Who’s Who in Ohio’s Election Races
As applications for the absentee ballots that appeared in student mailboxes a week ago indicate, Nov. 7, midterm election day, is fast approaching. As elections draw closer, the politically-minded keep a watchful eye on Ohio, a vital swing state. The outcome of this year’s Ohio elections could determine the political direction the state takes in the next presidential election.
Though Ohio is a swing state, it is currently controlled by the Republican Party. This year, however, a strong showing in the polls indicates that Democrats have a good chance of redistributing power, but the race is still unpredictable. Many Democrats feel that big business is receiving too many tax breaks. Republicans argue that granting corporate tax breaks creates additional revenue which, in turn, creates more jobs and opportunity. In response, Democrats note that a number of corporations that benefit from tax breaks do not offer their employees health care or pay them a living wage.
Scandal in the Republican camp has hurt their political chances this term. According to an August 2005 Washington Post article, Governor Bob Taft admitted guilt to four counts of ethical violation in the form of receiving illegal gifts for $5,800 in 2005.
Political groups on campus agree that key races this year include the US Senate, governor/lieutenant governor and Congressional races.
Ohio’s Senate race features Republican incumbent Mike DeWine running against Democratic candidate Sherrod Brown. DeWine’s loss would help upset current Republican control of the Senate.
College senior and Oberlin College Republicans co-chair Jonathan Bruno spoke in support of DeWine: “I can’t think of a more independent member of congress than Mike Dewine — he’s a moderate.” Bruno said he believes DeWine to be a better option than the “far-left liberal” Sherrod Brown.
Oberlin College Democrats co-chairs and College juniors Brian Pugh and Namrata Kolachalam disagreed with Bruno, stating that DeWine is not a moderate. According to the co-chairs, the OC Dems endorse Brown over DeWine because they view him as a great progressive candidate who will put Ohio in the right direction.
Pugh and Kolachalam cited Brown’s refusal to take congressional healthcare as an example of his integrity. They said that Brown believes that all people should have access to health care, and until the tax payers have that access he will not accept subsidized health care.
Bruno said that while many Oberlin students are confident in Brown’s success, “The senate seat is very much up for grabs.”
Another important race is the Ohio governor/lieutenant governor race with Democrats Ted Strickland and Lee Fisher running against Republicans J. Kenneth Blackwell (current secretary of state) and Thomas A. Raga. Strickland currently surpasses Blackwell in the polls.
Blackwell’s political career has recently been colored with scandal. According to an April 4 Columbus Dispatch article, Blackwell presided over the 2004 presidential elections as Ohio secretary of state. When it was brought to his attention that voting machines made by Diebold were faulty, he did nothing to address the issue.
After the election, the article reported, it came to light that Blackwell owned stock in Diebold, which he promptly sold.
“If you think the 2004 presidential election was run well in Ohio, vote for Blackwell,” said Pugh.
Pugh and Kolachalam went on to say that while Blackwell is often described as a moderate, he has supported most of Bush’s policies at the state level, including the war in Iraq.
“He is not a representative of Ohio. He is the Republican Party’s representative in Ohio,” said Pugh.
The Dems say they endorse Strickland because his executive veto power if elected governor could possibly disrupt Republican actions.
The congressional race for District 13, Lorain County’s district, features Democrat Susan Morano against Republican Martha W. Wise. Bruno described Wise as a moderate as well.
“[Wise] has spoken out against that corruption in Columbus just as much as her opponents. I feel very good about Martha Wise and her campaign,” said Bruno.
The OC Dems shared similar views on Martha Wise, stating she was a “good person” but got “mixed up in the wrong crowd.”
Bruno said that the OC Republicans are considering getting involved in Wise’s local campaign efforts, though no decisions have been made at this point.
For the most part, however, involvement in elections will “not really be a main focus” this semester for the Republicans, said Bruno. The Dems said the same was true for them.