Friday, December 22, 2006

Memo to Ohioans: Quit Dying, Already!

Well, the U.S. Census Bureau came out today with its state-by-state population estimates for the U.S. as of July 1, 2006. The State of Ohio experienced an anemic growth rate of approximately 0.1 percent, which is consistent with the State's rate of growth since the 2000 census. While Ohio families produced a healthy share of babies this year, and we had a large number of immigrants move to the state, Ohio's growth was negatively impacted by an estimated 107,000 deaths, as well as approximately 48,000 Ohioans who left the state to seek a brighter future.

Ohioans will continue to leave the state until we can rebuild our educational institutions, improve our infrastructure, rebuild our tax system, and make other necessary changes that will create jobs here. In the meantime, Ohio will continue to fall behind other state's population growth rate, costing us congressional seats and electoral votes. So, Memo to Ohioans: Would you quit dying already!?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

What happened in 2006?

Many column inches have been devoted to the outcome of 2006 mid-term elections by columnists more talented than I. However, I think it is worth re-iterating the key issue of these elections.

If you looked at a political map of 100 years ago, you'd notice that the "Solid South" was solidly Democratic, while New England and the Northeast was a Republican stronghold. This paradigm began to shift with 1948, when Strom Thurmond ran for President as a "Dixiecrat," and began shifting in earnest with Richard Nixon's 1968 "Southern Strategy" which ran contrary to the advice of then New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, in creating a much more conservative, neo-racist Republican party to appeal to the white Southern voter put off by the Democrat's insistence on civil rights and voting rights for blacks. While the South started voting for Republican presidential candidates in the 60s and 70s, a whole generation of Southern Democrats in congress and the Senate held onto their seats by separating themselves from the national party and taking centrist positions. This strategy proved effective until 1994, when the "Republican Revolution" ousted a whole generation of Southern Democrats.

Meanwhile, in the Northeast, the same shift was happening in the opposite direction. While the Northeast began voting for Democratic presidential candidates, a generation of Yankee Republicans hung onto their seats by taking a centrist tack, exhibiting the socially liberal but fiscally conservative views that had defined New England Republicanism for generations.

However, the 2006 election marked the turning point where these candidates attachment to an extremely disliked national Republican party caused them to lose. When the 110th Congress is seated, 21 of the 22 House members from New England (Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine) will be Democrats. The Democratic Party has taken complete control of the New Hampshire state government for the first time since 1877. Democrats now control all statewide offices in New York for the first time since 1938.

The 2006 elections mark the end of a historical shift. The GOP is now the party of Dixie, while the Democrats are now the part of the Northeast and Midwest.

Monday, December 11, 2006

My, how far we've come.

As the news media and blogosphere plunge headlong into the emerging 2008 Presidential race, with stories on who will and who won't throw their hat into the campaign ring, it is worth taking a step back and taking stock of just how far Ohio Democrats came in the 2006 election cycle. As the frequent saying goes, you can't really know where you are without knowing how you got there.

Before November 7th, 2006, it had been 14 years since a Democrat was elected to a statewide office in Ohio. That last victory was in 1992, when the legendary John Glenn was re-elected to his fourth and final term representing Ohio in the U.S. Senate. 1994 was a bad year for Democrats nationally, but in Ohio it was a disaster, as it marked the complete desolution of decades of control of state government. In 1994, Republicans won every single statewide office, led by incumbent Gov. George Voinvoich's absolute destruction of State Sen. Rob Burch in the Governor's race. Also, the U.S. Senate seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Howard Metzenbaum was lost to then-Lt. Gov. Mike DeWine, as the party had failed to groom a replacement, and ended up running Joel Hyatt against DeWine, his main qualification being that he was Metzenbaum's son-in-law. Republicans also took control of both houses of the General Assembly for the first time in decades.

1996 saw some reprieve as President Bill Clinton handily won the state as part of his successful campaign for re-election, but 1998 was another bad year. Although the Democratic ticket of former Attorney General Lee Fisher and then-City Councilman Mike Coleman kept it respectable at the top of the ticket, the party failed to field a strong candidate for U.S. Senate. Former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Mary Boyle stood not the slightest chance against popular two-term Gov. George Voinovich, who claimed the U.S. Senate seat of the retiring Sen. Glenn. In eight years, Ohio had gone from a Democratic governor and two Democratic senators to a Republican Governor and two Republican senators. 1998 also saw the Republicans once again sweep all other statewide offices (Secretary of State, Treasurer of State, Auditor of State, and Attorney General).

2000 was another terrible year. To oppose incumbent Sen. Mike DeWine, the Democrats nominated Ted Celeste, whose sole political asset was that he is the brother of former two-term Democratic Gov. Richard Celeste (2006 saw Ted Celeste win a State Rep seat, if that gives you any frame of reference). DeWine cruised to re-election. Meanwhile, Vice President Al Gore abandoned Ohio and its then-21 electoral votes to George W. Bush.

2002 was rock bottom. Not only did the Republicans sweep all statewide offices for the third election in a row, they also consolidated their control over Ohio's legislators thanks to legistlative districts they redrew after the 2000 census. Ohio's congressional delegation was now controlled 12-6 by the Republicans, while they also controlled the Ohio House 62-37, and the Ohio Senate, 22-11. After this humbling defeat, Ohio Democratic Pary chair David Leland was finally forced out, having served eight years despite not seeing a single Democrat elected to a statewide office during his tenure.

2004 saw the worm start to turn a little bit. The Kerry/Edwards camp very nearly carried the state. I am convinced that had their not been a constitutional amendment on the ballot regarding gay marriage to drive Republican turnout to the polls, that Kerry would have won. However, Sen. George Voinovich was easily re-elected, carrying all 88 counties against State Sen. Eric Fingerhut.

So, considering this recent history, it is quite an accomplishment to be able to say that we have a Democratic governor, Ted Strickland. A Democratic Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner. A Democratic Treasurer of State, Richard Cordray. A Democratic Attorney General, Marc Dann. And, elected to Howard Metzenbaum's old seat in the U.S. Senate, Democratic congressman Sherrod Brown. Meanwhile, Democrats were able to pick up the congressional seat of the disgraced Rep. Bob Ney, with Zack Space's election. Meanwhile, Democrats also narrowed the Republican margin of control to 53-46 in the Ohio House, and 21-12 in the Ohio Senate. There were also several close calls at both the General Assembly and congressional level where a little bit better fundraising might have seen the Democratic candidate win.

Heading into 2008, we can look forward to a rebuilt Ohio Democratic Party under the tutelige of State Rep. Chris Redfern with Gov. Strickland and Sen. Brown able to assist candidate at all levels with fundraising. In addition to defending Rep. Space's seat, we can also build on the very close races in the 2nd and 15th congressional districts, as well as numerous State Rep. and State Senate seats where the Republican incumbent is term-limited out. And, we have a much better organized party to help a Democrat win Ohio's 20 electoral votes in the 2008 race for the White House.

My, how far we've come.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Poetic. Justice.

Wow. Congressman Ted Strickland took at full 60% of the vote in the 2006 Gubenatorial race, winning 72 of Ohio's 88 counties against Secretary of State "Ayahtollah" J. Kenneth Blackwell. This spanking was the most lopsided Governor's race in Ohio since 1994, when incumbent Gov. George Voinovich took 72% against the Democratic nominee, State Sen. Rob Burch. While this was quite a showing by Strickland about just what a Democrat is capable of doing in Ohio, I can't help but compare it to another candidate who got spanked Tuesday night.

That candidate being the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate from Florida, Katherine Harris. The Democratic incumbent, Sen. Bill Nelson, also took 60% of the vote against Harris at the same time that the state was electing Republican Charlie Crist to serve as governor.

