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, 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:


Total votes: 5,722,443

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

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


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.

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.


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.


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.


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


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.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Campaign Notebook

Plenty has happened that I haven't covered. Most of it slid because Buckeye State or Plunderbund or Psychobilly or someone else got it up with little for me to add. But a few things have slipped under the radar and have only gotten half-drafted here at the House of Pho. So, taking a page from Fred, I'm emptying out my Temp Blog Bookmarks file and uploading my semi-coherent notes.

Mary Taylor Trying to Have it Both Ways

Mary Taylor got a little uncomfortable when she was accused of lobbying for funds that might have helped a building project. So then she’s decided that she’s not really a small business owner. The response to the allegations of unlawful interest in a contract, her lawyer (and its never good when a candidate has to speak through a lawyer) filed paperwork saying that Taylor and here husband had divested themselves of the construction company in question.

Problem is, she's been calling herself a small business woman throughout the campaign. So now, the Elections Commission has found Probable Cause that Taylor made false statements in the campaign.

Through this all, I’ve felt that Taylor's major sin was saying out loud what everyone knew to be the case – that Republican donors set the agenda for the state.

Meanwhile, Taylor's pitch has been that she's an accountant, and therefore better at managing the state's business. Um, doesn't losing track of whether you own a business kinda work against that?

Richard Cordray is Freaky Smart

State Treasurer candidate Richard Cordray is the most blog-friendly candidate since Subodh. A few weeks back his campaign called to let me know he would be in town; would I like to meet. As it happens we had MTB: Judy Hanna scheduled the same day, so he came by Cafe Momus for a chat when we were done with Judy. It was, I believe, YellowDogSammy, Redhorse and myself.

I literally walked from the back room where we interviewed Mr. Cordray to the front room where I met with Tom Sawyer and he hired me, so this post went by the wayside in a hurry. Pretty much no idea where my notes are, and the results of the interview were long ago posted by YDS and revisited by Callahan.

What I took away from the interview is that Cordray is just crazy smart. A tiny slice of the population gets into a top-five law school (I don't remember which one for sure but I'm thinking Chicago.) A small slice of each class -- generally around 10 percent -- gets on law review. One person each year is chosen to be Editor in Chief. Richard Cordray was that guy.

That guy generally doesn't seek elective office -- there are much easier ways to make far more money if you have that kind of game. If you haven't voted yet, you must vote for Cordray.

I'm Mrs. Candidate and I Approved This Message.

Village Green first alerted me to the odd phenomenon of candidates getting testimonials from their wives. In VGs case it was Kevin Couglin's wife. Here at the House of Pho, Prof. W got a nearly handwritten letter from Tom Cousineau's wife:

I could snark heavily on this, but mostly it instructs why challengers need to run "negative" ads. Everything Dr. Cousineau says about her husband could be said about Brian Williams -- OK, not the bit about still looking like he could play football, but everything else. Not that I approve of everything Cousineau and his allies have said about Brian, but it's folly to expect challengers to "just run on their own qualifications."

No Respect, Pt. 1: Pete Crossland.

Here it is, your Summit County Dem sample ballot:
Look closely and you might notice that someone is missing: Council-at-Large member Pete Crossland. I knew that Crossland got crosswise with folks in the party thanks to his acquiescence to the Repub. charter change proposals (the stuff in the red). But I didn't know it was this bad.

No Respect Pt. 2: Lew Katz.

Got a sample ballot in the ebag from Working America, a labor umbrella group. Here's the Congress list, copied directly from the email piece:

U.S. House
CD 1 - John Cranley (D)
CD 2 - Victoria Wells Wulsin (D)
CD 3 - Stephanie Studebaker (D)
CD 5 - Robin Weirauch (D)
CD 6 - Charlie Wilson (D)
CD 9 - Marcy Kaptur (D)
CD 10 - Dennis Kucinich (D)
CD 11 - Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D)
CD 12 - Bob Shamansky (D)
CD 13 - Betty Sutton (D)
CD 15 - Mary Jo Kilroy (D)
CD 16 - Thomas Shaw (D)
CD 17 - Tim Ryan (D)
CD 18 - Zachary Space (D)

No idea why Lew Katz in the 14th is the only one missing. LaTourette infamously sold out at the last minute on the CAFTA vote. Given that long-since withdrawn candidate Stephanie Studebaker is still on the list, it may well be an oversight, though you would think someone would notice a missing number.

