The governing body of the Ohio Democratic Party voted to endorse the five statewide candidates who will try to topple one or more of the five incumbent Republicans in the 2014 midterm elections.
Vowing to put government back to work for the middle class, ODP's Executive Committee endorsed ticket leader, Ed FitzGerald for Governor, David Pepper for Attorney General, Nina Turner for Secretary of State, Connie Pillich for Treasurer, John Patrick Carney for Auditor.
Wanted: Midterm Miracle
The last midterm election in Ohio in 2010 was devastating for Democrats, who with the exception of state auditor occupied four of the top five constitutional offices in Ohio, having won them in 2006 after voters recoiled against GOP control of government that both enabled and honed the practice of government for sale. Coingate, a scheme of fraud perpetrated during the administration of Robert Taft between the state's bureau of workers' compensation and a big political contributor to the party whose rare coin and collectibles company received millions in BWC funds to invest, was the crescendo of years of public-private quid pro quo that got a new name, "play to play."
The Republicans who won their offices in 2010 are Gov. John Kasich, Attorney General Mike DeWine, Secretary of State John Husted, Treasurer Josh Mandel, Auditor David Yost. Two years later, during last year's presidential election, President Obama won the state by winning a majority of it for a second time. In the approximately 12 states called battleground states, that largely determine modern national elections and the race to 270, the number of electoral votes to be elected president, Ohio was contested by Obama and Mitt Romney, the Republican challenger, even to Election Day.
Gov. Kasich stumped with Romney, telling crowd after crowd that Romney "got it," which translated into lowering income taxes on the rich, repealing Obamacare, resizing the scope of government and cutting burdensome regulations on business. But after crisscrossing the state, Romney, who had Kasich to rouse many of his almost all white crowds, and who did so by using his work in Ohio as an example of what Romney would do on a national scale, lost Ohio to the White House and a campaign organization that produced more votes even though they were hugely outspent by party and groups sympathetic to the cause.
ODP Chairman Chris Redfern commented on the endorsements, "Democrats are uniting earlier than ever before because we understand how damaging Ohio’s Republican state officeholders like John Kasich or Josh Mandel have been for middle-class families all across the Buckeye State.
Redfern said the Democratic statewide ticket is "entirely committed to stopping Ohio’s practice of just looking out for the wealthy and well-connected, and they’ll get state government working again for the middle class." The chairman pointed to 400,000 Ohioans still out of work and taxes increasing on the middle class as a result of a $62 billion budget a Republican-controlled legislature passed and Republican Gov. John R. Kasich signed.
"It’s clear we’re headed in the wrong direction," Redfern emphasized. He thinks this slate of candidates will earn the respect of Ohio’s voters in the fall of 2014.
Over three years ago and just last year, Republicans won back the Ohio House in 2010 when Kasich won a skinny race against Ted Strickland, who Ohioans in 2006 trusted to the run the state better than Republicans had run it since 1991, the year that started 16 years of Democrats not in control of the executive branch.
2010 was special in another way for Republicans, its the year they won control of the redistricting process. When they won governor, auditor and secretary of state, Republicans got to draw district maps for the next ten years. They did that, but not in a way that Democrats liked, because which political party controls the configuration of electoral districts, controls their electability and continuing control of the legislature.
So when John Kasich was elected governor, voters also gave him a Republican legislature, one that was fresh from a campaign steeped in angry Tea Party rhetoric about government overreach and intrusion. Kasich and other governors in states like Wisconsin, Florida, Michigan, Maine and Pennsylvania were blown into office with Tea Party winds, which enabled Republicans to take over one state government after another.
Republicans control 30 governorships compared to 20 Democratic governorships.
But now that Ohio Democrats have their slate of candidates to start campaigning against their Republican rivals, their hope next year is to pull off a "Midterm Miracle" built on reawakening and re-arousing all the political forces that elected Obama twice in 2008 and 2010, and in 2011 cowed Kasich by nullifying a bill he pushed and signed when it came to his desk, that represented a reform of extremes means to gut collective bargaining for public employees. Two-Thirds of Ohio voters sent Kasich and Republicans a message on how far they can go to shut down unions and the political contributions that their members pay that largely goes to union friendly candidates.
