By Bertram de Souza (Contact)
Published June 29, 2011
Consider this: Republican Gov. John Kasich received 1,889,166 votes in last November’s general election after campaigning for almost a year. The opponents of the new collective-bargaining overhaul law gathered 1,298,301 signatures in just two months to put the issue up for a vote of the people of Ohio this November.
Kasich, who led a Republican sweep of the statewide elections, cannot help but think that he and the GOP controlled General Assembly overreached when they targeted the 360,000 public employees in Ohio.
“We Are Ohio,” the grassroots organization that led the signature campaign, was not exaggerating when it characterized the 1.2 million-plus signatures as historic. Indeed, the drive exceeded the threshold established by law, and reflected involvement in all 88 counties.
“More than 1 million voices from all 88 counties can’t be wrong,” said AJ Stokes, “We Are Ohio” campaign manager, in a letter to supporters.
It is little wonder that Gov. Kasich recently suggested that the November ballot initiative could be divided into two parts. But no one, at least not anyone with knowledge of Ohio’s constitution and elections laws, has taken the suggestion seriously. The governor’s comments could be viewed as an acknowledgment that the public employee unions, Democrats in Ohio, and even a whole lot of Republicans who have public sector jobs have successfully joined forces to defeat Senate Bill 5 in November.
The outcome of the vote will have major political ramifications.
Kasich will either become a national figure in the Republican Party, or will be a freshman governor who has been greatly handicapped.