Deborah Owens Fink: Fundamentally Dishonest.

Ohio 2006 has the info on D.O. Fink's last minute anti-Sawyer blitz. Meanwhile, her appearance on WCPN still sticks in my craw.

She continues to claim that the whole Intelligent Design controversy was just an artifact of the scientists overreacting to perfectly reasonable science standards. In fact, the science standards sounded reasonable, but left in vague language about "critically examining" evolution. Scientists didn't like it -- they were concerned the language could be used as a toe hold for ID curriculum. And when the "critical examination" lesson plan was proposed, it was indeed straight ID.

It's all well and good to believe in Creationism or Intelligent Design or that Thetons brought us here to work as slaves. But be honest about what you are doing so people can make informed decisions.

In the Senate 27th, Last Minute Crap from Coughlin

Came home tonight to find a new robocall on my answering machine:

The call reiterates the long-debunked assertion that Judy Hanna was a "leader" in the Green Party.

I've been meaning to blog more on this race and just haven't gotten to it. I was going to just live with the regret and hope everything works out OK for Judy tomorrow.

But now I'm mad. I'm sure "Megan" is entirely fictitious, just as I'm sure it's a coincidence that "Megan" shares a name with Judy's campaign manager. Apparently the Ohio Repubs have launched more than one of these faux-Dem attack calls tonight, based on this entry on BSB.

Kevin Coughlin has been one of my betes noir for years. In particular, he's been a stated enemy of school funding reform. In the past he has claimed that the State is doing a fine job of supporting schools and it's just the fault of local school districts that they keep asking for levies. Now that he's in an election fight, he's Mr. Funding Reform, but in fact, he's not that guy.

Judy has gotten a lot of grief, including from this blog, for things she has written or said. Fact is, she often uses a word of phrase just a shade off from her meaning. Having spoken to her on many occasions, I'm convinced that she's just one of those people whose brain races ahead of her tongue or pen. In fact, she's very bright, and is committed to education, election integrity and the environment. No wonder Republicans are pulling out the stops to keep her out.

I'm hoping that people getting these calls remember the Ted Strickland robo supporting her that went out over the weekend. "Megan" might think Ted good/Judy bad, but Ted doesn't think so.

Pho's Office Pool Reminder

Remember the deadline for entering the Election Day office pool here at the House of Pho is tomorrow at 6:30 a.m.

Prize: A post of your choice

Object: Come closest to predicting the total number of votes cast as announced on the SoS site.

Voter ID -- Tha Rules

Subodh Chandra, one of the attorneys on the Voter ID lawsuit, sent a link to a Voter ID fact sheet. You can link to a .pdf for easy printing here, or read below where I've reproduced it.

Voter ID – Easy as 1, 2, 3

Bring ID to the polls if you can. It will get you a regular ballot and make it easier to vote.
  1. Also bring the last four digits of your social security number to the polls. If your ID is not accepted, you can use these numbers to cast your vote.
  2. Remember that if you don’t have ID, you still have a right to vote a provisional ballot. Don’t accept no for an answer.
  3. If any election official tries to keep you from voting call us at 1888DEMVOTE.
If you do not have ID, or forget your ID on Election Day, you can vote with a provisional ballot.
    · If you can tell the poll worker the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number, then your provisional ballot should be counted.
    · If you do not give the poll worker the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number, then you must bring ID or your SSN to the county Board of Elections office by November 17 so that your provisional ballot will be counted.
What ID do you need to vote?

