With Democrats so severely outnumbered in the state legislature — an artificial imbalance created by gerrymandering — it is critical to fill every seat with a strong advocate for progressive issues. And with women’s rights being stomped on repeatedly by the legislature and the governor, there is no longer any room there for anti-choice Democrats.
Unfortunately, Ohio Right to Life has found a couple of them to endorse in Cuyahoga County, the state’s Democratic bastion, which should also be a bastion of Democratic values. And threatening a woman’s right to choose is not one of those.
One of them is incumbent Bill Patmon (10th house district), who unfortunately has found confluence with Republicans on too many issues that hurt ordinary Ohioans. He does have a primary challenger — former Cleveland councilman Eugene Miller. Miller lost his seat last November when the number of wards was cut and he faced a more dynamic incumbent Jeff Johnson.
I can’t say I’m too excited about Miller or hopeful about his chances. He hasn’t been particularly outspoken on progressive issues, and his legerdemain with his voter registration was ill-advised. (He switched his voting address to the new ward, then after learning he would be required to resign his seat for moving out of his old ward, he said he wasn’t moving until January, thereby admitting to that rare occurrence — voter fraud). And I have no idea where Miller stands on a woman’s right to choose.
I have no such issues in the other race for the state senate seat Nina Turner is vacating to hopefully become our next secretary of state.
After an attempt to detail it by vetoing the original petition language, attorney general Mike DeWine has signed off on the language for the Ohio Voter Bill of Rights, moving it a step closer to the ballot.
The Ohio Ballot Board will meet this week to make a technical ruling on whether the proposed constitutional amendment is in fact more than one amendment. If so, supporters will have to collect 385,000 valid signatures for EACH amendment instead of the entire thing.
I imagine secretary of voter suppress … I mean STATE … Jon Husted, who is on the ballot board, will push for dividing the bill into parts to make it more challenging both to get on the ballot and to pass. Anyone who remembered the 2005 RON — Reform Ohio Now — voting/redistricting measures knows how THAT goes.
But he’ll be sitting across from a formidable opponent. Also on the ballot board is state senator Nina Turner who is running to take Husted’s job. And she has staked out protecting voter rights as her ground.
Much of what’s in the Voter Bill of Rights falls right in her bailiwick. It would allow online voter registration, which Husted at least has claimed to support. But it would also set a minimum number of in-person early voting hours, which Husted has slashed to the detriment of urban counties. And it would enshrine in the constitution the type of voter ID required to vote, protecting it against arbitrary changes — and any changes are arbitrary since no need for ID let alone a particular type of ID has ever been demonstrated — from a partisan legislature. The only reason to change ID requirements is to confuse voters who show up with the form of ID they used in the last election only to find it no longer valid.
Well, that doesn't surprise anyone, I'm sure.
This not-so-august and extremely unrepresentative body has spent more time trying to figure out more places to allow guns and more ways to interfere with women's reproductive choices than working on issues that concerns most Ohioans, like job creation and education.
Not only haven't they taken a good hard look at education funding and what failure to build a strong education system could mean for Ohio's economy and its future, but now one of their Wingnut Caucus has ripped the veil off their antipathy to having an educated citizenry and a strong, economically flourishing state.
Yesterday's Columbus Dispatch quotes one of the legislature's most raging ignoramuses, state rep. Andrew Brenner, as saying that ALL public education is "socialism" and should be abolished. His solution, of course, is complete privatization, meaning that only the affluent could afford to go to school and Ohio would not only drop to dead last educationally and economically among the 50 states but would soon be lagging most third-world countries.
While many would agree with his call to do away with testing and the contentious "Common Core" standards, this is pure lunacy:
“We need to do something that was done about 25 years ago in the former Soviet Union and eastern bloc: sell off the existing buildings, equipment and real estate to those in the private sector."
Of course he wouldn't be a neanderthal, worker-hating Republican (you did guess that he was a Republican, didn't you?) without an attack on unions.
“Teachers unions are an outgrowth of our socialistic education system,” he asserted.
