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Dems’ political fortunes dwindling

Published: Sun, August 10, 2008 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

By Bertram de Souza

Not long after the November 2006 general election in which Ohio Democrats captured all but one of the statewide administrative offices, state Sen. John Boccieri, D-33rd, suggested that his party was poised to take control of the Ohio House of Representatives in 2008. Boccieri pointed out that a four-seat swing would change the balance of power.

But, a funny thing happened on the way to this year’s general election in November. Well, perhaps not so funny — but certainly disastrous for state Democrats. Their chances of taking over the House have dwindled to a precious few; the sure-thing that once was the presidential election in the Buckeye State is now a toss-up; and, despite the popularity of Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, the party is being looked at by Ohioans with same jaundiced eye they had reserved for Republicans two years ago.

So, what happened to cause this political implosion?

At the top of the list is the scandal in the attorney general’s office during the 16-month tenure of AG Marc Dann of Liberty Township.

Dann resigned in shame after admitting to having an affair with his scheduler and after his director of general services, Anthony Gutierrez, also of Liberty Township, was accused by two female employees of sexual harassment. Gutierrez was fired by Dann (a few months before his own fall from grace), as was another crony, Leo Jennings III of Poland, the communications director. A fourth friend, Edgar Simpson, the chief of staff, resigned.

New revelations

But being out of sight has not meant being out mind. Each week brings a new revelation about the goings-on in the attorney general’s office during Dann’s tenure.

It is clear that as the criminal and civil investigations unfold, there will be charges filed against the former attorney general and his cronies. And, because of the timing of the probes, this continuing saga could bump up against the Nov. 4 general election.

Republicans are going to have a field day. They’ve been gunning for Dann ever since he tagged them with the very persuasive “pay to play” tag stemming from the influence that Thomas Noe, a major Republican contributor, had with GOP officeholders and others.

Dann, at the time a state senator, showed that Noe had used his connections to get a major contract with the state. Voters decided to punish the GOP by giving Democrats the reins of power in state government. The only administrative office the Democrats did not win was state auditor.

Now, payback is a ... morally corrupt former attorney general.

It doesn’t matter that Strickland and other Democrats moved quickly to force Dann’s removal. The brand has been damaged.

Add to that scandal the fact that the presidential election in Ohio is slipping through Democrats’ fingers as a result of U.S. Sen. Barack Obama being the party’s nominee-in-waiting.

U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton’s primary win in Ohio led party elders to believe they would be able to hold on to this battleground state with her as the nominee. Four years ago, the GOP snatched victory for President Bush. That win in Ohio gave Bush a second term.

But although Clinton won all the major states, Obama emerged as the ultimate victor.

Bible thumpers

The Republicans won in 2004 by bringing out voters that Democrats had not considered: Right-wing Bible thumpers. They did so by placing on the general election ballot an issue that carried a warning: If Ohio does not pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, gays will flood the state to claim marital benefits.

“The homos are coming” strategy worked.

This November, the GOP, covertly of course, will play into the fears of a black man with a Muslim middle name, Hussein, occupying the White House.

If that doesn’t resonate, they will launch another morality play — this time against casino gambling.

And the simpleton voters who followed blindly four years ago will not think to ask Republicans why they haven’t used their majorities in the House and Senate to get rid of the state lottery, horse racing and bingo.


1borylie(946 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

It really is disgusting to read such a blatant, biased article. Us informed readers of this terrible excuse of a newspaper know that it does not inform the people of this area with fair and balanced reporting. Now this writer resorts to calling republicans,blindly following simpletons. I can guarantee him that I am a republican, and much more informed on politics and more intelligent than he. So if I'm a simpleton, what does this make him? This writer and your political beat writer either don't have the freedom to write fairly or they are just ideological hacks taking advantage of the many readers who trust them for their info to help them make their political choices. By the way,it is the democrats who use fear and pessimism to scare voters into voting for them. The examples used in this article as republican fear tactics, are actually what conservatives really believe in, which this writer mocks. No wonder print media is dying. No wonder Fox News is so popular,we get all the news,fair and balanced. Soon these writers will contribute to the unemployed rate in this area that far exceeds most of Ohio and most of the country. Now call us more names and use the power of the pen to make yourself feel better.

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2valleyred(1103 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

I am a diehard conservative Republican and I am 100% FOR Gambling. That is the difference between your typical conservative and the religious social conservatives, gambling.

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3diony7(14 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

Bible Thumpers? Homos? Very poor choice of words.

You guys can do better.

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4borylie(946 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

No they cannot,and how about calling republicans "simpletons".

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5tgs23(18 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

Democrats have ruled over the Mahoning Valley for years and years. They are just upset at what they have to show for it. All that hard work at reaching into each others pockets, corrupting the courts. Look at our officals of the past. Democrats must be proud! Whatever you democrats do, don't change things. That way our print media will not be dying off and have plenty to write about.

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6Rightside(17 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

This writer is a known liberal and Clinton Boot Licker. He's obviously a B. Hussein Obama cheerleader too. I agree with Borylie that the Vindy is dying and I can only rejoice in the day ole Bert is a greeter at WalMart. He never could write worth a damn.

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7JeffLebowski(953 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

The article itself is hacky, anyone who has ever read a reputable journalist's work can agree on that. I'm amazed that people continue to stonewall casino gambling in the Mahoning Valley. First of all legalized gambling takes place in churches all over the area and money made there goes into the pockets of an organization that doesn't pay taxes...for a depressed economic area that's not good. Those people could be sitting in a casino that not only contributes tax money but also employs hundreds of people. What is the downside? I mean, companies aren't exactly tripping over each other trying to do business in the Valley...let's not push away the ones that wish to.

Secondly people that want to gamble outside of bingo and the state lottery are going to gamble -- currently they get in their cars or take a bus 45 minutes away to another state to help fill THAT STATE'S pockets. What is the downside of getting people with expendable income to come to the Valley to spend money as opposed to Chester, WV?

Hundreds of millions of dollars are generated for states with casinos and the money goes to education and veterans, and I'm talking rural states like Mississippi not just those like NJ and Nevada. People get steady, good-paying jobs with better-than-average benefits in working for casinos. Its time to get off the moral high horse and do what's right from a financial perspective regardless of which party makes it happen.

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8YTownHoya2011(1 comment)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

Diony7, I believe that de Souza was making a point about the scare tactics being used by Republican strategists to bring swing voters over to their side of the issue. If you don't agree, ask yourself why these "marriage protection" initiatives waited two years for a more conservatively winnable election to come around if the situation is as dire as they like to claim it is... Very suspicious...

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9cityguy(109 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

hey borylie--it's in the opinion section--it's a column not an "article"--that might account for the bias..

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10borylie(946 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

Hey, cityguy. I'm well aware of where the article/column was located. I just don't like being called names regardless of the vicinity of the article/column. Once again I'm an informed voter, who in 2004 voted for my choice as president, not the issues per se. I am not a simpleton voter who followed blindly, therefore I am offended,as other straight thinkers should be. It would be easy for me to act like a liberal/democrat and call other people names when they don't know what they are talking about. Mr.de Souza has many "short" comings,but I will not stoop to his"level" and call names. Got it cityguy?

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11TB(1167 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

I find it interesting that a few posters blame the Democrats for the fate of Northeastern Ohio, yet refuse to recognize that the Republican party, which held unmitigated power in Columbus for decades, allowed this corner of the state to lapse into the state we're in. They represent us also in Columbus. We pay taxes as well.

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