Ohio Governor Race Takes Shape

Some high-profile Democrats have chosen not to run for Governor in 2014, leaving Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald as the most likely challenger to John Kasich.  Congressman Tim Ryan and former Congresswoman Betty Sutton announced that they will stay on the bench for the time being, maybe waiting to challenge Rob Portman in 2016.  Despite the Governor’s recent decision to expand Ohio’s Medicaid program which angered many conservatives, there will be no viable challenger from the right to John Kasich’s nomination.

Ed Fitzgerald is Cuyahoga County’s first County Executive.  The county had previously been run by three County Commissioners and the office was riddled with scandal and corruption.  (Read more about Auditor Frank Russo and Commissioner Jimmy DiMora to get the details.)  Select leaders in the county began a process to redesign the structure of power, and decided on an 11-member County Council based on 11 different regions in the county, and then a single County Executive.  The decision of this structure was not unanimous and there were detractors to the idea of a single executive, including Lakewood Mayor Ed Fitzgerald!

The voters approved this strategy, and then candidates began surfacing for the 2010 election and Fitzgerald had a few cries of hypocrisy thrown at him when, after opposing the position’s creation, he announced as a candidate for Executive.  The Democrats fielded four candidates, but Fitzgerald was the most well-known and was supported by many in the Democrat Party and won the primary with 49% of the vote.  The GOP voters selected former Ohio Representative Matt Dolan, but due to dissatisfaction with both Fitzgerald and Dolan, the November election also included a self-funded businessman Ken Lanci and another independent candidate, former Democrat Commissioner Tim McCormick.  Despite the County’s 70% support for Democrat presidential candidates, Fitzgerald only received 45% of the vote, followed by Dolan at 31%, Lanci at 11%, and McCormick at 8%.  A Green Party candidate picked up the rest of the vote.

Fitzgerald will probably tout his effectiveness with improving the County’s image.  Well, I’m not sure people or businesses are flocking to Cuyahoga County, or even trickling into the county.  I also think the Democrats might do better by choosing somebody from a region other than Cleveland.  They won the Governorship in 2006 with Ted Strickland who lived in the southeast part of the state.  Before Strickland, the governor was Republican Bob Taft, and the governor before Taft was George Voinovich, the last Republican mayor of Cleveland.  Of those previous four elections (the two with Voinovich and the two with Taft), the Democrats picked three candidates from the Cleveland area.

For example the 2002 election similarly saw an incumbent Republican Governor Bob Taft facing Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan.  In 2002, Taft was a weak governor as some stories of state government incompetence were just beginning to surface.  I believe Taft could have been defeated.  I think if Ken Blackwell chose not to “wait his turn” and challenged him in a primary, he may have defeated Taft much like Sarah Palin would later defeat an incompetent sitting GOP Governor in Alaska.  Taft also could have lost to a more moderate candidate than Tim Hagan.  Hagan is an unabashed liberal who endorsed Ted Kennedy over Jimmy Carter in 1980, and is also married to Kate Mulgrew, Capt. Janeway in Star Trek Voyager, by the way.

Anyway, I’m not sure that Fitzgerald is a terribly strong candidate and I’m not that impressed with the Democrat bench.  If he weren’t enmeshed in Washington DC overseeing the controversial Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray would likely give Kasich the strongest challenge.  The Governor’s race will be the top race in 2014 as Ohio won’t have a Senate election, giving us a well-needed break from national politics.  Kasich margin of victory was one of the smallest in Ohio’s 2010 statewide elections, so I don’t think he will win this running away.  It will likely be a single-digit race throughout the campaign, and it’ll be interesting to see how are where these two candidates decide to spend their time.

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Splitting the Homosexual Baby

Sorry for the ugly metaphor, but gay marriage looks more and more like the “lady parts” of 2014 and probably 2016.  It will be contraception coverage, out-of-the-country back-of-the line immigration policy, and elderly getting drugs from Canada all wrapped into one.  Three or four years ago, Book of Virtues author Bill Bennett was on the Daily Show and conceded that the left would likely win the argument on gay marriage.  Opposing it is obviously consistent with traditional values, however there is no conservative argument to persuade people who dismiss traditional values.  Marriage between a man and a woman is just another in a long list of Republican medieval social views, and these voters see no other valid choice but to vote Democrat.

Today, our Republican Senator Rob Portman came out in support of gay marriage (op-ed here) after reconsidering his position given that his son declared that he was gay.