In this MSNBC segment with Chris Hayes, there is some good commentary on Secretary of Voter Suppress ... I mean STATE ... Jon Husted's attempt to make voting more difficult by restricting early voting hours.
In this segment, Peg Rosenfeld of the Ohio League of Women Voters rightfully points out that extended and evening hours are necessary in 8-10 big urban counties to prevent excessively long lines, while of course the 80 rural counties which don't need extended hours are perfectly happy. (Vinton County might have 6,000 voters to Cuyahoga's 600,0000 — VERY different needs). It's the clear argument why Husted imposing uniform hours does NOT provide equal opportunity to vote.
And Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald dismantles the GOP claim that extended voting hours would somehow break Ohio's budget — kind of hard to do considering that Kasich has increased state spending to record levels, as Ed points out.
Husted says he "bristles at the suggstion" that he's trying to restrict voter rights? Aw, the poor baby. He suggests we "pipe down the rhetoric"?
Mr. Husted, how about you piping down the efforts to keep voters who might not vote your way.
Watch it here:
Oh, and don't forget. A giant step toward restoring fair elections would be to get Husted out of office:
Jon Husted spent some money buying Facebook ads, those sponsored posts that appear in your newsfeed.
"The pillars of my life are the same as yours: we work hard, take responsibility, follow our faith, love our family and do right by others. 2014 is our year to shape the ideas that will lead Ohio into the exciting future. Today As your Secretary of State, I have cut the “wait time” for new businesses by 50%."
He appears not to be reaching his target audience, based on the comments he's received so far. (I have found this thing in my feed three or four times in the last couple of days and I am definitely not his target audience.)
"Cut the wait time for new businesses, but greatly increased the wait time for minority voters," says the first poster.
"Do right by others... except black voters, right?" says the next one.
"THIS is a suggested post for me? Hope you didn't pay Facebook for marketing, that TOTALLY missed your target audience," adds another.
Sure, he has a few supporters who attack "libs," but most of it goes on like this:
"Don't you mean suppress voters so Republicans might win an election because they can't win on their ideas, because they don't have any. Hypocrite Husted."
"Oh my gosh- the guy who is making it harder to vote wants me to vote for him? Priceless."
"Absolutely NOT, Husted. Restore voting hours!"
"If he wants to be re-elected, he'd better stop restricting voters rights!!!"
"I understand taking care of family, can respect that. Sadly I do not agree with your effort in the public office you serve in by elected people. You work for them. And recent events on your part are not supportive to the people of Ohio on any level. The People Have the Right to Vote. Those rights need upheld not restricted."
And some posters are even venting about his GOP compatriots:
Having Mike DeWine in office makes you wonder. Between trying to push his religious and ideological beliefs on all Ohioans, using the tax dollars of those who don't share his beliefs, he seems to be all about weird, pusillanimous pursuits and showboating.
DeWine never seemed like most the dynamic and focused individual but this is getting really stupid. Even the Columbus Dispatch is scratching its head:
Did we mention he needs to go?
Maybe you too have gotten into this argument with someone.
When you express your opposition to the current flood of voter suppression measures coming out of Columbus, this person — probably a rightie but not necessarily — insists that there are "plenty of opportunities" to vote, that voters have an obligation to pay attention to arcana such as what years and what elections they'll get an absentee ballot application in the mail and which ones they'll have to figure out where to get one on their own or when the early voting period is and what the hours have been changed to.
Have you heard "Everybody voted on a single Tuesday for years — why is that a problem now?" Or "You can vote any time from 6:30 in the morning to 7:30 at night — who can't get there during that time?"
Here's who, spoiled white yuppie guy with a good-paying job who doesn't punch a time clock or get paid by the hour.
Imagine you are a single mom with a couple of kids, a low-paying hourly job (or two) and no car. You get up early to take one child to day care and another to school — maybe on the bus. Then you have to rush to get to work. You don't have a generous lunch hour and you may work far from your home. After work, you have to rush to pick up your kid from daycare so you won't be charged for extra time. You get home and it's 6pm and the kids are hungry and have to be fed. You're exhausted and they're cranky. So now you are going to get them back into their coats and head for the polling place when they are just about ready for bed? No, probably not.
