Ohio’s early voting has begun and there are more choices for prez and vice prez in 2016 than you might think

Early voting for the general election of November 2016 has begun.

Dear readers, especially Ohio registered voters, it is time to vote for President and Vice President of the United States, as we do every four years.  The early voting period has begun.  There is no reason to push voting off until the last minute, if you’ve done your homework and investigated the candidates and issues appearing on the ballots.

There are more than two political parties.

Oh, maybe you’re holding off on voting until all the “October surprises” have been revealed.  If you are, then you are probably still entertaining thoughts about voting for the Trump/Pence Republican ticket or the Clinton/Kaine Democrat ticket.  I’m not.  I’m so done with both of them.  To be fair, I do think that Trump is wholly justified in remaining at the top of the Republican ticket.  He won the party nomination fair and square.  Fortunately, in our nation, we don’t have to vote for a party slate.  We can vote for individual candidates on an a la carte basis.  Our voting system is so much better than the parliamentary elections held in so many other parts of the world.  Also, the media tries to rigidly uphold the two-party system (Democrat and Republican) in the United States; but the truth is, there are more candidates to choose from than just Trump or Clinton.  I’m glad of that.  If I could only vote between the two of them, I would pull the lever for Trump, but I’m so happy that I don’t have to (and I won’t).

Your ballot will list more candidates for president than just Trump and Clinton.

Ohio’s ballot also lists Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka as Green Party POTUS and VPOTUS candidates, Richard Duncan and Ricky Johnson as independent POTUS and VPOTUS candidates, and Gary Johnson and William Weld as Libertarian POTUS and VPOTUS candidates.  Maybe you’re thinking, “those other candidates are nobodies who couldn’t possibly be experienced/skillful/prepared/savvy/qualified enough to be President,” but, if so, you may be mistaken.  For example, the Libertarian ticket–Johnson and Weld–features POTUS and VPOTUS candidates who have both been state governors.  So I would urge voters to take more than a cursory glance at independent and minor party candidates this election cycle.  You may find candidates among them that are superior to the ones that the two major parties have nominated.

Also, there are POTUS and VPOTUS candidates that you are able to vote for who are not listed on the ballot. 

I’m talking about write-in candidates.  You can only vote for one pair of POTUS/VPOTUS candidates, so if you intend to vote for a write in, you have to make sure you didn’t inadvertently cast votes for one of the pairs already listed on the ballot.  A word of advice: Don’t just write “none of the above” as a protest write-in vote.  It won’t get counted.  In order for a write-in vote to be counted, you must write in the name of a candidate who actually met the qualifications to be a write-in candidate as determined by the office of the Ohio Secretary of State.  Please be aware that the workers at the polls are partisan (equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans at each voting location, ideally), so they have no interest in volunteering information about write-in candidates.  If you directly ask them for a list of the names of qualified write-in candidates, then I think they would be obliged to respond, but you would be better off if you did this homework in advance and examined the write-in candidate list ahead of your visit to your polling place.  This year, the POTUS and VPOTUS ticket I am voting for is among the qualified write-ins.  Here is Ohio’s list of qualified POTUS/VPOTUS write-in candidates for the November 2016 general election (POTUS candidate’s name of each write-in ticket appears to the left of each “/” with VPOTUS candidate’s name of each ticket appears after each “/”):

James Jerome Bell/Scheem Milton Hempstead

Michael Bickelmeyer/Robert Young

Darrell L. Castle/Scott N. Bradley

Cherunda Fox/Roger Kushner

Ben Hartnell/Dave Marshall

Tom Hoefling/Steve Schulin

Bruce E. Jaynes/Roger W. Stewart

Chris Keniston/Deacon Taylor

Barry Kirschner/Rick Menefield

Laurence Kotlikoff/Edward Leamer

Joseph Maldonado/Douglas Terranova

Michael Andrew Maturen/Juan Antonio Munoz

Evan McMullin/Nathan Johnson

Monica Moorehead/Lamont Lilly

Joe Schriner/Joe Moreaux

Mike Smith/Daniel White

Josiah R. Stroh/Paul Callahan

Douglas W. Thomson/Thomas A. Ducro, Jr.