What do Harris and Blackwell have in common? As Secretaries of their respective states, Blackwell and Harris both made questionable judgement calls that basically threw their state's elections in 2000 and 2004 to our current President, George W. Bush.

For both of these candidates' opponents to receive 60% of the vote is the sweetest kind of poetic justice, as if the electorate was saying: We know what you did. We don't trust you to serve. And we won't see you profit from your wrongdoing.

So, Ken Blackwell and Katherine Harris, you sacrificed your political careers to see George W. Bush installed in the White House. After tuesday night's election resutls, do you think it was worth it?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

While I will soon be posting my thoughts on election night, I wanted to post the link to my new site, which will allow all of you to read articles that I have "clipped" as being of interest. The URL is

Monday, November 06, 2006

Hail Mary, Full of Grace, The Lord is with Thee...

Of all the Hail Mary's that we have seen the Republicans pull, Blackwell with his NAMBLA reference, DeWine talking about a twenty-year-old investigation into Sherrod Brown's Secretary of State office over an issue that caused no arrests and no charges to be filed, Bob "Sham"-ansky, the "Willie Horton II" ad against Dan Dodd in the 91st, we now have what may be the most desperate heave of all.

The OHRCC has paid for robo-calls of Republicans, pretending to be Democrats, urging Democrats to vote for Republican State House/State Senate candidates. The calls go something like "Hi, I'm so-and-so, a proud Democrat who is voting for Ted Strickland on Tuesday. But, I'll also be voting for "insert Republican State house/state senate candidate here."

Bob Bennett, it's time for you to resign. Your party has crossed the line from merely telling half-truths to out-and-out deception.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

These Are The Stakes

I urge you to read Jonathan Alter's excellent column before casting your vote for Congress this year.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

More CQ Rating Changes in Ohio

Can you hear the cresting blue wave? It's going to hit in less than three weeks., the website of the highly respected political publication Congressional Quarterly, has changed its rating on a number of races in Ohio. The changes are summarized below:

Ohio Governor : Now rated Democrat Favored (from Leans Democratic)

Congressman Ted Strickland's election to Ohio's top post is now seen as highly likely by CQ's staff. A slew of recent independent polls shows Ted Strickland maintaining a double-digit lead, including the University of Cincinnati's Ohio Poll, which pegs Strickland to an 14 point lead. The Ohio Poll is the one outlier that had still shown Ken Blackwell within striking distance of Strickland, so with this information as well as the short time left until the election, CQ has made the ratings change. The "Democrat Favored" rating indicates that the race is still somewhat competitve, but the Democratic candidate is clearly in command.

Ohio Senate: Now rated Leans Democratic (from No Clear Favorite)

With indepedent polls from SurveyUSA, Qunnipiac University as well as the Ohio Poll showing Congressman Sherrod Brown putting further distance between himself and Republican incumbent Sen. Mike DeWine, CQ has changed its rating on Ohio's Senate race to Leans Democratic. This rating indicates that while the race is still highly competitive, the Democratic candidate does appear to have the advantage. This makes Sen. DeWine the third Republican senator to be considered an underdog for re-election this year. He joins Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Rick Santorum and Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee in that category.

Ohio 2: Now rated Leans Republican (from Republican Favored)

A bedrock Republican conservative district that gave President Bush 64% of the vote in 2004, the 2nd, based in the suburbs of Cincinnati, is the last place you would look for a highly competitive House race. However, the unpopularity of incumbent Rep. Jean Schmidt, plus the credible challenge by Democrat Victoria Wulsin, has caused CQ to place this race in its highly competitive Leans Republican category. A recent SurveyUSA poll done on behalf of WCPO-TV in Cincinnati placed Wulsin within 8 points of Schmidt (48% to 40%)

Ohio 12: Now rated Republican Favored (from Safe Republican)

The Columbus-based 12th is no party's stronghold: President Bush and Sen. John Kerry split the district's presidental vote 51-49 in 2004. However, three term Republican Rep. Pat Tiberi has coasted to re-election behind inexperienced challengers in the last two elections. However, he is now facing a credible challenge from Democratic former Rep. Bob Shamansky, who at age 79 is willing to dip into his consider personal wealth to get his former seat back (He was elected in 1980 but defeated in 1982). As a result, CQ's ratings change indicates this race is now at least somewhat competitive, although Tiberi is still considered a heavy favorite to be re-elected.

Ohio 15: Now rated No Clear Favorite (from Leans Republican)

Well folks, "The Race" is now even more so. The only member of the House Republican leadership to face a competitive re-election bid, Rep. Deborah Pryce is now running neck-and-neck with her Democratic challenger, Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy, in the Columbus-based 15th District. The 15th District split its Presidental vote 50-50 in 2004, and this race is very winnable for both candidates. Reflecting the extremely competitive nature of this race, CQ has changed its rating to No Clear Favorite from Leans Republican. Both candidates have drawn fundraising visits from top party leaders, and the NRCC and DCCC continue to spend heavily on this race. This one will likely go down to the wire.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

So much for GOP pickup opportunities...

If you would care to jump in the way-back machine with me, and think back to early January or February of this year. You'll recall that when U.S. Reps Sherrod Brown and Ted Strickland announced they would abandon their congressional seats to run for the U.S. Senate and Governor seats, respectively, that were up for election this year, the GOP proclaimed that they had an excellent opportunity to pick up both Congressional seats. They recruited State Rep. Chuck Blasdel, the house speaker pro tem, to run for Strickland's seat in the 6th District, and Lorain Mayor Craig Foltin, the Republican mayor of a heavily Democratic city, to run for Brown's seat in the 13th.

However, the political headwinds faced by the GOP this year due to the war in Iraq, high gas prices, bungled Katrina response, etc., have forced the National Republican Campaign Committee to shift their money to defending seats held by GOP incumbents instead of picking up Democrat-held seats. This has allowed State Sen. Charlie Wilson, the Democratic nominee in the 6th district, and former State Rep. Betty Sutton in the 13th, to build solid leads. Reflecting this, changed its rating on both races to its somewhat-competitive Democrat Favored category. The 6th district had been rated in CQ's ultra-competitive No Clear Favorite category, while the 13th district had been in CQ's very competitive Leans Democratic category.

CQ today also changed the rating on the 2nd Congressional District to Republican Favored from Safe Republican, due to the NRCC investing money in attack pieces in defense of U.S. Rep Jean Schmidt, who insulted U.S. Rep John Murtha (D-PA) a U.S. Marine veteran of the Vietnam war, on the floor of the House of Representatives. Murtha is scheduled to appear at a fundraiser in support of Schmidt's Democratic opponent, Victoria Wulsin, and will also be featured in Wulsin's first TV advertisement.

