The passing of George Voinovich

A common theme appearing in coming-of-age tales is one of a youth who becomes disenchanted with a hero.  The youth discovers the hero has flaws.  The youth becomes a bit cynical.   The youth feels disillusioned.  The youth doesn’t look at the hero the same way again.  It’s just a part of growing up.

But then one is not all the way grown up at that point.  One has to grow up a little bit more and not only be forgiving of flaws, but giving permission to others to be flawed.  Why?  Because no one is perfect and because no one ought to coerce another to give up their flaws.  We have to respect agency–people making choices about their own lives . . . and if someone doesn’t make any wrong choices, then that somebody isn’t making choices, period.  Furthermore, one only has to look in the mirror to find a person who needs forgiveness for being flawed, for making wrong choices.

So as I reflect on the passing of George Voinovich and what George Voinovich meant to me, I have to own up to making a hero out of him.  By September 2009, I was disenchanted.  Now, I find my criticisms a bit harsh and now I find myself wondering why I didn’t try to muster some forgiveness sooner.  I need to look in my mirror and take a good long look at a flawed person again to cement in my mind the need for forgiveness.

I first remember Voinovich from my boyhood, when he was mayor of Cleveland.  He performed two miracles.  One was getting elected as mayor of Cleveland as a Republican.  That he had been a Cuyahoga County commissioner some time prior to that was amazing enough, but Cleveland mayor?  Republicans just don’t get elected as Cleveland mayors.  It just doesn’t happen.  At least, not anymore.  There have been mayoral elections in Cleveland where Democrat primaries settled the mayoral races.  The other was that he led a Cleveland economic renaissance immediately after his predecessor, Dennis Kucinich, had led the city to financial default.  If only Detroit could have been so lucky as to have a person like Voinovich take over as mayor after Kwame Kilpatrick was ousted.

He went on to be Ohio’s governor, and then U.S. Senator.  He was the rare Republican who could sweep the vote across 88 counties.

One of the issues that I really felt close to Voinovich on was his opposition to casino gambling.  His steadfast stance on the issue was perhaps the main reason I lionized him.  The casino lobbyists had infested Ohio by the swarms, targeting weak and corrupt legislators of both parties.  The lobbyists kept saying that casino legalization would be an easy revenue raiser.  Voinovich had brought Cleveland back from financial default without resorting to gimmicks like gambling.  The lobbyists were doling out campaign contributions left and right, but Voinovich wasn’t having any of it.  It’s refreshing to see politicians who will not be bought by the agents of sleaze.

I really feel like Voinovich’s star shone brightest when he held executive office.  Not so much legislative office.  He was better at on-the-spot and uncompromising executive decisions than the highly deliberative and compromising legislative decisions.

My first taste of government service came as a volunteer intern in the office of Governor George Voinovich.  Though my tasks were menial clerical ones, I felt like I had an excellent aerial view of Ohio’s political landscape from atop the Vern Riffe State Office Tower.  I assisted with the filing of the “Governor’s Clips.”  Each day, staffers combed through the print media to assemble a digest of the day’s political stories.  This digest kept the governor informed about the issues without occupying too much of his time.  This was back in the day before internet killed print media, and back when filing cabinets held paper files rather than computers holding data files.  After the governor read each day’s clips, that wasn’t the end of them.  They had to be filed for possible future retrieval.  They had to be filed according to date, according to source, according to location, according to the names of people in the news clips, according to issues, etc.  I do that on this blog with tags.  With paper files, tags don’t quite cut it.  The date, location, and source filing was easy.  That was done by others before I even arrived at the office.  My task was to skim through the stories, themselves, to pull out the keywords, then make as many photocopies of the clipping as I needed in order to file away each story according to each keyword.

Working with the “Governor’s Clips” gave me a brief glimpse into my political future when I encountered an article outlining a state legislator’s gambling expansion proposals: Some guy named Joe Koziura wanted a casino built on Lorain’s lakefront.  I was incensed.  Years later, in 2002 and 2004, I would run against that same Joe Koziura for the office of state representative, but lose both times.