Notice that the list of write-in candidates does not include any mention of party affiliations.  This does not mean that all of these tickets have no affiliations to political parties.  The Darrell L. Castle/Scott N. Bradley ticket, for example, is actually affiliated with the Constitution Party . . . a political party that some Tea Party voters might take an interest in due to shared notions of limited government and close adherence to the U.S. Constitution, yet more tolerant of the rule of law than, say, a number of Libertarians that might feel a little too restricted by laws in general.  On the other hand, the Evan McMullin/Nathan Johnson ticket is an independent ticket, for McMullin has cast aside his former affiliation with the Republicans from the time he served as a Congressional aide.  As far as McMullin, a former CIA operative, is concerned, if Trump personifies what the Republican Party currently stands for, then McMullin wants to make a clean break with that.  So feel free to google and research the candidates listed here.  If you find your favorite POTUS/VPOTUS ticket among the qualified write-ins, then I recommend you jot down your selection in a little note to yourself to take with you to your polling location to make it easier to cast your write-in vote.

No, you’re not throwing your vote away if you vote for a ticket other than a major party ticket.

As long as you are casting your vote for an eligible candidate of your liking, your vote will be counted and it will have an impact.  How large of an impact?  I don’t know.  We’ll have to see how the future unfolds.  In my opinion, in this election year, we may begin to see some movement to break the stranglehold that the two major political parties have on our government, since the Dem and Rep nominees for prez this time around are not so popular.  Or, perhaps the Republicans and Democrats may remain dominant, but undertake reforms if they perceive that they are each becoming too unpalatable to the U.S. electorate.  If they reform, or if there is any other shake-up on the horizon, votes for candidates from outside the two major parties may very well influence those political shifts.  Especially if you are unhappy with the direction that the nation is headed in, don’t stay home.  Vote.

 

 

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.

 

 

Ohio Primary on March 15, 2016: Buckeye RINO endorses Kasich and Sanders in GOP and Democrat prez races

The heyday of this blog was a few years ago when I had my hands less full of things to do, thus more time to write.  I don’t post new blog articles as much as I used to.  Imagine my surprise to see that my blog traffic is actually on the rise despite my relative silence.  I guess people are really, really, really interested in the elections this cycle.  When I look to see what is driving traffic to Buckeye RINO, I see people are digging up my endorsements in past election cycles, particularly in races lower on the ballot than the race for POTUS.  I’m sorry all you readers who came to Buckeye RINO only to find news about years past and very little about this year.

For this primary election, the only local endorsement I’ll make is that I support Michele Silva Arredondo for Lorain County Common Pleas Court judge on the GOP ballot.  I’ll remain silent on all the other local and state races.

In the GOP race for POTUS, I endorse John Kasich, and in the Democrat race, I endorse Bernie Sanders.

I’ve been hesistant to endorse a GOP candidate for U.S. President.  In a blog article much earlier on in this election cycle, I chronicled how no candidate in either party excited me, and this is still the case.  It seemed to me, on the GOP side, that as soon as I pick a favorite, my favorite drops out and then I have to search out another favorite, so I hope my endorsement, at this date, is not the kiss of death for John Kasich.  For a while, I favored Bobby Jindal, then Rand Paul, then Carly Fiorina, then Ben Carson.  Each has exited the stage.

I’ve had some beefs with Kasich.  If you dig through Buckeye RINO, you’ll see some of my criticisms.  But when I reflect upon my biggest disagreements with Kasich as governor, a number of those disagreements are about education.  Education is a big issue when one is governor, but there are bigger fish to fry as President of the United States, one of which is the national debt that has our nation perched atop a crumbling economic precipice.  Kasich balances budgets.  Yes, it took government shutdowns during the Clinton administration to force the White House to accept the budgets, but it stuck.  Ted Cruz has caused government shutdowns in the name of good fiscal policy, too, but Cruz doesn’t know how to remain friends within his own caucus.  With Kasich’s government shutdowns, his colleagues were still his friends, which means that Kasich is better poised to identify a Congressional coalition that will help him govern as U.S. President.

