Ohio will be a battleground come November, but the big money groups are spending lavishly now in hopes of unseating the Senate's best economic populist.
Everybody expects Ohio to be a battleground come November, with political attack ads on every channel and phones ringing off the hook with election-related robocalls. Even though it's only spring, corporate cash is already flooding into the state as big money looks to unseat one of the most progressive members of the Senate, Sherrod Brown.
“They see this race as important to getting a majority in the US Senate regardless of what happens in the presidential race,” Brian Rothenberg of ProgressOhio told AlterNet. “Ohio is a swing state in a couple of ways; one is the presidency but the other is the Senate.”
And Greg Sargent at the Washington Post noted recently, “In what may come as a surprise to many Democrats, the Ohio Senate race appears to be the target of more spending by GOP-aligned outside groups than the [Elizabeth] Warren contest or any other Senate race in the country.”
It's likely to come down to organized people versus big money in a state that boasts a fired-up progressive-labor movement that recently beat back GOP governor John Kasich's attack on workers' union rights. Grassroots groups in the Buckeye State are now skilled in running campaigns from the ground up, and Brown, unlike many of his fellow Democrats, has always been unequivocal about declaring which side he's on, winning his 2006 race through a kind of economic populism that many Dems seem uncomfortable emulating (and that prefigured the rise and popularity of Elizabeth Warren).
Brown vs. Mandel
Ohio voters, according to Rothenberg, “are not single-issue voters, they're looking at the overall package of how the person does, how they fight for you. Sherrod has a long history in this state.”
Ohioans have known for years what the rest of America figured out after the financial crisis in 2008: the economy isn't working for the majority of Americans. And Brown was ahead of the curve, campaigning on that issue back in '06, when he first won election to the Senate—with one of the largest margins of victory over an incumbent in history. The author of a book called Myths of Free Trade: Why American Trade Policy has Failed, Brown is also an outspoken advocate for women's reproductive rights and LGBT rights, linking these issues with attacks on workers in a way many Democrats (including his colleague from Ohio, Marcy Kaptur) fail to do. He's worked to preserve manufacturing jobs in Ohio (and outside of the state), and sponsored such legislation as the Payroll Fraud Prevention Act and the Foreclosure Fraud and Homeowner Abuse Prevention Act of 2011. It's no wonder that he's a prime target for the Right.
“I think it's because the other side really understands how good for the 99 percent Sherrod Brown is. When he talks, he speaks to everybody. He speaks in a way that pulls everybody together in understanding what the issues really are. I think for the other side that's a pretty scary thing,” said Jason Perlman of the Ohio AFL-CIO.
His opponent, meanwhile, has most recently made headlines for hiring political allies (including young, inexperienced campaign staffers) for nicely paid positions in the his office—after accusing his opponent, incumbent Democrat Kevin Boyce, of the same thing. “Unlike the current officeholder, I will ensure that my staff is comprised of qualified financial professionals — rather than political cronies and friends — and that investment decisions are based on what is best for Ohioans,” he argued on the campaign trail. He's also been called out by state Democrats for disappearing on the job, spending more time fundraising for his Senate campaign than actually performing the duties of his office (Mandel was elected in 2010 as part of the GOP sweep of the state), and for taking a trip to the Bahamas to raise money from the payday lending industry. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported:
Mandel is chairman of the state Board of Deposit, which decides how and where to deposit public money, but has missed every one of its meetings. Months after taking his seat as Ohio's treasurer in January 2011, he began traveling widely to raise money -- $5.8 million so far, records show -- for his Senate campaign. He is expected to have one of the deepest campaign chests of any Senate challenger this year.
Perlman noted, “At the end of the day, there's just news report after news report of how little time [Mandel] actually spends in the office he now holds. I think it will come back to haunt him.”
“Although Josh Mandel's been able to raise money, he hasn't been able to get a lot of traction,” Rothenberg said. Polls back him up—RealClearPolitics' average shows Brown with a nearly 8-point lead, and NBC News shows him up by 10.
“They're spending hundreds of thousands of dollars weekly already but the poll numbers aren't changing,” Rothenberg pointed out. “In a post-Citizens United world, these are businessmen, you gotta wonder whether they look at the polls.”
