Tuesday, August 09, 2005


RON vs. TABOR redux - Was it something we said?

We've re-read a couple of times what we wrote yesterday about Blackwell taking his TABOR/LIE/TEL amendment off the ballot. Admittedly, we compiled some notes, made a few calls and wrote the piece in a major hurry so we wouldn't be late for a social commitment. We realize it wasn't our most coherent post.

Still, we aren't sure why good folks like the General at OH-02 have mistaken our comments to mean that we believe "that Republicans are pulling back because they support RON."

On the contrary. We thought we were asserting - and we want to make this perfectly clear now - that despite Bob Bennett's comments, we don't think Blackwell's decision had much to do with the RON amendments at all.

We think the behind the scenes machinations and arm twisting were based almost entirely on the merits of Blackwell's amendments and little else. To us, the "this let's us focus on defeating RON" explanation is essentially just some face-saving salve that Bennett cooked up to give Blackwell a way explain away his sudden change of heart.

And as for Republicans supporting RON, that certainly remains to be seen. Deb Pryce's statements weren't an endorsement by any means. It was simply a warning about the obvious mood in Ohio: that Republican opposition to the RON amendments could actually improve the chances of the amendments being passed.

We apologize for the cliche, but the GOP is truly between a rock and a hard place when it comes to RON. Everyone expects that they can easily raise $10-$15 million to fight RON. And everyone seems to believe that much of the guidance for opposing RON is coming out of DC.

The problem is that RON is already being framed (in a good way) as a David vs. Goliath, common people vs. big money, democracy vs. self-serving politicians, and citizens vs. unaccountable Republicans battle. A vicious, money-heavy anti-RON campaign will risk reinforcing the very frames that are causing RON to become more and and more popular. We aren't saying a dirty, Rovian campaign can't succeed, but right now we think the momentum is strongly in favor of the pro-RON forces. And, we think the anti-RON campaign without the presence of the Blackwell amendment will be pretty much the same as it would have been if he had gone forward to put it on the ballot.

And, we still stand by our belief that the pro-RON forces benefit from not having to compete with the anti-TABOR coalition for funds, volunteers, endorsements, etc. The parallel campaigns had caused significant strains and not a little grumbling. Some potential backers felt they had to put all their marbles in either one campaign or the other - but not both. Blackwell's retreat has pretty much made that a moot point.

Still, the fact remains that there is still a lot to learn about what motivated Blackwell to commit tabor interruptus. We heard rumblings of some more extensive political or financial deals involving Blackwell, with Bennett as the broker. Friends promise to fill us in in a few days.


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