Cruz actually made me angry when his staff pulled a stunt during the Iowa caucuses claiming that Ben Carson was dropping out.  Cruz operatives apparently pulled the same stunt this past Tuesday in Hawaii at the expense of Marco Rubio.  In these and other instances of dirty tricks, Cruz was very lawyerly in defending his campaign.  How Clintonesque.  What a turnoff.

See the little search window at the top of the left sidebar on Buckeye RINO?  If you type in the search term “gambling,” you’ll see that I despise gambling.  Trump, being the casino tycoon that he is, wasn’t likely to get my nod for nominee, anyway.  Also, I have decried religious intolerance before, so when both Cruz and Trump harp on and on against Muslims, they are not winning any points with me.  As for the flap about Trump somehow being in cahoots with the KKK, I think that’s all manufactured by the desperate.  I fail to see past Trump conduct that fits with this seemingly manufactured narrative.  If I see conduct from Trump in the future that smacks of racism, I’d be happy to call it out, but I fail to see such a pattern thus far.

Marco Rubio has revealed himself to be a candidate of the donor class, not a candidate of the grassroots.

Having said all of that, in November, I’ll vote for any of the Republicans over Hillary Clinton, should she be the Democrat nominee.

Democrat voters in 2008 made the right decision in nominating Barack Obama, notwithstanding I voted against him in November of 2008 and 2012.  Yes, I disagree with much (but not all) that our current POTUS has done and is trying to do.  Some have said he’s the worst president in history, but I’d have to disagree.  There’ve been worse.  Hillary Clinton, had she won it all in 2008, would have been worse.  Bernie Sanders would be a far more ethical, far less corrupt president than Hillary Clinton would.

DOJ politicized under Obama?  You bet.  IRS politicized under Obama?  You bet.  But while Obama claimed that the IRS was a phony scandal perpetrated by a bad actor or two with no connection to the White House, I could easily envision an emboldened President Hillary Clinton issuing a charge to the DOJ and the IRS to take down the “vast right-wing conspiracy” that menaces her and the country (or at least menaces her plans for the country).  With Obama, there’s denial.  With Clinton, she’d be justifying it.

One may wonder:  How can a right-of-center blogger favor Obama and Sanders over Clinton when they are further to the political left than Clinton?  My reply would be that I sense that Hillary is capable of far more heinous treachery.  U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren is further to the left of Clinton, too, but if I had a choice between Warren and Clinton, I’d take Warren.  As for Sanders’ socialism, I would just note that the political pendulum swings back and forth.  Socialism won’t take firm root before it is out of vogue again.  In the meantime, Sanders is more honest than our current president, more honest than many of the GOP candidates, and far more honest than Clinton.  We could use some cleaning up of Beltway ethics, and I think Sanders could deliver on that front.  Depending on the GOP nominee, there is a possibility I could vote for Sanders in November if he were the Democrat nominee.  It depends on how dirty politics looks by then and how squeaky-clean Sanders looks by comparison when election time draws near.

A Sanders presidency may clean up corruption, whereas a Clinton presidency will maintain the status quo, letting the corruption continue.  You can see it in the New Hampshire Democrat primary exit poll data that showed that it is the privileged Democrats who will benefit from a Clinton presidency.  The only group of Democrats who supported Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire were those who thought the country was headed in the right direction, who were not worried about the economy, who had not felt betrayed by their government or their political party, and whose annual income exceeded $200,000.  Voters in subsequent primaries and caucuses should take note:  If you are unhappy with the way things are right now, Hillary is not your candidate.  She is there to do the bidding of the privileged Democrats who donate to her: Maintain the status quo.  These privileged Clinton Democrats don’t have much in common, demographically, with the rest of the Democrat Party.  The Clinton Democrats are the ones who pull all the levers within the party machine (hence the “superdelegates”), they often have prestigious titles working in America’s universities, liberal think tanks, non-profit organizations, and crony-capitalist businesses such as those on Wall Street.  These people, if they get in trouble, they get bailed out.  That’s who Clinton represents.  If that description doesn’t fit you, then you have no business voting for her. Clinton and some media types have said what a wonderful thing the Democrat primary race where voters have two good choices and the candidates see eye-to-eye on most issues.  This is a lie.  The difference between who Sanders is and what he represents and who Clinton is and what she represents is huge.  To me, it is the difference between broad sunlight (Sanders) and a dark alley (Clinton).