This is the attitude that leads to someone like state senator Bill Seitz, the sponsor of this latest bill, to say of the rule that discounts ballots cast at the wrong location,
Look — word to all progressive groups and Democratic candidates. Don't bother sending emails asking that I contact Kasich and plead with him not to sign the latest attack on voting rights. He's fully in line with all these bills and will sign them just as quickly as the legislature can slam them on his desk.
And that looks like it's going to be frequently. They seem to be making a weekly ritual of pointless, unneeded bills that set more and more limits on voting and make gratuitous changes bound to confuse voters.
The latest aims to make some tweaks in provisional voting that means more provisional ballots thrown out for absolutely no reason at all except incorrectly filing out some information on the already extremely complex envelope. This should be illegal. It's an outrageous assault on democracy.
I'm sure the bills will be challenged by the Democrats and other true democracy-loving groups. But it's almost like they're lobbing bill after bill after bill after bill as a distraction and resource consumer. Am I being too paranoid? I don't think so.
One thing that troubles me about many of the provisions in these bills — such as one dictating the design of the provisional envelope — is that these aren't really matters for legislation. They are administrative issues that should be decided by the secretary of state AS issues arise, not by the legislature arbitrarily for no reason.
It's like they feel they have to control a process because it might fall into the hands of a secretary of state who cares about voting rights, fair elections, and democracy, someone who wouldn't rig the process to favor a political party.
I wonder who that might be.
As we mentioned previously, Kasich quickly signed off on a couple of bills from the Republicans in the legislature intended entirely to limit people's access to the ballot for no good reason at all.
Apparently, their total control of our state and ability to trash democracy in Ohio with impunity has emboldened them. They've got two more bills racing their way through the general assembly, and you can bet Kasich will sign those so fast he's a blur. He must be wetting his pants over the challenge from Ed FitzGerald. He clearly doesn't care that he's giving Ohio a big black eye and subjecting the state to national ridicule as a backward, feudal, racist outpost, "Alabama of the north."
One of these completely unnecessary bills is already heading for Kasich's desk. It increases the required information on the absentee ballot envelope — more opportunities for a ballot to be rejected — even though this hasn't been a big problem. This is the kind of nitpicky thing that should be handled by a directive from the secretary of state as problems arise, not imposed by the legislature.
It reduces the length of time voters have after the election to produce valid ID if they cast a provisional ballot because they didn't have it, thereby increasing the chance they will not be able to make it in time. it did establish that ballots cast in the right polling place but the wrong precinct due to pollworker error must be counted — but only to rubber stamp court rulings. It's not like they're being generous.
Needless to say, Democrats have vowed to sue to stop this push to pass a blizzard of new and gratuitous voting laws that will confuse voters and limit the ability of voting officials to do what's best for their voters. It even limits the ability of the secretary of state in the case of sending out absentee ballot applications.
You know what else they are clearly scared of? This:
If you are keeping a scorecard on phony, ginned-up scandals that House Republicans have tried to pin on President Obama, you may remember the so-called “I.R.S. scandal,” the one where an I.R.S. branch office in Cincinnati — acting independently — allegedly targeted right-wing groups for investigation.
There was a cascade of problems with this charge. They blamed Obama himself because that was who they were trying to topple. But he had no involvement in the activities of a regional I.R.S. office.
Then there was the reason for these investigations. These groups had a tax exemption based on the fact that their supposed purpose was “social welfare,” not partisan politics, which these 501 (C) 4 groups were not technically allowed to engage in. And the names of some of the groups suggested that they had a political purpose.
Most damning, though, was the fact that conservative groups were never singled out and targeted, the supposed “scandal.” Liberal groups, as well as those that had no apparent partisan lean, were also investigated. But when congressional Grand Inquistor, Darrell Issa, the head of the House Oversight Committee and the shame of Cleveland Heights, requested the I.R.S. records, he not only demanded only the ones pertaining to investigations of right-wing groups so that he could create a nonexistent “scandal.”
