Statewide Candidates Forum – Part Two

Yeah yeah I’ll get to Brown and Hackett, but first a bit of generalization.

There were about 250 people there, standing room only. However there were an awful lot of familiar faces and a lot of campaign staffers, grass roots organization leaders and no where near as many grass roots Democrats as I would have hoped for, for such a great event. If we don’t show up as Howard Dean says we’re going to find it difficult to win.

The other noticeable thing was the distinct lack of press and media. In fact there were none. Not until Hackett turned up did the cameras arrive. That’s great for Hackett, but boy, what else did the Dispatch, PeeDee, Blade, Enquirer and all the news stations have to cover on a rainy Saturday afternoon ? It’s pathetic. No wonder we have such a politically uneducated voting population.

At least now people have the blogs to turn too to get their news from these events. IF the media wants to become irrelevant, this is how they should continue acting. OH-2 live blogged the event, I saw Jerid from Live From Dayton there (now working for Studebaker), Psycobilly, ODP Watch, to name a few. Keep an eye on leftybogs for more.

I had a chance to talk to a number of folks. Stephanie Studebaker stood out as a very good candidate, running in OH-3 against Mike turner. She is hiring an impressive staff with records of recent success – always a good sign. She was also very approachable and open and sounded like a good ally to the blogs.

I also talked to some of Fingerhut’s folks. They wouldn’t give me the scoop on who he was going to announce as his LT, but I did get the impression it was going to be either a woman or minority. We’ll have to wait and see. They also came across as very determined and serious about winning – and no Eric won’t be walking around the state asking us all to send him our old sneakers !

John Sauter, the ODP central Ohio field coordinator was also there and we had a interesting chat about all things central Ohio. John is one of the good guys at ODP and gets it, whatever “it” is. We talked about OH-18 and agreed that both Zack Space and Joe Sulzer were good candidates but that it was a very tough district for us to win and we should not be complacent just because Bob Ney is a criminal. Sulzer right now I think has the edge, but Space has a geographic advantage. We should also expect a strong candidate in OH-12 to run against Pat Tiberi. This is my district so that has me excited.

I also saw the BSB Troll. Heh. Ratdg1 there, though I didnt get the chance to pass any pleasantries – we can continue to do that in the comments I think.

Overall I think we have a strong slate of candidates up and down the ticket, stronger than in previous years. But we cannot be complacent, and we have a lot of minefields to navigate. We, as the grass roots, must support these candidates. without our help they can’t win. Find the candidate you like the most and give them 110%.

You’re Breaking The Law If…

Why what the PeeDee is doing is wrong and illegal. There are 2 aspects to this. First is disclosure. The PeeDee does not have any disclosure as to whom is writing their Blackwell blog. A non discerning reader might fairly assume it is the PeeDee staff itself and that this is their news or opinion. Such a Pro- Blackwell message mistaken as real reporting or “non biased” opinion is dangerous – which is why it is illegal for candidates to not have a disclaimer.

I think that part is the simple and easy part to understand, something everyone can agree upon, and is supported by the OEC opinion.

The next aspect is corporate contributions to a candidate. These are illegal plain and simple. Contributions must come from PACs or individuals, there is no other way around it.

Now corporations can obviously provide services, but they must provide the same service at the same cost to all. The PeeDee does not indicate if others are allowed to setup a blog at Cleveland.com, nor under what conditions.

Who controls when a candidate can post ? The PeeDee ? If they control that, then they can give a significant advantage to one candidate over another. Obviously blogging a week before the election is more valuable than 3 months before. So different timing inherently has different value – a violation of the law.

What happens if next week Jim Petro gets a chance and spends the week attacking Ken Blackwell – how does Ken respond to those attacks ?