When I was a young boy (3rd grade), my career ambition was to be a U.S. Ambassador to France.  With that thought in mind, I majored in international studies at Ohio State.  Nowadays, my field of specialty is teaching English to speakers of other languages.  When I contemplate the death of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, along with the deaths of three others at the hands of terrorists, it gives me chills.  The terrorists acted upon information.  For all I know, the information the terrorists acted upon came from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for she did not safeguard top-secret information, including information about U.S. assets and personnel abroad.  Looking at events leading up to those deaths–where it seems that security vulnerabilities were deliberately overlooked–and looking at events unfold after mischief was clearly afoot in Benghazi–where it seems that the opportunity to evacuate was doable but somehow deliberately nixed–I can only arrive at the conclusion that Stevens’ death was the desired outcome.  Was he a man who knew too much?  Even if his death were merely due to Clinton’s negligence, rather than malfeasance, it is still too much for me to stomach.  If I were a U.S. Ambassador to anywhere, I’d want the U.S. government to have my back.

Hillary Clinton tried to rig the elections in 2008, but Barack Obama outsmarted her.  She has outdone herself this time around, with nearly every superdelegate handpicked for their loyalty to her.  The election on the Democrat side is rigged.  Only rank-and-flle Democrat voters have the power to throw a monkey wrench into her machine, and I hope they’ll do just that.

As for a brokered GOP convention, I do not favor the pandemonium that Mitt Romney seems to invite.  If Trump has the delegates, then he’s the nominee.  If Trump goes on to lose the election, then the establishment can engage in party-building after that (and get in touch with the grassroots) and make a push for redemption.  If Trump goes on to win the election and the establishment still cannot make amends with him and thus will not allow him to be their standard-bearer going forward, then found a new political party and recruit elected Republican legislators across the country to switch to this new party starting in January.  If this new party succeeds well enough at this recruitment, it could conceivably enact laws in many states that would grant major-party status to their new creation.  If we’re to have a falling out, let’s have it then, after January, in the broad light of day.  Make new rules then.  Don’t bend and break rules midstream this July in some smoke-filled convention backroom to thwart a vast array of voters.

I hope that Ohio will do the right thing.  Kasich for the Republicans.  Sanders for the Democrats.  Make November a sweeter pill to swallow.

Fox News being selfish in only allowing 3 hours for first GOP debates scheduled for Aug. 6, 2015

Sound bites from the people that matter (the candidates for the GOP nomination for the 2016 presidential election) and hours of hashing and rehashing the sound bites from the people that don’t matter (media pundits): That is what we have to look forward to in the wake of the first GOP presidential candidate debates. This imbalance is the essence of my complaint.

The first GOP debates of the 2016 presidential campaign season will be held on Fox News on August 6,2015.  Seventeen candidates are eligible to participate in one of two debates that evening.  Originally, just one debate during two hours of primetime was scheduled to start at 9 PM Eastern Time.  That primetime debate would only have allowed for the top 10 candidates in the polls to be on stage.  Because of backlash, Fox News has announced an additional hour of debate for the remaining 7 candidates that starts at 5 pm Eastern Time, so all the major GOP candidates get some time on-camera.

But let’s put things into perspective.  Are these debates going to use all 180 minutes of those time slots on these debates?  Or will their be commercial breaks?  Or, at the least, station breaks?  Even if they air the debates nonstop without interruption, three hours does not seem to be much time considering that Fox News is on the air 24/7.  A candidate would be really lucky to total more than 10 minutes of speaking time during these debates.  How much can you really learn about a candidate’s platform in 10 minutes, especially if the moderator is steering conversation away from the message a candidate wants to emphasize?  With such a short timeframe to work with, a moderator has to be very selective about what issues to raise and responses to elicit.  Viewers will not get a chance to learn the depth and breadth of each candidacy.  Therefore, there will be too little information revealed to make apples to apples comparisons between candidates’ competing visions.

