Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Joe Finan, R.I.P.

Yet another Northeast Ohio broadcasting legend is gone as Joe Finan passed away today. He was 79. 1350 A.M. has a tribute up and Ohio Media Watch has a tribute post.

While I was critical of his 1350 show, it did provide a chance for those of us who wouldn't listen to WNIR on a bet to get to know his work. Certainly we saw flashes of his talent and heart. I especially liked his anecdotes about Dorothy Fuldheim.

Sympathies to Joe's friends and family.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tagged Back In

Bill Callahan emailed me to let me know he had tagged me for a meme. I've been quiet again -- combination of yet another relapse, a kid home on break, busy with work and the holiday crush. So getting tagged was as good a way to get back, in as any.

Like Bill, I'm unclear as to how Dispassionate Lib links the meme to the Time Person of the Year honoring Me (OK, "You," but as a blogger I'm more a part of "You" than any of Them who aren't using the technology that makes You so apparently special.) Anyway, the meme goes like this: Grab the nearest book, find page 123 and reproduce the fourth sentence on the page. Then tag people -- thankfully we don't continue the progression and tag five -- only three.

As it happens, I got the email during a break for a continuing legal education class. (Yes, I report this year and I put it off. Sue me.) As such, no books were in reach. So I went after virtual books here on the laptop. The first downloaded doc of over 123 pages I found was the Dover ID decision. The fourth sentence on page 123 comes in a discussion about how the Dover school board ignored critics of intellectual design theory:

    As Dr. Alters’ expert testimony demonstrated, all of these organizations have information about teaching evolution readily available on the internet and they include statements opposing the teaching of ID.
I tag Redhorse, Village Green and my fellow UU blogger Jamie.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Adoption Day

Four years ago today Kid T officially became part of our family; this is the anniversary of the Giving and Receiving Ceremony in Vietnam.

Here's what we know: On a night in late November 2001, staff at the Tam Ky orphanage heard a noise, went to investigate, and found a five-day-old infant. Cliched and Dickensian as it sounds, plenty of children find themselves into Vietnamese orphanages that way.

About ten months later we were looking for an infant, but, our adoption counsellor called to say he had a referral of a somewhat older child -- close to a year old. I said, email the information, what could it hurt. We got the pictures and, well, just look at those eyes.

I remember when I first got her how she seemed, well, foreign. For about three days. We made a connection and ever since she's been our kid. Four years on, she's a willful, energetic five-year-old obsessed with Dora the Explorer and always looking to scam the next piece of candy.

When Kid Z was born, one of my sisters in law asked "did you ever think you could love anything so much?" It's true. She also said "The amazing thing is, if you have a second, you'll love that one just as much." Also true. And you know what's really really amazing? It's true even when she wasn't born your child.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Obamamania

This weekend Illinois Senator Barak Obama crossed the Atlantic to appear on the Ed Sullivan show attended a rally in New Hampshire, fanning speculation about a Presidential bid. As a result, we are feeling both an Obama wave and the inevitable Obama skeptic undertow. A review of sources, then a few thoughts.

WaPo’s story about the New Hampshire swing is the current touchstone for all things Obama. Chris Cilizza notes that much of Obama’s staff are Daschle veterans, so the former Senate Majority Leader demurring on his own run is a good thing for Barak. Dickerson writes up a studiously arm’s-length appraisal, but it’s clear he’s excited despite himself.

The best, most clear-eyed case I’ve seen for Obama is this pre-election post on Obsidian Wings about his genuinely impressive legislative record. If you click through one link in this post, make it that one. TNR has been all over his candidacy, with blog posts, a review of the NH performance and name checks in unrelated articles. Closer to home, Staff at BSB takes in an Obama speech and is unimpressed with his take on trade.

So what to make of this. First off, to put some cards on the table, I’m for anyone who can prevent the Hillary train wreck. Personally, I like her, but she will pancake in the general.

I haven't sifted through all of Obama's policy positions, but I like most of what I've seen so far. I especially like that he doesn't fit either a Liberal or Blue Dog mold. His policy positions appear to be based on his assessment of the facts, rather than some score card for A Politician of His Ilk.

Assessing the man himself – as someone who has had the honor of meeting him – he is extravagantly endowed with both intelligence and charisma. He's as good at the podium as working a small room and as good working a room as he is one-on-one. I’ve made the Subodh comparison before – he’s the rare combination of top-tier campaigner and the smartest guy in the room.

All of which is to say that he has the skill set to be President, and probably a great President. But is he sufficiently well seasoned? At this point we can say he has good answers for the experience question. At ODP the answer was "Nobody is prepared to be President." Lately he's been noting that Cheney and Rumsfeld are as experienced as anyone can be and still managed to put the country in a ditch. People are also noting something that I have been saying in private conversations – that the last time a candidate from Illinois with little official experience was elected, it turned out pretty well.

While Obama will be answering questions about his experience throughout the run, fact is, he's probably as salable now as he ever will be. It is notoriously difficult to run for President from the Senate. A legislative record gives opponents a huge trove for oppo research. On the other hand, legislative accomplishment are almost always a mixed blessing. Rarely is legislation necessary because everyone wants the thing to be legislated. Legislation generally sets rules for resolving disputes and makes at least one of the antagonists unhappy.

A governor, or even a vice president not named Al Gore, can point to what happened under his watch and claim credit. A Senator -- one of 100 -- rarely can make that claim stick. Legislative accomplishment is measured in laws being passed. Americans are at best neutral on laws, often finding them an inconveniece or worse.

Obama has shown legislative chops, but probably is most electable now while his oppo file is relatively thin. Alternatively, he could try to run for governor of Illinois, but that's at least four years away, probably more.

My bottom line: I want to know more. BSB points out that his trade stance may be particularly troubling. But he shouldn't be dismissed as a lightweight or as just a face. He's a serious guy who has been preparing himself for this job most of his adult life. He's one of the most gifted leaders of his generation. And he just might be what the country needs.

Monday, December 11, 2006

New Blog for Pho

The two other bloggers in my church have started a church blog. The primary audience is our congregation and other UU congregations. We will be posting events, announcements and sermon snippets. But knowing the folks involved, some general interest information will make it's way onto the blog. In any event, I've signed up and uploaded an introductory post -- not many at church know me as Pho, believe it or not.

I have a couple posts in mind about church-state stuff. Probably I'll either post there and reference here or vice-versa, depending on how abrassive the things turn out.

As I mention in my post, at least one visitor to our church found his way there from reading this blog. If you are similarly curious about what the church is about, check us out.

Pho v. 2.0

I took the plunge over the weekend and switched over New Blogger or Blogger Beta or whatever they're calling it today. So far a mixed bag. Navigating from the dashboard is certainly easier. I like tags, though it will be a while before tagging makes a difference.

On the other hand, I made the apparent mistake of also moving Pho's over to the new template. I read a couple pieces on it, but apparently missed the big red warning label: DANGER! NEW TEMPLATE WILL EAT YOUR BLOGROLL.

I've put a fair amount of time into updating the roll and now it's gone and must be reassembled. Grr. It also ate my banners, MTB ads, everything. I've yet to look into how to add html code in the new set up which is a dumbed-down drag and drop layout page. I'm currently accepting as an article of faith that I'll be able to do all that. In any event, the sidebar will be under construction for some time.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Farewell to Franken . . ?

Friday I listened to the last Al Franken show on Radio Free Ohio and what may be his last live show ever. As Ohio Media Watch first reported, the signs of this have been mounting. First of course there was the Air America bankruptcy filing. Then Jones Broadcasting announced that drivetime talker Ed Schultz was moving to Franken’s noon the three. Then Air America announced it was dropping Franken and airing Schultz live, starting at noon.

As it turns out, Al is heading out to the Mideast for a USO tour this weekend, so Friday's show was officially the last of the season. But speculation abounds that Al won’t be back. What we know is that Air America may be sold soon to a “small company” that is unlikely to afford Al along with the other AirAm personalities.

