In Ohio, the plot for the 2016 presidential election thickened Tuesday with the announcement by Bill Clinton that he’ll campaign, sort of, via direct mail for State Sen. Nina Turner, the Democratic candidate for Secretary of State.
As a big, bright harvest moon hovers over Ohio this week, reminding Buckeyes that Halloween is around the corner, news that former President Bill Clinton will campaign via direct mailings advocating for Nina Turner might be one small nightmare come true for Republicans, who upon learning of the news issued a call to arms. State GOP party leaders said control of state election operations cannot pass to a “partisan” Democrat like Turner next year if Republicans hope to win the swing state in 2016.
A state senator from Cleveland, Sen. Nina Turner has been an outspoken advocate for expanding voting opportunities, an attitude and philosophy she defends by contrasting it with Ohio’s incumbent Republican, who with less than two months from Election Day on Nov. 4 leads her in recent polling with by about 5 points, a margin narrow enough that Turner says she can win if Democratic voters, who out number Republicans statewide by about 800,000, would just vote.
Often a guest on MSNBC political talk shows, Turner made an appearance on The Ed Show today. “We’re going to keep fighting for the fair and accessible elections,” she said on her campaign website, also predicting to Ed Schultz, the show’s bruising host, that she will win.
In related news, former Democratic National Committee chairman and presidential candidate Howard Dean endorsed Turner in June. Also helping Turner is a group with ties to past advisers to Clinton and President Barack Obama, iVote, which is targeting secretary of state contests in Ohio, according to published reports.
In an email warning that Clinton is coming to help Sen. Turner, Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges saw into the future and said that if the 42nd President of the United States, a former Governor of Arkansas who won two consecutive terms and orchestrated a decade of rising prosperity and who survived impeachment proceedings brought against him by GOP leaders of the day, helps Sen. Turner take over Ohio election laws, it would put the biggest battleground state of them all in a position whereby it could be won by yet another Clinton, Bill’s wife and former New York Senator and Secretary of State for President Obama, Hillary, who is generally regarded as the Democratic candidate for president in 2016.
With all of the campaigns in Ohio this fall, Mr. Borges, hand-picked by Gov. John Kasich, asked then answered his question about why Mr. Clinton, known for his leadership skills in and out of office, wants to focus on Turner’s matchup with Jon Husted, the GOP officeholder who won his post as chief elections officer in 2010. Sen. Turner lags her GOP incumbent in fundraising and in the polls but remains unacceptably too close for comfort for the ORP. “The answer is pretty obvious – Hillary is planning to run for president in 2016 and she wants a hyper-partisan Democrat overseeing Ohio’s critical election that year,” Borges bellowed.
“Team, we can’t allow this to happen. This fall, we need to rally behind our Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted and the other Republican candidates like John Kasich and Mary Taylor who are fixing Ohio,” he said.
To a large extent, Turner’s hopes of winning are tied to how Democratic candidates are faring in general, and how, specifically the top of the ticket, gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald, a fellow Clevelander like Turner, is doing. But notwithstanding the dashing FitzGerald has taken in recent weeks, Turner, who if elected would be the first African-American woman elected to lead a constitutional statewide agency, is faring better than some pundits predicted she would.
In a new Buckeye Poll released yesterday, the bad news for Turner is that she trails Husted by five points, 30 percent to 25 percent. The good news for Turner is that 45 percent of poll respondents remain undecided. Clinton’s help could elevate the race now that FitzGerald has fumbled his chances to take on Kasich, Ohio’s Republican governor.
A spotlight again shone on Ohio voting rules when U.S. District Court Judge Peter C. Economus granted a preliminary injunction in the Ohio State Conference NAACP v. Husted case. The court order requires the restoration of Ohio’s full 35-day early voting period, including Golden Week, as well as evening early voting hours for the final two weeks leading up to Election Day. Democratic constituencies like the poor, seniors, minorities, women and students who traditionally support Democrats will be helped by the ruling. Ohio election officials, who have been criticized previously for appealing laws patently unconstitutional as courts have upheld time and time again, again say they will appeal this ruling.