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.

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