Until 2009, I had voted for Voinovich every time his name appeared on my ballot.  I had handed out his campaign literature door-to-door.  I had attended some of his fundraisers (which meant that some of his campaign money came from me).  I had also worked phone banks getting out the vote on his behalf.  But the chinks in my hero’s armor had begun to show.  Congress bailed out Wall Street in 2008, something it should not have done.  I didn’t understand Voinovich’s voting patterns.  When I finally paid a visit to the offices of the U.S. Senate in Washington, DC, I figured it out.  Those office buildings, especially the Hart Senate Building, resembled palaces.  Democracy gives way to aristocracy in the rarefied air of these Senate offices.  It was the Beltway Bubble.  Our Senators are too far removed from the real world, and even a man as principled as George Voinovich succumbed to the disengagement with the real world.

In the upcoming Senate race, I have no love for Ted Strickland, who reneged on his pledge against the expansion of gambling on his watch as Ohio governor.  Voinovich and Strickland had touched base on the topic of casinos, and Strickland had told Voinovich that he would hold the line against them.  He lied.  He lied to George Voinovich.  He lied to Ohio.  Strickland doesn’t deserve Ohio’s vote.  I here and now endorse Rob Portman for reelection.  However, I would note that Portman has been around DC for far too long.  Between a stint in the US House, and a stint in the US Senate, Portman served in the George W. Bush administration.  I would urge Portman to (get reelected and) use this upcoming Senate term to groom someone else to succeed him.  Make that two someone elses, for we need someone to oust and succeed Sherrod Brown, too.  And I would say that we need more diverse representation than what we’ve had.  Portman has had “listening” tours around Ohio so that he feels like he hears from folks outside the bubble, but I would say to Portman that, at some point, before he serves any additional terms in DC beyond the next one, that he needs to BE one of the folks from outside the bubble if he’s to remain useful as a representative of Ohioans.  This is what I learned about the bubble on my trip to DC.  Even a hero like Voinovich could not make sound decisions after spending too much time in the DC bubble.

Farewell, George Voinovich.  We didn’t end up with quite the Ohio that we wanted.  Four casinos are legal in Ohio now.  The lobbyists wouldn’t be denied.  But as long as you were in the real world with us, outside of that bubble, no lobbyist could cross your conscience.  We need a government with a conscience.  Badly. And so I should have forgiven you a long time ago. I do forgive you.

 

 

How does Scott Walker win Ohio? He won’t.

I hear that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker gives really good stump speeches in his quest to win the U.S. Presidency in 2016.  In a very crowded GOP field where a candidate only has to have more than 10% support to be considered one of the serious contenders (really? when 2016 is still 5 months away?), Walker appears to be well positioned for the first GOP caucus contest early next year in Iowa.  So, what if he wins Iowa?  What if he wins nominating contests in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada?  A lot of competitors will have quit after striking out in the first four contests, true.  But will those potential wins provide the bump he needs to win the White House?  I don’t think so.  Though Ohio’s electoral votes seem to decrease with every census, I still do not see how a Republican candidate wins the White House without winning Ohio.  I don’t see how Scott Walker can win Ohio in a general election unless the Democrat nominee makes a mammoth (and I mean huge, huge, huge) blunder.

It is conceivable, however unlikely, that Walker could win a GOP primary in Ohio, especially if the GOP field is still crowded.  But the field won’t be crowded.  With so many candidates at this stage of the race, the double-digit support Walker currently has makes him seem like a Goliath (OK, maybe not compared to Donald Trump or former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, but I think you know what I mean).  In my memory, I can never recall a GOP primary ballot in Ohio that listed more than five presidential candidates.  Going from double-digit numbers of candidates down to 5 candidates would mean that Scott Walker would have to climb to at least 20% of the vote to win, and 20% would only win if the other candidates were also deadlocked with 20% of the vote yet each tallying one less vote than Scott Walker’s.  If there were just 2 candidates Ohio’s GOP primary ballot and one of them were Scott Walker, I seriously doubt he could cross the 50% threshold to win.  His best chance to win Ohio’s delegates is for all the other candidates to drop out (and sometimes that happens by the time Ohio votes).

