Many important races will be decided next November, but as our old state slogan goes, "Ohio is the Heart of it All." (It's a triple play on the shape of the state, it's central location, and Ohio's preeminence as the pumphouse of ancient North American civilization.) The only official state motto was discarded years ago to assuage non-Buckeye sensibilities, but never replaced. It was Imperium in Imperio, "Empire within Empire." Some said it reeked of self-importance. Ha!
The objective reasons why Ohio will be the 2010 focal point are numerous. Obviously, it's a large and key swing state, the nation's most reliable belwether, and the state most likely to play a determinative role in future close presidential elections. Ohio's congressional delegation is almost balanced (10 Ds, 8 Rs), and its state leadership has been flip-flopping for decades between the major parties.
This is the usual stuff of our political grandeur. 2010, however, is quite special for the Buckeye State.
Ohio has an open U.S. Senate seat in 2010, created by the overripe retirement of George Vacation-Haven-Can't-Wait Voinovich. GOP All-star Rob-the-Poor Portman is lined up for that seat, and if you don't think this is timed to prepare him for a 2016 run for the Presidency, you really ought to see a professional about your pathological lack of paranoia.
Briefly put, either populist Republican Tom Ganley will crimp Portman's sails in the GOP primary, Kossack Jennifer Brunner will stop Portman in November, or say hello to President Portman exactly seven years from today.
Another past-tense presidential aspirant will be on the Ohio ballot. That would be Ted Good-as-Dead Strickland, who is now living his Plan B, after that Hillary's-VP thing worked out badly. Having failed to bail from the wreckage that is present-day Ohio, Strickland is now involuntarily sinking with his ship, determined to drown as many of his fellow shipmates as he can in the process.
Incredible as it is, Strickland now says he wants to be reelected. (Memo to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.)
All of the other statewide offices are also on the 2010 ballot, as well as the entire state assembly, which has a current teetering 3-seat Democratic majority. (The Ohio Senate is 2-1 Republican.)
The new state legislature will do the 2011 congressional redistricting, with Ohio the only state in the country likely to lose two seats. That means the current highly-gerrymandered districts -- drawn by a Republican state legislature in 2001, are likely to be redrawn by another Republican legislature in 2011, and easily approved by Strickland's Republican successor -- former GOP Congressman, Lehman Brothers executive, and Faux News commentator John Kasich.
The foregoing encapsulation was how things looked LAST week. The effects of the Massachusetts Maelstrom will be magnified in Ohio for two big related reasons:
- Ohio has one of the most corrupt Democratic Party machines in the nation, and DP machine corruption is now public enemy number 1. (See my blogroll for extensive coverage of the details.)
- Cincinnati, Ohio's Queen City, is Ground Zero of the national Tea Party movement.
So now, boys and girls, let's look at the details of how Scott Pin-up-boy Brown's election will influence the Ohio 2010 races. Buckle your seatbelts, but be assured that the news is not all bad.
First of all, let's realize this: 2010 on the Ohio Horoscope will be known as the Year of No More Shit. It ain't gonna cut it for any candidate to say, "Vote for me because I'm not as bad as the other guy." Up until now, that has been the sole slogan of the Strickland campaign and the rest pf the Ohio Democratic Party line-up, which is looking more like a police line-up every day. If it continues to be the party line, catastrophe will become cataclysm.
This is the year that voters rise up in unison to say "Any devil we don't know is better than the devil we know." And who can blame them? It's about frickin' time.
The old 19th century idea of rotation as a democratic institution has just been brought back by popular demand. If the electorate needs to keep switching horses from D to R and back again for a dozen cycles, until genuine new parties can form, so be it. That's exactly what we will do.
Now here's the low-down on the low-down:
I. Congressional Races
All 18 Ohio U.S. Representatives are running for reelection, a travesty in itself. Most will achieve their goal. One Democrat, Steve Driehaus in OH-01, is finished. He is opposed by long-time former Congressman Steve Chabot, who will retake the seat handily. The latest poll has Chabot up 56-39, and that's before Massachusetts.
I won't mourn for Driehaus, but I will mourn for Zack Space in OH-18. This is Bob Ney's old district, it is heavily red, and Space has been besieged by fierce attacks from GOP-controlled newspapers in the district. Even if Space holds the seat somehow, the district will disappear as of 2012 -- it's the weirdest and most gerrymandered district in the state. Space will make a good candidate for some high Administration post; he played an important role as a rural advocate in the HCR negotiations.
Mary Jo Kilroy is considered endangered in OH-15, but she will probably survive due to positive demographic changes in her Columbus district.
Charlie Call-Ted-for-feeding-instructions Wilson will likely survive in Strickland's old district, OH-06, another strange entity that will certainly disappear when lines are redrawn. I hope that Wilson at least gets a good scare this year so his performance rises to the status of a bump on a log.
Of the eight incumbent Republicans, all will cruise to reelection except one, Jean Pleistocene Schmidt in OH-02. Ironically, Schmidt has become too much of an embarrassment for the GOP, and the scuttlebutt is that Rob Portman wants her gone, which makes her a marked woman. Schmidt has already attracted two serious primary challengers, with a third reportedly preparing to enter.