Al’s official word is – Not tellin’. At this point I’m not sure if he knows what the future holds. Certainly this week has had the feel of a semi-farewell. Earlier this week Melanie Sloan from CREW did a tribute/thank you thing because he’s “going away for a while.” Yesterday he spoke to his on-air sidekick about their plans for fill-in programming and joked that it may be “a way forward.”

Then Friday's show wasn’t billed as a farewell, but it was certainly the farewell show Al would choose. He aired from Brave New Workshop, the theatre in Minneapolis where he and Tom Davis debuted as a comedy team when they were in high school. His original AirAm co-host, Katherine Lampher, joined to reprise “The Oy Oy Oy Show.” He even interviewed a WWII vet who had been on the first show as “A Liberal who hates America.”

So I will miss the show in any event, given that Al won’t air in Akron any longer, and may not even be able to stream him off the website.

Which is a shame. I’ll really miss Al. He’s not hugely popular even among liberals, but I’m a fan. First and foremost, I’m a Franken fan because he was one of the first to tell Democrats to grow a pair in the Nineties. Before he published Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations, the Left’s prevailing response to Limbaugh was to wring hands and wonder why he’s so mean. Al showed it was OK to hit back.

His show is a mixed bag. I understand why some people don’t get it. The humor bits are decidedly uneven. Where he really shines is in his choice of guests and his rapport with them. While make-do replacement Schultz favors interviews with pols, Al leans toward authors, activists and wonks. His regulars include Sloan, former Senate staffer and West Wing producer Lawrence O’Donnell, columnist emeritus Tom Oliphant and Salon columnist Joe Conason. The format was information plus snark and for me it worked. Something like an NPR show with a less abashed point of view.

And it may be at the end. The why of it will wait for another day. For now, a final gift for any fellow Franken fans who may feel the same. I recorded his appearance in Akron, but didn’t get it edited in time to post it when it made sense to. Al wasn’t at top of the game that day. We remarked afterwards about how he seemed a little low key. I attributed it to the travel schedule at the time, but then discovered that night that Air America had filed. The sour look on his face was the look of a man holding a $300 thousand unsecured debt from a bankrupt estate. But he got in the game when he needed to and busted of a few good bits. Much of it is The Best of Al Franken, but he brought some material specific to the event, particularly in support of Jennifer Brunner.

Just press play.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Sherrod in MJ

H/t Kevin Drum, Sherrod sits down with Mother Jones for a quick four questions on Iraq, drug policy, trade and 'o8.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

We Will Miss Tom Mooney

The state education community is still reeling from the sudden death of Ohio Federation of Teachers President Tom Mooney earlier this week. Services are scheduled tomorrow in Cincinnati.

I didn't know Tom well, but I've met him a few times and certainly learned of his work and reputation. Tom was a tireless advocate for his organization. Being an effective union advocate and being an effective advocate for the greater good are not necessarily the same thing, but Tom did an admirable job of the latter within the constraints of his duty to represent his members.

His work was marked by a subtlety of thought that unfortunately less than universal in the field. When confronting the challenge of charter schools, he did not to denounce them across the board, but demanded accountability and a level playing field for traditional public schools – a happy confluence of good politics and good policy.

Tom also possessed a generous spirit. Before I gained my semi-player status in the advocacy community, I was just a guy who showed up at things in Columbus. Tom always took the time to talk to me and any other freelancers who happened to be around.

You can read testimonials to Tom on the OFT website -- clearly he was a much beloved figure. But one mark of a man is the level of respect held by his adversaries. The Thomas Fordham Foundation -- a free-market, pro-charters think tank that frequently sparred with Tom -- sent out a moving tribute that is among my favorites. One snip:

    Tom Mooney's passing leaves a void in Ohio's education policy arena--a territory seldom marked by his level of intellect, passion and strategic acumen. He will, of course, be missed greatly by his members, his friends and allies, as well as by his grieving family. But he will also be missed by his opponents. He lived by his beliefs, he conducted himself honorably and he had a serious impact on education, first in Cincinnati and then statewide.
Tom's influence on debates over education can be seen in two stories from the past week. Monday the Beacon published a story about yet another sweetheart deal for David Brennan – this time an exception for Life Skills schools from the proposed Ohio Core requirements. Tom was quoted extensively in a story that went to press before his death became public. The quotes were typical Tom: incisive analysis and razor sharp turns of phrase.

Yesterday the Coalition for Public Education which had litigated the constitutional challenge to the charter school system announced that it was dropping further attempts at litigation to concentrate on legislative efforts. State Senator Kirk Shuring and Representative Scott Oeslager announced that they will introduce companion bills aimed at making charters more accountable. The bills will include tributes to Tom; a fitting tribute to him and his life’s work.

The next year will hopefully be a watershed for Ohio’s education system. Our new governor has pledged to fix the school funding system and the education community has laid much of the groundwork for systemic reform over the past few years. I still have high hopes for the effort, but the task will be more difficult without Tom Mooney.

First Steps Down the Road to the White House

Even though I'm Policy Guy more than Politics Guy, I confess to already jonesing for the '08 Presidential nomination. If I had a chance to put it off, that chance was quashed while I was sick and had too much time to watch C-Span, especially this program.

Aside from politics junkiedom, this election will generate endless facination because of the sheer once-in-a-generation singularity of it. For the first time since 1968, we are faced with wide open fields in both parties. Neither party has a presumptive nominee -- that is to say either an incumbent President or a Vice President of the outgoing two-term administration.

Yes, I agree that McCain is the prohibitive favorite in that he was the runner-up last time the Repubs had a primary and among the R's that's the same thing. I think he's a prohibitive favorite, but not presumptively so. Certainly the number of high-profile candidates seriously considering a run indicate his status is less than prohibitive.

A couple questions I'll toss out to my many readers, most of whom haven't come back since my unfortunate absence. Both concern the effect of the impending compressed primary schedule. First, pundits are asking whether there are "Three tickets out of Iowa" as has been traditionally the case, or whether there are now only two." For that matter, does the presence of Vilsack negate the importance of Iowa all together on the Dem side?

Second, because the compressed schedule will require simultaneous campaigning in multiple states, does anything other than money matter for emerging from the pack? Surely, no $20 million dollar candidate is going anywhere this time, but can $50 million beat $70 million, or will resources be the beginning and end of the conversation?

Finally, I leave you with my current assessment of the field. In each race, I see two early favorites, a couple legitimate contenders for the supposed "third ticket" and everyone else. For the purposes here, I'm assuming that everyone who has expressed an interest but hasn't yet bowed out is in.

Democrats

Frontrunners:
Hillary Clinton
Barak Obama

Second Tier:
Tom Vilsack
John Edwards
Wesley Clark

Everyone Else:
Evan Bayh
Bill Richardson
Chris Dodd
Joe Biden

Republicans

Frontrunners:
John McCain
Rudy Giuliani

Second Tier:
Mitt Romney
Sam Brownback
Newt Gringrich

Everyone Else:
George Pataki
Duncan Hunter
Mike Huckabee

Looking over the lists, I'd say the Dem field is somewhat deeper than the Republicans. Dems have some serious candidates far down the list who are longshots primarily because of who is above. The Republican third tier is a bit of a joke -- only Huckabee could be considered even a semi-serious candidate. Gingrich has to be considered second tier just because of his name recognition and bank, but speculation is that he's more interested in the campaign as an extended book tour than as a real run at the office.

Let the wild rumpus start.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Harry Potter and the Iraq Study Group

The most anticipated book of the season hit stores yesterday -- the Report of the Iraq Study Group. And it's a downer, but with a magical ending. Reading the recommendations, it's as if the seventh installment of the Hogwarts series turned on Harry casting his "Death Eaters See Reason" hex.

Consider me whelmed.

According to the members hitting the chat circuit yesterday, the core recommendations include setting milestones for Iraqi progress toward self-governance, redeploying troops including an increase in the number of American trainers embedded with Iraqi brigades and negotiating with Iran and Syria. Baker et al. made clear their opinion that negotiating with Iran and Syria was essential to the success of the effort.

Which gives the whole thing a monkeys-fly-out-my-butt chance of succeeding. It's true that Iran and Syria have vested interests in a stable Iraq. Unfortunately, it's apparent that both consider it more in their interests to damage the United States. I don't see them helping us when they'd rather see a roiling Iraq that give us a successively more spectacular series of bloody noses.