Now, its time for CQ to get its pencils out and change its rating on Ohio's 12th Congressional District race. Democratic nominee Bob Shamansky is a wealthy real estate investor who is self-funding his campaign. His first TV ad featured former U.S. Senator John Glenn giving Shamansky his endorsement, and the Republican incumbent, Pat Tiberi, was scared enough to crank out an attack ad criticizing the 79-year-old for owning three houses, only one of which is in the district. Despite Tiberi's lock on the district in the past, it was very competitive in the 2004 Presidential race, with a 51-49 Bush/Kerry split, and could be in play this year. We will have to see. As a resident of the 12th, I know I plan on voting for Bob Shamansky, and I have to think lots of other Columbus-ites are going to consider it.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

How to Beat "Cut and Run"

As I have been very busy with actual campaign events, I have not had much time to update my blog. Instead, please read Jonathan Alter's excellent column, "How to beat cut and run" which you can see by following the link below:

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

CQ rating change portends trouble for GOP in Ohio

Congressional Quarterly's elections forecast has been updated with new ratings on statewide elections in Ohio, and the new ratings reflect the good chances Democrats have to win a statewide office for the first time since 1992 when Senator John Glenn was re-elected to his last term. In the race for Ohio governor, CQ has changed its rating from "No clear favorite" to "Leans Democratic", reflecting the big leads in polling and cash that Democrat Ted Strickland has over Republican J. Kenneth Blackwell. CQ has also changed its rating on Ohio's Senate race to "No clear favorite" from "Leans Republican" reflecting the very close contest between two-term Republican incumbent Mike DeWine and Democratic challenger Sherrod Brown. What a change from two years ago when Republican incumbent Senator George Voinovich defeated his Democratic challenger, State Senator Eric Fingerhut, by 30 percentage points, in the process carrying every single county in Ohio.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Census Bureau report shows Bush economic policies not working

Yesterdays' report from the U.S. Census Bureau leaves little doubt that, despite Republican dismissal of such concerns as "class warfare", President Bush's economic policies are mainly benefitting the wealthiest of Americans, while leaving the middle class squeezed and the lower class slipping into deep poverty.

Median Real Household Income increased a paltry 1.1 percent, the first increase since President Bush took office, owing mainly to older Americans whose incomes increased due to investments and Social Security benefits. Meanwhile, the under-65 crowd saw yet another decrease in their median wages, as inflation continues to outstrip wage increases for most working Americans. Median income for under-65 Americans is now $2,000 lower than it was four years ago, during the 2001 recession, after adjusting for inflation.

The poverty rate, at 12.6 percent, and number of uninsured Americans, at 46.6 million, are also worse then they were during the 2001 recession. These numbers show that robust economic growth does not by itself help all Americans if there are not government policies in place to ensure that the benefits of such growth are widely distrubited. Economic growth does little good if the benefits of it mainly accrue to the wealthy and to big businesses.

Of course, since the Republicans are vassals of the wealthy and big business, benefits will continue to accure to them as long as they are in power. The question is, how long will it take Americans to figure out that the Republicans are using "wedge issues" such as abortion and gay marriage to distract them while they do the bidding of the wealthy and powerful?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Rasmussen: Strickland ahead by 25

The Rasmussen poll released the results of its statewide polling for Ohio's governor and senator races on August 27th, and the results do not bode well for the Blackwell campaign. According to the poll, Congressman Strickland has increased his lead in the gubenatorial race to 25 points. This tracks with a SurveyUSA poll which shows Strickland's lead at 22 points, and with the Columbus Dispatch poll which showed Strickland with a 20 point lead. According to the Rasmussen results, 57% of likely voters contacted by the survey stated they plan to vote for Congressman Strickland, while 32% state they plan to vote for Secretary Blackwell, with the remaining 11% either supporting third-party candidates or undecided. The three month rolling average, which is supposed to eliminate statistical noise, has had Strickland with a 13-16 point lead for the last five months.

Meanwhile, the more competitive race between Congressman Sherrod Brown and incumbent Senator Mike DeWine continues to be very close. The latest Rasmussen result had Brown with a razor thin 3 point lead, as compared to the 2 point lead from last month's poll. The three month rolling average now shows the race as a tie, and has shown no candidate with a lead larger than two points for the last four months. This is truly going to be a bruising battle to the finish, with both candidates already trotting out attack ads. With the coming of Labor Day and the two-month mark til Election Day, expect the attacks to get more and more vicious.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Sensationalism surrounding Lieberman Loss

It has been nine days since 52% of the Democratic primary voters in the Constitution State ignored the advice of this blogger and chose Ned Lamont, not three-term Democratic incumbent Joe Lieberman, as the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate from Connecticut. The main issue in the revolt, as reported elsewhere, is Sen. Lieberman's unwavering support for the Iraq War. Response to Lieberman's primary defeat by right-wingers who toe the Karl Rove line was unanimous and quite swift. The Wall Street Journal claimed that Lamont's primary win foretold of a "new" Democratic party dominated by the liberal elite instead of the working class, based on the primary results that Lamont carried areas of Connecitcut won by Richard Nixon in 1960, whereas Lieberman carried areas of the state won by John F. Kennedy that year. Conservative columnist Cal Thomas wrote that Lieberman was befallen by "Taliban Democrats" who had started a political jihad against those who failed to conform to their world view. Ken Mehlman, George Bush, and Dick Cheney also joined in the act.

While I do not defend the defeat of Lieberman, as you can tell from my previous blog posting on this topic, I must say I am appaled by this reporting, which is nothing short of sensationalistic, for two reasons. First, any college student who has successfuly passed Political Science 101 can tell you that the people who turn out for primary elections are the hard-core true believers. The pragmatic centrists or even party insiders do not have much of a voice when it comes to primary elections. Primaries are about placating the hard-core left or right wingers, and that makes them a lousy time to be a centrist. As the true believers become even more hard-core due to the country's polarization, you can expect more centrists to be dusted in primary elections.

Case in point, and this leads me to my second point, in Michigan's 7th Congressional District, Republican Congressman Joe Schwarz was ousted by primary voters on the same day as Lieberman. Schwarz is a moderate Republican who was targeted for defeat by the ultra-Conservative "Club for Growth." The "Club" largerly built and funded Mr. Schwarz' opponent, who basically spent the entire campaign insisting that Congressman Schwarz, a long-time State Senator, was not conservative enough.

To extend Mr. Cal Thomas' metaphor, you might call the Club for Growth the "Taliban Republicans" who have issued a jihad against moderates. In fact, since the "Club" was founded in 1999, its stated goal has been to go "RINO" hunting, with RINO standing for Republican in Name Only. To my knowledge, the Democratic Party has no permanent organization within it dedicated to taking down moderates that is comparable to the "Club for Growth."

Which makes it hypocritical in the extreme for Bush, Cheney, Mehlman, Thomas, the WSJ, and all other Republicans, to be harping on Lieberman's primary loss. But of course a little hypocrisy has never stopped Republicans from following Karl Rove's playbook in the past, so it is sadly unsurprising that it didn't stop them this time, either.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Can you spell Irony?

During the 2002 redistricting process, the Republican-led Ohio Legislature drew the 6th Congressional District, which extends from the subrubs of Youngstown south along the OH/PA border and Ohio River to Portsmouth at the state's very southern tip, for a specific purpose. They figured that incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland would win the seat, but that if he left office for any reason the Republicans would be able to pick it up. So last year when Congressman Strickland was contemplating whether to throw his hat in the race for governor, and face a potential primary fight against Columbus Mayor Micheal Coleman and State Sen. Eric Fingerhut (D-Shaker Heights), the Republicans snuck a "sole loser" bill into a budget bill that passed. The "sore loser" provision basically prohibited anyone who lost a primary for one office from running for another office in that same year. Thus, sending a message to Congressman Strickland: don't expect to try and run again for your congressional seat if you enter the Democratic primary for Governor and lose.

Of course, Mayor Coleman and Senator Fingerhut dropped out of the Democratic primary for Governor, clearing the way for Strickland to win the Democratic nomination. However, the sore loser provision remained on the books, and now has ensnared State Sen. Joy Padgett (R-Coshocton). With Bob Ney declining to run for re-election in the face of the Jack Abramoff scandal, State Sen. Padgett was anointed by Ney and House Majority Leader John Boehner to run for the seat. The problem is, Padgett was the Lt. Governor candidate on Jim Petro's primary ticket, and since that ticket lost, the "sore loser" provision applies to Padgett.

