Again, history has shown the year before an election is a poor indicator of a presidential year, but it doesn’t stop folks from using them for bragging rights. The RNC and freshman GOP Senator Rob Portman’s campaign have both boasted before the election about the superior GOTV ground game they were already running. If that’s the case, then it appears the Republican Party has gone AWOL in Franklin County, a major battleground to win Ohio.
Franklin County Democratic Party vs. Franklin County GOP Chair/Kasich pal Doug Priesse. In Columbus, Canton, and Massillon, the mayoral races were either two Democrats or one Democrat turned independent running against an incumbent Democrat. In other words, the GOP was largely frozen out of these races. Given the battleground nature of Columbus, it was political malpractice that the Franklin County GOP failed to manage a competitive candidate in an open mayoral election in Columbus. Instead, voters basically got two lopside Democratic primaries this year between Columbus Mayor-elect/City Council President Andrew Ginther and Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott, with Ginther having virtually all the Democratic establishment support.
If that was not embarassing enough, the Franklin County GOP lost all three contested municipal judicial elections and failed to yet again win a single seat on Columbus City Council. Voters in Columbus elected Elizabeth Brown who had worked in the city’s economic development office (and is a new mom and daughter of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown.) Brown joins State Rep. Michael Stinziano on council and are the first two to win election to council without being appointed to it since 1997. They were also the second and third vote top vote getters in the council races last night.
Among the Franklin County judicial casualities was Sean McCarthy, whom Governor John Kasich had just appointed to the bench three months earlier. Said one defeated incumbent judge:
Trying to analyze the Democratic sweep, she said, it’s “above my pay grade… I think they did a great job of getting their vote out.”
Indeed. But what’s even worse, if you look at the results closely, you have to wonder if there was any attempt by the Franklin County GOP, RNC, Ohio GOP, or Portman campaign to get the Franklin County GOP early vote out at all.
Follow me for a second here. Former OSU wide receiver and GOP’s best prospect for City Council Dimitrious Stanley lost by 8,996 votes to Jaiza Page for the last slot on City Council. However, Page got 14,368 votes in early voting (nearly 20% of all the votes she got.) Stanley, on the other hand, only got 7,770 in early votes, or 12% of his total votes. Granted, he still would have lost as Page still got more votes in ballots cast on Election Day, but at a much smaller margin than the early vote. Page’s advantage in the early vote accounts for over 73% of her final margin of victory. It’s hard not to look at those numbers and question how much help Stanley got in capturing the early vote.
Basically, the Franklin County Democratic Party’s endorsed candidates had such an early vote advantage thatchallengers had to outdo them on election day. None of them did. Ginther had about a three point advantage over Scott in terms of how much the early vote contributed as a share of their total votes. Those who had a political party able to deliver early votes went into last night with a significant advantage over opponents who didn’t. Right now the Franklin County GOP can’t win either the early vote OR the ballots cast on election day. It was a terrible night for Republicans in one of the key battleground region going into 2016.
But for his close and personal ties to Governor John Kasich, you would expect Republicans both in Franklin County and around the state to call for Preisse’s head for giving the Democrats such a fertile field to build its bench. Something Franklin County Democrats are grateful does not seem like will ever actually happen.
The fact that Franklin County Democrats seem to already have a structure and system in place to deliver early votes in Columbus gives the Democratic presidential and Senate race candidates a significant advantage to help them carry Ohio. The real question is: will the Kasich Republican establishment largely tune out next year when Kasich isn’t the nominee? You bet that has the RNC concerned. However, it’s not like Kasich was ever able to deliver Ohio for the GOP in 2012, though.