24-hour news networks can be boring to follow over the course of a day because so much information is repeated ad nauseum.  The debates will provide a welcome break from that.  Why not pre-empt all of the regularly scheduled programming that evening to give us a solid block of time to hear all the candidates more in-depth in a round robin that puts them all on stage at once?  After all, this is the debut.

A debut means that it is a special occasion that comes around only once every four years, so why the stinginess on time?  At any other time of the campaign season, people will have already dropped out–people who might have been worthy of further consideration, had they only been given a chance to have their say. One of the reasons that the freedom of the press is encoded into our U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights is so that we can access information about these very important political matters.  TV news outlets should exist for stuff such as this.

I say, start the cameras rolling at 4 pm and keep them rolling until midnight.  Yes, that’s a full eight-hour work shift during which the candidates need to remain engaged, but the work of the President of the United States is far more grueling than that, thus it should be no big deal.  Yeah, people need to eat and people need to use the bathroom during eight hours, so seat the candidates at long tables that will allow them to be served some dinner.  Since only one person can talk at a time anyway, there should be plenty of time for the other sixteen candidates to swallow a few bites and take a few swigs of their drinks as they listen in.  The candidates, of course, would need to be cued when they are on-deck so that they are free to speak without food in their mouths when it becomes their turn.  The candidates can grab restroom breaks during commercials.  While food is being served, the debate format can be Q & A between moderator and candidate, with each taking a turn.  After the food has been cleared away, the debate between candidates can begin in earnest, wherein candidates can challenge each other’s positions with much less input from the moderator.  At that point, the moderator would merely play traffic cop by identifying which speaker has the floor at any given point so that candidates do not talk over each other.

Who is going is going to watch an eight-hour debate in its entirety besides die-hard political junkies, you ask?  Never fear, for, in the weeks following, the pundits will all pile on to rehash what was said.  Therefore, if you only caught pieces of the debate, you are sure to see regurgitations of it.  The difference is, instead of the pundits playing upon the same sound bites over and over again, there will actually be enough substance from the candidates’ mouths that the pundits might actually say something insightful rather than knee-jerk.  There will be more context within which to analyze candidates’ statements.

When hours of punditry have to pick over mere seconds of sound bites, the political commentary tends to resemble tabloid TV reality shows.  We have enough of that on the tube already.  If the news networks made the changes I recommend, there would be more meat for the pundits to digest, and the commentary might actually become educational, and that would be refreshing.

Aren’t there way too many pundits?  Don’t they take up way too much broadcasting time?  More time should have been alloted to this debut event–specifically to the candidates.  The pundits are like the poor: They will always be with us.

By the way, here’s a recap of the 17 candidates, in no particular order, with links to their official websites (except for one, the latest entrant, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, who doesn’t seem to have launched his website yet).

Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore

Former New York Governor George Pataki

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee

Former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum

U.S. Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio

U.S. Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz

U.S. Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul

U.S. Senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina

Pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson

Real estate tycoon Donald Trump

Ohio Governor John Kasich

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

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.

Press release: Resolution introduced in Ohio House to prohibit using the state constitution to carve out protected monopolies

Editor’s note:  This press release, dated June 16, 2015, announces the introduction of a resolution that should have been part and parcel of Ohio’s constitution from its inception.  One of the weaknesses of the state constitution is that it has been too easy to amend in ways that make little sense.  Though I favor this resolution, hasn’t the damage already been done?  Of course, the damage I am referring to is the legalization of casinos in Ohio.  Had Ohio’s constitution not been allowed to be amended to establish a business monopoly and prevent said monopoly from any future competition, we would not have the current abominable amendment on the books that allowed the establishment of 4 Ohio casinos (Cleveland, Toledo, Columbus, Cincinnati) all backed by a particular group of casino investors.  To me, Ohio should have had zero casinos (and no state lottery, either).  But if Ohioans demand casinos, then the casinos should not be monopolies and they should not be protected from future competition.  If Ohio must have casinos, then let them be no different than other retail businesses.  If someone wants to be a restaurant owner, no problem.  If someone wants to be a gas station owner, no problem.  If someone wants to be a casino owner in a state where casinos are legal, there should also be no problem.  Unfortunately, this resolution cannot undo what has been done, but at least it can prevent future improprieties of this sort. I hope this is indeed on the November ballot and that Ohioans turn out to support it.–DJW

State Reps. Ryan Smith and Mike Curtin Introduce Resolution Prohibiting Constitutional Monopolies

COLUMBUS—Today, State Representatives Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) and Mike Curtin (D-Marble Cliff) introduced a resolution that prohibits an initiated constitutional amendment that would grant a monopoly in the state of Ohio from being proposed as law or as a constitutional amendment through the petition process.