Here we have a clear example of unintended consequences. A bill aimed at making Congressman Strickland think twice before stepping into the Governor's race has instead tripped up the most logical candidate to keep Ohio's 18th Congressional seat in Republican hands. Can you spell I-r-o-n-y?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

New Rasmussen Poll Results

The Rasmussen poll released its July polling information on Ohio's two key statewide races last week while I was on vacation. In the gubenatorial race, Rasmussen pegs Democrat Ted Strickland's lead over Republican J. Kenneth Blackwell at 11 points, with 50% of likely voters supporting Stirckland, 39% supporting Blackwell and the remaining 11% undecided. This poll shows Strickland's advantage as two points lower than the June poll, which in turn showed an advantage two points lower than the May poll. However, the margin of error of the poll is plus or minus 4.5 points, so these results are still within the margin of error of the May poll. Rasmussen's three month rolling average, which they say helps to filter out statistical noise, shows no change in the last four months.

No change, however, hardly describes the U.S. Senate race between Democrat Sherrod Brown and incumbent Republican Mike DeWine. For the fourth month in a row, there has been a lead change, with the July poll showing Brown with a razor-thin 2 point lead over DeWine. The three month rolling average shows a race that started out with an advantage to the incumbent, but has steadily narrowed to a statistical tie. Both campaigns have begun airing TV ads seeking an advantage in this tight race. Other Republican senate incumbents are in trouble in Missouri, Rhode Island, Montana, and Pennsylvania.

Other interesting facts: The poll put President Bush's approval rating in Ohio at 43%, with 55% disapproval. Governor Taft, has climbed out of the teens, but still only gains support from a putrid 20% of respondents with 77% disapproval.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Dispatch Poll: Strickland ahead by 20

A statewide poll of 1,654 registered voters conducted by the Columbus Dispatch from July 11-20 showed that 47% of respondents planned to vote for Democratic gubenatorial nominee Ted Strickland, 27% planned to vote for Republican nominee Ken Blackwell, with the remaining 24% undecided.

The same poll also showed 45% of repondents planning to vote for Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Sherrod Brown, while 37% plan to vote for Republican incumbent Mike DeWine, and the remaining 17% are undecided.

Interesting facts uncovered by the survey:

  • Only 53% of those who report voting for George W. Bush in 2004 plan to vote for Blackwell, whereas 66% plan to vote for Mike DeWine. Less than half of those who report voting for Bob Taft in 2002 plan to vote for Blackwell.
  • Strickland carries every age group except for 18-24 where they are tied. Self-described independents favor Strickland by 33 points, however 38 % of these voters remain undecided.
  • Brown is losing the 18-24 and 25-34 age groups to DeWine, but carries all other age groups. Self-described independents favor Brown by 15 points, however 32% of these voters remain undecided.
Meanwhile, according to the Rasmussen poll, President Bush's approval rating, which had crept back to 45% amidst good news out of Iraq, plunged 8 points to 37% in the wake of his veto of legislation authorizing federal funding for stem cell research. The percentage who stongly disapprove of Bush's performance has now risen to 42%.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Leave Joe Lieberman Alone

Joe Lieberman, the senior U.S. Senator from Connecticut and the Democratic nominee for Vice-President of the United States in 2000, who probably should be in office right now instead of Cheney, is facing a very tough primary challenge in this year's Democratic primary on August 8th. After three terms in the U.S. Senate, Lieberman has the backing of such staple Democratic groups as the AFL-CIO, Planned Parenthood, the Human Rights Campaign, and the league of Conservation Voters. His lifetime rating from the Christian Coalition is a big, fat, squa-doosh (that's zero for those of you not up on your Italian-American slang).

And yet, Lieberman is subject to the vile of the liberal "net-roots" who have not learned the quintessential lesson of the 1990's: it is better to be in power than to be ideologically pure. For those who have not yet grasped this concept, Sen. Lieberman's continued support of the war in Iraq puts him squarely in the gunsights. His primary challenger, Ned Lamont, advocates an immediate withdrawal of all American forces from Iraq, consequeces be damned. Polling on this primary indicates that Lieberman's slight lead is too small to be comfortable, forcing him to file petitions to run as an independent should he fail to win re-nomination on the Aug 8th.

Sen. Lieberman is no doubt the most hawkish member of the Senate Democratic caucus, and also one of the few willing to reach across the aisle to work out compromises with the other side. To punish him for these qualities would weaken our party and our attempts to reach out to centrists and convince them that our party is not only the domain of the super liberal.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Lies, Damn Lies, and Bushisms

I was going to write about something else today, but I am too incredulous (and angry) at an announcement that President Bush made today to focus on everything else. The President made a live TV appearance to celebrate the fact that the federal budget deficit for the fiscal year ending Sept 30, 2006 is projected to be only $295 Billion!!! I am angry because this is both a half-truth of the worst sort and not something worth celebrating by any means. Let me amplify both points.

First of all the $295 Billion President Bush cited is the combined federal deficit. The combined deficit treats surplus funds from the Social Security and Medicare trust funds as ordinary tax revenue, not money to be invested to prepare to pay benefits to future beneficiaries. The combined deficit takes these funds, spends them as though they were ordinary taxes, and places IOU's in the trust funds. Since Bush took office we have added $1.5 Trillion in IOU's to these trust funds! No wonder they are going broke! The actual deficit is much higher, but the problem is not being acknowledged by the Bush administration or Republican congress, who would never admint to such a huge problem, especially in an election year.

Secondly, the $295 Billion deficit is nothing to celebrate. It means America is going $295 Billion further in debt to the rest of the world, and ourselves. It means that instead of focusing on a concrete way to improve America by helping to end the destructive cycle of borrow and spend, Bush is going to continue in pursuit of his goal to cut the deficit "in half" by the time he leaves office. What he doesn' t know, or care, is that it is a goal that will not help America.

The first step to getting out of a hole, goes the age old wisdom, is to stop digging. Bush assures us that he will only have us digging half as fast by the end of his term. That is manifestly not a solution, and only lulls Americans into the attitude they can have spending and tax cuts at the same time.

For more information, visit the Bureau of the Public Debt, U.S. Department of the Treasury, website:

Note: "Debt held by the public" is held by those who have purchased treasury bonds, whether they are Americans or foreigners.  "Intragovernmental Holdings" are bonds owned by the Social Security and Medicare trust funds.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Back to the Well, One more time, Will it be dry?

With storm clouds gathering on the horizon for the Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, and with "the Architect" Karl Rove freed from his post as Deputy White House Cheif of Staff for Policy as well as cleared from further legalities in the Valerie Plame debacle, a nacent strategy is coming together on the part of the GOP to hold onto their majorities. This strategy is the same one that worked so well in 2002 and 2004: play the fear card. With missle tests in North Korea, the nuclear ambitions in Iran, and the strategically uncovered threat (which was really nothing more than some al-Qaeda fantasizing in chat rooms) of tunnel bombings in New York, Rove and the GOP will argue that todays' world is far to dangerous to turn over to Democratic foreign policy "wieners" and their multi-lateral (some would say conservative) approach to dealing with the rest of the world. This strategy is based on keeping the American people as frightened as possible for as long as possible: Think FDR's statement "We have nothing to fear but fear itself" turned on its head.

The Democratic challenge to defeat Karl Rove politics of fear is to take the statement above from one of our party's greatest leaders and apply it to today's world. The first step, I think, is to point out how the situations in North Korea, Iran, and also Afganhistan, has gone on unchecked due to all of the U.S.'s time and attention being placed in Iraq. This might be a good place to hammer home the theme of the Bush administration half-assing the "war of necessity" in Afganhistan in order to lead us into ao "war of choice" in Iraq. Next, we must convince Americans that a multi-lateral approach to fighting terrorism will work better than Bush's "Cowboy Diplomacy" at preventing terror. After all, preventing terrorism is an excercise in police work. Police investigations are careful, painstaking ordeals where sharing of information amongst all investigators is of the utmost importance. It is this police work, and not the Bush excursion into Iraq, that has kept America safe since 9/11. We must figure out a way to get that news to the American people.