Walker was making national news as governor of Wisconsin at the same time that John Kasich was making national news as governor of Ohio.  True, Kasich made national news as a key member of the Congress that balanced the federal budget in the 1990’s, but, for many voters, that is not recent memory.  Governors Walker and Kasich were in the national spotlight for the same thing: passing legislation to drastically alter the collective bargaining rights of the public-sector labor unions.

To me, showing real leadership in executive office means toughly negotiating a fair contract.  Leadership is needed not only at the state level to get labor contracts that strike the right balance, but also at the local levels of government, too.  Voters don’t always elect good leaders, and that’s on them if they didn’t do their homework prior to voting.  So, if labor contracts exist that are not in the public’s best interest, then the public needs to recruit good leaders and vote them into office.  After the victors take office, they need to remember that taxpayers expect that our government executives negotiate contracts that the public can support.

What Walker and Kasich tried to do was compensate for an overall lack of leadership, at state and local levels, regarding labor contract negotiations.  They tried to use the legislation to overturn negotiated contracts.  This step, in and of itself, is not only wrong (because it breaks promises), but it weakens the executive branch’s negotiating clout down the road.  Negotiating in good faith strengthens one’s clout.  Wiping out contracts with legislation shows that one did not negotiate in good faith.  Now, what does one do to engender trust when negotiating with the unions if the unions think that you’re just going to turn around and lobby the legislature to undercut what you just agreed to?  Walker is insulated from his mistake, for now, because voters in Wisconsin sided with him. Now, he needs to find votes in other states, and, speaking of states, Ohio is not an insignificant one.

I think that the labor unions in Wisconsin mistakenly thought that marketplace principles don’t apply to them, for they must have assumed that they could do a crappy job and get away with it. When I think about how things turned out, I think Walker’s victories must have had more to do with taxpayer discontent with public employee performance than with anything else. The moral to the story for Wisconsin’s public employees is this:  Serve the public well.  Had that been the case, Wisconsin’s public employees might have succeeded like the public-sector labor unions in Ohio did.  Ohio turned out to support its public employees at the ballot box.

In 2011, Ohio voters supported the referendum that killed Senate Bill 5, carrying 83 of Ohio’s 88 counties. In Kasich’s bid for re-election in 2014, he had to assure Ohioans that he had learned his lesson and would not go back down that same path to do an end run around labor contracts via legislation.  Lucky for Kasich, he was opposed by Ed Fitzgerald, an ineffective and disgraceful politician from Cuyahoga County, in the 2014 gubernatorial race.  Media observers outside Ohio should not read too much into Kasich’s 2014 win because they need to take into account just how pitifully weak a candidate Fitzgerald was.  Therefore, Kasich’s ability to win Ohio as a presidential candidate is not a foregone conclusion.

Let’s make something clear:  In turning back SB 5 in all but 5 counties (Delaware, Warren, Holmes, Shelby, and Mercer), it would appear that a number of Ohio Republicans thought that the bad-faith legislative end-run around promises made to public employees was a bad move.  Democrats, alone, didn’t kill that bill.  In a contested GOP primary, assuming Walker is still in the mix, he can only pick up the votes of those who favored the bill, which, as I pointed out, may not provide a winning margin if the number of candidates is dwindling.  I don’t know what Walker’s fundraising acumen is, but I suppose he could find well-heeled donors in Delaware and Warren counties to give the illusion that he has some kind of political support in Ohio, but money doesn’t necessarily add up to votes.  Though there are other planks in Walker’s platform besides union-busting, many of those same planks exist in the platforms of his competitors.  In other words, he is different from the other candidates in that he engaged in union-busting and got away with it.  Except, he really won’t get away with it, because the path to the White House leads through Ohio.  Kasich, for his part, is apologetic (but he still might not carry Ohio).  Walker remains unapologetic.  And this brings us to the general election of 2016 (okay, I said the 2016 general election might not even happen if all hell breaks loose).

