Thursday, October 20, 2005

a transformation in progress

In the past few weeks we have seen a transformation in the Ohio Democratic Party, and I think it is a very encouraging sign that maybe, just maybe, we are on the cusp of some long overdue gains in this state. Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy, elected in 2000 and re-elected last year, announced her candidacy for the 15th district Congressional race, presumably to challenge seven-term Republican incumbent Deborah Pryce. Congressman and former Secretary of State Sherrod Brown announced his candidacy for the United States Senate, to challenge two-term Republican incumbent U.S. Sen Mike DeWine. Earlier this year, Congressman Ted Strickland announced his candidacy for the 2006 Governor's seat that will be left vacant when Bob Taft is mercifully term limited out of office next year.

For the longest time, the "A" list democratic candidates were unwilling to abandon their safe Congressional seats, or other political offices, for the chance to take on the Republicans in races like these. So instead, it would be left to inexperienced "B" list candidates, who had good ideas but little skill in fundraising, to run shorthanded campaigns, and typically to suffer defeat. Consider that last year Ohio was split 51-49 between Bush and Kerry, but U.S. Sen George Voinovich dispatched Democratic challenger State Sen. Eric Fingerhut by a staggering 65-35 margin, in the process winning a majority of the votes in each of Ohio's 88 counties. In 1998, when Voinovich ran for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Democratic U.S. Sen John Glenn, his opponent was former Cuyahoga County commissioner Mary Boyle, who had never sought a statewide office before.

Now it appears that the "A" listers are coming out swinging, ready to challenge the republicans in 2006. All I can say is that its about time, and it should make it a lot more fun during next year's election cycle.

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