The Club for Growth’s Tea Party Verdict

The HeritageAction Scorecard is one of the best ways to check on important votes cast by your congressman, and now we can add one specifically designed for the Class of 2010 from the Club for Growth.  The Tea Party had its genesis from the constant wasteful and over-reaching government spending that had not been contained by Dennis Hastert or George Bush and has exploded under President Obama.  Many Tea Party activists came forward to challenge both Democrats and Republicans, and we were blessed with one of the largest congressional freshman classes in history.  So what is the scorecard show for Ohio’s five freshmen?

First of all, I would not define two of these members as true Tea Party as both Steve Chabot and Steve Stivers were running rematches of their 2008 campaigns.  Also, Steve Chabot had served seven terms representing the Cincinnati area before losing the seat in Obama’s sweep of the state.  One would think that an establishment-type like Steve Chabot would vote with the leadership on big spending pork-barrel legislation, but one would be wrong.  Chabot scores as one of the highest in the country at 93%.  Steve Stivers?  He was considered a fair conservative in the Ohio Senate but in the US House his Club for Growth score is among the lowest at 45%.

That leaves three congressmen who were active in Tea Party affairs and campaigned as people who would reign in federal spending.  Bill Johnson leads the way with a disappointing score of 70%, followed by Jim Renacci at 68% then Bob Gibbs at 64%.  The median score for the whole class is about 71%, and there are some good spending cut votes that were taken by all these men.  I worry when votes look like they have a go-along-to-get-along mentality.  I have heard of Ben Quayle and Tim Huelskamp and appreciate their stands on fiscal restraint, but who are Justin Amash and Raul Labrador?  I’ll have to watch these two more carefully, and maybe our freshmen should watch them as well.

Finally, since I pulled up the Heritage Scorecard I might as well summarize those scores.  Jim Jordan leads the pack at 94%, with Steve Chabot next at 79%.  Gibbs is at 60%, Johnson is 59% with Renacci at 52%.  Steve Stivers is the lower freshman at 49% followed by Steve LaTourette, the lowest scoring Republican, at only 33%.  The highest scoring Democrat?  Dennis Kucinich at 24%, although he may have cast some votes the right way but for the wrong reasons.

Sherrod Brown Will Not Win

Conventional wisdom is a curious thing.  Somebody in some think tank looks at Ohio and says “They voted for Obama, therefore it’s blue.”  They look at the 2006 election and say, “Look at all the support that Sherrod Brown has, of course he will win again.”  It’s almost as if economic policy results don’t matter and that 2010 never happened.

But it’s only May, and at least an article like Both Parties Brace for Tight Race can be written now instead of October.  Sherrod Brown is a consummate politician holding an elective office since the Watergate days of 1974.  Josh Mandel wasn’t born until 1977 and spent time as an intelligence officer in the Marines before running for the Ohio House.  Sherrod Brown has the backing of national unions and left-leaning PACs, and Josh Mandel has the backing of Jim DeMint and right-leaning PACs.  This will be a race that should garner a lot of media attention.

In 2006, Sherrod Brown won Ohio 56-44 over Mike DeWine.  Here is the county map of his victory.

County Map showing support for Brown from Lake Erie then east to the top of the Ohio River.Democrats have always done best in the north, but then Sherrod Brown also received a great deal of support from the Ohio River counties and others in the southeast central.  It should be remembered that Ted Strickland was from this area and was on the ballot to become Governor of Ohio.

This area is now represented by Tea Party freshman Bill Johnson.  A very important subplot to the whole Ohio electorate will be his rematch with former Rep. Charlie Wilson.  If Bill Johnson struggles in his re-election bid, then that may be a harbinger for a Brown and/or Obama victory in Ohio.

But I do not believe the stories of the demise of the Tea Party; I think 2011 was a year of watching the actions and reactions to legislation in the House and the inactions of the Senate.  Ohioans know that it takes time to turn a ship around, and there’s a sense that our Ohio economy has begun to rebound.  (Well, at least it seems we’re doing better than Michigan. ;))

Elections have consequences, and I think people in these swing districts realize that Strickland, Obama, and Brown were steering Ohio in the wrong direction.  Come November, I’m sure Ohio will be solidly in the “Leans Republican” aisle.