On the campaign trail, Mandel's made a name for himself trying to co-opt Brown's signature issue by blaming the senator for sending jobs to China—a hilarious claim on its face (even rated “pants on fire” by PolitiFact Ohio), but one that shows the power of economic issues to drive this campaign cycle. According to his Web site, Mandel “believes that creating a business-friendly, pro-growth environment to foster job creation in Ohio and America is the highest priority of his campaign. He strongly believes that common sense tax reforms, the repeal of government-run healthcare and the elimination of over burdensome agency regulations on small businesses are crucial to the recovery of our state and national economies.”
But after two years of GOP-driven policies that haven't done much for working people, Rothenberg said that Ohioans aren't buying Mandel's line. “Quite frankly, he's building a record of being a mini-Mitt and it's kind of the wrong year to be a flawed candidate and represent the 1 percent.”
Follow the Money
Ohioans have already been treated to anti-Brown, anti-Obama ads aplenty—and it's only the beginning of April. Perlman noted that a ton of money has already been spent, and they're expecting it to continue.
When Greg Sargent, with data provided by the Brown campaign, crunched the numbers, he found that nearly $5 million had been spent on ads attacking Brown alone. Those ads have been funded by groups like Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS ($800,000) and Concerned Women for America (an anti-abortion group). The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has spent heavily on the state, and new reporting from Lee Fang at Republic Report traces funding for the Chamber back to corporations such as Coca-Cola, eBay, AETNA and Chevron. The Sunlight Foundation also reports that the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks (another right-wing group funded by the Koch brothers) have ponied up for the race (the Club for Growth is the top donor to Mandel's campaign) and he's gotten $283,490 from investment banks.
Mandel, who is Jewish, has also been criticized by Jewish groups for taking a donation (a small one, of $1,000) from former House candidate Rich Iott, whose campaign against Marcy Kaptur in 2010 went down in flames when it was revealed that he had a hobby of dressing up like a Nazi.
With so much money pouring in so early in states like Ohio, local activists are starting to wonder if the ads will make a difference in the end. Many people no longer get their news from the TV, let alone from the big major networks, and services like TiVo allow viewers to skip over ads, while web viewing provides audiences an entirely different set of advertisements. Rothenberg wondered if people in swing states are bombarded with so many negative ads that they just end up tuning them out, or decide not to trust any of them.
“It'll be interesting to see how this goes for the rest of the year, but at some point you would think that if the numbers don't change, despite all the commercials they're running attacking a US Senator, that either their messaging is off, or they're going too negative too early, or they've got a bad candidate and people know Sherrod Brown,” Rothenberg said.
As Ohio, So America?
Corporate groups looking to unseat the Democratic president and take back the Senate for the GOP can get twice the bang for their buck spending money in Ohio, one of the biggest swing states (worth 18 electoral votes), attacking a progressive senator and the president at once.
On the other hand, Brown's popularity could benefit Obama, whose lukewarm record on jobs and coziness with the big banks, coupled with a hands-off attitude (recent populist rhetoric notwithstanding) to the labor struggles that rocked Ohio and Wisconsin in the last year, might face a struggle in the state—though at the moment he does have a nearly 6-point lead over Republican front-runner Romney in recent Ohio polls.
Conflict within the state Democratic party aside, Brown has been a steadfast ally of the working people who fought to preserve collective bargaining rights for public workers, and has been vocal in linking the attacks on union rights to the larger attacks on voting rights and women's rights nationwide, as well as to the Occupy movement.
“We progressives are a pretty divided lot sometimes,” Rothenberg acknowledged, but the fight to overturn SB5 “actually brought everybody together working as one, and because of that we have a strong movement.”
It would be poetic justice, to be sure, if the GOP's attacks on working people during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression resulted in a newly strong movement that helped Democrats hang on to the Senate and the presidency.
“Hopefully we'll prove that money can't buy every election.” Perlman said.
Link to original article from AlterNet
There's no question -- the midterm elections this fall are consequential. In Washington, they will determine not only whether Democrats retain control of the Senate, but also whether our nation has a chance to solve real problems for American families or if President Obama will have to veto his way through his final two years in office.