I have a similarly dim view of the chances that "training" Iraqi forces will do much. The fundamental problem is that the largest and most effective fighting forces on the Shiite and Sunni sides hate us almost as much as they hate each other. And they are embedded within the Iraqi security forces. We're not going to train them to be nice. The best we can do is train them to wage more effective war on each other.

In the end the report is important as a bipartisan declaration that Bush got us into a deep deep hole and we have precious little chance of getting out. As recently as last week we were still hearing from the far right that the media is underreporting "good news" in Iraq and Afghanistan. Perhaps this report has at least a monkeys-fly-out-my-butt of putting the kibosh on that.

Ultimately what I would like to see is a realistic appraisal of our least worst options. The report contains no escape hatch should the recommendations fail. I understand that horrible things will happen no matter what we do. This would have been a good group to analyze the various options and evaluate which does the least damage to the region and to our interests.

Scenes from Fevered Dreams

Well, that sucked.

Over the weekend I took a turn and Monday ended up on antibiotics. I’m doing much better now, though the harsh light of day is shining on everything that didn’t get done while I was sick. I've been trying to catch up the past couple of days.

So, what have I been doing with myself? A little of this, little of that, lot of sitting on my butt. I knew it was time to seek medical intervention when I could no longer beat the computer at Free Cell.

I also caught up on a bit of old TV. I didn’t watch the last season of Angel at the time it aired because I didn’t much like the new story line. In fact, the arc that season was excellent and the series finale much better than Buffy. I also watched a little 24, but still haven’t gotten into it. I will say it’s a much more enjoyable show when you have it on DVR and can fast-forward past all the Kim-in-trouble segments.

Usually I read potboilers when I’m under the weather. This time the only one I made it through was The DaVinci Code. I read it mostly because of the cultural event is supposedly is. Odd to me that it raised the stir it did. First off, Dan Brown’s prose will make you pine for the literary stylings of, say Tony Hillerman. He also uses an annoyingly fluid point of view that shifts within a single scene. Some of my favorite authors consciously and effectively use shifting point of view, but Brown's use of the device just looks inept.

The whole controversy was over the MacGuffin in a fairly by-the-numbers thriller. The basic idea -- that the New Testament is made up of passages carefully cobbled from a variety of selected sources, is fairly old news for anyone who pays attention. The specific idea of Jesus as proto-feminist just sounds cringe-inducingly silly. Brown's protagonist comes off like an insufferable college intellectual trying to pick up feminist coeds at a mixer. Why anyone took this seriously enough to object is beyond me.

Meanwhile, I'm in the process of updating the sidebar. The Akron bloggers list is now the Blogrolling list that I used on GABB. I've added a couple of people to it. Most recently I added Diatribes of Jay which is a platform for extended essays by a very intelligent friend of mine who blogs semi-anonymously to avoid conflicts with his day job. This is yet another example of knowing someone casually for an extended time and neither of us knowing the other is blogging. He's worth a read, but leave yourself some time.

As usual, I have lots of ideas about lots of things going on and no idea when or if I'll have to post. Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Going Viral

OK, I’m going to try to get back to this. I’m still ill, but getting slo-o-o-o-w-ly better. I’ve been ditching blog work because this thing saps my energy and makes my brain feel like it’s wrapped in fiberglass insulation. This last, in particular, has thwarted my several efforts to blog. I set myself a generally unrealistically high standard here. If a sentence sounds turgid or hackneyed, I generally can’t move on until it’s fixed. If I’ve read sources two levels down, I have to actively resist the temptation to go down the third level. I don’t say it to brag, it’s just the way I am. I'd be better off aiming for "Good enough for blogging."

Anyway, I’ve decided to say “screw it.” Until further notice, I am muddling through. If the blogging suffers for a few days as I finally (hopefully) kick this thing, so be it.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

The fam and I are on the road for our usual pilgrimage east to visit family and eat too much. As referenced obliquely over the weekend, I've been struggling against the flu the past week, hence the lack of posts.

Wifi hotspots are sadly in short supply where we are going, so I'll probably not get another post up until we are back in Ohio.

We at the House of Pho wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

O-H! I-O!



HELL yea!




Breaking my virus-inspired silence to say ALL FUCKIN' RIGHT!

And some random thoughts:

How cool is The Script? It's been a while since I've seen The Script actually crawl out onto the field. Usually they just show the fully formed "Ohio" with the Sousaphone player taking his bow. You forget how amazing it is to see it actually form.

A regrettably sloppy game. Sloppy play calling by Lloyd Carr, sloppy tackling by OSU, sloppy . . . snapping?

And sloppy officiating. It would have been a shame if the game had turned on an inexplicable interference call in the first half and an equally inexplicable interference non-call resulting in an interception. Thankfully, the Buckeyes overcame the setbacks.

Although it's been said many times, many ways, Brent Musberger is an idiot. After the Blue Meanies score on the first drive: "So Troy Smith again will have to come back in the fourth quarter as he has done before in this game." Unfuckinbelievable.

Michigan acquitted themselves well -- well enough that a rematch at least belongs in the conversation about the BCS. If USC or Arkansas run their respective tables, they close out the real argument. If each of those teams ends up with a loss, with Notre Dame beating USC, people will argue for the Irish, but given that Michigan was their daddy at home this season, it's a tough argument.

Antonio Pittman graduated from Buchtel. Chris Wells graduated from Garfield. If the levy hadn't passed, APS would have been forced to cancel varsity sports programs. I'm just sayin'.

This is the dead opposite of 2002. That year, OSU earned the right to serve as sacrificial lamb as Miami rolled to another national championship. Then: Surprise! This time the Buckeyes go in as the consensus number one. They get the pressure to prove it one more time against someone just happy to be in the show.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Browns, Steelers, Who Cares?

So here’s my post since I won Pho’s election turnout office pool. I guess I’m glad there weren’t any stipulations about “closest guess without going over” or nobody would have won.


So, Pho said I would probably say something nice about the Steelers to irritate him. Trouble is, here is NOTHING nice to say about the Steelers this season. Why they don’t just bench Rothlesberger is beyond me. A true Steelers fan doesn’t second-guess the mighty Bill Cower often, but this one has me and some of my Steelers-fan friends all scratching our heads.

Being a Steelers fan married to a Browns fan (my husband is Pho’s brother), you can imagine how Steelers-Browns Sundays can get a little ugly in my house. However, this year, I don’t think either of us really cares. We’re too focused on the big OSU game this weekend, and we’re on the same side for this contest. Besides, who really cares when the only thing on the line is last place in the AFC North?

So, go Buckeyes! I’d much rather the Buckeyes win this weekend than the Steelers. They have a lot more at stake.

It Was All Because of . . . Redistricting?

Sunday's PD ran the story of a curious phenomenon – GOP leaders arguing about who is to blame . . . for NEO redistricting. The argument apparently goes like this: The 2000 redistricting allowed Sherrod Brown to keep his seat, leaving him around as an effective candidate who was able to take out Mike DeWine.

Got that?

Right Angle Blog ran hosted a thread on the issue that devolved into a finger-pointing kvetch-a-thon.

This argument quickly starts to sound like an episode of Quantum Leap where changing history has unexpected consequences. First off, I question whether any map could have narrowed the Democratic delegation any more than it did. After all, the total vote in Congressional elections has remained steady at around 50-50, but the delegation going into last Tuesday was 2/3 to 1/3. And that's with Steve LaTourette in a district that Kerry won.

Second, if Sherrod hadn’t run for Senate, DeWine would have been stuck with running against Paul Hackett. If anyone on the Right wants to argue that Hackett was a weaker opponent, he has the floor. I’m not going there. Again. Ever.

Third, the whole story ignores the actual effect of redistricting – tossing Tom Sawyer out of Congress. At the point the lines were re-drawn, the writing was already on the wall that Traficant’s days were numbered. Anyone who had the right connections – as it happens, I did – knew that the US Attorneys felt they really had him, and they did. Going into 2000, the Republicans had much more to fear from a genial moderate like Sawyer than a liberal firebrand like Sherrod.

