When Cuyahoga County Democrat Tim Hagan ran for governor in 2002 he was heard to lament Ohio’s poor standing in providing social services.
“Thank God for Mississippi!” he satirically declared to make his well considered point that the state ranked just above last place. Former highly-successful four-term governor Jim Rhodes, after all, had once shrugged off weak support of mental health services by noting that “mental patients don’t vote.”
The Buckeye State, with few exceptions like an OSU football team and the Cleveland Orchestra, would scarcely be considered a pace maker. Indeed, it is hardly even progressive but firmly in the hands of a rural state legislature and meticulously sculpted congressional districts that send a dozen Republicans to Congress and only four Democrats.
There is no greater evidence of how the GOP craft works than in Summit County, once ably represented by a single Democratic (and unbeatable) congressman, John Seiberling. Today the county is splintered by four congressmen, none living in the county. A dream come true for the late Republican chairman Alex Arshinkoff.
For more confirmation on how effectively the GOP has served its interests on Capitol Hill, consider that Barack Obama twice won the state while Democratic congressional candidates were getting wiped out.
The math is easy to understand: The Republican district artists have packed most of the minority voters into urban areas, graciously allowing Democrats to win the districts while Republicans pay homage to every silo across the state.
Haviing travelled the entire state many times as a journalist, it was easy to sense the handiwork of the Republicans, particularly south of Columbus, a vast stretch along the Ohio River that more clearly reflects the political culture of Kentucky and West Virginia. (The last two Republican U.S. Senators – Robert Taft and now, for heaven’s sake, Rob Portman – arrived on the ballot from Cincinnati, across the river from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.)
And did I tell you that a rural district in southwest Ohio produced U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, a former OSU wrestling champion and conservative dreamboat founder of the House Freedom Caucus who voted against disaster relief.
In plowing up the field, the Trumpsters ousted state Republican Party chair Matt Borges, a buddy of Ohio Gov. john Kasich. Although a Republican, Kasich provoked Trump by brazenly running for president, too. Borges’ successor, Jane Timken, wasted no time in crowning the president as “great.”
Not much is likely to change in the road ahead.
One of the GOP gubernatorial candidates is U.S. Rep Jim Renacci, the former Wadsworth mayor who is financially loaded and says he will “stop at nothing” to win. To prove it, has hs already chipped in $4 million of his own cash to his campaign.
Renacci is a Trump surrogate to the point of hiring many of Trump’s Ohio campaign staff to work on his own campaign. And he says that if Trump wants to go to nuclear war, that’s OK with him.
Renacci’s opponents so far are Attorney General Mike DeWine, who is deeply committed to the right-wing social diary and has been saying for eight years that Obamacare should bet abolished.
Also in the race is Secretary of State Jon Husted, who has been quite energetic in rearranging the state’s election system to protect us from non-existent “voter fraud.”
Meantime, it gets worse. Marathon political careerist, Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel is again running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Sherrod Brown.
This time, he mimicked his lode star Trump by saying that he also wanted to drain the swamp along with other bizarre initiatives.
Can you imagine the state of Ohio in the full control of Planet Trump?
(Aside to Tim Hagan: Mississippi won’t save us this time.)