What we must also remember is that this election is crucial in states across the country. While progress has been stymied by gridlock in Congress, state legislatures made lopsided by gerrymandered districts have wasted...
Jeff Johnson, Rev. Jesse Jackson | The Huffington Post 24 Sep 2014 Hits:282 Ohio
Federal and state governments do not do enough to safeguard drinking water around the nearly 200,000 wells where fracking wastewater is injected deep underground, according to a federal report.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office investigation found that existing regulations do not adequately protect against contamination that could occur after earthquakes, which is increasingly a concern at injection wells and fracking sites in Ohio and out west.
In some states, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency oversees injection wells. On others, state agencies, such as the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, regulates oil...
Laura Arenschield | The Columbus Dispatch 11 Aug 2014 Hits:481 Ohio
Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s (R) environmental record took a turn for the worse last week when he approved rolling back the state’s renewable energy standards. The Buckeye State became the nation’s first to go backwards in this area.
But it’s not the only trouble area for the Ohio governor as it relates to environmental policy.
We learned in February that Kasich had originally endorsed hydraulic fracturing – better known as “fracking” – on public land, though he reversed course under unusual circumstances. In 2012, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which is responsible for...
Steve Benen | The Maddow Blog 02 Jun 2014 Hits:517 Ohio
Proponents of marriage equality have been on quite a winning streak in the courts, targeting anti-gay laws in states across the country. That streak continued this morning in Ohio.
U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black has formally ruled that Ohio must recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other states, but he put a hold on his order for the time being.
“Ohio’s marriage recognition is facially unconstitutional and unenforceable under any circumstances,” Black said in an order he announced verbally 10 days ago.
“It is this court’s responsibility to give meaning and effect to...
Steve Benen | The Maddow Blog 14 Apr 2014 Hits:407 Ohio
John Arthur is dying. He is in the terminal stages of Lou Gehrig’s disease and has entered hospice care. Arthur is also gay, and in a 20 year relationship with a man named Jim Obergefell. Because the couple’s home state of Ohio will not allow them to marry, Arthur and Obergefell recently flew to Maryland together and were legally married on the tarmac — just weeks after the Supreme Court’s landmark marriage equality decision in United States v. Windsor. Arthur was unable to rise from his hospice bed.
In his final...
Ian Millhiser | Think Progress 25 Jul 2013 Hits:593 Ohio
If convicted of hacking-related charges, Deric Lostutter could get more jail time than the rapists he went after.
In April, the FBI quietly raided the home of the hacker known as KYAnonymous in connection with his role in the Steubenville rape case. Today he spoke out for the first time about the raid, his true identity, and his motivations for pursuing the Steubenville rapists, in an extensive interview with Mother Jones.
"The goal of the media interviews is to get the entire nation to say 'fuck you' to these guys," said KYAnonymous,...
Josh Harkinson | Mother Jones 07 Jun 2013 Hits:766 Ohio
Sanitation Workers Go On Unfair Labor Practice Strike; Co-Workers in Evansville, Ind. and Urbana, Ill. Refuse To Work In Show of Support
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio, March 28, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Sanitation workers employed by Republic Services/Allied Waste [NYSE: RSG] went on strike in Ohio last night to protest the company's violations of federal labor law. Workers at Republic's Carbon Limestone landfill outside of Youngstown put up a picket line instead of reporting to their shifts late yesterday.
The striking workers are members of Teamsters Local Union 377. They are exercising their rights under federal law to strike in protest of Republic illegally...
PR Newswire 29 Mar 2013 Hits:881 Ohio
Ben Lupo, owner of D&L Energy and Hardrock Excavating, pleaded not guilty Thursday to federal felony charges under the Clean Water Act.
Lupo is accused of ordering the dumping of thousands of gallons of chemical-laced fracking waste into streams in Youngstown, Ohio.
On the night of January 31, state investigators acted on an anonymous tip and caught Lupo's employees dumping oil and gas drilling waste - fluid, mud and oil - into a storm sewer that empties into a tributary of the Mahoning River, according to the Justice Department.