You need ONE form of ID to vote a regular ballot. But a lot of things count as ID. If you bring any ONE of these to the polls on Election Day, you have a right to cast a regular ballot.
    · A valid Ohio Driver’s License (even with an old address, it counts)
    · A valid stateissued
    photo ID (even with an old address, it counts)
    · A utility bill (or copy) dated after 11/7/05 with your name and
    current address, including water, gas, electric, cable, internetservice,
    phone, and cellphone
    · A bank statement (or copy) dated after 11/7/05 with your name and current address.
    · A government check (or copy) dated after 11/7/05 with your name and current address
    · A paycheck (or copy) dated after 11/7/05 with your name and current address
    · A government document (or copy) dated after 11/7/05 with your name and current address, including documents from a public college or university, or a cour

What doesn’t count as ID? Your voterregistration card or any other mailings from your county Board of Elections CANNOT be used as ID.

Protect Your Right to Vote. Call 1-888-DEMVOTE

Friday, November 03, 2006

House 41: Brian Williams' Return Volley.

Add Brian Williams to the list of Dems who have learned the lessons of 2004 and will not sit back and take all this crap. Today I got a mailer using the ABJ editorial Redhorse flagged. And note to campaigns everywhere: They asked for permission first. Bloggers everywhere, give me an "Amen!"

I do wonder about the ABJ treating the illegals campaign as just boys will be boys or something. Earlier this week I got a letter from Brian about the Guns for Illegals part of the sleaze campaign against him.

Reading the letter, it's clear Brian will still pretty warm when he wrote it. Generally, it's not good to compose political communication when angry, though Brian angry is still a pretty mellow guy, so this isn't a disaster. And it comes off as sincere and, darn it, just so Brian.

Nonetheless, the email I got today on the issue is far better. An excerpt:


    First, thank you for calling and e-mailing me with your concerns.
    Because I have had inquiries, this response is being directed to all
    e-mails on file. If you wish to share this message with your neighbors,
    you may feel free to do so.

    I want to take this opportunity to go over my voting record. Also,
    below I have provided links so you my word AND verification - you can
    READ about the legislation I have voted on as a Member of the General
    Assembly. In addition, the Ohio Channel tapes actual floor votes and
    speeches if you are interested in seeing them.

    Regarding my "no" vote on House Bill 347, the legislation does include a
    provision that bans concealed carry permits for illegal immigrants, but
    it is a tiny provision in a very large bill. The main point of the bill
    was to prevent cities like Akron and Cleveland from deciding for
    themselves whether to allow handguns in their parks. So, by voting
    against the bill, I took a stand for the right of local communities to
    set their own rules for their parks. Our local law enforcement and the
    Akron Beacon Journal all took sides against the bill.

    How insignificant was the illegal immigration provision?
    -- Jim Aslanides, the sponsor, spent just eight seconds (less than a
    full sentence) discussing it during the course of a 10-minute
    explanation of the bill last March.

    -- If there is some sort of crisis of county sheriffs handing out
    concealed carry permits to illegal immigrants, Republicans don't seem
    too concerned. For the past seven months, the Ohio Senate has failed to
    act on this bill.

    -- Further, I received correspondence from PRO-gun carry advocates who
    did NOT approve of the bill. They said that the original bill on
    concealed carry, took 12 years to pass, and they wanted no changes to
    the legislation.

Connie Schultz Steppin' Out.

Not surprising when you think about it that on-hiatus PD columnist Connie Schultz is easing out of the Mrs. Sherrod Brown role and back into a public persona of her own. In fact, as an interview in this week's Scene notes, she has been a nontraditional candidate wife. I've noticed that as part of her support for Sherrod in his Senate run, she has been doing book signings and lectures in which she gets central billing but, publicity is sent out through political channels.

The Scene interview is revealing in a few ways. The headline is how Connie Schultz reconciled both her career ambitions and her feminist ideals with the role of candidate's spouse. As part of that discussion, she discloses the source of the "family issues" at the heart of Sherrod's infamous delay in announcing for the Senate race:

    But it's really Schultz's voice that makes her incompatible with her new role. . . Which is why, at first, she wanted no part of being a professional wife. "I was the holdout," she says. Even after it became clear that DeWine was vulnerable, Schultz wouldn't give Brown the green light to run. She worried about her career as well as her marriage, which was less than two years old.

    She also knew that she'd have to put the firebrand act on hold and temporarily submit to a life designed by pollsters, focus groups, and consultants -- people journalists know to distrust.