In discussing this issue with some married friends, I asked to what degree the federal government rewarded them for their marriage.  The tax code, Social Security transfers, and that was about it.  Would you rather share these benefits with gay partners or give them up?  The one couple that had only one income-generator admitted that they needed to have the Social Security continue for the non-working spouse if necessary.  But the double-income couples quickly said they would give up federal marriage benefits instead of expanding the definition of marriage.

Despite my hardline economic Tea Party views, I am lukewarm to a few social issues and gay marriage is one.  If two men or two women want to commit to each other and call themselves married, then what does it matter to me?  The Bible that tells me that homosexuality is wrong is the same Bible that tells them that homosexuality is wrong.  Unfortunately, I just don’t feel that any unsolicited testimony from me is going to change their minds.

Gay marriage DOES matter when my tax dollars goes to support this lifestyle.  Our tax dollars are supporting a whole host of unhealthy activities including Planned Parenthood and the ever-growing food stamp dependency.  Conservatives have obviously lost that argument long ago and, with more converts like Portman, we will lose this argument as well.  Is there an argument to be made that doesn’t include the term “traditional family values?”

I think so, and so does Rand Paul.  (I am a growing fan of Rand Paul, but didn’t want to be too obvious so far before 2016 so I buried him here in the sixth paragraph.)  Here are some articles about his position from the Independent Journal and Slate.  It essentially states that the federal government should NOT be in the business of defining marriage, let alone redefining it now that progressive social norms are pushing a homosexual agenda so strongly.  By eliminating the marriage benefit, then you are equalizing heterosexual and homosexual couples in the eyes of the government.  If we consider marriage to be essentially a spiritual relationship, then the legal contract is secondary.

The legal contract, of course, is still important and it will take much work to satisfy all involved, but now the government is not talking about marriage but a contract.  I should be able to allow my Social Security benefits to be shared with Person X, and here’s our contract to back it up.  Insurance companies and private businesses will set their own rules (as they do now regarding gay marriage), but again we are talking about  a legal contract from a Justice-of-the-Peace and not a priest affirming their commitment before the eyes of God.

I agree with the Reagan analogy of the 3-legged stool: conservatism stands on the legs of economic freedom, strong foreign policy, and traditional values.  The media and now Generation Y think that promoting traditional values means enforcing traditional values.  I would listen, for instance, to Rick Santorum talk about family values and then he would throw out an aside that the government wouldn’t force itself into personal lives.  Well I heard that aside because I was listening for it!  Younger votes and certainly low information voters either missed it or ignored it and said, “There goes those medieval Republicans again.”  GOP candidates must learn to argue for traditional values without compromising those values.

Without The Rand Paul Moment…

I was pretty excited with the Rand Paul 13-hour filibuster, and I was not alone.  #StandWithRand was a trending twitter topic through the whole day and the day after.  It was the first time in a long time that an elected member of the GOP went on offense.  Boehner and the Republican House continue to warble, “We’re waiting for the President to lead.”  Obama IS leading the GOP House – like the Pied Piper leads his mice!

Most confusing are the wet-blanket conservatives like Michael Medved and others who say things like “it didn’t change anything” or “he should have filibustered Hagel” or “he should have filibustered the next day also.”  If Paul didn’t filibuster on Wednesday, then the primetime news would have been the Obama dinner with the 12 Republican Senators.  What did they say?  Is this the new tone?  Is Obama moderating?  Are the Republican Senators going to trump the tea-bagging teenagers in the House?  And what did they eat?

The next day, McCain and Graham would have taken to the Senate floor saying how reasonable the President is and that this is the time to put partisanship aside and work together for America.  The Senate doesn’t need all of the GOP on board, just a few key folks and some of their finger-in-the-air followers to compromise on sequester, continuing resolution, or whatever budget issue.  Who knows, Rubio might have even gotten McCain’s back on this one.

This would have put Boehner on the defensive and we all know how that story ends.  “To hell with Amash!  To hell with Chavez and Goehmert!”  He might be reluctant, but eventually Boehner would cave.  Obama would get a budget he can be proud of… for a day.

Then what about these GOP governors who are still declining the Obamacare Medicaid expansion?  Kasich, Scott, McConnell are all helping the poor unfortunates in their states.  Why not the rest?  This is a CRISIS must be resolved now before Republicans cause the deaths of thousands!  Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.

Rand Paul took the air out of that Obama dinner for this week.  But what about next week?  It takes continuous work and effort to stop the Alinsky method.  Paul showed us how to do it, now can others join in to turn around this progressive ship?