Lupo admitted to state authorities...
Mike Ludwig | Truthout 16 Feb 2013 Hits:1094 Ohio
Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) has joined the growing list of Republican governors pushing income tax cuts for the wealthiest citizens of his state, and like those other governors, his plan would raise taxes on the poor to pay for it.
Kasich’s plan would cut income tax rates by 20 percent and some business tax rates in half, and it would pay for the plan by levying sales taxes on goods and services that were previously exempt. Since sales taxes are inherently regressive, Kasich’s plan would raise taxes on the poorest...
Travis Waldron | Think Progress 08 Feb 2013 Hits:744 Ohio
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is fast becoming one of the most despised election officials in the country for his many attempts to restrict early voting and throw out legitimate provisional ballots. He’s also alienating federal judges left and right. After Husted issued a last-minute directive that could invalidate thousands of Ohioans’ votes, US District Judge Algenon Marbley did not bother to hide his impatience with the secretary’s hijinks.
Husted’s directive, which was issued at 7 pm on the Friday before the election, openly...
Aviva Shen | Think Progress 10 Nov 2012 Hits:981 Ohio
Pollsters and pundits have trained their eyes on Ohio, where President Obama maintains a narrow lead over Mitt Romney just days before the election. According to exit polls, Obama’s lead is even stronger among early voters. But several recent developments threaten to disenfranchise many of these voters and plunge Ohio into a bureaucratic nightmare on election night.
The Columbus Dispatch reported on Thursday that a data-sharing glitch and mistakes by election officials have caused thousands of absentee ballot requests to be rejected. While Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted maintains that...
Aviva Shen | ThinkProgress 03 Nov 2012 Hits:1001 Ohio
Those anonymous billboards in Ohio and Wisconsin that equate voting with a possible prison sentence are coming down, to be replaced in some cases by new ones that say, "Voting is a right. Not a crime!"
After initially defending the billboards paid for by a "private family foundation," the advertising company Clear Channel has announced that it will take down the scary billboards. Their message -- "Voter fraud is a felony! Up to 3 1/2 years & $10,000 fine" -- has been presented now in dozens of...
Laura Conaway | The Maddow Blog 22 Oct 2012 Hits:852 Ohio
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan says the idea that Mitt Romney would raise taxes on the middle-class is a misperception being spread by negative ads from the Obama campaign.
Ryan was asked by a supporter during a campaign stop Wednesday in Columbus, Ohio, to dispel the notion. The Wisconsin congressman says he and Romney have cut taxes in the past and plan to continue to do so if elected.
Ryan joined 11 supporters over dinner at an Italian restaurant on Columbus' east side.
The event gave...
Julie Carr Smyth | Yahoo News / Associate Press 17 Oct 2012 Hits:750 Ohio
The Supreme Court said Tuesday that early voting can proceed in Ohio — a major win for President Obama.
In a one-sentence order with no explanation, the court rejected Ohio Republicans' efforts to block early voting three days before Election Day. The court left in place a lower court's ruling that said early voting had to be available to all Ohioans — not just military personnel.
Democrats initiated the legal battle over Ohio's early voting policy after state officials decided to eliminate three days of early voting...
Sam Baker | The Hill 16 Oct 2012 Hits:744 Ohio
The move is designed to thwart voting by Democrats on the last weekend before Election Day.
Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State John Husted is deteremined to stop upwards of 100,000 Ohioans—many of whom are African-American churchgoers who live in the state’s cities—from voting on the Sunday before Election Day in November.
Husted has been smacked down by a succession of federal court ruling in his efforts to curtail early voting on the final weekend before Election Day on November 6 th. But on Tuesday, his office...
Steven Rosenfeld | AlterNet 09 Oct 2012 Hits:921 Ohio
Once again, political experts are predicting that the 2012 presidential election could be decided in the battleground state of Ohio, like it was in 2004.
Remember what happened that year? George W. Bush won the state by a narrow 118,000 votes in an election marred by widespread electoral dysfunction. “The misallocation of voting machines led to unprecedented long lines that disenfranchised scores, if not hundreds of thousands, of predominantly minority and Democratic voters,” found a post-election report by Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee....
