Saturday, May 06, 2006

As Ohio goes so goes the Nation?

My home state has been stated to be the one to watch in regard to Republican versus Democrat by many political experts. There will be much written about Strickland, Blackwell, DeWine and Brown over the next few months. Yet there is something more happening in Ohio.

Today's New York Times has an article that highlights why many feel Ohio is important:

For the Democratic Party, the road back to power in Washington begins here in Ohio. But as long-dominant Ohio Republicans struggle with a corruption scandal, economic distress and rising voter unease, Democrats face a challenge in making the state a launching pad to seize control of Congress and the White House, leaders of both parties say.

The Washington Post has also had several recent articles about politics in Ohio. This article is one of those that highlights the expectation that Ohio will be the battleground state.

While the political pundits discuss the Governor and the Congressional races in Ohio, you'll be given the impression that it is just those candidates. Exciting news such as Ballot Access released will most likely not even be mentioned:

On May 1, the Ohio deadline this year for the independent candidate procedure, the Libertarian and Green Party candidates for Governor each submitted more than twice the required 5,000 signatures. Libertarian Bill Peirce turned in 13,400, and Green Bob Fitrakis turned in 10,900. The Green running for Secretary of State turned in 9,000. Under Ohio election laws, neither is permitted to have his party label on the ballot. Instead, Ohio will only print “other-party nominee” on the November ballot. The Libertarian lawsuit against Ohio’s procedures for new parties, argued in the 6th circuit in early September 2005, is still awaiting a decision.

Bob Fitrakis who some of you might know from his Columbus Dispatch columns under "Fraudbuster Bob" and Bill Peirce won't get the media coverage. They won't get big political guns to come in to help them win an election. Heck they'll be lucky if they are even allowed to be listed by their real party designation and participate in a debate. The media will make this just about the Two Party people not the Independent candidates. I haven't had the opportunity to learn a lot about Bob Fitrakis, but Bill Peirce participated in a Meet the Bloggers event so I was able to both read the transcript and download the podcasts for that interview.

Why is this important? Beyond trying to promote third party candidates, most of these political pundits don't seem to grasp an understanding of Ohio's political climate. Yes people really do not like Taft and they are not happy with the current Republican majority State government. Yes John Kerry almost won Ohio and he did win my County. Ohio does have a larger number of those who register as Democrats than they do Republicans. Close to eight million out of Ohio's 11 million residents are registered to vote; 1,344,124 list themselves as Democrats, 1,093,819 list themselves as Republicans.

It's evident that a majority of Ohio voters not only don't participate in primaries but also don't want to list themselves as being one of either main Party. Ohio is a divided state. While there may be parts of Ohio like Cuyahoga County as one example, are more "Liberal" in make up that's not true across the State. The area around Cuyahoga is where Sherrod Brown is from and was successful as a member of the House. In the 2004 Presidential campaign John Kerry won with very high numbers in Cuyahoga County as well as having the largest number of voters for one County. The more Southern parts of Ohio tend to have stronger Republican numbers and my Northwestern Ohio, which includes Lucas County may have more Democrats but they are more moderate Democrats. As one example, in 2004 State Issue One which was the Constitutional Amendment to state marriage is between a man and a woman passed with 61.71% of the vote. Even in the more "Liberal" county of Cuyohoga this amendment passed.

In the Governor's race these two Third Party candidates could have an impact on the final outcome. Ken Blackwell will continue to reach out to his base which includes a great number of those who voted for the Marriage Amendment. Ted Strickland will try to tie Blackwell to Taft. Many disgruntled Petro supporters could turn to Bill Peirce, many Democrats are not happy with the Ohio Democratic Party, the more moderates could turn to Bill Peirce, the more liberal could turn to Bob Fitrakis. In the Senate race the impression that Sherrod Brown is more liberal than the majority of the state could create a win for Mike DeWine. While Sherrod won the primary it appears at first glance to an outsider that this was a respectable win, yet once you take into consideration his primary opponent that selected running as a Democrat because that was how he voted last and promoted the idea of death to homosexuals as well as other extreme ideas? It puts a different meaning on 22% of Democrats selecting him. One can realistically hazzard a guess it wasn't because they supported this man's ideals, they were openly stating they did not support Sherrod Brown. This was without the help of Karl Rove who has been stated is advising Mike DeWine.

Millions of dollars from out of state will pour into Ohio to influence the outcome. The star names from both parties will venture into Ohio to help their party win. It's already becoming not what is best for Ohioans but what is best for both Parties in their quest to take seats. After they leave we who are Ohioans are stuck with the end result, which is why it's important that those of us who live here know there are more than just two candidates for Governor, that we keep demanding that the Third Party candidates be included and given adequate media coverage. It's important that those of you who are not Ohioans to consider lending your support to these third party candidates.

Since so many are watching, there is no better time to demonstrate that not only is it possible for third party candidates to get on the ballot but that we want more of a choice than just D or R. It not only helps Ohio but it helps all of those who are contemplating running for office under a third party discover that they can have an impact.

(cross posted at Watchblog)