Furthermore, Ohio election law covers all state candidates, not just statewide candidates. So this includes everything down to dog catcher (it does exclude Senate and congress – that is Federal law). That would amount to hundreds, possibly thousands of candidates. Does the PeeDee intend to allow every candidate who wishes to write a blog at Cleveland.com to do so ? How do they intend to coordinate that, so it is fair ? If they do not offer this opportunity to my dog catcher they are breaking the law – OEC has already issued a prior opinion on this matter. The law does not discriminate between different offices, it applies equally to all. Allowing Blackwell, Petro, Strickland, Flannery and Fingerhut a chance is not enough.

So to recap. The PeeDee is breaking the law because it has no disclaimer. It is making a contribution right now to just one candidate, which is illegal because it is a corporation not a PAC, and if it beleives it is providing a service then it must, by law provide that serivce at the same cost and opportunity to every candidate in Ohio whose election is covered by Ohio election law.

The Blackwell campaign is breaking the law by not providing a disclaimer, and will also be in violation if he does not file this as a campaign contribution – which would be an illegal one and subject him to a fine – or worse.

It’s not complicated and frankly the PeeDee should have known better, and Ken Blackwell as the SoS REALLY should have known better – and this is the guy who thinks he can run a state, he can’t even figure out simple election law, which is his current job.

That Hackerriffic Plain Dealer’s Jane Eauster

Jane Eauster reguritates the same crappy article she wrote for buddy Connie a few days ago. And she bases this article entirely on what ?

And from the accounts of people who worked on his campaign, it appears clear that Hackett never fully grasped just how big a challenge he took on when he decided to run for Senate in a state as high-profile as Ohio.

Mysterious, unnamed “people who worked on the campaign”.

I have talked to Hackett’s senior staff including Dale Butland and David Woodroof and not a single one holds the opinion or recounts the tall tale Eauster tries to tell here.

In her first hackerriffic article she even dropped an out of context quote from Suzi Hackett into the piece, from an interview done before Hackett withdrew and was still on the campaign trail. I talked to Suzi too and she told me she talked to Eauster for almost 2 hours and the quote bore no resemblance to the conversation she had with her.

It seems like operation “Blame Hackett” is still trying to get off the launching pad.

Again, if Hackett had such a hard time fundraising, how come Brown barely did any better ? If Hackett didn’t trust his staff, how come it was Brown who fired his political and field directors, not Hackett ?

The truth of this story is a very simple one, and obviously needs repeating for the likes of people like Eauster. Sherrod Brown went out of his way to ask his congressional buddies to knee cap Hackett’s fundraising. He admits this fact himself. Sherrod Browns campaign manager was spreading “war crime” rumors about Hackett’s service. Brown himself admits it was Lucas who told him, as too do county chairs. Lucas is no longer campaign manager.

Really Jane, you have to do better than “people in the campaign” and spouting talking points writen by your Plain Dealer buddy and Brown strategist Connie Shultz. you’re picking at the scab before the scab has even had time to form.

Must be time for another fence mending tour.

Warming To Ted

I think we might have some fun this year in the Governors race if Blackwell is the nominee. From today’s Blade, discussing Blackwell going all ballistic on Petro

Democratic leaders questioned whether Mr. Blackwell could claim GOP “outsider” status credibly.

The party’s endorsed candidate for governor, U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, called Mr. Blackwell “transparent in his attempts to absolve himself of any responsibility for what has happened in the state of Ohio” in an interview this week.

“His behavior reminds me of the sinner who is facing death and trying to absolve himself of a life of sin,” Mr. Strickland said. “It’s akin to a deathbed conversion.… I don’t think it will work.”

Won’t work if Ted keeps this up.

Stephen Brooks, the associate director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron, said it was unclear how much reform-minded voters would distinguish between Republicans in November. He also said Mr. Blackwell’s attacks could add volume to Democrats’ criticism of Republican ethics.

“There is that tenet in advertising that if you want someone to understand the message, you have to repeat it 15 times,” Mr. Brooks said. “And if Blackwell repeats it 15 times before the primary and the Democrats repeat it 30 times before the general, then he’s helped” advance the message.