It would certainly be tempting to rip the flag pin off the lapel of the Republican Ohio legislator you see.
Too busy to deal with things like job creation or equitable school funding, the general assembly spent recent weeks easing through the passage of two bills intended to make voting more difficult and confusing.
They're no longer even maintaining the pretense that it has anything to do with “voter fraud,” as empty as that justification was. They’re doing it just BECAUSE — because they are so extreme and so deaf and blind to the needs of anyone who isn’t wealthy that they are shrinking their own chances of winning election — unless they prevent people who tend to vote against them from voting.
The bills — SB 238 and SB 205 — do things like cut the number of early voting days, eliminate the so-called “golden period” when you can register and vote at the same time, and ban counties from sending out mail-in ballot applications, while allowing the secretary of state to do so only in even-year elections, IF he feels like it, and only if the general assembly specifically funds it. This opens the door to mass voter confusion due to the lack of consistency. Voters won't know when or whether to expect an application in the mail. It's insulting.
It also prohibits election officials from guiding voters in filling out any part of the absentee application, ID envelope or ballot, exploding the possibility of errors that will cause the ballot to be tossed, given the obstacle-course complexity of the application and envelope. And of course it increases the authority of boards of election to toss out ballots for minor errors irrelevant to identifying the voter.
Two years ago, Columbus political consultants Ian James and James Gutierrez Winnett got tired of waiting for action on marriage equality in Ohio. They put posts online, recruited some volunteers, wrote some ballot language that was OK’d by the state ballot board in April 2012, and began to collect signatures to go to the voters to overturn 2004’s anti-gay “Defense of Marriage” Amendment.
Soon Freedom Ohio burgeoned into a statewide movement with thousands of volunteers who have now collected 650,000 signatures and are aiming for a million. With only 385,000 required to get on the ballot and months to go to meet the deadline for this November, it looks likely they’ll make it.
Then late last year, Columbus-based Equality Ohio, the big kahuna of state LGBT advocacy groups, formed its own marriage equality campaign called Why Marriage Matters and brought organizer Michael Premo to Ohio to run it. Now EO has announced its opposition to Freedom Ohio’s campaign and its plan to rewind the process to zero, starting its own education process and not aiming at the ballot until 2012.
Last Friday, Premo told Outlook Columbus that EO and its allies have a new set of concerns that essentially nullify the two-year efforts of all those volunteers.
It’s no secret that grassroots Freedom Ohio and Equality Ohio have never seen eye to eye on how to win marriage equality in Ohio. EO has suggested that Freedom Ohio’s efforts are premature: there’s not enough support yet, more education work needs to be done, polling needs to look better, Ohio needs to pass a housing and employment nondiscrimination bill first (Good luck getting THAT through the current legislature!). In other words, Ohio needs to wait its turn.
No, no — OTHER than a concession speech, that is. I know you were thinking that, and that's so rude!
I just found an email from Mary Taylor in my inbox. (To refresh your memory, she's our lieutenant governor).
anastasia, be sure to save the date to tune in and watch Governor John Kasich deliver the annual State of the State address on Monday, February 24th at 7:00pm.
What would you like to hear Governor Kasich talk about this year? We look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas.
Well, we can't disappoint him, can we? Please tell Governor Kasich your thoughts and ideas!
Personally, I'd like to hear him say that since he has increased state spending by such an enormous amount, he plans to not only restore public school and local government funding but to increase it, and especially to invest a lot more money in education, from pre-K all the way through college. There is nothing he could do that would make more difference to Ohio's economy on so many levels.
What ideas do you have for the governor?
Here's the link:
Would you buy a used redistricting plan from this man?
This week, this noble-sounding editorial written by Husted appeared in the Washington Post:
In it he comes out strongly against gerrymandering, expending lots of words to say how it has upset the balance of our political process.
Why NOW, after he's been in office three years, time in which he could have been a strong public advocate for this? It couldn't be about that election coming up, could it?