    But her husband's party -- her dad's party, her party -- needed Brown. So she quit her column and took to the road, even though it meant regularly being introduced as the congressman's wife.
I'm really glad all this didn't come out until now. The depressingly predictable Yoko treatment Connie got during the primary campaign against Paul Hackett would have been logorhytmically amped if that had been known at the time.

What's great about Connie as Sherrod's wife is how well she complements his strengths. That really comes through in the Cool Cleveland interview (Vid) that Redhorse flagged. Generally I resist putting much faith in politicians. Easier to keep from being disappointed that way. But listening to her talk about meeting people yearning for hope and the responsibility Sherrod takes on from that, I can't help but believe in him

Meanwhile, Connie mentions in both pieces something I had heard before on a WCPN interview -- that Connie is writing a book about the campaign experience. I look forward to reading it, to learning some of the behind-the-scenes dope, to getting Connie's perspective on this craziness called politics. But most of all I look forward to picking up the book in my local Borders and, while standing in line, leafing through the index to check out the entries under Hughlock, Russell.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

WCPN Wants Shiny Happy Campaigns

So I’m an NPR fan and all, but that may change if I’m subjected to many more shows like this morning’s The Sound of Ideas. Cleveland’s 90.3 aired an hour-long session of thumbsucking over “Negative Advertising.” Participants included Jo Ingles from OPR, Ed Horowitz from CSU and Brooks Jackson from The Annenberg Center which runs

Why was it so bad? First off, any discussion of “negative advertising” needs to start with a typology. There is negative advertising focusing on policy, negative featuring personal attacks, deceptive ads and outright lies. Each category merits separate discussion. Guest host Rick Jackson wasn’t up to the task of keeping all those plates spinning.

So instead, any ad not featuring happy family shots of the candidate set to pastoral music is “Negative.” Right out of the box this introduces an unstated bias into the discussion, because candidates challenging incumbents must criticize the incumbent to make the case for change. No one ever beat an incumbent by saying “I’m really good. Never mind about the guy currently in the office.”

To make matters worse, the participants play the false equivalency game. Going to criticize a Republican ad? Quick come up with Dem example to even the scales. This frustrated me the most. My impression, colored by my admitted bias, is that Democrats are criticizing Republicans for the failings of the status quo and Republicans are responding by throwing as much crap as possible in the air to turn off shaky voters and create the impression that it’s just a negative year. No one wandered into the area code of that point.

High as my frustration was listening to the show, it soared when I went on the Fact Check website to research this piece. There I found a recent article confirming my impression that Repubs are flinging more poo. The authors, including Brooks Jackson, compare ads from the National Republican Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. They find that NRCC ran more and a higher percentage of negative and that their negative ads were more likely to engage in on personal rather than professional attacks.

    Both political parties are functioning in the 2006 House races as factories for attack ads, but the National Republican Campaign Committee's work stands out this year for the sheer volume of assaults on the personal character of Democratic House challengers.
* * *
    What stood out in the NRCC's ads was a pronounced tendency to be petty and personal, and sometimes careless with the facts. We found 29 of the NRCC's ads to be assaults of a personal nature on a candidate's character or private professional dealings, rather than critiques of his or her views or votes while in federal, state or local office. Applying the same screen to the DCCC, we came up with 15 such ads, and several of those were comparative, rather than purely negative.
* * *
    Democrats are not innocent when it comes to making false or misleading attacks on personal character . . . [b]ut the pattern of deceptive and unfounded personal allegations contained in this year's NRCC ads is one we judge to be truly remarkable.

Why didn't anyone, least of all Brooks Jackson, say this? Again I think it's false equivalency. Republicans have shouted media bias so long and so loud, everyone with a reporter's notebook is scared of the right side of his shadow.

The participants in the discussion on CPN wrung their hands over What Is to Be Done. One suggestion, stop stretching to find equivalency. As long as the Republican attack machine can hide behind the “Everybody Does It” excuse, Republicans have no incentive to change tactics. If the media is serious about cleaner campaigning, they need to call out the side most responsible for the filth.

