Thursday, October 14, 2010

Strickland, Portman, Space

Let's forget, for a moment, the noise that has overwhelmed this year's general election. Let's forget the TV commercials that generally speak to Americans' prejudices and ill-informed views on the issues. Let's forget the annoying robo phone calls and the oversized "screaming" post cards that feature color photos of the favorite candidate and his family and black and white photos of his evil opponent.

Let's just forget all that.

Most candidates are decent, law-abiding citizens who really do want to serve the public. But the handlers and political machines transform them into supermen or bogeymen. A lot of that has to do with the unbelievable amount of money that is funneled into our campaign process.

With all that in mind, this free-to-everyone blog offers the following endorsements, for what it's worth:

Governor -- Democrat incumbent Ted Strickland.

OK, so Strickland's not the most exciting guy in the world, but there have been some bright spots in his first term. His administration has been a friend to economic developments in our area, including the new high tech park in New Philadelphia

His biggest task is before him. The state is facing an $8 billion deficit in the next fiscal year and Strickland, if re-elected, will have to deal with it immediately.

The Republican opponent, John Kasich, scares me. He wants to eventually eliminate Ohio's income tax, which in 2009 numbers would amount to about $8 billion a year. How would he make up the revenue shortfall? Well, he's a little vague about that, and says that eliminating the income tax will be good for business and as a result everything will be fine.

Yeah, right.

There's also this about Kasich. It's his way or the highway. Excitable? You bet. And people who've seen him in action say he is not above making his point by jamming a finger into an adversary's chest.

The former congressman also lined up on the side of those who advocated privatizing Social Security.

A month or so ago, polls showed Kasich with a double-digit lead over Strickland. That has changed and the race has tightened significantly. Thank goodness.

U.S. Senate -- Republican Rob Portman.

This blog has liked Portman for some time and believes that had Portman been selected by John McCain as his running mate, McCain might have won the White House.

Portman's list of accomplishments is long. Among them:  He was elected to Congress in 1993; served as U.S. Trade Representative in 2005 (a cabinet post) and subsequently as director of the Office of Management and Budget (another cabinet position).

If Portman wins the election, Ohio will have as its senators a conservative Republican -- Portman -- and a liberal Democrat -- Sherrod Brown. I rather like that check and balance.

Attorney General -- Democrat incumbent Richard Cordray

Cordray took over the attorney general's office in the wake of the Marc Dann scandal. Cordray is squeaky clean, maybe a little nerdy (so what) and is endorsed by law enforcement throughout the state. His challenger, Republican Mike DeWine, is looking for a post-retirement-from-the-Senate job.

State Auditor -- Republican David A. Yost.

Yost is the only CPA in the race. And this blog thinks the state auditor ought to be a CPA.

Secretary of State -- Republican Jon Husted

Treasurer of State -- Democrat incumbent Kevin L. Boyce

18th District U.S. Representative -- Democrat incumbent Zack Space

Has Space had some missteps? Certainly, but his stand on the health care bill -- he voted against it -- proves he is not in lockstep with the Democratic machine in Washington. After Space made his decision on the Thursday before the weekend vote, he was summoned to the White House for a one-on-one with President Barack Obama.

Talk about pressure.

He didn't cave. He voted against it at the risk of irking not only the machine but also his base, including labor. And labor has not disappointed, making robo calls in the district and urging voters to cast ballots against Space. So labor wants to punish Space by electing a conservative Republican? Huh?

Does anyone see Republican challenger Bob Gibbs voting for the Obama health care bill? Anyone? Anyone? That just goes to show you how silly the whole process has become.

And, by the way, Tuscarawas Countians, having a native son serving you in Congress is a lot better than having someone from Lakeville. Anyone know where that is? Anyone? Anyone?

96th Ohio House District -- Republican Al Landis and Democrat Josh O'Farrell

Examination of both candidates has left me in a quandary. They both favor job creation (so does every other candidate, including Supreme Court justice candidates) and both would like you to know that they're OK with you owning guns, at least according to their Web sites.