Finally, it’s damned interesting to hear Republicans speak so frankly about the democracy-stultifying activity that is redistricting. By arguing about whether they could have redistricted more effectively, they are saying in essence, “We should have rendered meaningless the votes of even more Ohioans.”

If they really want to know why they lost, perhaps the Republicans should pay more attention to what their constituents want and less to political gamesmanship.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Still More Thoughts on Turnout

Bill Callahan has tracked down information showing conclusively that Cuyahoga County turnout was overstated.
recalculated the turnout percentage in light of the revelation just to make sure they didn’t change so radically as to undermine the basic point. In fact they drop the Dem turnout of the Kerry vote to 80.7 and Republican turnout of the Bush vote to 66%. Pretty much the same.

The primary lesson from Callahan’s discovery is that the Cuyahoga Co. Board of Elections remains a train wreck. After his comment about the difficulty judging turnout in urban counties, I’m not sure what to think about actually turning out that vote.

Similarly, I wonder about judging turnout in counties with large college populations. Athens Co. is a horrible 41.2%, but that’s mostly because the college-based party clubs register lots of students. Once the students move on an register elsewhere, the Athens board hears about the new registration rarely if it is in-state and pretty much never if it’s out of state.

Nonetheless, the Dems need to look at whether they can improve their turnout in urban centers. Bumping up the turnout in Columbus and Cincinnati may have made the difference in some of the legislative races there, and adding a bumped-up turnout in Cuyahoga may have put Barbara Sykes over the top despite her invisible campaign.

For that matter, if the Dems in the future recruit a diversity-for-the-sake-of-diversity candidate again, it would be nice if that candidate would take the lead in the turnout effort. Reading about Sykes’ campaign manager complaining that Dems didn’t turn out the vote for her made my blood boil. I talked to very politically active people in Toledo, Cleveland and Columbus who confirmed my impression that Sykes was pretty much nowhere to be seen.

Return of the SMH

She's baaaack. Jill first told us that Shopping Mall Heiress Capri Cafaro is in the mix for succeeding State Senator Marc Dann who was elected Attorney General. The party chairs for the two districts that comprise the district – Trumbull and Ashtabula – will turn in names to the Senate Dem Caucus which will make the ultimate decision.

Dann has endorsed Cafaro giving her the inside track. Interesting because as recently as two days ago he was quoted in the Ashtabula paper as saying he would stay out of the fray. A rival for the post, Rep. Sandra Stabile Harwood, says that Dann promised his endorsement would go to whoever helped his campaign the most. Um, Ms. Harwood, that would fall under the category of Statements Everyone Knows to Be True but Nobody Wants Said Out Loud.

Apparently I’m supposed to be annoyed by this. I’m not. First off, it would be pretty dickheaded of me to condemn Cafaro getting to the Statehouse since my position in the 13th Primary was that Cafaro should get her feet wet in the Statehouse before making a run at Congress. Avoiding dickheadedness is never a sufficient reason for me to hew to a position, but it’ll do for a makeweight.

Mostly I’m good with it because I think Capri would make a good legislator. She is smart, hard working and has a fair swatch of varied experience. Her flame burns too brightly to imagine her toiling as a researcher at a think tank or serving as a Legislative Assistant somewhere. If, as she says, she really desires a career in public service, it’s time to give her the chance.

The question remains whether this is a good move electorally. Only a fool would predict the climate in 2008, but safe to say it will not be the skating party for Democrats that the past election season was. Rivals are making dark noises about her father’s corruption conviction and association with Traficant. That’s not good, and probably is worse in Trumbull and Ashtabula than it would be in Mahoning where Traficant was more beloved and tolerated, and worse than in Lorain where he was just a guy people read about.

In addition, some of her comments in the paper suggest that Capri is not past the combative prickliness that turned so many around here off. No, she hasn’t threatened to sue anyone yet but her responses to charges that money plays a part in the decision have been shrill and petulant.

The district collectively went 59.4% for Kerry in ’04. It should be a safe seat. Cafaro is absolutely done if she gets appointed and loses it. She’ll have to work hard to keep it. If she’s smart, she’ll start a permanent campaign as soon as she’s appointed.

My guess: This is already wired. The Warren paper has a good rundown of the Family Cafaro’s generosity toward the various individuals and entities that will be making the decision. Capri may object to charges that the seat is being bought for her, but the seat is being bought for her. It just happens that she brings real talent to the job. Appointments going to contributors is a longstanding fact of politics. We’re big boys and girls; we can handle that. We're just happy when a patronage appointment goes to someone with actual ability.

The only remaining question – if the seat goes to Stabile Harwood instead of Cafaro, will Cafaro get the resulting vacant House seat?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!

Noe convicted this afternoon. The Blade has details. Here's the highlights:

    Noe was found guilty of 29 of 40 charges, including theft, corrupt activity, money laundering, forgering records and tampering with documents. He was convicted on his chief charge that he engaged in a pattern of corruption in his management of Ohio's $50 million rare-coin fund investment with the bureau.

    The corrupt activity charge was the most serious, carrying a mandatory 10-year prison sentence.

    The maximum sentence, if imposed, would total 72 years in prison. Prosecutors said it was unlikely the judge would order such a lengthy sentence.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Exit Poll Numbers and Thoughts on Turnout

First off, Pho’s Akron Pages is declaring Lori the winner of the Voter Turnout Office Pool. She will be offered a post shortly. Be forewarned; she may write something nice about the Steelers just to annoy me.

Second, if you didn’t click through the link before, YellowDogSammy was the first to point out that the SoS site revised the turnout numbers for Cuyahoga County upward. Cuy. Co. turned out in the mid-50’s – about average for the state.

Also, Bill Callahan commented to a previous post with these trenchant insights on urban turnout.

But mostly this post is about playing with – playing with, not analyzing – exit poll numbers. The poll links come courtesy of battleforohio.com, a site set up by MacWilliams Robinson & Partners, Ted Strickland's media production consultants. They plan on maintaining the Battle for Ohio site will at least until 2008.

The exit polls themselves are from CNN, and 2004 is still up, giving us the numbers to play with. In terms of percentage of the vote, Dems and Republicans nearly reversed themselves. In 2004, Dems represented 35% of the vote for President; Republicans 40%. In 2006, Dems were 40% of the vote for Governor; Republicans 37%.

From there we get into deeper, but increasingly shaky analysis. I used the percentages from the exit polls and the vote totals from SoS to calculate the approximate number of Republicans vs. Democrats voting in 2004 Presidential and 2006 Gubernatorial races. Then I took the presidential vote as a baseline for motivated voters in each party, and figured out the percentage turnout for each party. That is, what percentage of the Kerry vote does the Dem vote in 2006 represent and what percentage of the Bush vote does the Repub vote in '06 represent. Here's what we find:

2004

Total votes: 5,722,443

Dem Votes: (35%) 2,002,855

Repub Votes: (40%) 2,266,977

2006

Total votes: 4,177,498

Dem votes : (40%) 1,670,999

    % of Kerry vote turned out: 83.4
Repub Votes: (37%) 1,545,674
    % of Bush Vote turned out: 68.3
Don't bother telling me what's wrong with the methodology. Of course not everyone who voted Dem in '06 bothered voting in '04 or was even in the state or was a Dem or whatever. Not to mention problems with exit polls generally, particularly in 2004. I know.

These are very rough calculations. But they crudely indicate a wide disparity, suggesting that Democrats turned out a much higher percentage of their motivated voters than Republicans did. And this jibes with anecdotal evidence we all heard before and after the elections.

Finally I would note that the 2006 exit poll results pretty much jibe with the final result. It's hard to tell for sure since the CNN page is all breakdown with an aggregate for each candidate. But looking for instance at the results for men and women, it certainly looks like the average is something close to the 37/60 split in the final result. I'm sure Stolen Election Guy will come up with some explanation, but it may take a while.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Kilroy Advertising to Provisional Voters

I was in Columbus today for work. Coming out of town I heard an ad on the Buckeyes radio station. It starts with the disclosure, "I'm Mary Jo Kilroy and I approved this message." Then an announcer tells voters who cast provisional ballots to call a number to make sure your ballot is handled fairly. The announcer emphasizes that the race in the 15th Congressional District between Mary Jo Kilroy and Deborah Pryce is not resolved. There may be more but I was driving, so my notetaking ability was limited.