Here is a good article on this issue.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Rasmussen Poll: Strickland lead narrows to 13 points

The results of the monthly Rasmussen poll were released for the month of June. Like other surveys, Rasmussen shows Congressmen Strickland retaining a big advantage over Secretary Blackwell, however, the edge narrowed slightly from last month's poll. The result, however, is within the margin of error of the last poll (it shows Strickland two points lower and Blackwell one point higher than in May, within the 4.5 percent margin of error) so we cannot say the situation has materially changed. This poll compares to the SurveyUSA poll released earlier this month which showed Strickland with a 16 point lead, and a Zogby/WSJ poll which showed Strickland with a 5 point lead.

However, unlike the SurveyUSA poll, and unlike the Rasmussen poll from May, this poll shows incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Mike DeWine with an 8 point lead over Democratic challenger Sherrod Brown. This after both the SurveyUSA and Zogby/WSJ showed Brown with sizable leads.

We are coming up on the four month mark to Election Day. More drama to follow for sure.

misplaced GOP anger over NY Times Article

I have been amused at the GOP anger, from Ohio's own Rep. Micheal Oxley all the way up to President Bush, at the disclosure in the New York Times and other media outlets that the U.S. government has been secretly tracking Americans financial transactions in order to identify "suspicious" activity that could signal terrorism. Disclosure of such activity will make it harder to fight the "war on terror" insists the GOP leadership.

To me, the NY Times and other media outlets have done Americans a public service by disclosing the fact that the Bush administration has been secretly tracking our finances, our phone calls, our e-mails, and other personal information, without search warrants, congressional approval, or any oversight of any kind, and completely in secret. Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote that "Democracy dies behind closed doors." If that is true, and I believe it is, then our democracy has absolutely suffered during the Bush administration.

In an open, democratic society, government policy is supposed to be debated in the light of day. Instead, thanks to the Bush administration's secrecy, the policy is only now being debated years after it was put in place. The Bush administration, notorious for reprisals against those who disagree with its policy, is know howling with outrage that someone dared to publicize, and therefore subject to scrutiny, the policy that they felt was best.

Instead of lashing out at the New York Times, the Bush administration should look in the mirror and ask just how much more of our democracy will have to die, only to have the body exposed by the press, before they change their ways and begin to submit to congressional oversight, and public scrutiny, of their decisions to curtail our most precious freedoms for whatever cause they feel necessary. Our freedoms aren't free, and we won't retain them for long, unless we jealously guard them from government agents who violate them for their own expediency and convenience.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Sweet Sixteen!

The results of a statewide poll conducted by SurveyUSA on behalf of the NBC affiliate TV stations in Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Youngstown were released today, and much to the chargin of Republicans, they mirror the result of a poll released last month: It shows Democratic gubenatorial nominee Congressman Ted Strickland with a 16 point lead over Republican nominee Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell.

When 507 likely Ohio voters were asked whom they would vote for if the election were held today, 53% said they would vote for Congressman Strickland, 37% said they would vote for Secretary Blackwell, while the remaining 10% either support third-party candidates or were undecided. Among self-described independents, Strickland sports a 20 point lead, according to the poll results.

This result is consistent with previous polls done by a wide variety of organizations. The more surprising result is in the U.S. Senate race. The SurveyUSA poll results show that 48% of respondents support Democratic nominee Congressman Sherrod Brown, 39% support Republican incumbent Sen. Mike DeWine, with the remaining 13% undecided. Self-described independents surveyed in this poll favor Brown over DeWine by 14 points.

This puts the SurveyUSA poll at odds with the Rasmussen poll released last month, which showed Sherrod Brown with only a three point lead. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Ken Blackwell's Turnpike Folly

"Ayahtollah" J. Kenneth Blackwell has rescinded the signature policy proposal of his gubernatorial campaign -- the implementation of a constitutional amendment restricting the spending authority of all political agencies of the state -- thanks to his friends in the GOP leadership who helped ram a watered-down version of the so-called TEL through the state legislature, which also conveniently allowed J-Ken the ability to pull this highly unpopular amendment off the November ballot.

Now that the fervor over the TEL is subsiding, attention has shifted to another of J-Ken's policy proposals: the leasing of the 241-mile long Ohio Turnpike to a private operator, who would lease the turnpike from the state and operate it in exchange for a lump sum of cash. J-Ken is proposing to use this cash for redevelopment projects in depressed inner cities as well as traditionally poor Appalachian areas of the state. This obvious attempt to curry favor in areas where J-Ken is politically weak right now is a bad idea for at least three reasons.

But first, a brief history of the Ohio Turnpike. The Ohio Turnpike Commission was formed in 1949 in response to the runaway success of the Pennsylvania Turnpike which had opened in 1940. The OTC was initially charged with constructing five such turnpikes across Ohio: The present-day Ohio Turnpike was to be first, followed by another turnpike roughly paralleling today's I-71 but traveling northeast from Cleveland along the lakeshore to the PA border (as today's I-271 and I-90 do). The third turnpike was to be roughly parallel today's I-75, the fourth would parallel today's I-70, and the fifth would parallel US Route 30 through a large swath of north central Ohio.

Construction on the first turnpike began in the early 1950's. Construction was financed through the sale of toll bonds, which were to be repaid with toll revenue collected from travelers on the turnpike. The original Ohio Turnpike across northern Ohio was opened in 1955. In 1956, after the passage of the bill creating the Interstate Highway System, development on the other four Ohio Turnpikes was stopped. While plans for the Interstate system briefly called for an interstate to be built parallel to the turnpike, eventually the turnpike was incorporated into the Interstate system, carrying Interstates 80, 90, and 76 for portions of its length. Tolls on the original Turnpike were to cease when the bonds sold to finance its construction were repaid.

The last original bond was repaid in July of 1992. At this time, preparations began to convert the Turnpike into a publicly maintained road as originally called for by the Interstate highway plan. However, legislation was introduced calling for the Turnpike to remain a toll road, citing the need to expand the road to six lanes to accommodate heavy traffic. The bill passed the Ohio Senate by a 17-16 margin and was eventually passed into law.

Soon thereafter, a proposal to raise the tolls on the Turnpike by 82 percent in order to finance construction of a third lane from Toledo to Youngstown, as well as to renovate the service plazas and build additional interchanges, was enacted by the Turnpike Commission. This toll increase drove large numbers of heavy trucks off the Turnpike onto parallel semi-improved roads such as State Route 2, U.S. Route 20, and U.S. Route 422. Accidents increased and maintenance became more difficult as these side routes handled mainline truck traffic.

Under political pressure from affected communities, Gov. Taft put a finance plan in place to lower the tolls on the Turnpike in order to draw truck traffic back onto it.

Now, Ken Blackwell wants to lease the turnpike to a private operator who would be free to raise tolls at will. When the city of Chicago leased the Chicago Skyway to a private operator, they raised the toll to travel the 7.8 mile elevated highway to $2.50 for a passenger car. Applying that same rate of toll to the 241-mile Ohio Turnpike would result in a toll of nearly $75 to cross the state! Thus driving truck traffic back off of the Turnpike and back onto the main streets of small towns across Northern Ohio, resulting in increased accidents and pollution and decreased quality of life for area residents.

Secondly, asking residents of Northern Ohio to pay a toll to travel their main east-west interstate (I-80) while allowing residents of Central Ohio a toll-free ride across their main east-west interstate (I-70) is inherently unfair, and puts Northern Ohio at a competitive disadvantage when trying to attract businesses reliant upon transportation access. J-Ken plans to partially mitigate this by one-time investments in the area made from funds secured by leasing the Turnpike, but why should residents of one region of the state be asked to pay an extra tax for something that ultimately would benefit all Ohioans? Isn't that very unfair?

