Besides other bad news for Lee Fisher, last week scientists at the Low-Energy Physics division of CERN announced their finding that Fisher is the anti-particle of charisma. Let's just say that in blind personality contests between Lee Fisher and a Brand X life-insurance salesman, Fisher lost.
But this is a positive, constructive diary. Lee Fisher can still win!
Today, Rasmussen issued a new poll showing Fisher losing by 8 points to Republican Rob Portman, 45-37, the greatest deficit yet and double the margin of only two weeks ago. http://www.rasmussenreports.com/... This confirms a poll by Ipsos last week that has Fisher down by 7 points, 43-36. Well-known candidates like Lieutenant Governor Fisher, who score in the mid-30s only eleven weeks before the election, do not win.
But this is a positive, constructive diary. Lee Fisher can still win!
Ohio has been mentioned by sage analysts like Kos as the best chance in 2010 for Democrats to pick up a Senate seat, with the retirement of Republican George Voinovich. It's a tragic commentary, because Republicans are united behind national all-star Portman, whose run is timed to line him up for a White House bid in 2016. Meanwhile, Democrats are holding their noses if not their wallets, after discordantly nominating a two-time loser from Cleveland, which many Ohioans consider out-of-state, if only wishfully given that city's corruption scandals.
But this is a positive, constructive diary. Lee Fisher can still win! There's only one way he can win and it's simple but not so easy. You'll have to read through this diary to find out how.
Let's start with the fact that during primary season, which ended on May 4, only Mr. Fisher was on the air with ads -- lots of them. That situation was forced on him by the strong primary challenge of Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, who could have been a real threat to Portman, if the Democratic Machine hadn't spared no shame to crush her.
Throughout March and April, only one candidate from one party was effectively on the air, because the Republicans played possum (they wanted Lee Fisher as the sitting-duck nominee) and Brunner lacked the money for media ads. Meanwhile, the "alternative media," including front-pagers at DailyKOS, trumpeted the ascension of Lee Lack-of-Charisma Fisher as if he were the second coming of shoe-in Mike Dukakis. Fisher spent a sizable fraction of his campaign loot on those ads, while Portman hoarded and raised gobs more money for the general.
Foregone conclusion: Fisher's polling numbers steadily rose in April and early May, against both Brunner and Portman. Media monopoly does that.
Even with the kind of electronic hegemony of which Mao only dreamed, Fisher only pulled even with Portman, with weak supporters who yawned only a little less audibly than the ones who remained officially uncommitted. Anyone with a palm, a tea leaf, or an 8-Ball could forecast doom in Fisher's future, once Portman started pitching ads. And in June, Portman did just that, with an opening salvo aimed right at Fisher's soft-spot, or rather his softest spot, I should say.
And that is jobs. Anyone who thought that Rob-the-poor Portman would run away from the jobs issue was grotesquely wrong. (Anastasia, that DOES mean you.) Portman's introductory ad (actually sponsored by the Republican Party) focused EXCLUSIVELY on the failure of the Strickland-Fisher "team" to produce jobs for Ohio, but more than that, it promises a Portman focus on jobs as a future Senator, a promise that Mr. Fisher cannot credibly match.
In the style of Scott Brown, Portman's ads don't mention his party except in fine print. Like no one could see that coming. As Lieutenant Governor joined at the lip to Ted One-Term Strickland, Fisher cannot play party dodge-ball that way. Portman can -- he's technically been "out of politics" for three years. Those three years of outsiderness were planned long in advance by Mr. Portman, who, unlike every Democrat in Ohio state politics, has the capacity for long-range strategic thinking.
So the return of the polling numbers to pre-primary levels of a small but significant Portman lead reflects no statistical fluctuation or Rasmussen bias. It's the end of the pre-season, and Portman is in the game with a tremendous cash and positional advantage. That's not even accounting for the fact that Portman is probably the best debater in either party in the nation -- he played the role of Barack Obama in John McCain's prep debates -- and McCain lost! There's no proper way that Fisher can avoid debating Portman in the fall, whence Fisher will be thereafter known as Mincemeat Lee. Fisher's numbers will only tend to get worse from here on out.
