[UPDATE] The hubris of Kasich

I’m not at all enamored with Steve Stivers as a candidate for Ohio’s 15th Congressional District.  But I sure wish he was in Congress right now instead of Mary Jo Kilroy, who has amassed a voting record I absolutely deplore.  Stivers was edged out by Kilroy by less than one percentage point of the total vote count in the 2008 elections for the 15th Congressional seat.

Less than one percentage point.

Guess what?  In that same Congressional race, there was a write-in candidate, Travis Casper, who captured all of 6 votes.  No big deal.

But guess what else?  In that same Congressional race, there was an independent, Don Eckhart, that snagged over 4 percent of the vote.  Who knows . . . maybe he garnered some votes from people who would have left their ballot blank rather than vote for Stivers or Kilroy.  Then again, maybe not.  Or, maybe those votes would have been split 50/50 between Stivers and Kilroy.  Who knows?

But, again, guess what else?  In that same Congressional race, Mark Noble, a Libertarian, captured close to 5% of the vote.  Since Kilroy, by her voting record, stands for big, expensive, intrusive government, and Libertarians are opposed to such, I’m thinking that the presence of a Libertarian in the race created an additional hurdle for Steve Stivers.

But the headline of this post is about Kasich, not Stivers.  Hmm . . . Are you way ahead of me at this point?  Can you tell where I’m going with this blog post already?  Perhaps so.

Remember, that ally of ACORN, Jennifer Brunner, is still Secretary of State through the culmination of this year’s elections, thus she still has her hand in the cookie jar.  In 2009, and now in 2010, Jennifer Brunner has permitted the Libertarian Party much more access to the ballot.

Don’t forget the Tea Party movement, either.  It could be a wellspring of 2010 candidates that are independent of any political party.

All across Ohio, GOP candidates up and down the ballot will have to face up to November’s additional hurdles presented by Libertarian and independent challengers who will demonstrate that the GOP has no monopoly over conservative-minded voters.  On the left?  There will be little competition to fracture the Democrat base.

There might not be an independent running in the Governor’s race, as it is a fairly daunting task to mount an independent run for Governor, but it’s too early to tell.

The Libertarian Party, though rising in prominence, is still small, with meager resources.  It’s unlikely that the Libertarians would subdivide their meager resources to support candidates in all five statewide executive branch races.  I think someone with a Libertarian philosophy might make a good fit for a State Auditor’s race, especially since Ohio Auditor Mary Taylor has now been corralled into running on the Kasich ticket as a candidate for Lieutenant Governor.  But does consolidating Libertarian resources in the Auditor’s race make any sense to the Libertarian Party?  No.

In the Libertarian Party’s own interests, I believe they will contest the governor’s race.  The governor’s race is unique among the statewide executive branch races in that it determines which political parties are major political parties and which are minor political parties, in accordance with Ohio’s election laws. If the Libertarians concentrate their efforts on backing a Libertarian candidate for governor, they’d be hoping to get enough votes to qualify as a major political party.  If they managed to do that, one of the first changes one would notice in 2011 would be that, in 88 counties, Libertarians would be added as officers of each Board of Elections.  Right now, only Democrats and Republicans constitute each county’s Board of Elections.  Other changes to Ohio’s political landscape would follow, and the GOP’s influence would surely be impacted.

Mary Taylor, campaign funds notwithstanding, would have been a shoo-in to retain her Apportionment Board seat as Ohio Auditor.  Among the 5 statewide executive branch races, 3 have a bearing on the composition of the Apportionment Board.  2010 is a U.S. Census year.  Before  the 2012 elections, legislative districts across Ohio must be redrawn to adjust for population shifts revealed by the 2010 U.S. Census.  The 3 races that matter to the apportionment board are: Ohio Secretary of State, Ohio Auditor, and Ohio Governor.  If a political party captures two out of these three crucial races, they capture the majority of the Apportionment Board that will redraw Ohio’s legislative map.  Mary Taylor was the GOP’s surest foothold in the climb to capturing the majority of the Apportionment Board.  Now, she’s been removed from the Auditor’s race, repositioned as a Lieutenant Governor candidate on the gubernatorial ticket headed by John Kasich.