Finally, travelers upon the Turnpike drive cars and trucks which burn gasoline and diesel fuel. In order to purchase that fuel, those travelers paid excise taxes which are used for road maintenance. So they are already paying one tax for road maintenance, but by charging a toll for traveling the turnpike, the State of Ohio is asking them to pay another tax. Make no mistake about it: the Turnpike as it currently stands is double taxation, plain and simple. That an anti-tax crusader like Ken Blackwell supports a plan calling for the State's residents to be double-taxed is quite stunning when you stop and think about it. In my mind, the only reason J-Ken is contemplating this proposal is that those motorists who will be double-taxed are in heavily Democratic Northern Ohio and not likely to vote for him anyway. How else could he come up with such a short sighted, punitive proposal?

If this is really such a good idea, let's see him lease I-75 through downtown Cincinnati to a private toll operator. Let those in the GOP heartland of Ohio start being double-taxed, and then we'll see if what's good for the goose is really good for the gander.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Lou Dobbs for President

My apologies for my lack of bloggage over the last week. I have been very busy in my preparations to attend the YDA National Conference for Spring 06, which will take place this weekend in Las Vegas, NV. In the mean time, the GOP has decided to go forward with their silly plans for a vote on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, essentially watching Rome burn and deciding that they have more important things to worry about. There are so many more important issues our country needs to grapple with that are being ignored wholesale by the Republican leadership in Washingotn. Read this rant from Lou Dobbs, who is fast becoming my pick for the next chairman of the DNC. He seems to have a much more firm grasp of the needs of working-class Americans than Howard Dean does.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

To Rebuild or Not Rebuild?

Today, June 1st, marks the offical beginning of the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season. As this milestone reaches us, and talk goes about whether the U.S. Gulf Coast is ready for another year of above-average hurricane activity, it brings to mind for me an interesting question.

So let's say you have this city. This city is built on swampland that has no bedrock, and therefore sinks every year. This city sits near the coast, however the barrier islands and coastal marshes that have traditionally protected the city from the ocean are slowly sinking beneath sea level due to being cut off from their supply of sediment from the Mississippi River due to the extensive lock-and-dam system built on that river to control flooding and keep it navigable. Meanwhile, sea level is rising due to global warming, which also has a certain side effect called making the hurricanes that do form larger, more intense, and more frequent.

Now, lets say that this city was recently hit by a major hurricane that did catastrophic damage due to the failure of the levys that hold back the ocean. Now, we have a report that says that the levys failed because the ground they were built on had subsided rapidly ( click here for story). So, does this City seem like a good place to sink billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars in a rebuilding effort? Or should the city be moved from its present location to prevent future disasters?

I vote for the latter option. Rebuild New Orleans, but on the other side of Lake Ponchartrain (sp?) from its present location. That way, the new New Orleans could be built on good ground that has bedrock and will be protected from future hurricanes. The other option is to let New Orleans dwindle down to the nothingness. A historical fact is that Houston and Galveston, TX had roughly equal populations before the 1900 hurricane decimated Galveston. After that, Houston, the city further inland, gained population at Galveston's expense. Already, this pattern is occuring with a large population and business shift to the further-inland state capital of Baton Rouge. Allowing New Orleans to die would be tragic given the city's historical significance and unique character.

Let's save the city by moving it to higher ground, and spending our taxpayer dollars on rebuilding once, not over and over and over again.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Which poll to believe?

The big news of the week was the release of the University of Cincinnati's Ohio Poll, which yielded starkly different results than the Rasmussen poll released a week earlier. The Ohio Poll showed U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland with a 6 point lead over Secretary of State "Ayahtollah" Ken Blackwell, while it showed incumbent Republican U.S. Sen Mike DeWine with a 10 point lead over his challenger, Democratic U.S. Rep Sherrod Brown. You'll recall that the Rasmussen poll showed Strickland with a 16 point lead over Blackwell, and Brown with a slight edge over DeWine.

I'm not sure about the science of polling, so I will split the difference and say Strickland has an 11 point lead, while DeWine has a slight lead over Brown. Either way, this is shaping up to be an interesting summer, as it will be the first truly competitve elections for statewide office in over a decade.

Monday, May 22, 2006

open letter to Jonah Goldberg

Dear Mr. Goldberg,

Your column titled "Iraq war overshadows all that shines for Bush" appeared in today's edition of the Columbus Dispatch, the newspaper serving the state capitol region of the key swing state of Ohio. Your column posits that the economy is sailing along quite smoothly, and ponders the reason why polls continue to give President Bush poor marks for his handling of the economy. You complain that the poll ratings are "unfair" and of course offer the obligatory conservative dollop of blaming the media, but ultimately you conclude that it must be the Iraq war that is making the country feel that it is on the wrong track and thus the economy is going badly.

Perhaps if you had read the cover story of today's Dispatch, you would not have had to wonder. The cover story is entitled "Everything's Up: Judging by the numbers, the U.S. economy is thriving. But many working Ohioans don't believe it." The article points out the sharp price increases in items many people cannot do without. Between 2002 and today, the price of natural gas has increased 121 percent, the price of gasoline 96 percent, the price of health care 54 percent, and the price of tuition at a four-year public university in Ohio has increased 51 percent, to name a few examples cited in the article.

Not to mention that, in Ohio, over 200,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost since President Bush took the oath of office. These jobs are largely being replaced by lower paying service sector jobs that do not offer benefits such as 401k or health insurance. Jay McIntosh, who is identified in the article as Americas director of retail and consumer products for Ernst & Young, was quoted as saying that "The rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer. The bottom half is losing ground."

Conservatives like you dismiss statements like that as class warfare rhetoric. But unless Ernst & Young has been hiring Democratic activists lately, perhaps it is time for you to accept the statement as true, and that it explains Bush's eroding approval ratings on the economy.

It was a quite delicious irony that this story appeared in the same edition of the Disptach which contained your editorial. But it does certainly appear that it has answered the question for you of why Bush's approval ratings on the economy are headed south and will continue to do so. Unless the economy is lifting ALL boats, expect more of the same.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Rasmussen Poll: Strickland has 16 point lead

According to the results of a Rasmussen Poll released today, Congressmen Ted Strickland has a 16 point lead over his Republican challenger, "Ayahtollah" J. Kenneth Blackwell. When likely Ohio voters are asked whom they would vote for for Governor if the election were held today, 52% said they would vote for Ted Strickland, 36% said they would vote for Ken Blackwell, and 12% were undecided.

Another Rasmussen poll released today showed Congressmen Sherrod Brown with a three point lead over Republican incumbent Mike DeWine in the race for Ohio's U.S. Senate seat that is up for grabs this year. This is the first Rasmussen poll which has shown Brown with a lead over DeWine, however, the lead is within the polls margin for error.

Both polls have a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percentage points.

Monday, May 15, 2006


Hi All, soon after Congressmen Ted Strickland and Sherrod Brown, the Democratic candidates for Governor and U.S. Senator, respectively, cast their votes against the $70 billion tax cut bill in the U.S. Congress, Bob Bennett, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, issued a blistering press release blasting Strickland and Brown for being "out of touch" with Ohio voters who need tax relief.

Oops. Looks like he should have made sure all his own people were on the reservation first, because also voting against the tax cut bill was U.S. Sen. George V. Voinovich, R-OH, who gave a blistering commentary about the U.S. budget situation under President Bush, and the Republicans' failure to level with the American people about what will be needed to restore our government to fiscal sanity. An overview of the speech he gave is contained in this editorial.