Bllackwell in his own desperation and TV ads might very well be sinking the entire ticket into the corruption swamp Republicans have been trying to wade out of for over a year now.

Heck I might even donate a few bucks to Blackwell so he can keep it up !

All Is Not Right In Wingnut Land

It is kind of funny that many saw the Democratic Senate primary as ugly and bitter even before the swift boating and strong arming emerged, because the Ohio GOP’s gubernatorial primary is down right toxic.Secret straw polls in committee’s, leaked emails and viscous attack ads – and it is still only February !

— The Ohio Republican Party’s regional director in Northeast Ohio has resigned, contending that party officials have secretly promoted the gubernatorial candidacy of Attorney General Jim Petro while publicly expressing neutrality. Karl Raszewski, who headed the 19-county region until Feb. 11, quit after accusing party Executive Director Chris McNulty of squelching the results of a Jan. 28 Republican State Central Committee straw poll that showed overwhelming support for Secretary of State Ken Blackwell. “If Chris had . . . let everyone see the results, Petro would have likely left the race within 48 hours,” Raszewski predicted in one of two e-mails he wrote to party officials. Copies of the e-mails were sent anonymously to The Plain Dealer. Committee members were asked to submit secret ballots choosing between a Blackwell/Petro ticket or a Petro/Blackwell ticket. Two sources said the results, which GOP Chairman Bob Bennett discussed with party leaders but did not release publicly, showed 40 votes for a Blackwell/Petro ticket and 14 votes for a Petro/Blackwell ticket.

To make matters worse the IRS is wading into GOP Politics too, as UAPA reports

The IRS Friday sent a warning to Ohio pastors who are crossing the line from preaching to politics. IRS Commissioner Mark Everson came to Cleveland to deliver the warning about the crackdown, reported investigator Ron Regan. This announcement came just a week after a 5 On Your Investigation into two Ohio groups accused of mixing politics and preaching.

Strong language from the IRS too, if you follow the link.With open primary warfare between Petro and Blackwell (Really, do yourself a favor and get out Blackwell’s blog – he attacks Petro far worse than BSB criticizes Brown), and one of their primary get out the message and get out the vote campaign machines, churches, being warned, it’s no wonder Bob Bennett is feeling apocalyptic.I think it is incumbent upon us to pile on.

Labels

I saw this yesterday at Political Wire and never got around to mentioning it, but the Blade ran the story today.

Republican U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine was one of the Senate’s most moderate members last year, and his likely November opponent was one of the House’s most liberal, an annual nonpartisan rating system concluded yesterday.

I notice how they mention DeWine’s name, but not Brown’s.You can get the links to these reports here. Interesting stuff.In a busy world labels make it easy for voters to decide based on little or no information. Our job, and the hope for the blogs is that we ensure that enough people do get the right information before deciding.It’s also why we have to contest every race, everywhere so that messages beyond the labels can seep out. When we find the time to take a little time with individual voters it’s how we turn the tide. The Disptach had a good article about Delaware Dems doing just that

Republicans dominate every countywide elected seat in Delaware County and, historically, haven’t faced much competition. But Democrats think this might be their year. “Right now, I think we’re viewed as the underdog, but I think we’re also viewed as something to be reckoned with,” said Sam Murphy, a Democratic Party vice chairman. “You can’t exactly take us for granted . . . We’re expanding and we’re not quitting.”

This is how we win. The more people who show up and do something to educate voters on issues that are important, the more we can break through the simple labels of demagoguery, and the sooner we start the better.

Blog Power

The WaPo has an interesting article today titled “Blogs Attack From Left as Democrats Reach for Center”. It misses the message of the blogs almost entirely I think. The message isn’t one of ideology, it is one of stand up and fight your spineless asses !The more the party fails to fight, the more angry Democrats are becoming.I want to contrast 2 graffs in the article. The first

Democrats are getting an early glimpse of an intraparty rift that could complicate efforts to win back the White House: fiery liberals raising their voices on Web sites and in interest groups vs. elected officials trying to appeal to a much broader audience.