History shows that midterm elections are not usually friendly to the party that occupies the White House; it's a time for the out party to pick up seats in Congress.
With Republicans in Ohio like Kasich, DeWine, Mandel, Husted and Yost as the incumbents, and with three years of scorecards on their performance now in full view, Democrats must now find a convincing way to deflate the balloon Republicans have inflated over three years, that the improvement in Ohio's economy, which lost over 400,000 jobs were lost during the Great Recession under then-governor Strickland, are the direct result of Kasich's reforms, most of which were largely unchallenged but passed swiftly during his first budget cycle by a friendly legislature.
Democrats argued last year that it was President Obama's policies to stimulate the economy at a time when the private sector was cratering, and by effectively saving the American auto industry by investing in General Motors and Chrysler, two of the Big Three Detroit automakers who collectively have thousands of jobs in the supply chain in Ohio, that kept the nation from falling in to a full blown recession.
With Tea Party forces now aligned against him next year, Gov. Kasich can look forward to an offense he didn't have working against him in 2010. One of the nation's foremost organized labor groups plans to emphasize state-level elections in 2014, NBC News reported Saturday. The AFL-CIO is now expected focus its time, energy and money on governorships and state legislative elections next fall.
"There's no question that we're going to be putting more resources into states governors and state legislature races than we have in the past," Michael Podhorzer, the labor group's top political official, told NBC News.
Winning Washington back by winning the U.S. House back represents an uphill for Democrats, and while the AFL-CIO is mindful of the big show, it intends to become active in individual states.
"Right now, the Republicans are moving ferociously anti-worker, anti-women's health agendas … in the states," Podhorzer said. GOP governors like Kasich in Ohio, Snyder of Michigan and Walker of Wisconsin were elected during 2010's GOP wave, in spite of the centrist or slightly-Democratic tenor of their states, Michael O'Brien of NBC News wrote. Each of those governors eventually sought major reforms to union laws despite ferocious opposition from organized labor.
If 2014 turns out to be a traditional midterm election year, the slate of Democratic candidates Chairman Redfern says will focus on the middle class won't have a chance to do that if turnout is not higher than historical numbers. If sleepy voters can be awakened by FitzGerald and his ticket mates, Kasich and his ticket mates will have a battle on their hands. Libertarian candidate Charlie Earl, and the Tea Party people who will gravitate to him, could tear away enough votes from Republicans, at least in the governor's race, to put FitzGerald in the governor's chair.
In the same way Ross Perot earned almost 20 percent of the vote in 1992, and assured a win for a young Bill Clinton who got just 43 percent of the vote but beat out incumbent Republican President George H.W. Bush, Earl's candidacy could present a challenge for Gov. Kasich, who doesn't need to lose much to lose, especially if Democrats can replay last year's race.
CANDIDATE BACKGROUND [Source ODP]
Ed FitzGerald for Governor
From serving as an FBI agent on the Organized Crime Task Force, assistant prosecutor, Lakewood mayor, and county executive, Ed FitzGerald has brought down corrupt public officials, cleaned up government and fought to make government work for the middle class.
David Pepper for Attorney General
Pepper is a former Hamilton County Commissioner who is running to increase government transparency, strengthen local law enforcement, and be a leading watchdog for Ohio’s taxpayers.
Nina Turner for Secretary of State
A State Senator and former Cleveland City Councilwoman, Turner has been a fierce advocate for making Ohio the gold standard for free and fair elections, where every Ohioan has unfettered access to the ballot box.
Connie Pillich for Treasurer
After serving in the Air Force and earning her MBA, Pillich started her own business in Cincinnati before being elected to serve in the Ohio House of Representatives. As both a legislator and attorney, Pillich has protected seniors against predatory lenders, sponsored legislation to hold unscrupulous brokers accountable, and supported workforce development and education programs to create jobs and help our economy grow.
John Patrick Carney for Auditor
John Patrick Carney has a history of success working across the aisle, and as Auditor, he will work to create jobs, strengthen local communities, and increase government transparency.
John O’Donnell for Supreme Court
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