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Are Dems headed for 1994 crash?

Published: Sun, July 6, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

It’s the kind of story that causes political operatives to have sleepless nights, party leaders to play the low-expectation game, and the candidate to hope there’s enough time to turn things around.

Last week, the Columbus Dispatch published a story about the city of Streetsboro, one of Ohio’s new political bellwethers, with the following paragraph that must have made Ed FitzGerald, the Democratic nominee for governor, squirm:

“But an afternoon in this community about 40 minutes southeast of FitzGerald’s office in downtown Cleveland found that, at best, many [residents] had barely heard of the Cuyahoga County executive, much less plan to vote for him ….”

FitzGerald, who is challenging Republican Gov. John Kasich in the November general election, has had a persistent problem since he began his quest last year: Too many Ohioans don’t know who he is.

Huge advantage

Thus the question: Can the challenger and the Ohio Democratic Party overcome Kasich’s huge advantage of incumbency and money?

Polls continue to show the governor, who is completing his first four-year term, with a comfortable lead.

Four years ago, Kasich defeated Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland by a narrow margin, but the GOP swept every statewide race.

President Barack Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), was responsible for the Democrats getting a political drubbing around the country.

Last week, a major poll was released that placed Obama as the most unpopular president since World War II, and there’s nothing to suggest that the public’s attitude will change between now and Nov. 4.

That isn’t good news for the Ohio Democratic Party.

In January 2011, one of the Mahoning Valley’s most prominent Democrats, Harry Meshel, told state party Chairman Chris Redfern to “Get lost” because of the beating suffered by the Democratic candidates.

Meshel, former president of the Ohio Senate and now a member of the Youngstown State University Board of Trustees, had a personal reason for kicking Redfern when he was down.

In 1994, Meshel was chairman of the state Democratic Party when the nominee for governor, Rob Burch, was politically destroyed by then-Gov. George V. Voinovich, a Republican.

Voinovich received 72 percent of the 3.3 million votes cast, while Burch managed a meager 25 percent. There also was an independent candidate in the race.

Democrats around the state and nationally were in shock, and Meshel was blamed — by Redfern.

The then-Ottawa County commissioner called the chairman’s office with a message that was delivered to Meshel on a “While You Were Out” slip. It read: “Ask you that you resign.”

The Valley’s elder political statesman is still holding a grudge against Redfern, even though he may not admit it publicly.

However, should the statewide Democratic ticket led by FitzGerald go down in flames, it’s a sure bet that Meshel will be the first to demand Redfern’s head on a platter.

Unless there’s a reversal of fortunes, Gov. Kasich and most of the Republican statewide officeholders will win re-election.

Riding high

In 2011, Democrats were riding high after they, along with their labor union allies, killed Kasich’s collective bargaining reform law. The governor and the GOP-controlled General Assembly rammed through the reform bill that was aimed at state public employees.

The law stripped state union workers of bargaining rights that had been on the books for decades. Democratic Party leaders and union bigwigs still licking their wounds from the 2010 election, pounced. A petition drive to place the collective bargaining reform law on the general election ballot garnered 1.3 million signatures.

In the election, more than 60 percent voted for repeal. And Democrats believed they had found an issue that would resonate in this year’s election. They were wrong.

There had been talk about Republicans putting a right-to-work constitutional amendment on this year’s ballot, but the governor nipped that idea in the bud.

Thus today, Democrats are desperately looking for an issue to energize the base — as the clock keeps ticking.


1theoldwrench(243 comments)posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago

@eivo what freebees do we not have now that weren't available before President Obama came into office? If the repugs don't get 60 vote majority in the senate they will get nothing done either, the dems can use the same filibuster rules they have used to stop everything now.

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2ysuforever(57 comments)posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Ed FitzGerald will beat Kasich like a drum in the Valley.Team Betras will use their power and the truth to point out the fallacies of the teabaggers who are the only ones in our area who are stupid enougn to support King John.Our Valley is the bastion of the most informed voters in Ohio and we know a rat like Kasich is only for the rich,since after passing a budget that caters to the one percenters,he recently gave a speech calling for more tax cuts for the rich.This guy is a fraud and if voters throughout the state would just stop voting for Repubs because of the swill they see and hear on Faux news the better.Talk to those who have been run over by Kasichs bus,he is a truly rotten person who cares only about his wealth and his super rich buddies in Columbus.

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3valleyred(1097 comments)posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Kasich is well on his wait to a rout of Ed Fitzgerald. Kasich has a fairly large lead in the polls and as Ohio's economy continues to improve, more swing voters will back the incumbent.

Furthermore, ysuforever I wish you would look at the facts, rather than spew talking points from the left.

FACT - In Governor Kasich's approved budget (H.B. 483), Kasich doubled the earned income tax credit from 5% to 10% of the Federal credit.

FACT - In Governor Kasich's approved budget (H.B. 483), Kasich increased the state's personal exemption from $1,700 to $2,200 for families making less than $40,000 per year.

FACT - In Governor Kasich's approved budget (H.B. 483), Kasich increased the state's personal exemption from $1,700 to $1,950 for families making between $40,000 and $80,000 per year.

FACT - In Governor Kasich's approved budget (H.B. 483), Kasich moved up the 1% tax cut from 2015 to 2014. Furthermore, starting last Tuesday (July 1), withholding tax rates fell across Ohio. Combined, these two actions will provide a 10% personal income tax cut for Ohioans per published reports.

It is clear Governor Kasich cares about everyone, not just the 1% as ysuforever likes to state. Look at the facts folks... Kasich is doing a tremendous job and he deserves 4 more years.

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4ysuforever(57 comments)posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Always good to see King Johns teabagger friends defending a crook that should be in prison with his scam at Lehman Brothers.He is a joke nationally and our beloved Jimbo had a better chance of being president than Kasich.Robs Ohio,oops Jobs Ohio will be his downfall when the shady details of this farce upon Ohio taxpapers is revealed.Only the crack smoking teabaggers who would be more at home in an Idaho compound than in our Valley can say that this moron cares about the average Ohioian.Have you forgotten about SB 5 ,when the people of our great state and Valley sent him the message that Unions are still the peoples greatest allies.By the way who is the only president to be a union member and if fact a six term president-Ronald Reagan.Unions forever and we will vote Kasich out as we are united

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5papa1(662 comments)posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago

ysuforever, I couldn't have said it better brother.

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