This February, I attended a Lincoln Day Dinner for the Erie County Republican Party held in Huron. The featured speaker was Ohio House Minority Leader Bill Batchelder. State rep Batchelder always gives rousing and provocative speeches, and this was no different. He ticked off a long list of the failings of the Democrats in the Ohio House of Representatives and the Governor’s office. One would think that it’s time for a Republican rebound. Four years ago, when Ohioans went to the polls and repudiated Republican leadership, voters thought they had probably hit rock bottom. It seems, under Democrat leadership, Ohio has bored through the rocks at the bottom and is now in free-fall as we seem to have tumbled into a bottomless abyss.
It would seem that the stars are aligning for a Republican resurgence.
But there’s still a reasonable chance that Republicans will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Consider that though Ohioans, as a whole, repudiated Republican leadership, the Republican party, itself, still has to repudiate it’s 2006-era leaders. We’ve got Mike DeWine and Jon Husted on our statewide ballots? What’s up with that? Husted was Speaker of the House back in the day, and Republicans were trying their level best to do the very things that they chastise Democrats for doing right now–spending and taxing at unsustainable levels. DeWine was unceremoniously drubbed from his cushy Senate office in DC in 2006. It’s 2010, and they’re still here. Make them go away. Please.
Beyond the candidates that are the face of the party, though, there’s also the employed staff of the ORP. Think some of those operatives are still hanging around that powered the Republican defeat back in 2006? Absolutely. It’s more because of the Jason Mauks that still linger at the ORP headquarters that I still believe that the state party is still capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory (why I hold up Jason Mauk as an example will be explained later).
ORP financial resources are dwindling, so perhaps its getting to be cutthroat time down at ORP headquarters. When Republicans only control one statewide executive branch office, and even she’s on her way out since she’s the Lt. Gov. candidate, potential donors might not be inclined to think that giving to the ORP is a very good risk when there’s so little clout that can be obtained. The economy is brutal, dampening donations further, and less wealthy rank-and-file Republicans inclined to donate smaller sums are becoming too savvy to donate to a state or national party–for they understand that they have no way of knowing whether or not their money is doing any good if they donate anything beyond the individual candidate or local party level. So, the stragglers still employed by the ORP have to soldier on somehow, and they do it by becoming more parochial.
Welcome to the nano-tent. Oh, sorry, it’s too small to welcome you. You aren’t welcome anyway. You have to be invited in order to enter.
One year prior to the Erie County Lincoln Day Dinner where Batchelder was the featured speaker, Erie County hosted a Lincoln Day Dinner where Kevin DeWine was the featured speaker. I chatted with Kevin DeWine for a few minutes during a reception prior to that dinner. During the conversation, DeWine talked a good game cultivating a GOP that is a big-tent party. He didn’t believe in purging the party down to a tiny base of purists who passed every litmus test. A political party can’t function that way. I wholly agree. I, myself, while advocating for adherence to the principles I hold most dear, would not seek to drum someone out of the party because their ideology didn’t match the accepted norm. As far as I’m concerned, in Ohio, if you request a Republican ballot during the primaries, you’re a Republican. That’s that. I make fun of the way the term “RINO” is bandied about. Can’t you tell?
Actually having a big tent party, with a commitment toward greater inclusiveness and involvement, might help the ORP’s fundraising. But Kevin DeWine just talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk.
Don’t get me wrong. Kevin DeWine doesn’t weed anybody out on the basis of ideology, but the rank-and-file Republican has limits placed on just how much one can be included and involved.
Want to know why the Tea Party movement is still going? People can be as included and involved as they want to be. That’s a big tent. The ORP, hoping to capture some of that magic in a bottle, has been trying in many, many ways to co-opt the Tea Party–but they can’t as long as they keep Republicans at arm’s length without allowing them any decision=making power.
Kevin DeWine has pitched a nano-tent because he and the other ORP employees don’t want any power to extend beyond the confines of the nano-tent.
Who employs the ORP staff? Who hires the ORP Chair? The Republican state central committee does. Who is on the state central committee? A man and woman from each Ohio Senate district. How are these men and women chosen? By election during Republican primaries in even numbered years.
There’s an election for state central committee going on right now, and it doesn’t end until May 4th. Don’t vote for ORP-endorsed candidates for its own committee. (Talk about self-serving rather than constituent-serving . . . ugh!)
Tea Party attendees have been able to make their voices heard among lawmakers and other elected officeholders, but they’d probably like it if the political parties heard them too. The ORP wants to superficially resemble the Tea Party in rhetoric and logo (hattip Bizzyblog), but the ORP does not want to resemble the Tea Party in terms of empowering its members with decision-making powers and in terms of being transparently accountable to its members.
It’s been a while since Ohio has seen this many candidates running for the unpaid position of state central committee member. Do you think that the ORP Chair and the ORP staff might be nervous about the election outcome? They are. In fact, the ORP is using its money to promote many of the state central committee incumbents in literature mailings to voters. Forget about winning in November against Democrats, the ORP staff wants to burn through all of its money right now in the primaries to preserve itself and perpetuate its dysfunction.
Did the state central committee have an endorsement vote for each of the incumbents that it included on the printed literature the ORP paid for as stipulated in party bylaws? No. According to ORP staffer Jason Mauk (there’s that name!), “incumbents are considered automatically endorsed by the ORP.” Except, of course, when an incumbent state central committee member is not automatically endorsed, or when a challenger for state central committee member is, in fact, endorsed without endorsement votes ever having been conducted. OOPS!!! That last little bit of info is the substance of a complaint filed by Thea Shoemake against the ORP (hattip Bizzyblog) that’s due to be heard by the Ohio Elections Commission on April 29th (hattip Right Ohio). It seems that the ORP staff’s survival instincts are in such a state of overdrive that they’ve overlooked such legal requirements. As for the snafu where pro-DeWine non-incumbents appeared on ORP literature as endorsed for the state central committee, Jason Mauk said, “Some non-incumbents were put on some cards by mistake.” Umm, Mr. Mauk, you left out the word “intentional,” as in “Some non-incumbents were put on some cards by intentional mistake.”
My family resides in the 13th District. ORP literature mailed to Republican households in that district shows an incumbent woman endorsed by the ORP. The mailing even arrived at the household of Marilyn Jacobcik, the woman challenging the incumbent. The incumbent man, Bob Rousseau, is running to retain his seat, but, though he’s an incumbent, which, according to Mr. Mauk, means that Mr. Rousseau is automatically endorsed, Rousseau does not appear on the ORP mailings. Is Mr. Rousseau endorsed, or not, Mr. Mauk? Which, out of 3, is the man endorsed by the ORP? Perhaps Kevin DeWine would like to clarify?
You see, entry to the tiny nano-tent of Kevin DeWine, also known as the ORP, is granted only by invitation, an invitation extended only by Kevin DeWine himself.
It’s a very, very, very tiny tent.