Opposing Schmidt is David Krikorian, an iconoclast who has much more appeal to the populist crowd than she does. Krikorian ran as an Independent in 2008, garnering the highest percentage of any Independent congressional candidate in the nation. This year he has a lock on the Democratic nomination, with two non-serious potential (but uncertain) primary challengers. Anticipate surprises here, with all prominent Indys, and some prominent Republicans endorsing Krikorian. Brown's victory in Mass. actually helps the Democrat in this race.
Likely congressional tally: Dems down 2, GOP down 1, for a net GOP gain of 1 seat. That would leave the delegation deadlocked at 9-9, but look for the two seats lost in reapportionment to come from the D column.
II. Senate Race
Increasingly identified as "the other one" in the Dem. primary race, Lee Yawn Fisher was already suffering from two recent polls that show Brunner a stronger candidate against Rob Portman. Fisher's main hope was in stopping Brunner through internal party pressure, but now Brunner has filed and is committed to finish the race. All those party machinations now hang around Fisher's neck like an albatross.
In short, Fisher ran as the Democratic machine candidate, but Democratic machine candidates are no longer cool. Fisher is finished. We'll see increasing migration to Brunner. Fisher needs to find something else to do. The Brunner campaign has already picked up on the way that the Massachusetts result helps all populist insurgencies.
Perhaps more interesting is what may happen on the Republican side. Tom Ganley has been dismissed as a threat to Portman, but Portman is, if anything, the epitome of a machine man, having served as G.W. Bush's OMB director. Surprise, surprise, the populist insurgents in the GOP don't like Portman. So the Ganley campaign will pick up significant steam.
Tally: A strengthened Jennifer Brunner against a weakened Rob Portman will make for one helluva race with big national implications.
III. Governor's Race
What can I say here? The only recent polls had Strickland down against Kasich by 9 or 7 points -- take your pick, with a trend line that looked like it was headed to Never-Never Land. Does John Kasich look like Scott Brown? In every conceivable way, excepting the nude centerfold spread (thank the Lord). Ohio Republicans have already started mining the Brown campaign for themes, slogans, and strategies.
Strickland's chances just went from nil to nothing, regardless of what you'll hear from the Ted-heads in magic mushroom land (aka Kucinich territory). Now I happen to like magic mushrooms, but I don't base my political predictions upon them.
But wait, the news gets worse for the Goobernator. Kasich, being close to a teabagger himself, has a glide-path totally clear of third-party interference. No right-wing splitters as in New Jersey or NY-22. Strickland, however, will have to contend with his own anti-environmentalist record as a shill for coal and nuclear companies.
Ohio never had much of a serious green movement, but all of that is now changed. My mailbox has been full since Tuesday with missives from the OHIO LEFT, reading the most recent shots from Lexington and Concord as a call to arms (linked Gandhian arms, or course) against the depradations of the Ohio Democratic Party.
The Ohio Greens already have an entry in the Governor's race -- Dennis Spisak. And it doesn't matter who Dennis is or what he does, he's going to get a lot of votes. Every one of those votes would be needed by Ted Strickland in order to have a prayer of a shred of a chance.
I will say one nice thing about the Governor. On Monday, he named Yvette McGee Brown as his long-anticipated (i.e. he had trouble recruiting) pick for Lieutenant Governor. Brown is a superb individual, an African-American with a background in non-profit administration, and as a judge and a child advocate. Supposedly, she's a dynamic speaker.
In fact, Ms. Brown is such a good candidate, one cannot help but feel she's in the wrong race. An awful lot of Ohioans will be wishing that she were the one debating John Kasich and jostling for the state's top chair.
Which is obviously why Strickland picked her, a total outsider with no connections to the party machine. Strickland, with excellent polling capabilities, knows that his machine is done in this state.
Unfortunately, Strickland's pick may have unintended consequences. Brown will be tarnished by her new association with Boss Ted, so much so that her future might be limited -- undoubtedly why others turned down Strickland's running-mate overtures.
On the bright side, surprises do happen. Actually, I would not be surprised to see Strickland withdraw from the Governor's race, while Fisher withdraws from the Senate race, allowing a Fisher-Brown ticket in November. I wouldn't even be surprised if that is the current plan, because Brown was definitely not chosen to help Ted Strickland capture any key constituency he needs to even be competitive.
Tally: Get used to saying "Governor Kasich." Very interesting Lietenant Governor race, let's hope for a debate and possible future governor Yvette Brown.
NOTE: See the last two diaries on my blogroll for general analysis of the Massachsetts race and its result -- The Cure for Cluelessness, and The Blue Denial.
Find out more and donate to Zack Space, David Krikorian or Jennifer Brunner at:
Ohio's primary is May 4.
UPDATE: I had missed a poll of the Governor's race released yesterday, but based on a survey last week. This one has Kasich leading by 10 points, 47-37. http://www.ohiolife.org/...
The poll was conducted by Ohio Right to Life, so take with a grain of salt, however it falls right on the trend line of other recent polls, and it confirms the other recent numbers. Most disturbing about this new poll is that Strickland's support is at only 37%, way below that considered viable for any incumbent. The trend has been that voters move to undecided, en route to supporting John Kasich.