I heard from a colleague at the meeting that many of the provisionals turn out to be university students who got bounced to provisional land because -- duh -- their voter reg address doesn't match their drivers license. Isn't it great that we're discouraging civic engagement among our young people with this solution-without-a-problem voter ID law?

Anyway, sports radio isn't necessarily the strongest D demographic, but given that OSU students are heavily represented among the provisionals, the ad buy makes good sense. Best of luck with it.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Happy Armistice Day

When the anonymous commenter to this post chimed in that “Democrats don’t support the troops,” I tried, with questionable success, to be civil. Civility was an effort because I’ve grown so very weary of bullying accusations about my insufficient affection for The Troops given my dislike for The War.

Statement about Supporting the Troops don’t imply that supporting the troops is coextensive with supporting the war, they assume it. My internal reply, now external, is that people who say that love war. Not that they support this war or war in general or understand the necessity or any of that swishy liberal crap, but they love war. Love it like loving the smell of napalm inthe morning. Love the destruction and the waste and the ruined lives. Revel in the greatest evil on earth. Those kind of people.

That may be unfair, but it's no less fair than using "Support the Troops" as a tendentious accusation that anyone opposed to the war can't wait for the first opportunity to spit on a returning veteran.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a pacifist. I understand that evil exists in the world and defending ourselves against it is not always pretty. But I don’t have to love it. In fact I hate war. I am reading Franklin and Wintson, and in it found the wise counsel of another Democratic realist who hated war:

    I have seen war. I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood
    running from the wounded. I have seen men coughing out their gassed
    lungs. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. I
    have seen two hundred limping exhausted men come out of line-the
    survivors of a regiment of one thousand that went forward forty-eight
    hours before. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of
    mothers and wives. I hate war.
Unfortunately, Americans have long conflated supporting troops with supporting wars, and have confused going to war with embracing war. That's my read on why Armistice Day in America is Veteran's Day. Sure Veterans should have their day. But so should celebrations of peace. Unfortunately that's not how we do it here.

During the runup to the election I ran across an essay by Kevin Tilman, the Iraq and Afghanistan veteran whose brother Pat gave up an NFL career to serve his country and was killed in a friendly fire incident. The whole piece is a must-read, but these passages at the end particularly struck me:
    Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.
    Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.
    Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.
    Somehow this is tolerated.
    Somehow nobody is accountable for this.
    * * *
    Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat’s birthday.
I thought about this during the election. The war is a box we can't get out of without a great deal more pain, strife and toil. The Democrats have no easy answers because there are no easy answers. But I feel much better knowing that now, as a result of what we did this week, men and women who hate war now sit at the table. Tuesday's result was a great way to support the troops.

Issue Six Passes

Today was the day I planned on doing a postmortem on Issue 6. I spent much of my blogging time last night adding up precinct numbers into ward totals and calculating the percentages.

Then today the ABJ wrote basically the same story. So, to make this interesting, I'll share a little inside information. Going into this third round of getting this levy passed, we were faced with two sets of facts: 1) The vote in traditionally friendly wards 3, 4 and 5 was down and 2) We were getting killed in South Akron.

Politicos will tell you there is a science turning 3,4 and 5 (the predominantly Afican-American inner city wards.) The politicos that tell you this with the most force are those that market their services doing so, but that's a subject for another day. Anyway, we kind of took it on faith that the campaigns would do as much of that as could be done.

What we decided to do, grassroots, parent-heavy group that we were, was find more voters across the board. We pursued, if you will, the Ten Ward Strategy.

The graphic accompanying the ABJ story unfortunately doesn't appear online, so I'll reproduce it here so we can talk about it.

As you can see, the strategy worked. The traditionally strong support in 3, 4, 5 and 8 held steady. But we closed the gap by at least a couple of points in each of the wards voting against the levy.

Not to say Next Step was the whole deal. Certainly many factors helped out. It was a Democratic year and, though we have plenty of Republican support and Dem opposition, fact is, to the extent Repub voting was down, it didn't hurt. Similarly we were hurt in May by the fact that there was no primary enticing voters in Tim Ryan's 17th District, but a heated Governor's race on the Republican side. The vote in 1, 2 and 10 were noticably off from the last levy that passed in 2000.

And of course, there was the rest of the campaign. The messaging -- tying good schools to economic development, was far crisper this time. They cut and aired some excellent ads on that theme featuring area businessmen. The campaign overall had better organization, more participation from staff and parents, and far more participation from students.

Also, people just generally got the message that the situation really was serious. Some events over the summer did not break in our favor, which worried me, but overall the Board of Ed. kept sounding the theme that, no really, we need the money.

It's impossible to tell where one factor left off and the other took up. But I was extremely proud in the work my friends in Next Step did to make the campaign more grassroots.

I did want to test my impression that the win was more a matter of closing the gap in the losing areas than boosting turnout in the friendly wards. At this point in the process, turnout numbers are suspect, as I was recently and embarassingly reminded. So instead, I calculated for each ward, the percentage that ward represents of the total "yes" vote. This is a Blogger table, so stand by for annoying white space.




































Ward
MaySept
1
11.111.0
25.06.0
3
10.0
10.0
4
15.2
14.6
5
6.3
7.3
6
9.4
9.8
7
8.5
9.0
8
22.5
18.7
9
6.1
6.9
10
5.76.6
So yes, the story of the win was greater support in those ward that have voted the levy down, not ever more support in the friendly areas. This bodes better for APS going forward. No one was happy with the divide from north and west to south and east. Support for the schools is by no means uniform, but if this turns out to be a trend, it is a positive one.

Wednesday Morning Quarterback, Pt. 2: Helmet Stickers and More.

I didn't want to let the post-election without some very specific shout-outs and shout-downs -- and to run the football metaphor into the ground. So I'm giving helmet stickers to those who made particularly good plays and one game ball to the best all-around performer. In addition, some will have to run some extra laps in practice for boneheaded plays. And as often happens after the big game, a couple of players need to be cut.

Helmet Stickers

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) – Not only did they win big, they produced a pair of ads for Sherrod Brown’s race that must go down as among the best anywhere this cycle. The first was the “Work Together” ad which zoomed slowly in on a photo Mike DeWine and Pres. Bush palling around, superimposed text about the number of times DeWine voted with the President all to the soundtrack of kids singing “The More We Work Together.”

The second hasn’t appeared on YouTube and I only saw it on TV once. The soundtrack was the kids chorus again, this time singing “If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands.” For the visual the spot offers shots of regular-looking folks, sternly looking into the camera – definitely Not Happy and resolutely Not Clapping. That’s intercut with text about Ohio’s decline in the DeWine years.

The ads were brilliant, among other reasons, for breaking the mold of the negative ad. No grainy black-and-white shots of DeWine with an unflattering facial expression. No minor-chorded, bass-heavy music or portentious announcer. As a result they catch the eye and seem at the same time harder-hitting and less mean-spirited.

Judy Hanna. For Most Improved Candidate. When I first saw Judy during the primary, she was frankly awful. Her public speaking will never be described as Churchillian, but by the end, she could more than hold her own. Similarly, she stiffened her spine as the campaign wore on and became increasingly willing to match Coughlin blow for blow. Her radio and TV ads of the last week again were far from perfect, but they were simple and effective.

But above all, Team Judy went after it like no other campaign. Every event I went to, Judy’s campaign was there in force. She was the only candidate to get to Bill Press in the 6:00 a.m. hour and from reports was up until the wee small hours each night stuffing envelopes and dropping literature.

All of which turns out to be terribly important, even if she personally didn’t win. Estimates are that Republican spending in the race will approach two million. That’s money they didn’t have to oppose Brian Williams or Steve Dyer or Sue Morano who did win. Sometimes the most important player isn’t the one who caught the ball, it’s the one who drew the double team. Judy drew the double team.

