Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


Ken Blackwell won the GOP primary for governor of Ohio, 56-43%. No surprise here. The Dems have been saying that they (Strickland is their nominee) prefer running against Blackwell. Sure they do. Jimmy Carter also hoped that a fellow named Ronald Reagan would be his opponent and look what happened to him. Blackwell, a Reagan Republican, will win in November, be the first conservative (and black) governor of the state, and have a good influence nationally on the GOP. Good for everybody.

Discussions - 26 Comments

I agree that Ken Blackwell will be a great conservative governor, and then perhaps, like McKinley...

Blackwell will not be the first conserative governor - just the first in decades. Jim Rhodes governed as a government slashing conservative in his first term. The wonderful Frank J. Lausche got in troble with his party for his record as a conservative Democrat. William McKinley, no liberal, governed this state before being elected president and murdered by an anarchist.

Most conservative of all was surely the great John W Bricker. He served as governor of this state from 1939-1945 before his distinguished career in the federal senate (visitors to the senate can still see the seats occupied by Bricker and Robert Taft, they are kept warm by a couple of dwarves). From John W. Bricker’s inagural in 1939:

"The individual citizen must again be conscious of his responsibility to his government and alert to the preservation of his rights as a citizen under it. That cannot be done by taking government further away, but by keeping it at home.... Here in America we are determined again to encourage business rather than to hinder it; to preserve opportunity and to recognize the proper place of the individual in his government.

I see a lot of confidence on this site about Blackwell being the next governor. I do not see a lot of argument for why he will win. It seems to come down to: Ohioans want a real conservative, or at least a real man of principle, and Blackwell also has a lot of dedicated volunteers. Given GOP troubles in Ohio and Bush’s small margin there last year despite a powerful grassroots effort, given the incumbent Republican governor’s in-the-tank numbers, given that the Dems have nominated a phony "moderate," and given the history of Democratic voter fraud in Ohio, it would be much more reassuring if we saw a thorough analysis of Blackwell’s strengths -- not his moral strengths, but his political ones.

I think Blackwell’s political strengths are these:

1. Blackwell is a dynamic speaker at the podium and plain spoken in person and interviews. Blackwell does not speak in sound bytes - he is not a Pander Bear. The Pander Bear believes he is being shrewd, but people see through that stuff. They go away feeling patronized, not reassured. In some years an incumbent Pander Bear is a safe bet; in a year like this with what will surely be a heated campaign for an office which Taft dragged through the mud, Blackwell’s outspoken frankness will help.

2. You are right that Taft has been a historical disaster for the Ohio GOP. It breaks my heart to see what happened to his family name, but it is truly scary what he may have done to the party. However, it is well known that the bad actors in Columbus can’t stand Blackwell. Householder’s aids circulated a "get Blackwell" memo a few years back, and Blackwell has never gotten along with Taft. It would be pretty tough to tie him to them when there is a public record reflecting both his disdain for Taft/Householder/ et al, and their seething hatred for him. Ironic that Blackwell was told to hold off running for Governor because Taft would be better for the party...

3. Blackwell has a demographic appeal which may stir things up. He is black (duh), and while he is no liberal, much of his agenda is the Jack Kemp happy warrior Republican agenda, and directed toward poverty relief and changing the inner cities through school choice, enterprise, and law enforcement. If Blackwell can take 15% of the black vote, and with that agenda he’ll deserve more than 15%,the job is his. He already has support from some prominent black pastors who have supported democrats in the past.

4. Do NOT understimate that network of volunteers. Crews in swing counties of men and women willing to do door to door and phone work is the political pearl of great price. TV ads are losing their effectiveness, campaign money needs to go to boots on ground. I was involved in Bush’s effort in a swing county in Ohio. (After Harriet Miers and the immigration thing I have felt a little embararessed about that, but there you go...). The intensive effort - especialy the flushing on election day and the efforts up to two weeks before hand - moved the county from blue to red. That is big time, and TV ads didn’t do it. Blackwell will not have the kind of cash Bush did (obviously) but he has people who are willing to work for free and who are enthusiastic. I was asked by an aquaintance about the elections for Senate and Governor recently. I gritted my teeth and talked about what a pleasure it would be to vote against Dewine in the primary, then spent ten minutes trying to make a Blackwell volunteer out of her. A lot of people feel like I do.

