Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Politics as Usual

Paul Hackett, an Iraq war veteran who is critical of President Bush and a favorite of Democrats nationwide, was forced to drop out of the Ohio Senate race leaving Sherrod Brown unopposed for the Democratic slot. Democrats are blaming Washington. I blame Ohio. This is how politics in Ohio operate. Eight years ago the same thing happened to Ken Blackwell. In both cases, it was strongly suggested to the candidate that he should withdraw from the race if he ever wanted to see any party support again. Hackett complained that some of his potential donors were called and asked not to donate.

The Republicans tried to do the same thing to Blackwell again for 2006 but he is too popular.

Both parties prefer a bland candidate with a long history of working with the party over a popular candidate. They choose a candidate based partly on his last name (both Taft and Brown have long political histories in Ohio).

The biggest objection from my point of view is that they don't want to let the public have a voice in the selection. Officially the objection is that primaries cost the state too much money. Unofficially the complaint is that a primary run costs the candidate too much money ad can eave him damaged.

I don't care. We are a democracy. We should be giving the people as much voice as possible. After all, look at what we got when the party chose. By anyone's measure, Taft was a mediocre governor. Worse, the Republicans have been mired in scandal. Taft himself was convicted of minor campaign finance violations.

Ironically, a primary is the best thing that could happen to the Democrats' governor's race. Blackwell already has name recognition. Running against him will be difficult. A primary would help name recognition.

Brown has his own problems in the senate race. Ohio Democrats now feel that he got a free ride. I expect that many will stay home. After all, DeWine, the current senator, is fairly moderate. His defeat would help Democrat gain control of Congress but DeWine by himself does not inspire the strong feelings that turn out the vote. Worse, Democrats nationwide are now mad at their leadership in Washington. MoveOn is considering opposing "right-wing" Democrats. It is unlikely that a far-left candidate who replaces an incumbent will do as well at the polls.

Republicans still hope to substitute a different candidate than Blackwell and will have a similar result. The way to get voters to the polls is to allow popular candidates to run.

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