Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Coughlin's Election Night Response, With Response

As expected, State Sen. Kevin Coughlin has come out firing in light of the election results.

    "I congratulate all the candidates who put themselves before the voters this fall and look forward to working with them to better our region and our communities.

    As chairman of the Summit County Republican Party, Alex Arshinkoff has a record of 6 wins and 42 losses over the last four years. Tonight's results did little to change that trend. While many consider him a clever campaigner, I have always questioned Chairman Arshinkoff's tactical skills and knowledge of how elections are won. He is a strong fundraiser, but a poor field general.

    I have been even more troubled that Chairman Arshinkoff's poor standing in the community is an anchor weighing down capable candidates for office. Nothing illustrates the need for a new party chairman better than the defeat of John Widowfield for Clerk of Courts. Despite superior name identification, well over $100,000 spent, and an unknown opponent, Representative Widowfield suffered a loss that may have a lasting impact on his political future.

    After this unfortunate outcome, I hope that Alex Arshinkoff finally realizes just how harmful he has become to Republican candidates and offieholders. When a party chairman becomes such a liability to the candidates of his own party, it's time to move on."
Some thoughts. First, Coughlin sells Lisa Zeno Carano short. She was hardly "unknown." She was a popular Councilwoman in Tallmadge, a significant part of the muni court district. She's been in place since late spring and has done a good job of getting her name out. And she ran a smart campaign on a relative shoestring.

Also, Coughlin has set himself up in a no-lose situation by alleging that this race was part of a multi-player deal between the parties. If Widowfield had won, Coughlin could crow "See, I told you." Now that he's lost, Coughlin is jumping on him for losing a gimmie. Much as I personally dislike the man, I sit in awe of his political acumen this morning. He has played events with the skill of a Romulan.

All that said, the loss certainly pokes A2 in the eye. He secured insane money for the race from major donors and ran hard. While the late-breaking news that Widowfield is Ohio's laziest legislator certainly didn't help, Coughlin is probably also right that many people voted against Alex. Not only are people tired of the act -- this cycle played out in the psuedo-independent candidate drama -- but they are increasingly reluctant to give him access to a passel of patronage job slots.

And this wasn't a loss, it was a beat-down. A liberal Dem winning by ten points in northern Summit? If anyone saw that coming, they had access to internals.

Add to that Bob Keith winning handily in Akron 8th, and it seems clear that Arshinkoff has indeed become a liability. He needed wins badly in this election to counter Coughlin's criticisms and did not get them.

The contest from here out turns on a tipping point. If the matter were put to a secret ballot in the Republican rank and file, whoever Coughlin's candidate might be (hey, I hear John Widowfield might be available) would win in a landslide. But it's not a secret ballot. It's about turning precinct and central committee chairs and counting the heads. Right now nobody wants to cross Alex unless they have a reasonable expectation of success. It will be interesting to see if any high-profile electeds or patrons jump ship as a result. Because at some point, enough people will line up behind Coughlin that the rest of the party will see his side is heading toward victory. Then the rats don't so much desert the sinking ship as rush to the other side.


Anonymous said...


I like how the Panel appointed to hear the Telxon v. Smart Media decision announced on election day. When you read the dissent, you will understand why. Please don't let them bury the story.

Swanny said...

Where is Alex? He has been extremely low-key about the Coughlin thing, don't you think? The Alex of old was like a caged tiger when it came to stuff like this. He is a totally in-your-face kind of guy, which really makes me wonder what is going on with him now. Alex was always the guy to throw the first punch, and now looks more like a punching bag. I just keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it never does.

Mencken said...

Excellent take on the situation Pho.

Anonymous said...

Why was Keith's victory a referendum on Arshinkoff? Maybe I'm too new to Akron politics, but I was surprised it was as close as it was.