Sorry, Bob, looks like you were too quick on the trigger finger this time!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Two Rules of Ohio Politics

Well, dear readers (if any) it looks like I am two days behind in my blog posts. That means that I am right on schedule to be giving you a summary and reactions from Ohio's May 2nd primary election.

My first reaction to primary day is that it proves that at least two rules of Ohio politics are alive and well. Rule No. 1: Cuyahoga County is always the last county to get their vote totals reported in. This causes lots of stomach acid production for us Democrats because Cuyahoga County is the Democratic heartland of Ohio, and without it we simply cannot win. As I write this, Cuyahoga County still has not reached the point where 100% of precincts are reporting, due to missing memory cards and absentee ballots that had to be counted by hand. Now, of course, offical results are not due into the Secretary of State's office until May 23rd, and this was the first election using all-electronic voting machines in Ohio, and there were the understandable glitches. But still, Rule No. 1 is alive and well.

Rule No. 2: Never underestimate the power of the "O." As in any candidate with an Irish last name containing and O and apostrophe. In both parties, unendorsed, underfunded candidates with the magic O defeated their party-endorsed primary opponents. On the Democratic side, it was Court of Appeals Judge Bill O'Neill defeating A.J. Wagner for the nomination for State Supreme Court. On the Republican side, Ashtabula County Auditor Sandra O'Brien defeated incumbent State Treasurer and former lieutenant governor Jeanette Bradley to win the nomination for that post.

In other results, State Sen. Charlie Wilson was successful in his effort to win the Democratic nomination for the 6th Congressional district as a write-in candidate. He will now face the Republican nominee, State Rep. Chuck Blasdel of East Liverpool, in the general election. However, Wilson's ability to get a remarkable 50,000 write-in votes in the primary speaks to the kind of candidate he is, and his ability to hold this seat for the Democratic party.

In Ohio's 13th Congressional District, Betty Sutton dispatched former Congressman Tom Sawyer and Youngstown shopping mall heiress Capri Cafaro for the Democratic nomination in this district. Sutton's win can be attributed to the strong support of organized labor and the funding she received from EMILY's List. Sutton, a former state representative, squares off against Republican Craig Foltin, the mayor of Lorain, in the general election. However, the district leans Democratic (it gave Sen. John Kerry a 62,000 vote margin of victory in 2004) and Sutton should be able to win the seat.

In the race for Ohio Attorney General, I was truly disappointed that former Cleveland Law Director Subodh Chandra did not have a better showing, as he only garnered a lackluster 29% of the vote. Pundits chalked this up to his non-traditional ballot name and his limited campaigning outside of Northeast Ohio. However, Chandra is a fiery campaigner and an obviously extremely intelligent person, and I hope he considers running for public office once again. Perhaps the challenge of running for a statewide office in his first attempt was more than he could overcome, but I would heartily encourage him to run again, perhaps for a State Rep or State Senate seat.

On the Republican side, the news of the night was Ken Blackwell's defeat of Jim Petro to win the Republican nomination for governor. However, the county-by-county results show some trouble spots ahead for "Ayahtollah" Blackwell. It has been noted elsewhere on this blog that Franklin County produced more votes for President G.W. Bush in 2004 than any other county in Ohio, and Cuyahoga County produced nearly as many as Hamilton County (221,600 and 222,616, respectively). Without those nearly half-million votes from these urban counties, Bush's goose would literally have been cooked. So, Mr. Blackwell's failure to win these two counties could signal trouble ahead, as the moderate Republicans who occupy suburbia may vote for a moderate, pro-gun, Golden Rule Democrat like Ted Strickland before they vote for a mortar-lobbing archconservative like Ken Blackwell. We will have to see. The next six months will surely be interesting.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Thoughts On A Day Without (Illegal) Immigrants

As the product of two families who immigrated to America via Ellis Island from Italy and Lebanon, there is little that I can say in opposition to immigration. Immigrants help make our country strong by bringing talents, work ethic, and the dream of a better life to our shores.

The problem is that right now, America's immigration policy is 180-degrees removed from what it should be. We tacitly permit millions of low-skilled, mainly Latino illegal immigrants under the guise of doing jobs that Americans won't do. Meanwhile, we make it increasingly difficult for foreigners of all stripes to come to American universities to study, and then make it even harder for them to stay if they so choose once their studies are completed. This policy is wrecklessly dangerous to our economy and needs to "flip-flop". We should make it harder for unskilled laborers to come to the U.S., but easier for foreign students to study at U.S. universities. And easier still for them to stay once they graduate. I would even go so far as to say that any foreigner who earns a master's or doctorate degree from an American university should have a "green card" stapled to their diploma.

I'd first like to say that there are no jobs that Americans simply won't do. The labor market is subject to the law of supply and demand just like every other market in America. If the supply of workers to perform a particular task is beneath the demand, then the wage paid to those workers will rise to draw more workers into the market for that task, until the market reaches equilibrium, supplying businesses with the labor they need a the market-clearing price.

However, the problem with this model is that businesses desperately do not want to pay the market-clearing price. The "Wal-Martization" of our economy has placed such enormous strains on businesses to have the lowest cost structure possible, that if they can get away with paying illegal immigrants far below the market-clearing price, they'll do it. This hurts American workers with a high-school diploma or below education level, because now they are forced to compete with illegal immigrants who will work for next to nothing. Consider that during the 1970's meat packers at chicken processing plants in the rural South had an average wage of $19/hour. Today these same jobs pay about $9/hour. How can they afford to pay that little? Well, lets just say its no coincidence that these businesses were the ones shutting down during the "May Day" protests. But, the businesses simply don't care because the penalties for this activity are light to moderate.

No more. This is the heart of the matter. For all the fantasies of people like Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado, no mass deportation of illegal immigrants to Mexico or other countries is in the offing. And there need not be. All we simply must do is make it clear to businesses that the U.S. will no longer tolerate companies who hire illegal immigrants. A fine of $100,000 per illegal immigrant employee or contractee, per day, should be a sufficient deterrent to corporations to make them scrupulously check the documentation of the workers or contractees they hire. Then, the corporations should be billed for any public services their illegal immigrant employees or contractees consume. These measures should dry up the demand for illegal immigrant labor, which would cause them to go home.

Now, I'm sure that there will still be some demand for immigrant labor in some sectors, agricultural being one, and that's why we need to institute a "guest worker" program to allow workers to enter the U.S. legally for a period of three years. We should probably allow a fairly high number each year, lets just say 300,000 per year just as a round figure for debate purposes. If after three years, the guest worker wishes to stay and has met certain conditions (such as having not been convicted of a crime, not on welfare, etc.) the permit can be renewed for another three years. If after the second three-year permit has elapsed they still meet the conditions they can then apply for citizenship. Then they can truly be called immigrants, because they would have come to the United States in a manner respectful of the rule of law.

I'd just like to close byoffering one of the most astute comments by the mafiosi who ran booze during Prohibition: "The worst part about being outside the law is that you no longer have the protection of it." If you come to this country outside the law, then please do not scream about your rights. This country is about liberty, and liberty is not possible without the rule of law.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

support Pete Ashdown for U.S. Senate

Just a brief note to mention the exciting candidacy of tech-centric Democrat Pete Ashdown in Republican-heavy Utah. Considering the state went over 70% for George Bush in '04, there is no doubt that Mr. Ashdown will have to take a centrist tack to have a shot at unseating longtime Republican incumbent Orrin Hatch. However, Utah is one of the heaviest tech-employment states in the country, and Mr. Ashdown's stances on tech development and protection of tech companies from the punitive laws pushed by the RIAA, MPAA, and others, should give him a chance in November. Please visit for more information.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Is it May 2nd yet?