Ari Berman | The Nation 09 Oct 2012 Hits:887 Ohio
As the facts of this case demonstrated, cutting off early voting will endanger many voters’ ability to cast a vote.
A unanimous panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed a lower court’s decision striking down Ohio’s recent law limiting early voting . Although the panel divided on its reasoning, all three judges concluded that the law has serious constitutional deficiencies. Themajority opinion was written by Judge Eric Clay, a Clinton appointee, and Judge Joseph Hood, a George H.W. Bush appointee.
As the facts of this case...
Ian Millhiser | Think Progress 05 Oct 2012 Hits:861 Ohio
After previously trying to restrict early voting, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) today reversed course on his decision to block county boards of elections from setting their own early voting hours in the days leading up to the November election.
Last month, Husted and Ohio Republicans led an effort to limit early voting hours in Democratic counties, including those with major cities like Columbus and Cleveland, while expanding early voting in Republican counties. After the ensuing uproar, Husted moved to restrict voting hours...
Scott Keyes | Think Progress 08 Sep 2012 Hits:866 Ohio
The GOP's war on voting in this key swing state is getting uglier.
Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State John Husted is playing with political fire.
On Friday, a U.S. District Court ordered Ohio’s Secretary of State to open polling places on the weekend before November’s presidential election, issuing an ruling that said voting on that weekend could serve 100,000 voters, particularly minorities and the poor.
Earlier today, Husted responded by thumbing his nose at that injunction—which relied on the federal Voting Rights Act—by issuing a directive telling Ohio...
Steven Rosenfeld | AlterNet 04 Sep 2012 Hits:852 Ohio
Last month, President Obama’s reelection campaign filed a lawsuit claiming that a recently enacted Ohio law eliminating early voting in the three days before an election, except for members of the military, violates the Constitution’s guarantee that all voters enjoy equal access to the franchise. The campaign’s lawsuit called for the right of all voters to cast an early ballot be restored in Ohio — it explicitly stated that expanding the franchise, not taking early voting away from military personnel as well, was the appropriate outcome.
Ian Millhiser 31 Aug 2012 Hits:1066 Ohio
Last Wednesday August 15th, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted issued a directive requiring specific rules and operating hours for county boards of elections. Specifically, the directive eliminated early voting on weekends, and barred all boards of elections from being open on Columbus Day. The directive further raised questions about postage being paid for on absentee ballot envelopes. Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio) released this statement in response:
“The actions of the Ohio Secretary of State appear to have the effect of suppressing the...
Congressman John Conyers | Press Release 24 Aug 2012 Hits:686 Ohio
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s recent decision to prohibit early voting on nights and weekends in all districts has many concerned about the effect on voter turnout in…
In a dramatic move, Ohio Secretary of State John Husted immediately suspended two Democrats on a county election board after they voted to allow weekend voting.
Earlier, Husted issued…
Voting rights are under attack in more than a dozen states, including Ohio. Legislatures, most controlled by Republicans, have passed laws to require voters to show photo identification, restrict early…
For the last four years, Republican lawmakers around the country have diligently tried to eliminate early-voting periods, which give people a chance to vote at their convenience. The reason is simple:…
Photo Credit: AFP
Investigations by the FBI into campaign donations and strong-arm tactics in Ohio's Republican Party implicate big-name politicians, like anti-union Governor John Kasich.
Ohio governor John Kasich has…
Don't Frack Ohio
On May 24, the Ohio’s State Assembly passed Senate Bill 315—one of the worst fracking laws in the nation—by a 21-8 vote in the Senate and a 73-19…
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Doctors given new access to the proprietary chemical recipes that oil and gas drillers use to crack into Ohio shale would be prohibited from…
(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) will not seek a House seat in Washington state this year after losing a primary to a fellow Democratic …
A proposed state budget bill would effectively strip federal funding to the family-planning organization. Sen. Nina Turner tells Abigail Pesta, “It’s a social, racial, and economic attack.”
PDA is organized around several core issues. These issues include:
Each team hosts a monthly conference call. Calls feature legislators, staffers and other policy experts. On these calls we determine PDA legislation to support as well as actions and future events.