Just When You Thought Learn and Earn Couldn't Lower Their Campaign Any Further . . .

. . . they've dug themselves a trench. Now they are piggybacking off the hard work of the advocates of raising the minimum wage. Note the disclosure statement in the return address:

And here is their text, sounding for all the world like a joint mailing.

The obvious effect is to make people inclined toward Issue 2 more likely to vote for Issue 3. The more insidious effect is to make people with moral aversions to Issue 3 think falsely that Issue 2 backers are in bed with them. Of course, since Issue 3 is about nothing but making a bunch of gambling companies rich, they couldn't care less about that.

Though I'm sure many of the track owners behind Educate and Obfuscate will vote for Issue 2; a higher minumum wage means more money for working stiffs to lose in the slots.

Learn and Earn is supposed to be about education, right? How about keep your eyes on your own work, people.

Bill Press in Kent

I pried myself out of bed to catch the first hour of the Bill Press show's remote from Mike's Place in Kent. I hadn't heard the show before, being an irrepressible All Things Considered fan, but came away pleased with the event.

On the bill today were Rep. Tim Ryan and Senate candidate Sherrod Brown, both by phone. Live at the site they had Paul Schrader, founder of Families of Fallen for Change, an anti-war group spearheaded by families of Iraq war casualties. Paul's son was killed in the war. Also, the apparently usual Bill Press bits -- Outside the Beltway, a chance for regular folk to sound off on the topic of the day, a couple different kinds of "news you haven't heard" type segments and a good bit of talk.

The turnout was fairly impressive -- at least 30-40 people at the time I left with more filing in. And these were not brie-eating, Chardonnay-sipping liberal elites, either. By and large the folks there were the regular folks you see at a diner -- professionals in suits on their way to work to be sure, but also plenty of working guys in flannel shirts and trucker hats, men and women in street close and a smattering of campaign reps.

As for Mike’s Place itself, well if you have seen one Dutch Pantry converted into a diner with a Medieval/Star Wars/Route 66 theme, you’ve seen them all. And yes, that is a near full-sized model of an X-wing fighter in front, next to the Air America canopy.

Bill Press announced he was in Ohio because it is a bellweather state, blah blah. He mentioned the races for Governor and Senator, but he also said that the Minimum Wage issue and the dueling smoking issues have gotten attention outside the state.

He was also here because the show has orgins here. At one point he had Kevin Kennedy, the General Manager of 1350 on to tell the tale. As they were getting Radio Free Ohio up and running, they were looking around for a drivetime show. Without saying it, they apparently were looking for an alternative to whatever Air America was putting out at the time. It's not clear how guys from Akron got through to Bill Press, but they put a call in and he agreed to start a show with 1350 as the first station syndicating it. Now he's one of the the name liberal talkers and it all started here.

As a result, he has quite a fan base. In fact, his fan club, Friends of Bill, started here and is also taking off. They were distributing fliers at the event:

I know, but they try.

Anyway, the show itself. The most dire consequence of the Kerry Kerfuffle was ruining liberal talk radio for three days and counting, and today’s show was no exception. That was the topic for the Donahuesque, stick-mic-in-the-audience segment which I’m happy to have missed, and generally he spent way too long on it.

The interview with Tim Ryan soars above all other segments. In it Ryan reiterated the usual briefly, but mostly concentrates on the prospect of Nancy Pelosi’s leadership in a Democratic House. Until now I have been saying that securing oversight on this administration is so important that it’s worth giving rise to Speaker Pelosi. He spoke in particular about her 1oo Hours/6 for '06" agenda.

Having listened to Rep. Ryan – who I respect immensely – speak glowingly of her, I feel much better about elevating her. I still worry about the Newt Gingrich effect – discovering that an effective back-bencher and an effective leader require different and incompatible skill sets. Of course, one could question just how effective a back-bencher she has been, so maybe it all works out.

As to the other segments, Paul Schrader was moving an, it should be noted, more moderate and responsible than Cindy Sheehan. Sherrod Brown was Sherrod Brown. Press posts podcasts of the show, though today's is not up yet. The Tim Ryan interview starts about one segment into the second (7:00) hour.