Do we need to remind everyone that Ohio is a swing state?  The Democrats GOTV efforts in Ohio during presidential election years have been full-throttle, to say the least.  The Democrats know that no matter how large the magnitude of resources is that’s poured into Ohio, it pays off if they deny the GOP of Ohio’s electors.  So though Ohio looks red in between presidential election years, the Democrats painted Ohio blue in 2008 and 2012.  History shows us that Republicans do not win the White House without Ohio’s electors.  If Scott Walker were the GOP nominee, how does he carry Ohio?  The death of SB 5 would suggest that Walker will definitely not max out the Republican vote.  What does he offer for Democrats that may cause them to think about crossing over?  Nothing.

Walker slashed the unions claiming that it would save the taxpayers some money.  Maybe it just re-allocated where money is spent, for Walker plans to help the Milwaukee Bucks NBA team get a new arena with the help of taxpayer money–from new taxes.  That’s called corporate welfare.  That doesn’t even sell well with the Tea Party.  Meanwhile, as a saving grace, Kasich works wonders with budgets without more taxation.  Conclusion: Walker’s union-busting is a bust in Ohio.  White House access denied.

Kasich, for his part, has a chance, but the Democrat nominee will not be Ed Fitzgerald in November 2016.  I think he knows that.

Updating blog roll

It has been a long time since I last checked the links on my blogroll.  I have made changes.  Deletions from the blogroll were based on links that stopped working, links that redirected to a totally unrelated page, blogs that were blank, blogs that were password protected, or blogs that hadn’t added content in years.

If you own a website that was deleted and you would like it reinstated, you should probably include an explanation of why I found what I found when I clicked on your link.  If for example, your link was dead because you changed your URL, then I’d be happy to revisit my decision to delete.

After those deletions, I am looking to add to the blogroll.  I will be on the lookout for blogs that are Ohio-based and/or politics-based.  North central Ohio, like the counties along the Lake Erie shoreline between Cleveland and Toledo and a little further inland, is what I consider my home territory, for I have resided in Erie, Seneca, and Lorain counties (Franklin County, too, but plenty of blogs cover Columbus).  Huron, Sandusky, and Ottawa counties are of interest, too.  If you would like your blog added to my blogroll, give me a holler (my profile with email appears on the About page). As you know, I identify myself politically as being right-of-center (even though there are those who disbelieve my self-assessment).

On another note, I was stunned to see that WordPress had begun to place ads on my site.  I paid WordPress extra money just to keep my blog advertisement-free.  If you see ads crop up on Buckeye RINO, I’d appreciate it if you would let me know so that I can investigate.

For social networking, I have been using just Twitter, as I find it least annoying among social networking sites.  I once had Facebook and a few others, but I hated them, so I pulled the plug on them.  However, if readers have a social networking site that they want to recommend, let me know, and if you really think I should return to Facebook, I will entertain your arguments (but make them good, since I’ll be difficult to persuade).

A few county Lincoln Day Dinners in 2014

Looking at search terms that have guided readers to this page in the past 30 days, I can see that some of you are trying to mark dates on your calendar for annually-held Republican Lincoln Day Dinners in Ohio this year.  Unfortunately, Buckeye RINO has not posted such events in a long time, so readers have been disappointed, upon arriving at this website, that the events posted here were held on dates long since passed.  In order to partially satisfy your curiosity on what events are occurring when, I have taken a look around to see what information I could put together.

Thursday, February 13, 2014–Cuyahoga County

  • Guest Speaker: Gov. John Kasich
  • @ the Holiday Inn, 6001 Rockside Rd, Independence OH
  • VIP reception, $750 per person, at 5:30 pm
  • Dinner, $60 per person, at 6:00 pm
  • still seeking event sponsors
  • Contact Julie Kirk (216) 621-5415 or rsvp@cuyahogacountygop.com

