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Ohio GOP and the Schmidt/Hackett race

The victory yesterday of Jean Schmidt in Ohio’s 2nd Congressional district special election, points not only to the obvious weakness of the Dems (they had to run a guy who appeared to be a Republican) but also to the problems brewing within the Ohio GOP. The narrownesss of the victory in a district that should have been a slam-dunk cannot be attributed solely to Hackett’s attempt to disguise his true identity as a liberal. Rush has been all over this today and you can read more here at NRO. The pathetic recent performances of Ohio’s two senators surely did much to deflate the base in this election and, by all accounts, Schmidt gives the impression of being cut from the same cloth. It’s time for some new talent to emerge in Ohio. The left is right about Ohio being a microcosm of the nation. It is ripe for a conservative revolution. Can anyone say Ken Blackwell?

Discussions - 18 Comments

Ken Blackwell in ’06!!!!!!

Despite Schmidt’s failings as a candidate and the failings of the Taft administration, you would think that the great GOP volunteer cadre of 2004
would have recognized the importance of keeping a Bush-bashing Iraq veteran out of Congress, especially in a solidly Republican district. Logically, this election was all about GWB. I don’t expect everyone to follow logic, but the fact that secondary concerns had such a large impact on this particular race is depressing. It suggests that all the extremism of the Democratic party either doesn’t matter to swing voters, or that they’re not even aware of it -- that the MSM still rules.

More candidates like Hackett will now be emboldened to run. There will be more money available for them, too. The fact that he had to grab onto Republican themes is small comfort. Candidates of both parties act that way all the time in inhospitable districts.

That fact that this bedrock Republican district nearly elected a Democrat who trash-talked Bush is distressing. It’s not only the Ohio GOP that needs to take stock. It is the entire GOP -- indeed, the entire right wing -- in America.

Let’s assume the voters were sending a message to the GOP. The real question...was anyone listening?

The narrow Schmidt victory in the 2nd is a wake-up call to the GOP. Anyone tied to Governor Taft will face a very skeptical electorate. That means Petro, Montgomery and Blackwell. John Kasich needs to enter the governor’s race for 2006. Otherwise, there’s too much hay for Democrats to make.

I wouldn’t say Blackwell is tied all that closely to Taft; they hold statewide office in the same party. That’s pretty much it.

In response to "WM,"

We can’t assume voters understand the distinction. Which means Blackwell needs to make sure they understand it.


It’s no surprise that a relatively conservative Democratic candidate and war vet like Hackett would do fairly well. Despite the spin here, there’s little evidence that Hackett is a "liberal." If you want to influence events by shaping perceptions, that’s fine - that’s obviously what NRO and Limbaugh do - but if you’re trying to describe the phenomenon, it’s no good to describe a pro-gun rights candidate who taps into rural populist rhetoric as a closet liberal.

If a Republican won in Maryland’s 8th district, say, even if it were a special election, that would be news, and it would be an opportunity for self-reflection on the part of local Democrats. Here, we’ve got a solidly Republican district that barely went to the candidate who tied herself to Bush. The problem is probably not just that national politicians from Ohio haven’t been conservative enough. One of the problems is certainly that the only person they could get to run in this district was an uninspiring clone who could only spout Bush’s 2004 campaign rhetoric. When faced with someone who had the gumption to criticize the President for the obvious problems in its Iraq policy, the insipid insider candidate barely held her own.

As NRO also noted, the Club for Growth folks were flexing their muscles and almost killed off the Republican candidate. They probably miscalculated, thinking that they could afford to put some pressure on the GOP candidate in such a safe seat. Democrats are surely happy with Pat Toomey right now. If you want a conservative revolution to generalize this phenomenon, I doubt you’d get many complaints from Democrats.

Finally, do you think that none of the national and state-level sleaze that the GOP has been mired in had any effect in this election? Note that it was rural voters, responding to Hackett’s populist rhetoric, who went overwhelmingly for him. You think that Coingate had nothing to do with it?