Unless. Unless Lee Machine-Man Fisher does something incredibly radical, totally unexpected, and completely out of character. Unless Lee Fisher tells the truth.
Lee doesn't have to tell the whole truth or even God's honest truth. In fact, he only has to tell the truth about one thing. But it's a big thing, and if Lee doesn't tell the truth about it, then Fisher is going to get so slaughtered in this election it won't be funny even to Republicans.
Lee Fisher must tell the truth about why he quit the job as Director of the Ohio Department of Development, the job most responsible for saving and creating jobs in the state of Ohio, the job Fisher quit just two years ago as he was preparing this run for the U.S. Senate.
Why the heck would a guy preparing to run for Senate under near-depression conditions in Ohio quit the plum job of Development Director?
Lee has never credibly explained. Jennifer Brunner let Fisher off easy in the primary campaign and never pressed him on the matter, because Brunner knows the answer, and if she had spilled the beans, it would have sabotaged her own chance of uniting the Democratic Party behind her.
Why the heck would the Ohio Democratic establishment, a.k.a. the Machine, back a guy for a U.S. Senate seat when he had just quit the job of state Development Director?
Because the ODP establishment is just that stupid in it's collective strategic unthinking. And because the ODP has adopted the old Soviet style of one-man management. There is no thinking in the ODP outside of Ted Strickland's brain, and having Strickland's own pathetic lackey as the Senate nominee was thought useful, or at least non-threatening, for the Governor's all-important reelection chances, chances now even worse than those of Lee Fisher.
Why would Democratic Primary voters elect a nominee who had just quit the job of Development Director without good explanation?
Because the vast majority of thinking Democrats in the state of Ohio stayed home on Primary Day, attending to more important matters like picking ticks off farm animals.
So Fisher got a free pass on the one question to which voters WILL demand an answer. And Rob Portman will not be so kind.
Right now, Rob Master-Debater Portman is licking his chops, sharpening his knives, counting his chickens, and focus-group-testing his kill stratagems in preparation for that murderous moment in the U.S. Senate campaign debate, which will go something like this:
PORTMAN: 400,000 thousand Ohio jobs were lost by the Strickland-Fisher regime.
FISHER: But um, before that, back in the G.W. Bush Administration, if anyone remembers, you were in WASHINGTON designing the disastrous Bush economic policy.
PORTMAN: You know better than that, Lee. I resigned from the Bush Administration more than three years ago, because my attempts to bring reform to Washington were being stymied by that administration and even more by the U.S. Congress. You then had the job here in Ohio responsible for saving and creating Ohio jobs. But you QUIT that job, Lee, leaving Ohio workers in the lurch. And you've never told Ohioans why you quit that job. Why did you quit that job, Lee?
At that point, which will come pretty much as I've scripted it, one of two things can happen. Fisher can concoct some pathetic lie, equivalent to throwing in the towel on the Senate race.
Or Fisher can tell the truth and win a seat in the U.S. Senate. But every fact about Lee Fisher's life and career to date suggest he will opt for the pathetic lie. Why?
Because telling the truth on this all-important question means fingering the man to whom Lee Fisher is beholden, subservient, and fearful in the system of Soviet-style "intimidation politics" that has become the hallmark of the Ohio Democratic Party. Telling the truth means fingering, and indicting, the man that Fisher reported to as Development Director, the governor, Ted Strickland.
The truth is that Lee Fisher did not want to resign as Development Director. Quitting that job was madness for a man with Senate ambitions. The inside wrangling, the protests, the directives, can only now be guessed at. But what I know -- what every honest body knows -- is that Lee Fisher did not want to leave that job. It amounted to pulling a Palin before pulling a Palin was cool.