The GOP may have forfeited the Auditor’s race and the Apportionment Board seat.  No one in the GOP was planning on challenging Taylor for the Republican nomination in the Auditor’s race.  The race, at this point, is totally vacant, and petitions to appear on the primary ballot are due to be filed by February 18th.  That’s not a lot of time to qualify for the statewide ballot, let alone clear the candidate’s calendar for campaigning, and especially for raising campaign funds.  Taylor was criticized for her fundraising by some pundits in various corners of the state, but she had more of a campaign treasury to fight for re-election to the Auditor’s seat than an absence of a candidate has.  No candidate=no campaign funds to win the election.  So, how did criticizing Taylor about fundraising help the GOP’s chances of capturing the seat?  Hello! You’ve got to at least have a name on the ballot to have any chance of winning!  Isn’t that obvious?

I’m sure somebody will surface as a GOP candidate for Auditor, but they’ll probably have to do so with less funds than Taylor had in trying to capture an open seat.  Taylor was only defending a seat she already held, and she’d won accolades for her performance as Auditor from many quarters, including even from some Democrats.  Doesn’t a positive perception of her job performance by voters add up to an advantage that can compensate for some campaign dollars?  I think so.  All-in-all, this opportunity to retain this Apportionment board seat appears to have been squandered.

In the Secretary of State race, the supposed frontrunners for nominations to their respective parties are Jon Husted for the GOP, and Jennifer Garrison for the Democrats.  Jon Husted, however, isn’t popular among all of Ohio’s Republicans, and perhaps Sandy O’Brien can steal away the GOP nomination like she did in the Treasurer’s race in 2006.  Jennifer Garrison isn’t popular among all the Democrats, either, so Husted and the Ohio GOP chair, Kevin DeWine besides banking on winning the May primary, are hoping and praying Garrison’s base won’t be energized this November.  I think the GOP’s chances of securing this Apportionment Board seat are iffy, but I think the chances are better for this race than for the Auditor’s race or the Governor’s race.

And now for the hubris of John Kasich, Republican candidate for Ohio Governor in 2010.  No doubt he’s giddy about capturing Mary Taylor to run on his ticket.  He may even be giddy about Strickland’s poll numbers as Strickland’s term in office resembles a train wreck.  But John Kasich, not Mary Taylor, will be at the top of the ticket, and Kasich is not universally revered and loved.  In fact, Kasich is not even universally known.  Furthermore, Kasich won’t have a monopoly on the “smaller government” message, as there’s likely to be a Libertarian candidate as well, a Libertarian with lots of incentive to peel away as many GOP voters as possible.  Keep in mind that Jennifer Brunner is still Secretary of State, and she’s not shy about leveraging whatever she can to improve Democrat outcomes.  Those Strickland versus Kasich poll numbers?  They don’t include any Libertarian in the polling.  Kasich may tout his balanced budget in Congress all he wants, but many voters, even among the Tea Party crowd, might only be dimly aware of that accomplishment.  More than likely, those who know just one or two things about Kasich are probably going to know that he used to be in Congress (a Beltway insider!  Oh no!  Yes, they will conveniently have already forgotten that Strickland was once a Beltway insider, too  . . . but the Libertarian definitely won’t be a Beltway insider) and, thanks to the Strickland campaign, voters will learn that he was somehow involved in the bankrupt Lehman Brothers firm (a Wall Street insider!  Double whammy!  Even Strickland can’t be portrayed that way!  The Libertarian will, no doubt, be free of that baggage, too!).  When the eventual Libertarian candidate is included in the poll numbers, the pollsters will be informing those polled that there IS a Libertarian alternative, and they might even mention the name of that candidate in the same breath as John Kasich and Ted Strickland, helping the Libertarian candidate overcome anonymity enough to erode Kasich’s voter base.  The left wing media might do their part to help re-elect Strickland by devoting coverage to the Libertarian (at least, I suppose Jennifer Brunner was envisioning all this as she facilitated Libertarian candidates’ access to the ballot during the past year or so).