Finally, David, Ohio needs this guy. We are the #1 contributor to population of Florida and the Carolinas. Our growth is stagnant, towns large and small are dying, and much of this is big government’s fault. Ohio needs to slash taxes, slash government, privatize services, and reform the tax code or all of our most promising people will leave. Ohio is a magnificent place, the state which gave the world the Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone, Sherwood Anderson, Neil Armstrong, William Howard and Robert Taft, and Devo (oh I said it...) It is in danger of becoming the state of brownfields and elderly people too poor to leave. We have got to lance the big government boil which has grown on the body politic in Columbus; if anyone can do this, Blackwell can.

Thanks for the helpful briefing. I still think Blackwell has an uphill struggle, especially since welfare checks (of all kinds) are easier for voters to understand than the free market. But with people like you, he should have a chance.

One other point that wm didn’t bring out is the Ohio Democratic Party’s utter ineffectiveness at helping its candidates. The ODP has been completely useless for more than 15 years and I see little to indicate that they are any better this year than they have been in the past. Most recently, the Kerry campaign was totally out-worked and out-organized by the Bush folks in Ohio and a lot of those Bush people will be involved with Blackwell’s campaign. I will be very surprised if Strickland is able to outspend Blackwell and I will be even more surprised if the Dems have anything approaching an effective campaign organization.

Further, Blackwell has been actively opposed in the primary by the ORP political structure, but I don’t think this will continue. As much as some of the ORP leaders dislike Blackwell, they dislike the idea of a Democrat revival even more. The ORP has completely dominated statewide elections in Ohio since the early 90s and I don’t think anyone in the ORP wants to open the door for the Dems now. With the ORP backing Blackwell vigorously and the RNC probably getting involved as well due to the perceived importance of Ohio in national politics, I think it is quite likely that Blackwell will win handily.

OK, but can be we sure that the Ohio party establishment will really go all-out for Blackwell? And what about the unions? We can’t just look at the official Democratic party. We also have to look at the unofficial Democratic party. In addition to the unions, there are the Soros types -- the ultra-rich who are ultra-committed to politics, a type we don’t seem to have in the GOP. Given that Ohio is the key to presidential elections for the foreseeable future, why wouldn’t they play heavily in an Ohio governor’s race?

The evening before the primary I attended a cocktail reception for the Southwest Ohio Representatives and Senators and not one had a single good thing to say about Blackwell. They were all pulling for Petro, knowing he would lose, and talking about how they would rather Strickland than Blackwell. I’m not sure that the ORP will stand strong behind Blackwell. They may go ahead and fall in line behind him for party loyalty’s sake, but I think that Blackwell’s support is going to come from those who have had it with the Republican Establishment but can’t bring themselves to vote Dem. Fortunately, Ohio has lots of folks like that.

We must remember, though, that even if Blackwell picks up some support from blacks, they still only make up about 11% of Ohio’s total population, and even less of the voting population. Many blacks are still upset with the role he played giving Ohio to Bush in 2000 and 2004. Also, there are still many racist Ohioans around who would rather see a moderate to slightly conservative Democrat like Strickland in the governor’s mansion than a black man. It’s sad, but true. Therefore, if Strickland can rally his base (let’s just say this is at least the 49% who voted for Kerry) and also draw in some of the Independents who went for Bush, I see it a close (2-3 point) victory for Strickland. And even he would be far better than Taft!

Regarding unions, when was the last time that the unions really demonstrated political muscle? It’s been quite a while in my estimation. Certainly not in the last ten years. Unions are still a problem, but they are largely a paper tiger at this point.