Summit Co Ground Game. Got the voters to the polls and won big. Beat the well-financed and endorsed Councilman-at-large Michael Callahan. Won the county for the three judicial candidates. Made serious runs at entrenched incumbents John Widowfield and Kevin Coughlin. The statewides carried Summit huge. Special mention to Exec. Director Christine Higham, party organizer James Hardy and Combined Campaign county coordinator Tamela Lee.

Next Step for Akron and APS Students. This may sound self-serving, but in point of fact, I served as little more than an advisor for the grassroots effort. My friends Amy and Sheila were the real powers and parents, teacher and students made a huge effort.

Redhorse. As he announced on his blog, he was campaign manager on the Tom Sawyer campaign. For the most part, what happened on that campaign stays in Vegas, but I will say it was an unusual campaign in many respects, including a large, four-county district, a fairly obscure set of issues and some nontraditional constituencies. Red kept the parts moving and got the campaign to the finish line. Congrats, mon ami.

Game Ball:

Ted. I mentioned it in the Winners/Losers post, but it bears repeating just how hard he worked for the rest of the ticket. We on the press list got Media Advisories about the three or four stops Ted, Frances and Ted's brother Roger made, just about every day. And usually, Ted was rallying with either a statewide candidate or some local candidates or both. He also cut robo-calls and half-and-half mailers for legislative candidates. And as the downstate moderate, generously shared rally space with NEO liberal Sherrod Brown.

At one point I was hearing grousing that Ted should send some of his money down ticket. In retrospect, making each race his own while he was polling in the sixties was a highly effective strategy.

Extra laps

Ohio House Caucus. I’ve met and liked some folks working their, but the ads I saw were underwhelming. You know what I thought of the anti-Christine Croce ad in support of Steven Dyer. Their TV ad against Tom Cousineau was even worse. It morphed Tom into Taft and claimed that Taft “did nothing while illegal immigration soared.” Great. Now we’ve conceded that illegal immigration is somehow a problem for Ohio, but any idiot is going to say “What’s the Governor of Ohio supposed to do about that? This is crap!”

The Media. They wanted to say that the Republican campaign ads were worse than the Democrats’, but they just couldn’t. They wanted to report that Republicans were running vote-supressing scams, but again couldn’t pull the trigger.

The media supposedly hates dirty campaigning. But if they really want to make a difference, they need to call out those engaged prior to the election. By Monday TPM had recordings of fake robocalls up, but the media still dithered until after the election. Even the supposed liberal equivalent of Fox News – NPR – couldn’t call out the Republicans.

I suppose this could be a helmet sticker for the right wing noise machine making the press afraid of its own shadow.

Plunderbund. I went back and forth on whether the GOP GOTV infiltration hoax was an amusing practical joke or a dangerous stunt messing with someone else’s election. Then Tuesday night I heard that the Ohio GOP was accusing Dems of “intimidating voters at the polls, trying to infiltrate their GOTV effort and breaking into their headquarters.”

All bullshit. But it’s hard to move the media toward reporting campaign shenanigans by Republicans if they have a kernel of truth to their “Dems do it too” riposte. Yea, the righty blogosphere going Chicken Little about this was funny to watch, but the risk of real damage was too great.

DeWine’s Graphic Artist. I’m still amazed the Brown campaign was able to parlay the doctored WTC photo into a real issue. After all, the photo was a representation of something that actually happened. It’s not like the towers never burned.

In the end, I supposed it was a metaphor. Like the Foley scandal was a metaphor for the Power at allCosts mindset of Republican Congressional leadership, the doctored photo was a metaphor for the Republicans’ penchant for overplaying the 9/11 card. At some point that well was going to run dry, but in fact DeWine's ad poisoned the water table.

Barbara Sykes should have to run extra laps for both her debate performance and her nearly invisible campaign. But if history is a guide, she will most likely quit the team.

Cut from the team

John Kerry. He’s scooped up the loose ball! Here he goes down the side line! 40! 30! 20! 10! OH NO, FUMBLE!! He dropped the ball on the five yard line! Then he danced in the endzone like he still has it!!!

Leon Lett thinks that was the dumbest play ever. As if Kerry had a chance in 2008, now the mere thought of him running is a joke that's actually funny.

Robo Calls. Wishful thinking I know. But in a way, the Republicans running fake annoying robos suggests that they know the jig is about up. Studies are starting to show that robos are losing their effectiveness. They also get in the way of phonebanking for GOTV. Besides, an end to robo-calls would make Scott Pullins obselete, and that's nothing but good.

If you have any ideas for stickers, laps, cuts or, for that matter, additions to the Winners/Losers list, feel free to drop them in comments.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Auditor's Race to will not End This Afternoon? Any Time Soon

1350 Radio Free Ohio is reporting in its news updates that Democrat Auditor candidate Barbara Sykes "is willing" to concede the race. No further details like who exactly is saying that in the Sykes campaign or when the announcement might come.

Apparently I misheard Tom Duresky. He said Barbara Sykes "is not willing," but I heard "is now willing." Apologies. More update below.

With the victory of Mary Taylor nearly assured, let's look a bit at why. No question Barbara Sykes ran the weakest campaign of the statewides. In addition to just not doing a heck of a lot of campaigning, I thought her cries about racist polling rang false* and certainly turned off some downstate moderates.

Inner city turnout also hurt. Cuyahoga, as noted early, turned out less than 40% of registered voters -- the only large county to do so poorly. If 50% of Cuyahoga County voters had turned out -- still weak, but closer to the mode of 55%, and the county split stayed steady at 62%, Sykes would have netted another 26,739 votes, putting her that much closer, though still over 50,000 votes short. Franklin and Hamilton Counties were both down as well, presumably weighed down at least in part by turnout in Columbus and Cincinnati. (all this based on results on the SoS website)

If Dems are to consolodate power, they need to improve GOTV in central cities.

UPDATE: YellowDogSammy has a breakdown of the vote and interview results with Sykes' campaign manager. The manager notes the same problem with the urban vote I do below. Her take seems to be that someone should have tried to turn urban blacks out. Agreed. But Sykes shares in the fault there. She was supposed to be running a statewide campaign. She was the reluctant candidate from the start and it showed in the campaign. If she had worked hard to turn out the urban vote in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, not only would she have won, she could have pulled some of the Congressional candidates across the line.

Barbara needed to have a little Ted in her.

*ADDENDUM: 54cermak's comment reminded me that I never actually wrote about the Taylor poll controversy. I bitched up a storm to whoever would listen, but it was while I was working for Tom and in self-imposed blackout.

So here it is. The poll went into the field relatively early in the campaign and contained both positive and negative information. This suggests that the poll was not a push poll, but a message poll. A push poll exists solely to get information out. A message poll is a real poll designed to get information about the strengths and weaknesses of an opponent. That's why the poll included positives about Sykes and her professional accomplishments. Chairing the Black Caucus was one of her accomplishments. You could quibble about how important it was for the Taylor campaign to know how people felt about that accomplishment vis-a-vis other accomplishments, but the fact remains that putting that in the poll is a rational, defensible decision.

What's more, it makes little strategic sense to put it in a push poll. Push polling is an relatively expensive way to disseminate information. The claim was that they were using the poll to alert voter to the fact that Barbara Sykes is black. There were far easier ways to accomplish that -- airing attack ads with her picture or sending out a side-by-side mailer (one column for Taylor and her accounant degree, a column for Sykes showing how she comes up short, pictures at the head of each column.)

I suppose if the poll or a subsequent ad campaign had really gone after the Black Caucus, I might feel differently about. But it didn't.

Finally, if you are going to call racism in a campaign, you really need to have the goods. If you make the claim based on facts as thin as these you look like a wild-eyed professional victim. Not what people are looking for in a State Treasurer.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wednesday Morning Quarterback, Pt. 1: Winners and Losers.

No, not a tally of results here. For that the SoS site is your best bet, with YellowDogSammy a close second.

Instead, I've been thinking more abstractly about the election. What groups, ideas and trends did particularly well or badly? What about people whose fortunes changed as a result of elections not their own? Here are my top and bottom five.