I can’t help but smirk at my own party. Its not just the GOP in Ohio that is really tanking. Bush, Congress, and the Ohio GOP are on the rocks, and 2006 will be ugly. I actually predicted a Hackett win; a longshot, but almost right. There are many excuses (some reasonable) like low turnout, lack of any good candidate, etc but the writing is on the wall. Portman won the district with 70%+ and George W Bush with 64% in 2004, so no matter what a 52% victory shows a shift in direction. The shift is probably national not just Ohio where the GOP is embroiled in scandal. Bush has clearly been struggling (Rove, Frist etc). The Republicans will likely lose the House in 2006, or all but lose it, while holding a majority in the Senate. Nationally 2006 will be a black eye for a crumbling party that has peaked in power for this cycle. It will pave the way for a Hillary victory in 2008. Cheer up though cause this isn’t doom and gloom because I’m looking forward to a real conservative voice arising from the rubble. The Republicans need a good thrashing or two to get us back to the days of Gingrich and company.

Hackett about pulled the con of the year, he ran as a "conservative" and had people’s attention with his Iraq "experience". He also had several other factors in his favor, i.e. Bob Taft, Voinovich and Dewine and he was very successful at painting Schmidt as a "good buddy" to Taft. Hackett tried to get cute, he was running as a "conservative" and he needed bucks to keep up with Schmidt, so he threw a bone to the deep pocket radical left and called Bush a "s.o.b." and that killed him. That comment energized conservative voters who are at this moment very turned off by Taft, Voinovich and Dewine and they probably would have stayed at home and not voted. If Hackett hadn’t gone there he just might have won this election.

Clint...I think you’re off your nut. The GOP will retain control so long as nothing truly disasterous happens, and Hillary WILL NEVER BE PRESIDENT. Bank on it.

Why does everyone think the House is so safe? By my math it takes 218 seats for majority (435/2=217.5). The Republicans currently hold 231 seats I think, and please correct me if I’m wrong. That means they only need to lose 13 seats and they’re out of power. That is nothing, even with the incumbant advantage. The Republicans have won the last two elections leaning heavy on national security. That issue is drying up now and by 2008 it will probably be gone without any new attack on the U.S. (a leap of faith). Both 2006 and 2008 are a long way off but predictions in hindsight matter not at all. Bill Frist, George Pataki, Newt Gingerich, Mitt Romney, Sam Brownback, Condi Rice etc, which one can beat Hillary? Ok so John McCain and Rudy Giuliani have a chance, but I don’t think they’ll survive the primary.

I don’t think the narrow victory here is as telling as some are suggesting. Without actually having any data, I strongly suspect that the turnout for the election was low. Special elections are notorious for low turnout and typically only bring out those who are politically passionate. In a district like this one, the grassroots GOP likely expected that a Republican victory was a lock, as history would support. This leads to a low GOP turnout unless the GOP candidate runs a successful GOTV effort. Schmidt apparently did not and nearly paid a heavy price.

I also suspect that Clint’s doom and gloom is misplaced. 13 seats may not sound like a huge swing, but in reality a swing that large is fairly rare, particularly in the past few decades when fewer and fewer districts are being drawn in such a way as to make for competitive races. I think a fairly major scandal or economic collapse would need to occur before such a swing becomes likely. And the Rove/Plame thing just doesn’t seem to have enough traction to qualify.

As for Hillary ’08, I just don’t see it happening, but a lot will depend on who the GOP nominates.

Clint, everyone might think the House is safe because more than 90% of the districts last year were decided by a margin of more than 10 percentage points. Like it or not, there is little-to-no turnover. Furthermore, before the Dems can even think of retaking anything, they need a positive, coherent vision. They certainly don’t have one right now, and they aren’t in danger of finding one anytime soon.

Although he may be the best of three likely candidates, I’m not entirely sure that Ken Blackwell deserves the title of reform-minded elected official that he seems to be earning for himself. For example, during his tenure as SOS his staff has more than doubled and has become increasingly bureaucratic. Moreover, he has a history of only taking the lead on issues if he can get political play on. I also wonder if Blackwell is electable in a general election. It is going to be a tough year in Ohio politics.

On the other hand, once you discount the Gov’s office, Ohio does have some fresh faces running for statewide office, including quite a few folks from near the Ashland Area. There is Jim Trakas running for Sec of State, Tim Grendell running for Attorney General, and Mary Taylor running for Auditor.