He goes on to promote the same better-but-still-weak idea for fixing redistricting that he's been flogging since he was in the legislature: a larger redistricting board requiring a super-majority with at least one minority vote to pass a map. The map would have to be "compact and competitive" with counties and communities not split.
Here's my beef with this. While his colleagues were busy slicing and dicing the state to their own benefit, creating the outrageously unbalanced maps that have resulted in a 50-50 state having a 12-4 Republican-favoring congressional delegation and super-majorities of Republicans in both houses of the legislature, Husted said nothing. He said nothing as they were even splitting precincts in pursuit of packing Democrats into a handful of districts and keeping most for themselves. Afterward he suggested that this wasn't a great idea. Thanks, Jon.
Hamilton County commissioner Todd Portune did a lot in the past month or so to sully his name and reputation with people outside his county who had never heard of him before when he announced his quixotic , last-minute challenge to Ed FitzGerald in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.
He would have had to have located a running mate — he seems have a zeroed in on a guy from Toledo — and gotten his 1,000 signatures to file by Wednesday. In the statement he released he seems to have recognized that the lateness of his entry into the race was a factor he couldn't overcome.
And he still gives no real reason for having gotten in the race in the first place, other than what he's been saying all along — that he's hearing from some people they aren't happy with Ed and that he thinks he would have more appeal to black voters. No clue why he, a white man from whiter Hamilton County, felt this. He never articulated a policy agenda that included stances so compelling to African-Americans that they would vote for an unknown white guy from another part of the state. He never explained how he would appeal to the state's largest block of black voters — those in Cuyahoga — with insufficient time, name recognition, or relationships with leaders in that community.
He suggested early on that it had something to do with FitzGerald's choice of Eric Kearney, an African-American state legislator, as his running mate, and then shedding him from the ticket when Republicans and the media went into hyper-overdrive about some tax issues Kearney had. Apparently, Portune was offended by this and latched onto this as a partial reason to challenge FitzGerald.
Columbus-based political writer John Spinelli has an article today about something a lot of us have been talking about: the surge in prominence of women in the Ohio Democratic Party.
Four years ago this time, there was a lot of discontent among Ohio Democratic women activists.
We were still several days away from the withdrawal of Jennifer Garrison from the secretary of state race after more than six months in which key Democratic women in the state had talked themselves blue to party staff and officials about the unacceptability of such an anti-choice candidate.
The process of getting her off the ticket and naming a replacement left many women even more disillusioned. That was added to the feeling many of them had that Jennifer Brunner’s campaign for U.S. Senate was never taken seriously by party insiders, and that she was being pressured into stepping aside for Lee Fisher and trotting back to the SoS race like a good little girl, taking a hit to help the party.
There was a lot of conversation among Democratic women (I still have the emails) about tokenism in the party that was barely mollified by Governor Ted Strickland’s choice of Yvette McGee Brown a few weeks earlier to replace Fisher as his lieutenant governor.
Garrison was replaced with another woman — the highly qualified and much more politically acceptable Franklin County clerk of courts Maryellen O’Shaughnessy. But by then, the discontent was hardening, also driven by a sense that the party was less than fully behind Mary Jane Trapp’s candidacy for state supreme court and what was perceived as a dismissive attitude among certain male staffers at the ODP. I personally perceived this from a now-moved-on staffer.
Now Ohio Democratics have a historic ticket. It doesn’t feature one token woman — women comprise half the ticket.
Sharen Neuhardt is going to prove a huge asset to Ohio's statewide Democratic ticket.
She's already demonstrating her ability to articulate Democratic values clearly and concisely in ways that are easy to understand. It's no wonder that Democratic activist women are just over the moon about this pick of gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald to be his running mate.
An article in today's Youngstown Vindicator describes her presentation at a campaign stop in the Mahoning Valley yesterday.
"Women's issues more than abortion."
You'd better believe it — and the GOP is wrong on all of them.
