Sunday, February 26, 2006

MTB Comes to Akron [Updated][Twice]

Betty Sutton, candidate in Ohio-13, for Met with the Bloggers on Saturday at Cafe Momus as planned. Redhorse, Scott Bakalar, Kyle Kutuchief, McKee Stewart and I were there representing the 13th District. George Nemeth and Tim Ferris came down from Cleveland, and Karen Kilroy, a progressive webmaster, also attended. A liveblog is up at the 'Billy.

I have written before about my connections to the Sutton campaign and my high hopes for someone to support who actually lives in Ohio. So when I say that Betty Sutton rates high on intangibles -- charisma, speaking ability, likeablity, whatever you want to call it -- take that with whatever quantity of seasoning you deem appropriate. I was predisposed to like her; I like her.

Independent of the superficial stuff, I saw a number of reasons to feel good about her candidace.

Purple Pride

Betty Sutton is a native of Barberton which lies entirely in the 13th district. When asked why she now lives in Chardon, she explained that she got married to a man who worked out of an office in his home in Chardon. They made the simple calculation that it would be easier for her to move to his home. She in fact kept her house in Barberton and they are planning to move back.

She sincerely loves her hometown. She says it gets in your blood which, Wadsworth native that I am, sounds like it might be the chemicals from Clorox Creek as much as anything else. Kidding aside, her deep roots in Barberton give me confidence that, if elected, she will not forget the people who sent her to Washington. What's more, to the extent the Republicans mount a real challenge to the seat, I would rather field a candidate who bleeds purple (Barberton High's color) than one who lives her only when she's running for something.

Why Residency Matters.

When Scott Bakalar asked her about Lorain County, she replied that the great thing about campaigning is meeting people in the district, which segued into a story about meeting Roy Church, President of Lorain Community College. She concluded with palpable excitement at the prospect of “bringing people together who are working toward the community we want,” a refrain we heard a couple more times before the interview was over. That is her vision of leadership for Northeast Ohio.

I like it. I like the thought of my representative fighting for my interests in Congress, but also returning here to leverage her leadership position into a focal point for region-wide collaboration. I trust Betty Sutton to do that; I don’t trust Capri Cafaro to return any more than she absolutely has to.

The Narrative Arc.

While a political campaign doesn’t necessarily need a strong narrative, it certainly is an asset. For this election Betty Sutton couldn’t have a better for a Democrat. She is the daughter of a blue collar family. She swam against the tide of the establishment Democrats when she ran for City Council. She made a career of fighting the good fight against the majority party when it would have been easier to be part of the club.

Understanding the Facts on the Ground

One of the vignettes that impressed me most was her answer to “What was your greatest legislative accomplishment?” She cited patient protection legislation she proposed that went no where in the General Assembly. She gave two reasons for naming legislation that would normally be deemed a failure. First, it made the bill eventually passed by Republicans better and, second, people who she promised she would advocate for saw that someone fought for them down to the last second before the bill was signed.

I like having a candidate who is realistic about what she faces. Capri Cafaro can float ambitious proposals with scary names all she wants, but she isn’t getting anywhere with them and she knows it. Betty Sutton will advocate for a similar legislative agenda, but knows how to get the most out of the Congress we have, not the Congress Cafaro wants to have.

Not Afraid to Ask.

At one point a discussion of McCain-Feingold morphed into a discussion about broadband companies trying to restrict access to premium customers. Apparently not versed in the topic, Sutton turned to George and said, “Tell me about that.” After the session she told me that what she liked best about it was the flow of ideas back and forth. No one candidate will know everything about every issue – not even Hermione Cafaro. I like someone who is willing to ask for information instead of just faking it.

Necessarily in a one-hour session, much is left unasked and unanswered. The session was somewhat light on specifics but gave indications – particularly in her discussion of the finer points of the patient protection legislation – that she has the chops to engage in the debate of specifics.

For the sake of the blog as well as my own sanity, I strive to keep an open mind. But someone is really going to have to hit one out to move me off of supporting Betty Sutton.

UPDATE. As usual, I blogged the event cold. Posts are now up at Word of Mouth, Psychobilly Democrat and The Boring Made Dull. BTW, we think that McKee at TBMD is the first bona fide conservative political blogger to attend an MTB event.

UPDATE # 2. Kyle Kutuchief has his post up. The audio is up at MTB as well. Ohio 13 blog wrote up impressions -- mostly positive -- based on PSD's liveblog. Also, if you didn't catch it from the embedded link above, Betty Sutton's website is up. Look for a permanent link coming to a sidebar near you.


FamineHorse said...

Nice take Pho.

Sutton impressed the hell out of me. She has intangibles that are off the charts. Her challenge will be to get her message out & not be drowned out by the Shopping Mall Heiress Money Machine.

Heidi said...

I am in complete agreement with faminehorse. I am interning on the Sutton campaign because she is the first candidate that I have gotten excited about supporting in a very long time. She really stands out in a crowded field.

Kyle said...

I agree. Sutton was great. Pho did an excellent job of summarizing the interview. I hope Sutton gets her website up soon. I think the Emily's List money will help match Capri.

Anonymous said...

Sutton seems nice, friendly, and encouraging. But I think Capri would make a much better speaker on the House floor to tackle these Republican fools! Capri was at the NAACP event in Lorain. Everyone there was supporting her! She stayed until everyone answered her questions.

Jill said...

You mean, until she answered everyone's questions?

Anonymous said...

I can imagine Capri telling her compelling story on the house floor now! "I know how tough it is in America, I was raised in a house with just one bowling alley. I know what its like to be persecuted, I had to take federal immunity for moneylaundering. I've overcome great hardship to be here I had to move from congressional district to congressional district buying houses with my dad's money with every move. People said I had no experience, but with just my few internships and a million dollars from my daddy I bought this house seat."

Anonymous said...

Where Cafaro has only questions, Sutton has answers. Cafaro says she has new ideas and real solutions, but the only thing I have heard come from her is lies and more lies. Sutton will provide real leadership in Washington and thats why I am supporting her.