All three have interesting propspects and will probably not be seen as cronies of Taft. Grendell, for example, has been willing to call out party leaders for quite a few years. Trakas too, although less so. Taylor seems to be flying under the radar screen so far.

So only 10% of the House races are competitive, thats still 43 seats. Cut it in half and say 5% and the Democrats still have enough chances to pick off the House.

Clint, Hillary? That is all the Democrats need, running a liberal Senator from the Northeast.

The amazing thing about the PNAC is that they have everything in their version of ’Mein Kampf’ posted on the web and nobody seems to give a damn. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken a snippet from their site and emailed the mass media and congress, only to be ignored or sent some form letter that has nothing to do with my correspondence... I’m getting sick of this, but I think what we all need to start thinking about is becoming self sufficient when it comes to transportation and our home power needs. Taking oil out of the equation will help to cripple the PNAC and their friends. Screw this administration, they don’t own us, they only own the things we think we can’t live without (or variations thereof).

Here’s my rant of the day(BushCo. and PNAC are one in the same):

Why are we in Iraq and when will we leave?

I think we are witnessing a new gold rush, substitute the American West with the Middle East and gold with oil and it all seems pretty cut and dry. The oil traders, attorneys, and corporate heads in BushCo. are going to drag this one out to the very end. Considering the fact that other reliable forms of energy already exist and are currently in use around the globe, it’s obvious that they want to continue down the road of oil until we run out; look at Europe, they have been supplementing their oil use and electrical generation for quite some time. Our government and our citizens need to get on the ball. Bush will not pull out of Iraq until they have built high walls topped with razor wire around the oilfields over there. Why the heck is oil so important? Is it because oil is the only economy base that the administration understands anymore? Are they not at all prepared for a change? Do they think that the rest of the world is going to sit idly by and continue to use the oil they capture while waiting until America is ready to convert? They can make money from new energy technologies and the industries that those technologies will bring about just as easily (and seamlessly, if conversion starts before the supply of oil really begins it’s decline), not to mention the fact that there are a multitude of new energy patents which are currently owned by the big oil companies (which they hide away from the rest of us, every corporation has got to have it’s trade secrets).

I often wonder what it’s like to be addicted to money the way that this administration is. Money is their drug, they are so addicted to the current economy and the money they grab from it that they have gone to war with the Middle East to ensure that they are controlling the global oil economy until the last drop goes through the pipelines. The desire to be in control of the final decline of oil, if done from a humanitarian angle (saving our economy and people from possible end-of era regression) could be looked at from the perspective that the end justifies the means, but when done in the manner that BushCo. has, (lying, covering up or otherwise changing facts, ignoring questions asked of it’s citizens and press) it seems more along the lines of deceitful corporate money-grabbing and self interest. If they don’t act soon the aforementioned patents the energy corporations hold wont mean squat. It’s going to take a good amount of the remaining oil to fabricate the opening salvo of new industrial machinery and the equipment necessary to convert, being that it currently takes the usage of oil to allow today’s industry to function. Considering the track record of the administration, it’s unlikely that they have any such plan in mind. They are far too unwilling to listen to reason, and why should they? They are here for the quick money, the easy money that they are accustomed to and so enamored by.

If our country could either get off the current electricity grids and create one hundred percent of the power our homes consume or enact a law requiring our utility companies to make the switch then it seems to me that would cut our dependence on oil by nearly half which would allow for more time to develop new resources for transportation. It would be optimal to convert both utilities and transportation on a concurrent time frame, however there would be less shake up within the global economy if one commitment was executed prior to the other. Some companies, like Toyota have their own time frame, they have announced an additional 10 hybrid vehicles to their lineup over the next decade, seen here: Maybe we’ll all be able to buy John Deere wind generators from Home Depot in the near future! Not really soon enough, but Deere is doing something nonetheless. Here’s a bit from Renewable Energy Access:

Scary Stuff!

-Ben, disenfranchised Florida Republican

Clint, I believe the number of competitive seats is not 10% but more like 10 congressional races were competitive in 2004. That would take a perfect storm in order to run the and take control of the house of representatives.

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