“Women’s issues are Ohio economic issues,” Neuhardt said during a campaign stop Saturday at Cafe 422. “When we reduce every woman’s issue to abortion, we do a disservice to the women of this state.”
She pointed out how the actions of the Republicans who dominate our legislature thanks to gerrymandering have hurt women across the state.
“They callously disregarded the needs of women,” said Neuhardt, who is pro-choice and a former board member of Planned Parenthood. “None of these services where they cut funding are related to abortion.”
They don't care — it's as simple as that. They don't care if women are less healthy and more impoverished, yet forced to give birth to children they can't support. They don't care if women's life choices are severely constricted, preventing them from giving a child what she needs to flourish.
Sharen Neuhardt is already making a difference. And it's one the Republicans won't be able to counteract by trotting out long-disappeared lieutenant governor Mary Taylor to prattle about what a disaster the Affordable Care Act is and lie some more about it.
So… we have Ohio attorney general Mike DeWine using our tax dollars to appeal a court decision limiting the ability of Ohio Republicans to keep third-party candidates off the ballot.
We also have our secretary of voter suppress … I mean STATE … Jon Husted setting “uniform” early voting hours for all of Ohio’s 88 counties — hours which offer disproportionate difficulties to working people by failing to provide any significant evening or weekend hours.
The two of them fought like crazy to block or limit the most popular early voting period, the three days before an election.
Now we’ve learned of another outrageous situation down in Hamilton County.
Currently its board of elections is located in downtown Cincinnati. And it’s looking to move. It’s eying a location about 10 miles out of downtown. It’s also looking to move its early voting location there — the only early voting location in the county. And, this being Ohio, where we don’t fund such things, it’s dauntingly difficult and time-consuming to reach by public transit.
The four BoE board members — twp Republicans and two Democrats — will vote on this move tomorrow. It’s not unlikely the vote will deadlock — with Republicans favoring this move and Democrats opposing it. That means Husted would break the tie. All eyes on Husted …
Democratic Council member P.G. Sittenfeld told WLWT that elected leaders will hold a press conference at 8 a.m. Monday before the board’s 8:30 a.m. vote on the move.
Sittenfeld said he and others believe the move will disproportionately affect voting access to women, minorities, seniors and low-income voters. It could also limit early voting.
Well, we all know who doesn't: the right-wing Republican zealots in the Ohio legislature and Governor John Kasich who is such a wimp he won't even take a bold, strong stand, ducking and dodging and then murmuring vaguely that he's "pro-life," which he isn't considering that he's made it much more difficult for people in Ohio to have quality of life.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald, who just picked the strongly pro-choice Sharen Neuhardt as his running mate, does. He's as straightforward as Kasich is cowardly and evasive.
Today on the 41st anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe V. Wade decision, he told reporters candidly what is going on: that the effect of the increased abortion restrictions hammers poorer women while more affluent women still have the ability to control their own reproduction.
Referencing the closing of a CIncinnati abortion clinic on a catch-22 technicality, FitzGerald told reporters,
That’s where you’re going to get more and more, when it comes to health care, in a situation of haves and have nots. Because for individuals in the Greater Cincinnati area that have economic resources to travel, it may not be much of a burden on them. But for women who are middle class or working class or the poor, those are the people who are going to have their options restricted.
Precisely. And of course, our legislature is also making it infinitely more difficult for those less affluent women to house, clothe, and educate the children the state wants to force them to have. That's anti-life, not pro-life. (And of course, none of these radical misogynists in the legislature has expressed any outrage about the infant mortality rates in some poor urban neighborhoods in Ohio).
Today is the 41st anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that's probably best known to the public — Roe v. Wade, the decision that assured woman the right to choose abortion if that was the best option for her.
That right has been under attack ever since, a parental notification law here, a waiting period there. For instance, the just-ended (thank god!) session of the Ohio legislature found right-wing zealots jamming a bunch of extraneous anti-choice measures into the budget bill — with no debate, no hearings, no nothing.
