Friday, September 01, 2006


OH GOP to make campaign shift after Labor Day

As we have been mentioning for the past few days, Bob Bennett has been having some sleepless nights. Bennett has been at the helm of the GOP during it rise to dominance in Ohio politics, and deserves some the credit or blame, depending on your political views.

But like an actor who is only remembered by his or her last movie, Bennett is worried that he may only be remembered for the coming debacle of 2006.

Consider his position:
Bennett only has one choice at this point and unfortunately for him, it mostly a Sophie's Choice. But Bennett has no soft heart for this stuff and he has no problem picking a "bottom line" race or two and cutting off the rest.

And, with all due respect to our friends at Buckeye State Blog, this is not a rumor but fact. The Ohio GOP will essentially now focus on the non-governor offices it needs to retain control of the state Apportionment Board, the all-important 5-member group that controls political redistrictring (governor, auditor, sec. of state, majority gen. assembly member and minority gen. assembly member).

That means Bennett has marshaled his forces to shift their sights to the State Auditor and Secretary of State races. Bennett is cocky enough to have convinced himself (not us) that Mary Taylor can easily pull back in front of Barbara Sykes. The race he is most obsessed with now is the SOS race that pits the largely unknown Republican Greg Hartmann against the also relatively unknown Democrat Jennifer Brunner.

With both SOS candidates with little name recognition, Bennett is betting that if he drops $5 million on the Hartmann race, especially for a heavy media buy, the SOS job will stay in his column.

At the same time, Bennett is ceding control of the national races to the DC boys. His concern is really about the Statehouse, and not Washington.

And, of course, don't expect to see Kenny and the others publicly abandoned. Bennett won't embarrass him, but he will cut back to the bare minimum.

But, in any other year Bennett's strategy might work. Maybe it will, but we think he is still whistling in the dark and running scared.

Two can play the strategic political re-deployment game. The huge Strickland also gives Ohio Dems an enormous opportunity to focus on the Apportionment Board, too, and it only needs one win in the auditor/SOS races to seize control.

More on this after Labor Day.


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