The second

The closest historic parallel would be the talk-radio phenomenon of the early 1980s, when conservatives — like liberals now — felt powerless and certain they did not have a way to voice their views because the mainstream media and many of their own leaders considered them out of touch. Through talk radio, often aired in rural parts of the country on the AM dial, conservatives pushed the party to the right on social issues and tax cuts.

I think this is about right, though underplays the religious rights church movement. But what does go unobserved and why I think the article misses the point is that the grass roots changed the Republican party, grew them a spine and then began winning elections.Until the advent of the blogs, grass roots democrats didnt have a forum to apply pressure and their voices to the party. If you read the article, the attacks on the blogs are coming from the Democratic Party – it’s all about power.

But the Democratic establishment turned on Dean, and his grass-roots operation was not as strong in reality as it appeared on the Internet. Since then, liberal activists have created scores of political blogs and used the Web as an organizing tool and a way to quickly vent frustrations to Democratic leaders in Washington.

We got John Kerry – then proceeded to lose. What should be noted however is that Dean is now head of the DNC, put there by the netroots and grass roots despite desperate attempts to prevent it by the party establishment.We have discussed this before and also how the Ohio Party establishment is concerned about the blogs. If I had to guess I think the Ohio blogs are at the same stage of development as it was nationally for Dean in 2003 and early 2004. Loud enough to make a presence, not quite powerful enough to influence major decisions. This is changing rapidly, and as 2006 progresses so too will our message.Ohio blogs can produce more messaging in a single day than the party can in a week. We reach more people than any single campaign does, and we can react to events before the press even knows what is going on. As more and more people join this community over the coming months we will have the ability to control the message through the blog writing and commenting, letters to the editor, email campaigns, donations and volunteer coordination.What other political infrastructure in Ohio can do all that ?

Groan Ohio – Rural Outreach Powerhouse

I caught this from Plunderbund, which you should read. In these times has an article titled “Can Blogs Revolutionize Progressive Politics?”. For so many reasons the article is really really bad. Of course for a publication headed by David Sirota and talking to Jerome Armstrong we get the obligatory mentions of Sherrod Brown.

When Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) decided to take on Iraq veteran Paul Hackett in the Democratic primary for the Senate race in Ohio, he moved quickly to neutralize his opponent’s advantage as the unquestioned hero of the progressive bloggers. The ace up Brown’s sleeve: Jerome Armstrong, founder of the influential MyDD.com and veteran of Howard Dean’s online campaign. Brown’s next move was a blog entry on The Huffington Post titled, “Why I am a Progressive.”

I don’t think the author did very much research here at all. Anyone who did 5 minutes would have realized quickly that Brown has neutralized nothing. Hackett diaries at kos rise to the rec list constantly still. Browns foray at TPM Cafe was an unmitigated disaster of boring proportions. But it does get worse.

This time around, Armstrong is determined to match the GOP’s success. GrowOhio.org, which he describes as “a community blog for Democratic Party activists,” will coordinate field operations for not just Brown but all Democratic candidates in each of Ohio’s 88 counties. Its primary goal is to reach rural voters in areas where the campaign cannot field organizers on the ground. “This isn’t just about using the net for communications and fundraising, but for field organizing,” Armstrong says. What is also new in 2006 is the effort to redirect attention from the national to the local. “It’s not just about focusing the national blogosphere on Ohio, but about building from the ground up in Ohio,” Armstrong says. “Over 90 percent of our signups on GrowOhio.org are Ohio activists, and we will soon have Internet outreach coordinators in all 88 counties.”