Kasich should take nothing for granted.  Unfortunately, that’s not the way he has campaigned, to date.  Kasich seems to be taking much for granted.  He doesn’t seem to have realized it, but, despite the Strickland train wreck, he faced longer odds of capturing the governor’s seat at the outset of his campaign than either Husted or Taylor faced of winning their seats.  The GOP had a sure foothold in the Auditor’s race, an iffy chance in the SoS race, and a very challenging race in the Governor’s race.  The sure foothold has been forfeited, and, somehow, Kasich prides himself on that accomplishment, but he hasn’t shored up the possible sources of electoral base erosion in doing so.

Mary Taylor, from all appearances, wants to challenge Sherrod Brown for U.S. Senator in 2012.  Supposedly, a Lieutenant Governor seat would afford her the opportunity to campaign for Senate and hold government office at the same time.  She was likely to win re-election as Auditor.  But, as a voter, what would add to Taylor’s stature as a Senate candidate?  Taylor as state auditor, doing a better job than any of her auditor predecessors?  Or Taylor as Lieutenant Governor, where it’s really difficult to quantify her contribution to state government for the benefit of voters?  I think she’s more formidable as a Senate candidate as the sitting Auditor.  Now, let’s take that one step further.  As I’ve outlined, Kasich has more obstacles to winning than he’s, so far, acknowledged.  What are Mary Taylor’s chances of winning the 2012 U.S. Senate race as a failed lieutenant governor candidate if Kasich loses this November?  Greatly diminished, I think.

Kasich, in his hubris, has probably shortchanged both the Ohio GOP, notably the GOP leadership and the eventual GOP Auditor nominee, but potentially shortchanging all Republicans who will be seeking General Assembly seats for a decade beginning in 2012, and he may even be shortchanging Mary Taylor’s U.S. Senate aspirations, as well.

He’d better get off his duff (he probably thinks he’s already doing so, but I think he needs to redefine his notions) and campaign like his life depends on it if Kasich is going to win this November.  He’s holding way too many of the Republican Party’s marbles for him to come up short on Election Day without seriously damaging the party.

[UPDATE 1/21/2010] Lo and behold, as foretold, a Libertarian on the ballot for Ohio Governor.

15 Responses to “[UPDATE] The hubris of Kasich”

  1. Kalin Stipe Says:

    DJW,

    I just wanted to add some info if I may.

    The 2 parties who get the most votes for Governor are the only two parties that become part of the Board of Elections. If the Republican wins and the Libertarian comes in second, then the two parties will each have someone appointed in 2011 and again in 2012. So the third place party will have a 25% representation for one year, with the Libertarians also having 25%

    We do have candidate(s) running for Governor. The official announcement should come this week. We have between 100 and 150 well qualified candidates running in Ohio this election cycle. This includes US congress and Ohio legislature.

    The legislation that was just passed, giving several parties ballot access, was voted unanimously by both chambers in Columbus.

    My recent race for Lorain Council at Large shows that Libertarians don’t just “take” Republican votes. I received about 2500 votes in a Democratic city. There are many ways to look at the numbers, but I will point out that the Republican Mayoral candidate in 2007 only got half of what I received.

    Spending many months going door to door gave me great insight. Being both fiscally responsible and socially tolerant made my change of earning a vote just as likely from people affiliated with D’s or R’s

    More than 2/3rds of Lorain county voters are unaffiliated.

    The 2010 primary voters will be asked if they want a Democratic, Libertarian or Republican ballot. Current laws in Ohio only let you set your affiliation during a primary. It will be interesting to see the voter rolls after this primary.

    By the way, I love your description in the right hand column. Being pragmatic is a good thing and I think you are idealistic enough.

    Sean Kalin Stipe
    Vice-chairman of the Lorain County Libertarian Party and fan of Buckeye Rino.

    • buckeyerino Says:

      Thanks for the input, Mr. Stipe. So, while the hill Libertarians must climb is a very steep one, the Libertarians are very motivated and there will indeed be competition beyond just Kasich and Strickland in November. Though some Tea Party attendees around the state may find Kasich appealing, the recent special election in an upstate New York contest should be ample demonstration that significant numbers of voters may be willing to emancipate themselves from voting strictly for either D’s or R’s. I think what you have confirmed simply underscores that Kasich had better take nothing for granted, no matter how lovey-dovey the reception by Tea Party crowds that host him.