Let's face it, folks, Landis and O'Farrell are newbies to the process. Neither has held elective office and it will take a few years before they really understand how the legislative process works. I mean how it really works.

It boils down to this: Are you more comfortable with a well-educated young Democrat representing you in the Legislature, or do you prefer a conservative, older Republican?

Don't look for either candidate to solve the state's impending $8 billion deficit without a lot of help from legislative veterans.

This race is a "pick 'em."

Tuscarawas County Commissioner -- Republican incumbent Kerry Metzger.

This one's a no-brainer. Not going to waste cyberspace to explain it.


Mike Lauber said...

A few quibbles but I generally agree with your assessments, Dick. You don't mention Zack's vote for cap-and-trade, a slap in the face to his coal and oil & gas constituents. And the fact that Pelosi timed a six-figure contribution to his campaign immediately after his vote. I don't like the looks of that quid pro quo. He's certainly more polished than Gibbs but having more Reagan GOPers in the House seems like a good idea. I know where Lakeville is. How many people in the District know where Peoli or Gnadenhutten or Dundee are? Small-town America still counts.

Strickland told us that he'd "fix" education or shouldn't be re-elected. I give him high marks for the process he employed to gather info but our education funding imbroglio remains.

Dick Farrell said...

I would contend that if Gibbs is elected, he, too, will be the beneficiary of party money as long as votes with the leadership. But there is no loyalty in the long run. Get too far behind in the polls and the money disappears. (Google Rep. Steve Driehaus, D-Cincinnati)
The cap-and-trade bill sent from the House to the Senate was never going to stand as written. In fact, I don't think it will ever come to a vote in the Senate. Anyway, I think if he had to do it all over again, Space would vote against it. I'm willing to forgive especially in the wake of his "no" vote on the health care issue.
I could be wrong but I sense the Reagan Republican thing has more to do with free trade (with China?), which Gibbs seems to favor. I wish the free trade issue was more black and white for me. Lots of gray...
Strickland, meanwhile, inherited the school funding mess from a Republican administration controlled by a Republican Legislature -- both chambers -- that had plenty of time to fix it. Does Strickland get at least a temporary pass because of the Great Recession and a huge budget deficit? Yeah, I think he does especially given the budget cuts he's already made.
Anyway, thanks for reading.

Mike Lauber said...

In case you missed it, here's what the NYT had to say about the OH18 race, Dick. Bob comes across as a Luddite but one can hardly argue that cap-and-trade would hit OH-18 hard.

As I said re Strickland (and correct me if I'm recalling inaccurately), HE took the politically-risky step of owning the education issue. No one forced it on him. He said, in effect, "I'll fix it or you can throw me out." I'm following his lead though, personally, I like and respect him. Let someone else take a swing.

I have found the Ohio House and Senate both exceptionally dysfunctional on a variety of fronts including our school funding issue. Petty, partisan, puerile.

As for free trade, ask almost any economist whether free trade is better or worse for the trading partners. Something close to 40% of our economy rests on foreign trade. Yes, the Law of Comparative Advantage will tend to take low-skill labor to the low-labor-cost sources, e.g., Asia. Erecting trade barriers and inciting trade wars will hurt our economy far more than help it. I'd bet that neither Smoot not Hawley would dispute this fact were they treading the halls of Capitol Hill today.

We have much going for us as a nation but our burgeoning debt load, our sclerotic governance practices, and our ignorance and indifference as an electorate threaten us as never before. That's why we've see the Tea Party arise in opposition to both established parties. Business as usual is no longer be good enough. We need transformational leadership, something many expected to get from President Obama in spite - or perhaps because - of his relative inexperience. I didn't see it in McCain and I don't see it on the horizon - yet - but I pray that it's coming, perhaps in the person of a Congressman Paul Ryan or similar leader.