As for the GOP establishment, maybe I’m wrong, but I think they will be supportive of Blackwell even if it is through gritted teeth. Sure, they wanted Petro, but they can’t simply give up the governor’s seat. There is too much power there and not just standard political power. Don’t forget that the apportionment board is composed of representatives from the governor, secretary of state and the auditor. There isn’t a GOP incumbent running in any of those races this time. Those SW Ohio senators and reps may talk a big game, but the composition of their districts is dependent on Republicans winning at least two out of three of those seats. They would be fools to give up on one of them.

And even if the state-level GOP establishment is willing to be indifferent to Blackwell’s cause, the national GOP cannot because of the symbolic importance of Ohio. A Democratic takeover of the state makes Bush and the GOP in general look bad, which is something they will want to avoid at all costs.

All of this ignores the fact that Ted Strickland is not a dream candidate for the Dems either. He’s not liberal enough to rally their base and he’s got plenty of congressional votes that will easily characterize him as something less than a moderate on numerous issues. Not to mention that he is a less than dynamic speaker and will not attract voters personally as well as Blackwell will.

I don’t think this is a slam dunk for Blackwell, but I do think it is a very winnable race for him and I think the odds are in his favor.

Anyone who hasn’t should listen to Peter’s podcast today. John Green, who is very level-headed on election matters, makes many good points on these issues.

JW, Having had Ted Strickland for a congressman for a while, I don’t see Strickland as far better than Taft. I see two politicians who want to pick my pockets clean.

Re Comment 7: Yes most reps and senators did support Petro. In fact most local officials in county, township, and city government did too. I think they did because they see Blackwell in action. Sure he talks a great game, and I love his speeches, but my guess is that if you have to see him actually trying to accomplish anything, well yeah right.

The Hannah report had a story this week about Blackwell not defending TEL and hoping that the Court’s won’t let it on the ballot. That way he is the hero for proposing it, then he can wash his hand of it, accomplish nothing but look like a superstar.

He who does these things...

"Jim Petro represents the old and forgotten conservative principle of smaller government. He was always personally against abortion,"

Please spare us any more of your supposed insights on Ohio politics.

How about this gem? "This poll showed a dead heat in the 2 man race. Public Opinion Strategies conducted the poll for Petro."

The following are excerpts from ”this article written by Steven Malanga. Maybe some of these excerpts explain Clint’s anger and hatred of Blackwell. (Not to mention the obvious that he is a Petro hack.)

He bitterly opposed Governor Voinovich’s attempts to raise the state sales tax, then successfully campaigned against a ballot initiative designed to increase the sales tax after Voinovich’s effort failed in the legislature. Though many state GOP leaders supported the tax-hike initiative, 80 percent of Ohio voters rejected it. (Voinovich, now one of the U.S. Senate’s so-called Republicans In Name Only, is today’s leading national embodiment of Ohio-style Republicanism.) Blackwell’s successful opposition to his own party sparked an all-out war on him, with Republican House Speaker Larry Householder’s staff even circulating a 109-page plan for destroying Blackwell politically.

Serving on the National Commission on Economic Growth and Tax Reform in the mid-1990s, Blackwell became a passionate advocate of a simplified tax code and co-edited a book with Kemp, entitled IRS v. The People: Time for Real Tax Reform.

Clint said,

The Hannah report had a story this week about Blackwell not defending TEL and hoping that the Court’s won’t let it on the ballot. That way he is the hero for proposing it, then he can wash his hand of it, accomplish nothing but look like a superstar

Are you serious with this? All I am going is he co-edited a book with Jack Kemp on tax reform.

Correction. Last sentence should say the following. All I am going to say is that he co-edited a book with Jack Kemp on tax reform.

Comment 11 by Clint

Re Comment 7: Yes most reps and senators did support Petro. In fact most local officials in county, township, and city government did too.

Aren’t these the same people that also supported Jenette Bradley and Larry Householder when he was speaker? Once again Clint this, among other things, is actually why Blackwell has so much support. Because he is not part of the "Taft/RINO" establishment that has infected Ohio Politics to near death. It is this and the proven conservative track record he has established over the last 20 years that will get him elected.