And then it was signed by Governor Kasich late on a Sunday evening, a low-attention news surrounded by six other middle-aged white men and no women. Despite pleas from thousands around the state that he line-item veto these provisions that had no business in the budget bill, he did not do so (although he managed to veto a provision pertaining to the private ownership of monkeys). The constitutionality of using the budget bill in this manner is being challenged in a lawsuit by the ACLU on behalf of Preterm Cleveland.
The secretive and hurried passage warded off the public outcry that took place around the passage anti-choice legislation in Texas — blowback that has turned state legislator Wendy Davis into being a viable candidate for governor of Texas.
Now some Ohio legislators are now proposing even more stringent restrictions, taking away women’s choices in increments. This approach is especially malicious because it has most impact on poor and working women — by making abortion costlier and more time-consuming, requiring travel, time off from work, or expensive, medically unnecessary, testing. These stipulations don't have as much impact on affluent women. Earlier this week, a clinic in Cincinnati was shut down by the state, thanks to a technicality set up by the provisions in the budget bill.
As we've discussed before, Ohio attorney general Mike DeWine has wasted our tax dollars on, among other things, court cases appealing for the state to be able to limit voter rights and voting opportunities.
This is an abuse of his office, using his position to push partisan initiatives intended to make voting more difficult for those least likely to vote Republican.
So it's very significant that his Democratic opponent David Pepper used the occasion of Dr. Martin Luther King Day to issue a position statement on voter protection and voter rights. You can read it here, and I urge you to do so:
As he reminds us,
Over the past three years, Ohio’s legislature and/or statewide office holders have repeatedly curtailed this most important right—whether it was by terminating early voting hours for most Ohioans, disqualifying voters who were victims of poll worker error, or limiting ballot access for Libertarians and other third party candidates.
And through case after case, appeal after appeal, courts have consistently ruled that these lawmakers violated the constitutional rights of the very people who put them in office.
He's laid out a very specific plan for how he will handle voting issues when he is attorney general.
Among other things, he says he will create a voting rights unit in the office's civil rights division to work with the secretary of state — hopefully Nina Turner — to investigate ANY attempts to subvert the voting process, including the GOP's favor fantasy, voter fraud. Since REAL cases of voter fraud are very few, that won't take much of their time. But they'll also deal with complaints of voter suppression and intimidation.
Some extraordinarily good news this morning as Ed FitzGerald names Sharen Neuhardt as his choice for running mate.
One thing that jumps out for many of us women is how historic this is. In the past, party slatemakers have cast around for that "token" woman to put on the ticket, for instance, Barbara Sykes in 2006 (alas, the only Democratic statewide candidate not to win that year). In 2010, we made progress — there were two (lieutenant governor candidate Yvette McGee Brown and secretary of state candidate Maryellen O'Shaughnessy).
With the addition of Sharen to the ticket, it's now split evenly between men and women. You know — like the WORLD.
Those of us who have gotten to know Sharen during her two runs for Congress know exactly how good this news is. Despite uphill runs in very Republican districts, she worked tirelessly and never gave up, never phoned it in, raising a considerable amount of money. Alas, in 2012, she faced the inexplicably popular long-time incumbent Mike "Who?" Turner, whose invisibility seems to work in his favor.
More recently, just this past October, Sharen was the speaker who introduced the program during the "We Won't Go Back" rally for women in Columbus at the Statehouse.
And in a little-known and now largely forgotten episode, in 2010, when the state Democratic Party was pushing the anti-choice, anti-gay Jennifer Garrison for secretary of state and telling women who complained to them that the party wasn't supporting anyone (suuuuuuuure) and that we should just go out and recruit our own candidate, Sharen answered our call to step up.
What are the duties of a state attorney general?
If you listened to campaign ad propaganda, it's all about pursuing high-profile rape and sexual abuse cases, particularly putting pedophiles behind bars.
Don't listen to that. That's stuff that plays well in campaign ads, but it's police work. It's not really the role of the attorney general.
At its most basic, his job is to defend the state in lawsuits. Beyond that, he can do many things to protect the state from wrongdoers. Our last attorney general Rich Cordray, for instance, sued underhanded mortgage brokers who cheated Ohio citizens, and won a boatload of money back for taxpayers.
