Karl Rove and Peggy Noonan decided was in their party’s victory column for the asking – the Republican brass are at it again. They will spend $10 million, it says here, to send an army of circuit riders into the boonies to preach the party’s brand. Suddenly minorities have become the party’s search for the Holy Grail.
If there is a true opposite to Knute Rockne’s famous half-time dressing room oration to his wilting team before sending it back onto the field, Reince Priebus, the less-than-inspiring national Republican Party chairman will have to do. He says the voter roundup will include “hundreds of people – paid – across the country, from coast to coast, in Hispanic, African-American, Asian communities, talking about our party, talking about our brand, talking about what we believe in—”
Hold it right there, fella! Ohioans already know what the party believes in. Let me remind you:
Begin with the belabored effort to limit the voter turnout last November. None other than John Boehner, the funereal Speaker, told a luncheon group hosted by the Christian Science Monitor last August: “This election is about economics…These groups [minority and poor voters] have been hit the hardest. They may not show up and vote for our candidate but I’d suggest to you they won’t show up and vote for the president either.”
Now the Ohio Republican pols want to cut back the time to gather signatures for referendums, a bill that Kasich signed a few days ago. It impedes any effort to challenge a law.
From Planned Parenthood, to abortion, to same-sex marriage (Sen. Portman gets an ad hoc pass on this one), to gun control, the governor and the Republican controlled legislature keep doing awful things that are running in the opposite direction of the public mood.
And I haven’t even mentioned Republicans’ failed attack on unions in SB5, which was mauled at the polls.
Come to think of it, when Priebus talks of a $10 million outlay to woo new voters with the Republican brand, he does sound like a cheapskate. It won’t be that easy. Tea Partyers are talking about starting their own party in Ohio. Nobody except the governor and his A-Team seems happy about his proposed tax plan.
Politically, the Buckeye State for national Republicans has become Brand X. The only question now: What has taken them so long to figure that out – if indeed they have?