One startling fact I discovered recently is that in terms of raw vote total, not percentage, Franklin County provided George W. Bush with more votes than any other county in Ohio in the 2004 Presidental Election, with a total of 230,000 and change. And while John Kerry received roughly 50,000 more votes than Bush in Franklin County, those 230,000 votes are the reason that Columbus airwaves have been inundated with TV advertisments from the Republican primary contestants in Ohio's May 2nd primary election.

On one hand, we have the intriguing matchup of Secretary of State "Ayatollah" J. Kenneth Blackwell against Auditor of State Jim Petro, who are whacking away at one another with charges of hypocrisy and not hating gay people enough in their quest to be the Republican nominee for governor of Ohio. Mr. Petro's late-90s position switch from pro-choice to anti-choice, and Mr. Blackwell's ownership of Diebold stock during the time he was forcing Ohio's county boards of election to choose new electronic voting machines, with Diebold one of the two options, has provided the contestants ample ammunition for their attack ads. Estimates are that this primary contest will cost something on the order of $3 million.

On the other hand, which is even higher on the pandering scale, we have State Sen. Jim Jordan going against Frank Gugliemi (sp?) for the Republican nomination in the safely conservative 4th Congressional District, the seat for which is being vacated by retiring Rep. Micheal Oxley. No part of the 4th District is in Franklin County, however, it does include Marion and Mansfield which are considered part of the Columbus media market. The 4th District is one of the 3 most conservative in Ohio, so the winner will have a safe Congressional seat until at least the 2012 redistricting. Therefore, the incentive to pander to the conservative base is quite high, and it has reached disgusting levels, with talk about cutting taxes and who hates choice the most, neither of which have anything to do with Ohio's failure to build a diverse, creative, educated, 21st-century workforce that will keep companies and jobs in Ohio for years to come.

Here's hoping May 2nd comes and goes without my having to choke down any more vomit on seeing this Republican ass-kissing on our airwaves.

Here's a great column in today's Cleveland Plain Dealer

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Middle Ground

Ted Strickland: On Choice
What is your stance on abortion?

I believe in a woman's right to choose. I would veto any attempt to outlaw a woman's right to choose if Roe v. Wade were overturned.

I believe that abortion should be safe, legal and rare. And, in Congress, I have supported middle-ground legislation on this subject, such as the partial-birth abortion ban.

What a clear, concise, statement from our Democratic nominee for Governor, Ted Strickland.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

5 State Senate seats to win in 2006

Ohio's State Senate is comprised of 33 members, who are elected to 4-year terms. Senators in even-numbered districts are elected in the presidential election years, while those in odd-numbered districts are elected in the "mid-term" gubenatorial election years. Ohio's State Senate is currently controlled 22-11 by the Republicans, which when you consider Ohio's 51-49 split in the 2004 presidential Election, is obviously due to careful gerrymandering. Even so, there are still 5 seats that are ripe for a Democratic pickup in 2006. They are:

1. The 3rd State Senate District. The 3rd District includes roughly the northern and eastern third of Franklin County. Franklin County is in the midst of a decade-long shift toward the blue side of the ledger. In 2004, this district mirrored the statewide 51-49 Bush v. Kerry split and therefore it should provide a good opportunity for a pick up. The Democratic candidate in this district, Emily Krieder, put together an excellent organization early on in the race, and her moderate stance on abortion should help her with the suburban churchgoers in this district. The incumbent Republican, David Goodman, failed in his 2004 bid to unseat Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy.

2. The 13th State Senate District. The 13th district is made up of all of Lorain and Huron counties as well as the eastern half of Seneca county. The seat is currently held by Republican Jeffrey Armbruster, who is prohibited by term limits from running for re-election. In 2002, he was re-elected by less than 500 votes. Lorain County voted for John Kerry by almost 17,000 votes, and so this district presents an excellent chance for a pick-up by the Democratic candidate, Sue Morano.

3. The 17th State Senate District. The 17th district is made up of a wide swath of south-central Ohio, including all or part of 10 counties. The district is currently represented by Republican John Carey, who was re-elected in 2002 by a lackluster 54-46 margin of victory. Democratic candidate April Howland has never run for public office before and filed for the seat at the deadline, but if she can build an organization quickly she could potentially pull off an upset win.

4. The 27th State Senate District. The 27th district lies entirely within Democratic-leaning Summit County (where I grew up!), and although it is gerrymandered to be as much of a Republican seat as possible, the incumbent Republican senator Kevin Coughlin was elected in 2002 by less than a 5,000 vote margin of victory. There is a three-way Democratic primary in the district between Joshua Franchetti, Kevin Griffith, and Judy Hanna.

5. The 29th State Senate District. The 29th district is comprised of almost all of Stark County, except for the extreme eastern edge. Although incumbent Republican J. Kirk Schuring was elected in 2002 by a healthy margin, Stark County voted for John Kerry by a small but significant margin of victory, and has recently dealt with some bad economic news. Schuring will be challenged by Canton City Council member Thomas West.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Unforced Errors

As we gear up for another crucial election year in 2006, Ohio Democrats have the best circumstances and best slate of candidates in years. Preliminary polling shows the Democratic candidate for Governor, U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland (D-6th) with a 12 point lead over the Republican frontrunner, Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, and a 7 point lead over his challenger in the primary, Attorney General Jim Petro. Strickland can sit back as these two duke out a nasty primary fight that has already featured the FBI and some extremely negative campaign ads, all the while running positive message ads and solidifying his lead (note: this is how John Kerry won the 2004 Democratic nomination for president).

While it is good that the stars are aligning for a win at the top of the ticket this year, I fear that Democrats are committing some unforced errors further down the line. The first comes from the exit of the very loud Paul Hackett from the primary for the U.S. Senate. Hackett, who came very close to winning a special election in Ohio's very conservative 2nd Congressional District in 2005, chose not to take the suggestions of the DCCC and the DSCC and try to run in the 2nd again this year, instead of taking on the challenge of a statewide campaign in a very critical election year. Instead, Hackett announced his retirement from politics and fired salvos at his would-have-been primary opponent, U.S. Rep Sherrod Brown (D-13th), claiming that Brown's campaign spread disinformation about his service record in Iraq. This has subsequently hurt Brown's polling numbers at a time when the GOP is circling the wagons around their incumbent, U.S. Sen Mike DeWine. I understand Hackett is upset, but I wish he had not taken a public shot at Rep. Brown's campaign. Picking up this Senate seat is key to the Dem's chances of taking control of the Senate this year.

Another unforced error came when State Sen. Charlie Wilson (D-30th) failed to file the required 50 signatures to get on the primary ballot for the 6th Congressional District race. This seat is being vacated by Rep. Strickland to run for Governor. It is a very competitive district that actually voted for President Bush last year, albeit by a margin of victory of less than 2,000 votes. The district stretches from the suburbs of Youngstown south along the Ohio River all the way to Portsmouth. However, 70% of the population of the district is in the northern end, that is, Mahoning, Columbiana, Jefferson, and Belmont counties. Since State Sen. Wilson already represents 3 of these 4 counties in the State Senate, he had an excellent shot to win. Now, if he is going to be the Democratic nominee, it will have to be as a write-in candidate. This will be a serious challenge, not to mention the fact that Wilson's error has emboldened the candidacy of State Rep. Chuck Bladsel (R-1st) who is the Republican front-runner for the nomination. The GOP drew this district specifically so that if Rep. Strickland should leave for any reason, they could pick up the seat. A Democratic defense of the seat is critical to the party's chances to capture the state's congressional delegation this year, not to mention taking control of the House in Washington D.C.

Tomorrow I'll scribble about the Dems chances at picking up 5 key seats in the State Senate this year.