Ah yes, that powerhouse Groan Ohio. Reach rural voters ? what have they written about that could possibly attract rural voters ? Internet outreach coordinators in 88 counties ? Since Tim Tagaris left I don’t think they have had 88 comments let alone 88 coordinators. They don’t even answer their email for crying out loud. LOLthe article does include a message for Connie though

Blogs are literally vox populi—or at the least the voice of the people who post entries and comments, and, to a lesser extent, of their devoted readers. Telling bloggers that they’re wrong or to shut up is somewhat like telling respondents to an opinion survey to simply change their mind. When journalists reject bloggers as cranks or wingnuts, they also do the same to a large segment of the American public who seeblogs as an expression of their views. Such dismissals feed the very alienation that makes blogs and bloggers popular.

Keep yapping Connie.Eric at Plunderbund has it about right I think.

No guys, not national online and local offline – the true formula is national online, local online, and local offline activism. I understand that doesn’t do much for your readership, but it is the more workable plan…if in fact you are interested more in a workable plan than readership.

It was DFA and Blue 88 that organized the statewide candidate forum, not the national blogs or the state party. It is Ohio bloggers doing MTB and arranging debates, not the media or national blogs. The local Ohio blogs are driving the conversations that will affect the races in Ohio. National blogs are not going to be talking about how great Subodh Chandra is, or how shrill Bob Bennett is becoming, or advertising hundreds of events for candidates around the state – for that you have to get local. Lucky we have Groan Ohio to do all that eh ?

Count Me Out

Over at BFD, Jill (she is everywhere isn’t she?) links up with righty blog Lincoln Logs and discusses “blog Ideas”. Best to go read the links at Lincoln Logs first I think.

Well that’s fine and dandy that some of our friends on the right look over the fence in Ohio with some envy, and I for one am not about to help them do anything. Period.

There is a very good reason why left leaning blogs are growing in Ohio and the right leaning ones are not.

They have nothing to write about.

What are Republican (note I say Republican, not conservative) bloggers going to write about in Ohio ? Lower taxes ? A thundering economy ? wonderful education systems ? A balanced budget ? Ethics ? Really what on earth can they talk about ?

They sure can’t talk about how all those miserable failures are the fault of Democrats, I suppose they could pretend that after a decade of failure they are honestly, double dog promise gonna get it right this time. Are they going to talk about how popular the current governor is ? Or how Bob Ney really is squeaky clean ? How Rod Parsley doesn’t really control their party ?

This is why the right wing blogs are weak in Ohio, because their party is weak and out of ideas, out of solutions – not that they ever had any, which is self evident by the results of their policies.

If you scan around the Ohio right wing blogs, with few exceptions they aren’t Republican they are conservative.

They don’t care about all the lost jobs, nor the high tax rates or the failing school system, not even the corruption. They didn’t even care about the infringement of states rights during the Schiavo fiasco.

See this link for what they care about, it speaks volumes. This writer doesn’t care that Jack Abramoff and his congressional pals have been selling our country out to the highest bidder and laundering money like the mob. Only cares that it might affect the GOP’s chances of winning. If they truly cared about their cause, and their ideology was real they would be railing against the corruption and policy failure and incompetence more than the Democrats do. You don’t see too many Ohio Democratic blogs being apologetic for ODP.

I lived this exact same scenario before. I saw the conservative party in Britain go from unbeatable hegemon to demolished in 4 years because they ran out of ideas, had policy failure and corruption and no one in the party had the courage to stop it. All they had left in the end was intimidation, and once the Labour party stood up to that the game was over.

The very fact the Roy Blunt and John Boehner are two of the candidates pushing to be the GOP’s next leaders shouts out to me that the GOP also don’t have the courage to internalize their massive failures and fix them. Instead they are going to reap the wrath of the voters who will force them to do it, Just as the British conservatives discovered in 1997, As too the Liberals in Canada, this week.