House Joint Resolution 4 calls for a constitutional amendment to be placed on the ballot for the November 3rd general election of this year that would ensure that monopolies cannot be created through the use of constitutional amendments. This would block any upcoming initiatives that create a monopoly from becoming effective in the Ohio Constitution.

“I believe that, as elected members of this government, we are all called upon to protect our Constitution from being exploited for personal profit,” Rep. Smith said. “In addition, as the current standard-bearers of this state’s democratic process, for us to allow any person or group of people to enshrine in this Constitution a provision that would only serve the financial interests of a highly selective group of wealthy individuals would be a tremendous moral failure and an injustice to every citizen of this great state.”

“This would protect Ohio’s century-old constitutional initiative process from those who would pervert it, who would stand it on its head, who would use it to protect the privileged few rather than to protect the many against the privileged few,” said Curtin. “All we ask is that Ohioans be given the opportunity to vote this November to protect their state constitution—to protect it from those who would carve into it a self-serving, and permanent, monopoly.” 

H.J.R. 4 will receive sponsor testimony today in the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee at 1:30 p.m.

Labor Day 2014 in Lorain County

Labor Day 2014 finds me back in Lorain County, the home of Ohio’s largest annual festival (actually, it is always held in Lorain on the Sunday immediately preceding Labor Day) devoted to labor unions.  After reading through Elyria’s Chronicle-Telegram and Lorain’s Morning Journal, I have felt the urge to respond to some of the political speechifying at Sunday’s Labor Fest (officially titled “20th annual Lorain County Organized Labor Day Family Celebration”) as reported by these two newspapers.

As I have written before, I am a Republican who has run for public office who supports organized labor.  I know many other Republicans, locally, who support organized labor even though local union leaders have often been antagonistic toward said Republicans.

Thus, let me begin with a criticism of  the remarks offered by U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Lorain), as quoted in this Chronicle-Telegram story:

“You’re getting Republicans that have supported Mitt Romney, that are supporting John Kasich, that are supporting anti-labor, anti-women’s health, anti-voting rights agenda that national Republicans have.”  Brown is supposedly talking about Republicans in elected office here, Lorain County, at the local level.  Wait a minute . . . who the heck is he talking about?  I can name names of anti-labor Republican office holders at the state level, but I’m scratching my head trying to think of who, possibly, Brown is talking about at the local level.  For one thing, there are very few Republicans in office at the local level.  The CT reporter, Evan Goodenow, indicated that Lorain County Commissioner Tom Williams–the sole Republican county commissioner–shook his head at Brown’s remarks.  Evidently, if Brown was referring to Williams, then Brown was lying.  Williams would be the expert on where Williams stands, not Brown.  It stands to reason that Williams would not even have been in attendance if what Brown had said was absolutely true.  Being there, and being visible there as a public figure, is a choice Williams made.  He didn’t have to be there.  That he chose to be there is evidence that Williams does not consider himself to be an enemy of the labor unions.  Reportedly, Williams spoke personally with Brown after the speech and assured him that he supported labor.  Brown said he didn’t know who Williams was.  Brown must not have been referring to Williams.  It is clear, by this revelation, Brown didn’t know what he was talking about.  Brown was apparently just shooting his mouth off.  Such reckless remarks and a clear disregard of the truth . . . umm, wait . . . no a total lack of concern for even educating oneself about the truth . . . do not inspire me with confidence in this person who holds the lofty position of U.S. Senator.

State Rep. Dan Ramos urged voters to scrutinize candidates’ records.  I wonder if Ramos supposes that such scrutiny would lead to the conclusion that every Republican is unworthy of support.  Of course, those who are the most likely to avoid scrutiny are those who run unopposed.  Ramos is running unopposed.  Such a shame.  We need to do something about that.  Maybe I, myself, need to do something about that.