He had to leave that job. He had to leave because he was ordered to do odious things, things which, if they became publicly known, would be even worse for Fisher's reputation than a polite and hopefully-quiet resignation -- odious things related to development projects near and dear to the governor's personal hometown agenda.
The projects in question, at least some of them, relate to Mr. Strickland's home neighborhood, in the notoriously corrupt Democrat-controlled counties of Scioto and Pike, where scandals and payoffs are par for the course. Scioto County is the only one of Ohio's 88 counties now working its way out of an imposed state of fiscal emergency, owing to chronic mismanagement. Last autumn, the ODP-picked candidate for the OH-02 congressional seat, a Strickland crony from Scioto County, was forced to withdraw after revelations that his daddy's out-of-state non-union contruction company had performed work on a state contract on a public building project.
But there were bigger problems. Lee Fisher's last hurrah as Development Director was a state-funded junket to Siberia (I'm serious), to negotiate with the privatized Russian MMK company over a steel mill that MMK offered to build in Scioto County. (The deal has fizzled.*) One can only imagine what kinds of offers Mr. Fisher was empowered or ordered to make.
Fisher resigned after returning from Russia. This is what investigative reporters would call a clue. Potential GOP ads write themselves. ("Ohio voters should send Lee Fisher back to Siberia!")
And there were other even smellier things, especially related to the federal "nuclear reservation" at Piketon, where Strickland, in cahoots with Republican Jean Schmidt, attempted to site a new nuclear fuels plant for the French nuclear giant AREVA. This was done in total secrecy, without the involvement of the federal government, which owns the site. Even AREVA balked at what they called "lack of community support" (in reference to the secret dealing), and chose to locate in Idaho instead.
Mr. Fisher had to decide whether he'd more become political poison by cutting unscrupulous deals with Russian mobsters and French nuclear companies, or by quitting the top post responsible for Ohio jobs. Lee chose wisely, he quit the job.
Wait, what about all those "green jobs" for which the Democratic Party has become famous? The bigger picture is that "green jobs" were only ever for the hoity-toity parts of Ohio. Scoring a Russian steel mill, an AREVA nuclear fuels plant, and plain-old dirty new coal plants -- none of which actually materialized* -- was the Strickland Administration's agenda for long-suffering Appalachian Ohio. Just peruse Mr. Strickland's 2006 and 2010 donor lists. Republican John Kasich now advertises that he is beating Ted Strickland in polls of southeast Ohio.
Lee Fisher could not afford to remain a part of this. That much he got right. But now he has to come clean, if he wants that Senate gig. Maintain the Code of Silence -- say hello to Senator Portman. Spill the beans on the smelly stuff that he was ordered to do -- Lee will aquire sudden outsider status and be elected Senator. That is especially true because Rob Portman, the former congressman from OH-02, was implicated in the very same odious "development" projects in Pike and Scioto counties. By coming clean on why he left the Development job, Fisher can also dirty-up Mr. Portman exactly as is required.
Now for all I know, Lee Fisher has no serious ambition to become a U.S. Senator. He may already know that he's going to get thrashed in November, and this whole charade may have been orchestrated by ODP insiders, just to keep the lid on the worst internal scandals and stop a loose cannon like Jennifer Brunner from getting the nomination. That's certainly how the whole orchestrated Brunner shunning campaign seemed.
But if Lee has some fire in that belly, he can win a U.S. Senate seat. All he has to do is show Ohioans that he's his own man, not a party hack. When Portman throws that zinger punch, come right back, Lee, and throw a zinger of your own.
Tell us, Mr. Fisher, why did you quit that Development Director job? Be explicit. Give us the details. Name the names. Tell the truth.
*After conspicuous silence about the project for two years, MMK announced in July 2010 what everyone already knew -- that the MMK steel mill project for Scioto County was dead. A suspiciously short time after that announcement, Scioto Democratic officials announced that a new deal for the same site had been inked with an American firm, a deal that will produce "100 jobs." This is miniscule compared to the many hundreds of jobs that were expected from MMK. Whether the new deal is anything but election-year hooey remains to be seen.