Winners

5. Smart People. Ted Strickland. Jennifer Brunner. Marc Dann. Sherrod Brown. Richard Freaking Cordray. Almost frighteningly intelligent people with advanced degrees and gaudy academic credentials. The only bigger story than a statewide slate coming together with this much intellectual firepower was the lot of them making cases for themselves in ways regular folks could understand.

We heard a great deal throughout the cycle that corruption was a high-priority issue. An unspoken correlary issue this year is competence. For that matter, Mary Taylor the only Republican to win a statewide partisan race, ran on the competence platform. After years of mismanagement at the state and federal levels, people may be weary of voting for the guy who sounds like he'd be the most fun to fish with.

4. Fifty States and Eighty-eight Counties. Doubts and mumblings about Howard Dean's 50 State Strategy and Ohio Dem Chair Chris Redfern's 88-County Ohio version were legion early on. No more. Dems won as big as they did in large part because they fielded more candidates in more places than ever before. Last week the media told of Republicans scrambling to shore up support in the Idaho First District -- one of the reddest places in the country. Win or lose, that race diverted resources the Republicans would have used to make runs at Dem incumbents.

Ohio's version was the millions poured into the First and Second Congressional Districts. I'm sure that under the original plan, a good chunk of those millions were destined to make Craig Foltin competitive.

3. District Lines. Ohio fell short in legislative elections. We did not take either chamber of the General Assembly and, as of this writing, only flipped on Congressional seat. This despite broad unrest yielding lopsided results on the top of the ticket. Fact is, the lines are drawn to favor Republicans. Fundamental Truths has a long post up on the issue.

2. Ted Strickland. Pho, WTF? I thought this was supposed to be about meta themes, not specific races. Calm down, dude. Make no mistake, Ted won far more than his own race. The last month of the campaign was partly keeping support high, but mostly campaigning for the rest of the ticket. It's beyond serious dispute that he coattailed everyone, including Sherrod. In two years, Ted has gone from a mid-pack member of the minority Congressional delegation to the center of power in the state.

In addition, his success was so overwhelming and comprehensive that he has a legitimate claim to a mandate. He campaigned for victorious House members, he made the Constitutional officers his own and he nearly won it all. Going into the election the righty pundits were grousing that the coming Dem victories would be a Vote Against and therefore confer no political capital. Ted's victory could be argued to be a Vote Against Blackwell, but the victories of all those Ted Campaigned for give lie to the claim.

1. Barak Obama. Just like the beginning of the Christmas season long ago broke through the Thanksgiving barrier and is now encroaching on Halloween, the 2008 election cycle began before this one ended. In particular, Ohio's first event of the '08 Presidential Election was Barak Obama's appearance in Cleveland the weekend before the election. Nine months ago, people talked about Obama as a guy who could run for President "someday."

As luck would have it, Hillary was somewhat tethered to her own re-election campaign, which would only have become a race if she ignored the state to barnstorm the rest of the country. As a result, Obama has gained several lengths on Hillary, to the point that the two are now share space in the first sentence of most conversations about '08.

Losers

5. The Gaming Industry. Assemble an appealing ballot issue like a Snickers Bar housing a razor blade, spend $20 million on a brilliantly deceptive campaign and lose huge. Think they will give up? Doubtful. Two predictions for 2007: 1) The same coalition will offer a ballot issue next year called “Hey Everyone! We’re all Gonna Get Laid!!” and 2) the Delaware County Board of Elections will print that on the ballot.

4. The Kinder, Kompassionate Konservatism. Remember the "We want to help poor people, too" rhetoric? Or the much-ballyhooed Republican minority outreach? Or laughable claims of big-tentism? All that went a-glimmer in this campaign. From the ugly whisper campaign against Ted to race-baiting ads downstate to the determination that illegal aliens were the new gay, Republicans lost themselves to their worst impulses. Based on radio reports, it shows in the exit polls, with Republicans losing the ground Bush had gained in 2004 with Black and Hispanic voters.

3. Alex Arshinkoff. Alison McCarty, Christine Croce, Michael Callahan, Deborah Owens Fink – all card-carrying members of Ashinkoff's camp and all went down big. Tom Cousineau, recruited by the party to take down a vulnerable seat, goes down bigger. Winning a majority in Common Pleas, General Division (and control over the jobs there) is nearly out of his grasp with Dems netting a judgeship. The party has to pull out the stops to protect John Widowfield, for gawd sake.

And the one guy who routinely pokes Alex in the eye – Kevin Coughlin – ekes out a win without him. The power of A-Squared continues to ebb.

2. Amateurs. Some years you hear a lot about "Candidate Jehosiphat, who has never held office" winning. This year we had Lew Katz, Judy Hanna, Tom Cousineau, all newcomers not only to government but to electoral politics, all of whom lost big. Around here, Steve Dyer is the exception that proves the rule. Yes he Has Never Sought Elective Office before, but by his account he grew up in a political family and was a political beat reporter before going to law school.

Which is not to slam the people named, but to point out that politics is a business with a real skill set. It's not rocket science, but there is something to be understood about how to present oneself to an electorate. All these candidates caught on to that eventually, but all too late.

1. Wingnuttery. I'm bracing myself for the media hand-wringing about moderates like Mike DeWine and Lincoln Chaffee going down. And I'm waiting for right-wing media, bloggers and pundits to kvetch that the only reason they lost is that they forgot "true" conservatism.

Bollocks.

First off, Ohio is Exhibit A against that argument. The election was a repudiation of conservatism for conservatism's sake. Not only Blackwell but Sandra "I'll oppose abortion from the Treasurer's Office" O'Brien crashed and burned.

Moreover, people rejected moderates like Chaffee and, well, Chaffee (DeWine, I maintain, is a MINO), because he represented a vote necessary to maintain a regime in Congress that operated on division, dominance and lockstep fealty to the administration. A conservative administrative. Theirs is warped, mutated conservatism to be sure, but nonetheless Bush and Cheny are conservative regardless of how many conservatives want to disown them.

In the November 6 world, ideology trumped workability, power was a good in itself, and bipartisanship was merely a club used to beat on Democrats who failed to fall in line. That's what people rejected yesterday. Conservatives fail to heed that lesson at their peril.

For that matter, so do liberals.

Weak Turnout Numbers and Pool Update

I had two predictions in my Guess the Turnout office pool. The first was that turnout would set a new record for a Gubernatorial election -- over 61%. That prediction was flat out, dead busted, butt-lickin' wrong.

The second prediction was that if turnout was in the mid-50's Dems would win big. Well, turnout looks to be in the mid-50's and Dems nearly ran the table in the statewides. Of the six Dems in partisan races, five won. Plus eight or so state house pickups and nearly perfect defense of all seats held. My guess is that part of the Dem wave was unmotivated Republicans staying home. We'll have to wait for some more detailed results and exit poll cross-tabs to be sure.

In the meantime, it looks unlikely that the vote count will grow enough to pass Lori who had the lowest guess. As of right now the count stands at 3,868,486, with three counties yet to report. Stark is the biggest of those by far with 270-odd thousand voters. I expect the count to grow by another hundred fifty thousand or so when those counties report, plus another point or two when the provisionals are in.

Meanwhile consider these sad turnout numbers:

Cuyahoga County: 39.44%
Franklin County: 44.74%

All the other major urban counties posted respectable numbers, mostly in the mid-50's with Hamilton County just shy of 50%. Assuming that the sad numbers in Franklin (and Hamilton for that matter) reflect center city residents not voting, the Dems have some serious work to do here. If those voters had turned out in numbers comparable to say Dayton or Toledo, Barbara Sykes would probably be our new Auditor.

Finally, it can't be a coincidence that the two counties with the worst reported voting glitches also had the worst turnout. Jennifer Brunner says that she will administer elections with an eye toward fairness to all and advantage to none, and I believe her. I also believe that if we have that in Cuyahoga and Franklin, it will be a boon to Dems.

Message from Brian Williams

Again from the e-bag:

Looking Back & Moving Ahead - from State Representative Brian G. Williams

Dear Friends,

Many of you, as recipients on this E-Mail List, have been with me through my first term in office (some have actually known me long before this journey as a public servant began). Thanks to the vote of confidence from District 41, I am proud and gratified that I can invite you to join me for a second term - through the 127th General Assembly (January 2007-December 2008)!

