Yes, there's bad news from the Ohio primary, and bad news, or, as they say, "worse, worser, and worst" for Democrats.
Turnout for Democrats was abysmally, shockingly low. Even though there are far more registered Democrats than Republicans in Ohio, and even though Democrats had a hotly-contested race for a U.S. Senate nomination, while Republicans had no close statewide contest, still far more Republicans turned out to vote. Those numbers are evident from the two uncontested governor's primaries -- Republican John Kasich got 736,000 votes, while incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland only 621,000. (All numbers here are rounded for simplicity.)
That surge of new Democrats from the 2008 primary and general? They stayed home or otherwise dropped out. Polling stations were quiescent yesterday on the D side, confirming the absentee-ballot trend reported by the Columbus Dispatch: http://www.dispatchpolitics.com/...
This is the big news, and there is no way to explain it away. It reflects general voter disgust with the administrations in both Columbus and Washington, the former disgust magnified by a story that broke just days before the primary and that got little national play.
That story concerns a multilevel scandal involving Democratic officials in Columbus. It starts with a contraband-smuggling ring that has been operating among prisoners on work-release -- at the Governor's Mansion. State law enforcement planned a sting operation to bust up the ring. But due to the anticipated political embarrassment in an election year, at least two top officials intervened to cancel the sting. That was the conclusion of a report released last week by the Ohio Inspector General.
Voters were left wondering why state prisoners are able to engage in illegal activities at the Governor's mansion to begin with, never mind about the collusion to stop law enforcement. And the summer fun of revealed Democratic scandals among Ohio's top Democrats has only just begun!
Is that, and the many related recent scandals in Democrat-controlled counties related to the plunge in voting participation? You bet your stimulus it is. Strickland apologists, this is your cue.
In another sign of general indigestion, in one of two ballot questions, 32% of voters yesterday rejected a proposed address change for a previously-approved casino in Columbus. The change was endorsed by both parties, and all leading politicians. Almost 1 in 3 rejected a frickin' address change.
That's the mood.
So in the contested races yesterday, you probably already know that machine-man Lee Fisher whipped Jennifer Brunner by almost 11 points, 55-44. The worser news here is that the machine proved far more interested in beating back an insurgent challenge than in presenting any credible threat to Rob Portman, already a gazillionaire in political capital.
Memo to all you non-Ohioans who would just as well throw the Buckeye State in a bucket: Yesterday's result guarantees that Portman will start his Senate term in 2011, timed to enable him to run for President in 2016. And he'll win that, too, at the current rate. Then Rob Portman will be YOUR problem, because you didn't help us solve ours.
In congressional races, Gibbs beat Dailey by a scant 170 votes in the eight-candidate clustermuck for the Republican nomination in OH-18. That's bad news for incumbent Democrat Zack Space, who beat Dailey handily in 2008 (Dailey wears a cowboy hat as if he's in Wyoming.) Space has raised a couple million dollars -- he'll need every penny.
In OH-02 -- I know you were waiting -- the Democratic capitulation machine again proved triumphant, oxymoron intended. Low turnout allowed a modest machine effort at the west end of the district to swing the result by a narrow 3-point margin, less than 800 votes, to the one candidate guaranteed to take a dive to Jean Schmidt, Surya B. Yalamanchili.
To show how lopsided this race was, David Krikorian won four of seven counties, at the opposite end of the district from where he lives, whereas the other two candidates won one apiece, with one near-tie. Yalamanchili placed third in the four eastern counties, and lost to Krikorian there by more than a two-to-one margin. These eastern Appalachian counties are where a Democrat must do extremely well (like 70%) in the general, to beat a Republican district-wide. But Yalamanchili remains an unknown in this area, and he'll stay that way. Jean Schmidt will romp in November.
Put another way, Krikorian amassed an 1800-vote surplus in the six counties outside of Hamilton. But in Hamilton County alone, where Yalamanchili concentrated all of his efforts, he managed to pull out a 2600-vote victory, by attack mailers and a swiftboating campaign. Hamilton accounts for only about 35% of the district-wide general election vote. Yalamanchili's victory is pyrrhic.
It didn't have to be this way. Krikorian would have thrashed Schmidt in the general with cross-over appeal. Yalamanchili might even lose the district-wide Democratic vote.
And race isn't the issue, despite the recent hullabaloo. What outsiders fail to realize is that people here don't know what "race" Yalamanchili is, and don't care. (He's of Tamil-Telugu ethnicity, but an educated friend of mine said the name sounded Georgian.)
The real issue is class, and attitude. Yalamanchili is a rich-kid "entrepreneur" and media "celebrity," who wears Italian suits, from the same wealthy clique as the last two failed Democratic nominees in OH-02. The poor and working-class voters of the Appalachian east end are going to send a very strong message to the Democratic Party: Stop sending us rich people who can't relate as congressional nominees.
The Republicans wanted and worked for this result in OH-02. It was Jean Schmidt who invented a charge against Krikorian that served as ammunition in the swiftboating campaign. And robocalls from a DC number were made on election night telling voters to vote for anyone but Krikorian. I do not suspect Yalamanchili for those calls -- I suspect Schmidt and Portman, who are today gleeful at their successful prank.
While Dems remain either complicit or clueless, as the case may be.
There is one bit of actual good news from yesterday's Ohio primary. In the 89th district State Representative race, insurgent Democrat Ron Hadfield easily beat machine-candidate Mike Crabtree as nominee to replace the corrupt incumbent Todd Book, who had earlier enetered and withdrawn from the OH-02 congressional race.
We're doing our part to clean up the party in our corner of the world. WTF is up with the rest of you?