But in a related CT story, I don’t have to wonder where local Democrat Party boss Anthony Giardini stands on who is worthy and unworthy of support.  Whoever Giardini handpicks is worthy of support and no one else.  Two members of Lorain City Council ran for election as independents, and that sticks in Giardini’s craw.  Tim Carrion publicly revealed that, next year, he will challenge the Giardini-supported incumbent Democrat mayor of Lorain.  Carrion has not firmly decided whether he will run as a Democrat or as an independent.  Giardini, who would prefer that every Lorain officeholder be his pawn, strongly expressed that Carrion should mount his mayoral challenge within the Democrat primary.  While expressing this, Giardini does not have an open mind about Carrion as a candidate, for he already backs the incumbent.  With the party boss already choosing sides, why would Carrion feel it’s in his best interests to run in the primary as a Democrat rather than as an independent in the general election?  Giardini offered that if Carrion beat the incumbent in the primary that he would support him in the general election.  If Carrion chooses to challenge in the primary, then, purely statistically–like a coin toss–without taking any other factors into consideration, Carrion only has half a chance of advancing to the general election.  As an independent, Carrion guarantees that he advances to the general election.  As an independent, yes, Carrion would definitely not have Giardini’s blessing, whereas he has some chance of securing Giardini’s blessing if he won a Democrat primary, but is a primary contest really worth it when Giardini is clearly not going to remain neutral in the primary?  If Giardini would vow strict neutrality in the primary, and not try to tip the scales, I think, if Carrion views Giardini as trustworthy, then running in the primary would make total sense.  Absent that, Carrion should go independent all the way.

I have to admit to some measure of delight that a couple of union-backed independent members of city council have ripped a page out of Giardini’s playbook of machine politics to beat a couple of Giardini’s handpicked candidates.  Giardini’s Democrat political machine has always relied heavily on union members’ contributions to make it work, and those wins serve as reminders to political bosses to not take those key contributors for granted or turn them into pawns.

The MJ story by Richard Payerchin offers some hope that local union leadership will be more open to forging alliances with Republicans sympathetic to worker interests.  Jim Slone’s (Lorain County CAP Council of the UAW) declaration that he is a unionist before he is a Democrat doesn’t exactly translate into a willingness to ally with Republicans, but it seems to leave the door open to that.  Similarly, Harry Williamson’s (Lorain County AFL-CIO) observation that, “I’ve emphasized that specifically here in Lorain County, history’s always shown that labor has been a D-type (Democratic) organization.  As workers, we have to get away from that mindset,” is even more encouraging since it was coupled by an example of an actual former Republican officeholder that was a friend to labor.  Keith Hocevar’s (Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 16) assurance that, “In the building trades, we talk to both sides; we talk to Democrats and Republicans in races. For us, we look at individual races and talk to the candidates and talk to the candidates who support our issues,” is the most comforting.  I hope that Dan Ramos and Sherrod Brown carefully read those statements, as they paint the GOP with such broad brushes as to suggest Republicans are monolithic in their political views.  They should campaign on their own virtues vis-a-vis the candidates they face.  Voters need to know that while some candidates are willing to be party pawns, others are too principled to allow themselves to be treated as pawns.  It is the voters’ responsibility to determine which is which, and when they find a principled candidate, it behooves voters to demand to know just what those principles are before they cast their votes.  I have always maintained that one should vote for the person, not the party.  Voting for a party slate assembled by political insiders is why nations governed by parliaments are inferior to the elections conducted within America’s system of government.

In both the CT and MJ articles, John Kasich was held up as an object of scorn.  In closing, let me offer this head’s up.  When it comes to opposition to unions, John Kasich is nothing compared to Jon Husted.  I sure hope Husted is not the “anointed” GOP candidate for Ohio Governor in 2018.  If he is, I sure hope he is vigorously contested in the GOP primary.  Husted is a prime example of pay-to-play politics.  I would not cast a vote  for Husted even if he ran unopposed, whether in a primary or in a general election.