Thank you for your support of my efforts, and most of all for your interest in and work for District 41, and all Ohioans. I appreciate your input on issues, and I am extending a special thank you to those who worked with me through the campaign season and endorsed my work with their vote. It is with happy anticipation that I look forward to working as team with you to enhance the quality of life in Ohio, and to solving problems that prohibit a full realization of our State’s worth.

As most of you know - I came to Columbus to work in a bi-partisan fashion to solve the troubles that face Ohio. For those who saw the recent Legislative Survey conducted by my office, we know that our District reported that the three biggest problems they want solved are education, jobs, and environment. So, I have the direction my constituents want to take; I have the ability; and I pledge the hard work and dedication to resolve issues important to all of us!

Through this election, the people of Ohio (and around the entire country) sent a clear message to elected officials that they want change. Obviously, they feel that the one-party hold has been stagnating; that corruption must stop; and it is time for Ohio to move forward. I look forward to the challenges these changes will bring, and to having you beside me as we move ahead.

The House Democrats gained a net 8 seats. In fact at this writing, all the numbers are not in or final, and we are awaiting final results from one county to be finalized, where our candidate is very viable. So, the balance between the two parties is more equalized than it has been in years. This makes negotiations more possible than they have been in the past. You cannot meet the other side in the middle, when they won’t even join you in the same room! These changes offer a better checks and balance of parties and doctrine. The combination of these additional seats, with Governor-Elect Strickland taking office in January, puts our Caucus in a better position to negotiate legislation, and to pass laws that are important to all of Ohio.

I proudly look forward to representing you, and I will do my best to bring State government as close to the citizens as possible. As always - please contact me with any questions or input on State matters.

Your State Representative,

Brian G. Williams

Gains in the Ohio House

Note: I was busy all day. I'll have something original to say after the kids go to bed. In the meantime, I drop a couple of items from my email bag. I got the following from the House Dem Caucus:

Democrats make historic gains in Ohio House

Democrats gained seven seats in the Ohio House of Representatives on Election Night – the largest net gain for Democrats in a single election in 34 years.

Democrats, who last held the House majority in 1994, have closed the GOP’s advantage in the 99-member chamber from 11 seats to just four. With 46 seats for the 127th General Assembly, Democrats are now closer than either party has ever come under Ohio’s current redistricting system to retaking the House in the face of a legislative map drawn by the other party.

Beatty said she’s pleased by the results, and optimistic that House Democrats will play a strong role in working with Governor-elect Ted Strickland to turn around Ohio.

“Government of, by and for one political party at the Statehouse is now over,” said Beatty, D-Columbus. “The voters sent a clear message Tuesday. They want leaders who will chart a new course that moves all Ohioans forward.”

Key gains for Democrats Tuesday night included:

  • 1st District (Columbiana County), where Columbiana County Treasurer Linda Bolon, a Democrat, cruised to victory over county Commissioner Jim Hoppel. This seat had been held by Republican Chuck Blasdel.

  • 16th District (Cuyahoga County), where Jennifer Brady of Westlake defeated Republican Ed Herman in a seat previously held by Sally Conway Kilbane.

  • 24th District (Franklin County), where Grandview Heights businessman Ted Celeste defeated incumbent Republican Geoff Smith of Upper Arlington.

  • 43rd District (southern Summit County and portions of Portage County), where former Akron Beacon Journal reporter Stephen Dyer, a Democrat, defeated Green City Councilwoman Christine Croce in a contest between two attorneys. This seat had been previously held Republican Mary Taylor.

  • 57th District (parts of Elyria and eastern Lorain County), where Elyria assistant safety/service commissioner Matt Lundy toppled incumbent Republican Earl Martin of Avon Lake.

  • 58th District (Huron County and parts of Lorain and Seneca counties), where Amherst attorney Matt Barrett defeated incumbent Republican Dan White.

  • 64th District (Trumbull County, including Warren), where attorney Tom Letson defeated Republican incumbent Randy Law.

  • 91st District (Hocking County, Perry County and parts of Licking and Pickaway counties), where attorney Dan Dodd defeated Republican Bill Hayes in a seat previously held by Republican Ron Hood.
Democrats successfully defended all but one of the 39 seats they held heading into Tuesday’s election.

House Democrats produced Tuesday’s historic gains despite spending less than 25 cents for every $1 spent by Republicans. According to reports filed with the secretary of state’s office, the House Republican caucus had raised $7.8 million through Oct. 18. House Democrats had raised $1.7 million – the most in at least 12 years for the caucus.

More notes: YellowDogSammy has a running post highlighting the too-close-to-call races, and a separate post regarding the 92nd. Recall that the Dem in the 92nd is my friend Debbie Phillips. Right now she's sweating out counting the Athens Co. provisionals while about 1200 votes down. The House Caucus Blog has some additional perspective on the race.

To the Victors Go the Audio Files

Before I stumble to my bed and collapse, some audio collected from Election Night victory party festivities.

First off, Betty Sutton's victory speech. She came into Jillian's around 9:40 by which time Craig Foltin hadn't conceded but the race was pretty much done.

Here's her victory speech.






Second, Steve Dyer. I caught up with him at the Dem victory party and he agreed to an interview. (The photo is actually from an earlier interview.)



Honestly, I should have more content, but I was more about reveling tonight.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Voting

First off, my observations. I was greeting at a couple of locations each housing multiple precincts in Ward 8. People were in and out in 15-20 minutes. Talking to staff at Dem HQ, it doesn't sound like any serious voter problems arose, and things have been exceedingly quiet since around lunchtime.
My Step-mom voted in Wadsworth on a touch-screen and discovered that 60 voters in there was no language for Issue 2. That's strong.

Turnout, was heavy. Not outrageous and no lines out the door, but definitely lots of voters. And this with tons of people voting absentee.

Plenty of discussion on Buckeye State and BFD about problems elsewhere, and YellowDogSammy has some exit interviews on video about problems in Cuyahoga Co. Some polls in Cuyahoga have been ordered to stay open until 9:00, so the close statewides may not be called until late.

If there are any. With all that, as I write, news organizations are calling for Strickland and Issue 2.

It's morning in Ohio.

FakeDem Robo-call Update.

Kyle at The Chief Source listened to a recording of the anti-Judy Hanna robo and noticed it sounds a lot like Kevin Coughlin's wife Ann in this commercial. Gotta say, I agree. It certainly sounds enough alike to warrant further investigation.

BSB has a couple of threads going about the issue. One commenter says that "Megan" sounds a lot like the "Amy" who called her. Jill also weighs in.

Today as I came in from morning election work I got an ODP-sponsored robo from Ted Strickland in support of Judy. Don't know if they were already planning a second round, but if not, it was a smart way to counter the slime as best they can.

A Finger in the Breeze

Actually, a bit more than a breeze -- it's effing freezing out there. Where's that 50 degree scattered showers day they promised us? Cold rainy windy and no end in sight.

Given the weather report, I'm not counting on getting the record turnout I predicted. So some lucky participant will be writing a post here. On the other hand, I stand by my prediction that a somewhat less than record turnout benefits Dems. I spent the morning doing poll visibility and talking to people hitting other polls. I've gotten one email so far from a correspondent who was working in one of the more R-heavy suburbs. Indications are that people want change and that those who don't like Dems just aren't coming out.

Feel free to drop a comment regarding any on-the-ground observations. I'm heading back out to poll-greet the lunch crowd at Shatto, then I'll be GOTV calling for the school levy. I'll hit the victory parties tonight and try to get something interesting to post tomorrow.

Meanwhile, pool entries are closed. The entries are as follows:

Pho: 4,827,758

Village Green: 4,666,666

Redhorse: 4,631,500

Eric: 4,589,423

Jcross: 4,568,700

Kyle: 4,539,364

Bonobo: 4,444,444

54cermak: 4,380,300

Lori: 4,317,500

Best of luck to all, but mostly to the Dem slate. Here's to turning it around.