Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Debate morning after edition

After listening for the last week to several Republican insiders who touted Kenny's "imposing," debating style, we think Kenny let the good ole boys down. We suppose his backers had to say such things to retain interest in the idea that maybe Kenny would land a KO, but ultimately it hurt him. That sort of mis-timed overhype can be deadly with the press corps, and the conclusion seems to be that Strickland held his own.

That's why we are seeing headlines this morning like "Strickland, Blackwell use debate to toss labels" (Plain Dealer), "Round 1: No knockouts as Blackwell, Strickland spar in first of four planned statewide debates" (Dispatch), "Strickland, Blackwell squabble over tax policy" (Blade) and "Blackwell, Strickland begin live debates" (Enquirer - someone want to wake up the Enquirer's headline writer?).

Several random thoughts: Although Ohioans will be bludgeoned with the "Taxin' Ted" theme until election day, we think it is quickly reaching the point of diminishing returns for Blackwell's campaign. Strickland handily dismissed it with the memorable line, "My opponent can talk about me raising taxes all he wants to, but he’s blowing hot air."

Journamalist nonpariel Mark Niquette seems to question Strickland's assertion that "thousands of Republicans" are joining his campaign. While we grant that the meaning of "joining a campaign" is a little unprecise, the fact is that Strickland does surprisingly well with GOP voters. For example, the 7/26 Rasmussen poll showed 37% of GOP respondents saying Ted is "Very Favorable" or "Somewhat Favorable." This number stayed at 37% in Rasmussen's 8/22 poll. The May 9-21 Ohio Poll showed 34% of "Conservatives" and 17% of Republicans siding with Strickland. And the Dispatch's own July 11-20 poll showed 12% of Republicans going with Strickland and another 25% undecided.

Finally, why does anyone take seriously Blackwell's claim that he could raise $6 billion by leasing the Ohio Turnpike for 99 years? Financial experts, including ones from the Center for Community Solutions and ones hired by the Plain Dealer say Blackwell is delusional (in so many words). The problems boil down to these two concerns: There is a trade off between higher tolls and usage, and the State of Ohio is still on the hook for rebuilding the turnpike 2-3 times during the lease. Potential leasees will not pay what Blackwell claims they will unless tolls double or triple, and the rebuilding costs are estimated to be $2-3 billion. And Blackwell's use of the Indiana turnpike lease is a joke! The tolls are already being doubled and investors are freaking out that drivers are going to go "off-turnpike" to offset the increases. And if the leasee (an Australian bank) in Indiana made such a good "deal" for itself, why didn't the banks stock rise? Our suggestion would be for Strickland to be the first to raise the turnpike issue at these debates.


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