  2. Stephen Hopkins Says:

    Dan, very interesting post. I just finished reading and am digesting it because there is so much here, so I’ll back on the comment. But very interesting nonetheless.

    • buckeyerino Says:

      Mr. Hopkins (and anyone else who may stumble across this), if you happen to write an internet article on this topic, feel free to post a link to your article in this comment thread. I’m curious to peruse other points of view.

      • Stephen Hopkins Says:

        Dan:

        I got side tracked but I wanted to add to your comments. The one aspect that bothers me is that Kasich in picking Taylor is trying to win for the ORP rather than trying to create a team to turn Ohio around. I am so tired of the party politics.

        I was considering voting for Kasich as last ditch effort to help Ohio, (did I say I can’t stand party politics) but now I am going to vote for the Libertarian without question.

      • buckeyerino Says:

        I understand that sentiment. In fact, it’s the whole point of this article, a point which still seems to be lost on the Kasich campaign.

  3. buckeyerino Says:

    Umm . . . let me clarify my response to Mr. Hopkins. Commenters may post a link to online articles they’ve written assessing this year’s gubernatorial race in Ohio featuring the Kasich/Taylor ticket.

    I stipulate this restriction of the article content because some people evidently thought my response was an invitation to spam or to promote a link farm or to turn my own blog into a link farm. Please remain relevant to the topics of this thread. No hijacking of the thread permitted.

  4. Ben Keeler Says:

    Great post.

    As far as Taylor goes, I wonder if she does want to run for Senate in 2012. Would Lt. Gov (if they win) be a better platform to run from than Auditor? I doubt it. I also doubt she would challenge Brown……not saying he is unbeatable (far from it) but I dont think it will be her.

    Maybe she figures it will be easier for her to raise money that way, since we all know she hates doing it herself.

  5. buckeyerino Says:

    Ben and Brandon, thanks for commenting.

    I don’t buy into the notion that Taylor is too lazy to fundraise. She’s run elections for state rep and her initial bid for state auditor, and she raised funds. Besides the down economy, I suspect (just suspicion, no confirmation) that there was also some sort of cabal to purposely dampen the flow of funds to Taylor from the usual Republican benefactors . . . perhaps to hedge up the way so that pursuing some other office, like the Senate seat that Voinovich is vacating, would appear too daunting.

    Maybe, during the course of her audits, she stung some of her own potential donors. For example, I know some charter schools that were deeply embarrassed by audits, and some charter school operators donated to Taylor in past campaigns. But she had to do her job, and not look the other way when accounting irregularities popped up. So maybe there was “payback” from those who felt the sting of audits.

    Even with the funding she had, I think she would have won re-election to Auditor, because voters, even among Democrats, sensed that she was being fair and honest. And by not having her in the Auditor’s race, Republican prospects for retaining the Auditor’s seat have really taken a tumble.

    Taylor did publicly say that being Lt. Gov. would be more family-friendly. If, as you say, Ben, she has no aspirations to be Senator, then the switch to Lt. Gov. makes sense. If she does have aspirations to be U.S. Senator, then the impact on family doesn’t quite ring true, because Senators spend a lot of time on the road between DC and their home state, so time with family would certainly be scarce.

    The only other thing that comes to mind that makes sense to me is that Kasich, if he’s elected, may not seek to serve out his full term, and he prepared for his succession by tapping Mary Taylor. Then Taylor would be Governor, herself. By the middle of Kasich’s term, he might be making the rounds of Iowa and New Hampshire.

    So either Ben is right, she has no ambition to be Senator, she just wants to serve Ohio in a manner that doesn’t impact her family so heavily, or she’ll be Governor because Kasich isn’t planning on sticking around. Everything else that’s being said doesn’t make sense to me.

  6. Ben K Says:

    Right DJW,

    We’ll see if she was telling the truth. If it is all about family, she would never run for Senate…….but what are you implying that Kasich may “not seek out his full term?” Are you saying that he might run for Senate?

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    [...] style of campaigning, but more intelligent and realistic Republicans like Scott Pullins, Buckeye Rino and even Kyle Sisk have pointed out that John Kasich has a tendency to act like a lazy frat boy who [...]


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