Then there's our current AG, Mike DeWine.
He has a different vision. Sure, he's grandstanding over some of that high-profile stuff. But he's also been using the office — and our tax dollars — to promote his personal ideology. And that ideology doesn't involve defending the rights of Ohioans — it involves taking them away.
Wrong direction, Mikey.
In 2012, when Jon Husted was hot to shut down voting the three days before the election — the heaviest early voting days — and eager to appeal it to the U.S. Supreme Court, DeWine could have been the cooler head that prevailed, giving Husted the legal advice that this fight wasn't worth the time and money. Instead they pursued it, and the Supreme Court rejected their case, keeping those early voting days intact.
But DeWine really racked up a record of using tax dollars to deprive law-abiding, tax-paying citizens of their rights last year.
It apparently wasn't enough for Ohio's GOP zealots to pass new abortion restrictions. DeWine fought for the right of private, non-religion-related businesses to deny women contraceptive coverage. Never mind that that would increase abortions.
Then he fought to deprive a pair of men married in another state, one of whom was dying, to have their marriage recognized on his Ohio death certificate. How compassionate!
So at virtually the last minute, Hamilton County commissioner Todd Portune has decided that maybe he just might enter the Democratic primary campaign for governor.
This after Cuyahoga county executive Ed FitzGerald has spent more than a year traveling around the state getting to know key activists, nailing down key endorsements form Democratic leaders and progressive organizations, and laying the groundwork for a wider campaign. Ed announced his run last April.
Why is Portune running? That’s anyone’s guess. He said something about being upset that Ed dropped Cincinnati state senator Eric Kearney as his running mate after the Republicans and the media whipped up a frenzy over Kearney’s tax issues, a controversy you KNOW they weren’t going to let die. Ed and Eric apparently took a look at the shit storm and decided it would be best for all concerned if Kearney stepped aside. I don’t know what brilliant ideas Portune had for making this go away.
Portune starts in a very weak position. Like Ed a year ago, he’s totally unknown outside his home county. And although Ed’s recognition among the general public is still low, he’s made himself known over the last year to the party faithful — the people who carry the message to the general public. Now Portune apparently thinks he can do this same work in a mere four months.
Good luck with that. It reminds me a little of the position Maryellen O’Shaugnessy was in back in 2010 when she was tapped for the secretary of state slot in February 2010 after rising objections within the party forced it to dump its previous candidate Jennifer Garrison. Maryellen was a dynamo, but she just couldn’t overcome having to raise her name recognition outside of HER base of Franklin County in that time.
Yesterday, Ohio Democratic Party chair Chris Redfern announced that the ODP has named Liz Walters as its new executive director, replacing Kyle McDermott.
McDermott, who had been executive director since April 2011, left the party in October to go to work for Columbus-based progressive consulting firm JVA Campaigns. Since then, the party's deputy executive director Liz Brown had held the position as an interim, but she too had announced her intentions to move on.
The party had mounted a national search for McDermott's replacement and found her in-house: Liz is currently the ODP's political director. Before coming to the party she was involved in the campaign to repeal union-busting SB 5 and also worked for former congresswoman Betty Sutton, who represented the Akron area where Liz hails from.
Those of us who have interacted with Liz in the two years she's been with the ODP have seen how dynamic, articulate, and strong she is. She'll definitely be an asset in the campaign to retake the statewide offices this coming November.
In addition, it's going to be a plus to have a woman in the party's top position. That'll help shed the lingering perception — which in the past has too often been justified — that the ODP isn't appreciative of its women foot soldiers and activists and too often has treated women's interests as if they are mere side issues.
This was certainly a factor in 2010, when the party brushed off concerns about secretary of state candidate Jennifer Garrison's anti-choice positions as not terribly relevant. Unfortunately, they were relevant to many women in the state Democratic base whose enthusiasm for the campaign as a result was less than it might have been.
Good luck, Liz!