Wednesday, October 18, 2006

 

Pool party: GOP 3-outta-5 strategy

For the record, the Hypothetically Speaking News Service said this exactly 48 days ago (Sept 1, 2006):
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.
The only thing that's changed from Sept. 1 is that 1) all the GOP polling is even worse, and 2) Bennett only has $3 million for Hartmann, not $5 million.

But, apparently, the steno corps has just figured out that their "horse race" stories for the last seven weeks look pretty moronic and are now trying to play catch up. From today's Plain Dealer:
"If there is a sense that we are going to push hard on these two, it's because we absolutely believe that we can win these races," said John McClelland, spokesman for the Ohio Republican Party.

The stakes are particularly high because of what the two offices could represent for Ohio politics in the future.

Both the secretary and auditor sit on the five-member Apportionment Board, which in 2011 will redraw congressional boundaries - a once-a-decade process often dominated by partisan politics. That would come after the next statewide election in four years, but because incumbents tend to hold a heavy advantage, who wins this year is important.

"Pooling our resources into the apportionment board seats - for Republicans, that has become the focus," said Republican strategist Mark Weaver, who is working for the campaign of GOP secretary of state candidate Greg Hartmann.

. . .

So, now Republicans Hartmann and auditor hopeful Mary Taylor, whose campaigns at times have appeared oddly dormant, are mounting late charges.

. . .

Sykes has run much like a front-runner, agreeing to only one debate with Taylor and promising to clean up state government's scandal-riddled reputation, garnered under Republicans. Taylor is doing the chasing, trying to goad Sykes into multiple debates, where she figures she could close the gap by touting her experience as a former accountant.

Brunner has been outspoken about the perceived troubles plaguing Ohio's election system from the time she entered the race, forcing political observers to take note of her campaign.

Hartmann was quiet at the beginning but has turned up the rhetoric over the past month, whipping up charges that Brunner was soft on criminals as a judge and turning the race into a mudfight.

Ohio Republicans know how to run a campaign, having held every executive seat since 1994 - governor and secretary since 1990. But keeping a majority of those in GOP hands might be wishful thinking, they concede.

"I think that winning three out of five," Weaver said, "would be a major success."

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