When the right wing blogs in Ohio start to internalize this and talk about it instead of yapping party lines and talking points, then, maybe, we can talk about “blog ideas”.

Until then, it’s pretty obvious they don’t actually have any.

Reforms You Won’t Get Anytime Soon

There are some reforms you won’t get anytime soon. Vital reforms such as an end to gerrymandering and publicly financed campaigning. Both I believe are critical to a healthy democracy.

The system right now is designed as an huge incumbent protection plan. Strong candidates can’t compete because the deck is stacked against them, and when they do they are drowned in a flood of cash converted into ads by the incumbent. So you don’t get strong candidates running, who then lose by even more, creating an even bigger hurdle to climb to challenge incumbents.

Reform Ohio now sought to significantly deal with the gerrymandering issue, it failed but at least now people recognize there is a problem. In Ohio I suspect little will be done before the elections as both sides wait and see who controls the apportionment board afterwards.

If Democrats do finally take control you are sure to hear the Republicans howl about the need for reform, and the Democrats are sure to want to redistrict in a way that best suits them.

Publicly financed campaigns are also essential. Let’s face it, our candidates have to act like used car salesmen for the bulk of the campaign. Begging donors to buy and and give them money. Incumbents with a long history also have long lists of donors, challengers have to eek out the best they can.

Worst of all, as we see over and over again, too many of our representatives are bought off with this process and exchange legislation for cash.

Blue 88 has been discussing these reforms, and in fact had literature at the statewide candidates forum about it, and today I note they picked up on a Hill article where Voinovich of all people is warming to the idea.

It’s not going to go anywhere, yet, but if you want to improve our Democracy and government pushing these two reforms should be everyone’s goal, left or right.

Connie Shultz Hates Blogs – Her Own Words

In her latest reveal all Pulitzer effort

Ihate blogs. Except when I love blogs, which is what happens when I stumble onto one that forces a hard thought or an easy smile and makes me forget how much I hate blogs. Just when I think I’ve made my peace with the reckless free-for-all of these interactive online diaries — click — some well-meaning reader sends me an excerpt from a blogger accusing me of doing something I never did at a place I never was or he’s making fun of a piece of my anatomy that I thought wasn’t all that bad. Then I hate blogs all over again.

Oh good grief. Reckless ? Ok I wanna know which blogger has accused Connie of doing something she never did at a place she was never at, or which part of her body has become ridicule. Because I don’t hate blogs at all, I just hate people who make shit up – to me that is reckless.The drivel continues

Some friends and colleagues warn me: Stay away from the blogs. Some of us, though, are just tongue-on-the-cold-sore kind of people. We seek the pain we hate, reading bloggers who only heap more misery on the collective weariness of a world already hunched over from life’s burdens.

There we go again. Bloggers are akin to herpes. Nice. If only we blogged about the weather being nice and left the real issues to the professionals the world would be a better place

I am referring, of course, to political blogs. Liberal bloggers have at least one thing in common with right-wing bloggers: They all hate the mainstream media. And where’s the gratitude for helping them find that little bridge, hmm? Still waiting . . .

Maybe Connie needs to check out her own papers right wing blog, or the pathetic coverage her own paper has put out over the years sucking at the tit (I can say tit without Connie thinking I am talking about her tit, can’t I?) of the Ohio GOP.

Last week Google caved to censorship by agreeing to create a new search engine for China that would exclude e-mail and the ability to create blogs. After all, the last thing a communist government wants is the free flow of ideas. It’s real hard to force an entire population to toe the party line if the chattering masses insist on exposing human rights violations

So blogs in China would be a good idea, especially if they challenged the establishment, but we should all hate them in Ohio when they do that ? What an incoherent stream of claptrap.I read dozens of blogs every day that are better written and more thoughtful than this garbage – no wonder so many feel threatened by the blogs. You can’t just flash a pulitzer and a smile and have people read you on the blogs. If Connie’s articles had comments I’d be posting a recipe.