Saturday, February 22, 2014–Knox County Lincoln-Reagan Dinner

  • Guest Speaker: Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted
  • @ Station Break Senior Citizen Center, 160 Howard St., Mount Vernon OH
  • Social Hour at 6pm
  • Dinner, $45 per person, at 7 pm
  • seeking event sponsors up until Wednesday, February 12th–contact Don Divelbiss (740) 392-3873 or ddivelbiss@hotmail.com
  • contact Cindy Higgs (740) 398-5385 or chiggs@embarqmail.com

Thursday, February 27, 2014–Licking County

  • Guest Speaker: Gov. John Kasich
  • @ Reese Center, COTC/OSU-N Campus, 1179 University Dr, Newark OH
  • Private Pre-reception, $50 per person, at 5:30 pm
  • Dinner, $60 per person, at 6:30 pm
  • RSVP by February 20, Registration card to complete, front and back, then mailed to Licking County Republican Party, PO Box 431, Newark, OH  43058
  • contact Licking County Republican Facebook page,  (740) 345-0500, or LCRepublicanHQ@gmail.com

Friday, February 28, 2014–Clermont County

  • Guest Speaker: U.S. Senator Rob Portman
  • @ Holiday Inn Eastgate, 4501 Eastgate Blvd, Cincinnati OH
  • Social Hour at 6 pm
  • Dinner, $50 per person, at 7 pm
  • For reservations, send check to Clermont County Republican Party, PO Box 740, Batavia, OH  45103

Thursday, March 6, 2014–Wayne County

  • Guest Speaker: Gov. John Kasich
  • @Greenbriar Conference & Party Center, 50 Riffel Rd, Wooster OH
  • “meet and greet” wine and cheese reception, $25 per person, at 5:30 pm
  • dinner, $25 per person, at 6:30 pm
  • Contact Julie Leathers, 118 Kirk Ave. Orrville OH  44667 or purchase tickets online

Monday, March 17, 2014–Trumbull County McKinley Dinner

Wednesday, March 26, 2014–Marion County Harding Day Dinner

  • Guest Speaker: Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor
  • @ All Occasions Banquet Facility, 6989 Waldo-Delaware Rd, Waldo OH
  • Dinner, $25 per person, at 5:30 pm
  • RSVP by March 20 via email: MarionGOPJohn@hotmail.com

RPCC press release: Judge Sara Harper, one of Cleveland’s own, to be honored by the Republican National Committee in DC

Editor’s note:  This event, the 2nd Annual Black Republican Trailblazer Award Luncheon, is to be held today, Feb. 4th, in Washington DC.  I just received this press release yesterday, Feb. 3rd, from Doug Magill, doug@magillmedia.net or (216) 536-1564, of the Republican Party of Cuyahoga County (RPCC).  Despite the lateness of the press release in relation to the timing of the event, I thought this recognition was important enough to announce to as wide an audience as possible.–DJW

Judge Sara Harper to be Honored at the Black Republican
Trailblazer Award Luncheon
 

CLEVELAND – The Republican National Committee (RNC) is pleased to announce that Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame member Judge Sara Harper is to be honored at the 2nd Annual Black Republican Trailblazer Award Luncheon.

Growing up in public housing on Cleveland’s East Side, she was the first black woman to graduate from the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.  Judge Harper subsequently became Cleveland city prosecutor under Mayor Carl B. Stokes, and later a Municipal Court Judge as well as President of the Cleveland NAACP. One of the first black women to serve on the Ohio Court of Appeals, she also was the first black woman to serve on the Ohio Supreme Court.

Judge Harper was the first woman to serve on the judiciary of the Marine Corps Reserve, and was a co-founder of the first victims’ rights organization in the country. A staunch believer in childhood education, she founded the Sara J. Harper Children’s Library on Cleveland’s East Side, in the housing project where she grew up.

The theme of this year’s award ceremony is “Honoring Our Past and Building the Future.”  The event will also honor Dr. Louis Sullivan of Georgia, and Michigan businessman William “Bill” Brooks.  Honorees are chosen for their significant contributions to the Party, their communities, and the country.  It will be hosted by the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, and will be held on Tuesday, February 4th at the historic Howard Theater in Washington, D.C.

For further information on the event please contact Brian Barnes with the Ohio Republican Party, bbarnes@ohiogop.org.