Comment 8 by JW

Many blacks are still upset with the role he played giving Ohio to Bush in 2000 and 2004.

What are you talking about JW. Almost 50% of African American voters voted for Blackwell in his last SOS election. In fact Bush received almost double the percentage of African American votes in Ohio than the National Average in 2004 specifically because Blackwell supported him. It would seem that the facts are contrary to your statements.

Mr. Hawk-
"Many," by my definition, still means a majority (over 50%). Even if Bush carried double black support in Ohio than the national average, that still isn’t even 1 out of 4 blacks- hardly a majority! Therefore, my above statement is indeed accurate. "Many" applies to the 3 out of 4 blacks who voted for Kerry in Ohio, and would thus be unhappy with the role Brother Blackwell played in the race.

If you think Clint is a Petro hack, you should see the College Republicans here at AU. They’ve been jumping on the Blackwell bandwagon since day 1.

"Many," by my definition, still means a majority (over 50%).

Well then it’s a good thing you don’t work for any dictionary publishers. I hope you also don’t teach English.

Thank you for the Fun! Your buttons are oh so sensitive. I agree that my political analysis from two months ago was wrong, but I also remember that someone predicted that Petro would not get more than 35% just a week ago here on this blog. Well he got 44%, so either he finished strong or Blackwell was falling.

Blackwell won solidly, but it was hardly a blowout. Lincoln Hawk is simply wrong to think that anyone who supports Petro is a hack. There were plenty of principled reasons. So too is he wrong to think that all the Petro supporters voted for Bradley. I’m to the right of the GOP and I supported O’Brien and Petro. Again, judging by actions instead of words and gimmicks, there were plenty of signs that Petro was just as conservative and more effective than Blackwell. But I would not expect reason to trump passion and propaganda.

Once again we are left in awe. Against the prediction of some anonymous commenter, Petro gets more than 35% of the vote. Not enough to come close to winning. In fact, exactly the amount he has been trailing by in all polls since 2004. But surely this is proof that Blackwell is falling. Your wisdom astounds us all.

I got a laugh out of these too: "There were plenty of principled reasons." "judging by actions instead of words and gimmicks, there were plenty of signs that Petro was just as conservative"

Not sure what you are referring to. Speaking at a NARAL fundraiser sounds like strong proof of his conservatism. Opposing DOMA and then pretending he didn’t. There is some real leadership. Get a grip. He was so liberal that his top fundraiser got money from Democrats by telling them that he was "the most Democratic candidate in the race." But here you are, disputing the campaign’s own description of itself. I hope that makes you feel better about being off by about 15 points.

Friends, in regard to comment 8 and beyond-
If "many" doesn’t qualify for a good description for "3 out of 4," then I don’t know what does. Perhaps I should have said "most," which would have only made my argument stronger, anyway.

Clint, I didn’t say that anyone who supported Petro is a hack. I said you were a hack.

JW, I am not even going to argue man. Reread the previous comments. You are almost as bad as Clint. No one said anything about 3 out of 4 not being classified as many. I was merely telling you that you were wrong by simply stating that Blackwell got almost 50% of the African American vote in his last election and that twice as many African Americans voted for Bush in Ohio than the National Average in 2004. Then you incorrectly stated that many=majority. Which in comment 21 Mr. Levy pointed out that your definitions of the words (many and majority) conflict with Webster’s dictionary. So as a result just like most D’s you mix several comments together and act like it is one and take them out of context anyway in order to dodge the fact your comments are weak are full of errors..

The problem with your definition of the word many is that one could say that Blackwell indeed had many Africans Americans vote for him as well since his numbers were almost 50%. Since we know that many does not necessarily equal majority this statement is true.

Mr. Hawk-
You’re still missing the point, which is no surprise to me since you’d rather bash myself and others on this board then understand the facts. But I won’t begin to get involved in a serious discussion on this with you; since you seem incapable of conducting a conversation without negative labels and rhetoric.

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