Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Why That Meeting Is Important

Just so we're clear, we aren't spending time on this endorsement meeting because we dislike Dave Yost.  I like Dave Yost a lot.  He is a good candidate for Auditor.  I happen to think that he is a better candidate for Attorney General.  But that's NOT what this is about.

Some might think that this is about Mike DeWine.  Or Kevin DeWine.  But that's NOT what this is about either.

What this is about is how the Ohio Republican Party (ORP) is doing business.  In previous endorsement proceedings, the State Central Committee (SCC) took the time to hear from each candidate or campaign.  That a similar process was NOT followed this time around is very telling.  There HAS to be a reason for why the SCC was rushed to make a decision.  Logicially, it has to do with the importance of the Auditor's race and the ORP wanted to move quickly.  That makes perfect sense to me.

And that is the problem.

This decision is entirely too convenient for all the "right" players and that is why it smells.  The perception that a backroom deal was made to clear the Attorney General (AG) race for Chairman DeWine's second cousin Mike is out there because the party establishment failed to take the time to work the process as they had before.

Make no mistake about it, my interest in this has to do with two things:

1) I oppose Mike DeWine for Attorney General.  He is a miserable candidate who lost 60-40 to Sherrod Brown.  And yes, that is the perception of Mike DeWine even though the actual numbers were 56-44.  A double digit loser doesn't get second chances.  Again, I'll ask if the SCC or the ORP would move mountains for Ken Blackwell...  We all know the answer to that.

2) I am fighting for a reformed ORP at all levels.  We need a much more transparent process that eliminates nepotism and unethical behavior.  Chairman DeWine has instituted a zero-tolerance policy for law breakers, but I don't believe that goes far enough.  Republicans ought to be held to a higher standard.  We ought not make excuses for violations of the spirit of the law.  And we ought to be standing for something rather than putting up with anything.

In my conversations with various SCC members, I get the distinct impression that they made their decision based on who they thought had the best chance to win the Auditor's seat merely because of  the Apportionment Board.  This is what I call the "People only care about who is running for Auditor once every ten years" defense and I find it rather weak.  But I do understand it.  Mary Taylor put us in a very difficult position of having to find a replacement on what is really some pretty short notice; so I don't blame the Chairman for asking Dave to switch races (that's his job), and I don't blame the SCC for thinking he was the best choice (that's their call).

Back on point, my interest in the particulars of this meeting deals with the hows and whys of the decision-making process.   Furthermore, I am interested in evaluating how we got here so we can learn some things for the future so fiascos like this don't happen again.

As I see it, Chairman DeWine had absolutely no plan for replacing Taylor.  If the Apportionment Board is as important as everybody says it is (and it is), why wasn't there a plan in case she (Lord forbid) ever got hit by a bus and died?  What if Dave had stuck to his guns (which I think he should have) and said no?

As I have said before, I think Dave Yost is a good candidate for Auditor.  I don't think he is the BEST candidate for Auditor.  People don't come here to get Kevin DeWine's opinion, they come here to hear what I think.  As far as I am concerned, if you have a problem with that then it is YOU who are dividing the party, not me.  I believe that the People should be making these decisions, not the Chairman OR his second cousin OR their supporters.  We, the People...that used to mean something.  And as the Republican Party is finding out, just because John Kasich says he was "Tea Party before there was a Tea Party" doesn't mean these people are just going to fall in line with the establishment.  Tea Party represents a segment of the electorate, a pretty big segment in my opinion, and the surest way to lose the Apportionment Board is to continue ticking these folks off.

I've lost track of how many times I have made a prediction or reported some chatter and listen to the establishment laugh, call me names, and whatnot only to witness it come true.  The establishment types will go looking around for someone else to blame (and sometimes they point their fingers at me) and all I can say is: I told you so.

So why is that meeting so important?  I passed along some rumors that the ORP was "not interested" in Seth Morgan forAuditor.  I checked in with the ORP and got two snide and short responses.  And the very next day, the chairman has a quote in the Dayton Daily News advocating for Dave Yost.  Now, I don't know for sure...maybe Kevin slept on it, woke up and said, "I got a wacky idea!  Let's get Dave to run."  Maybe it happened just like that.  I am just not willing to suspend my disbelief that far...  That meeting was the completion of my prediction that the establishment was not interested in Morgan because they wanted to free up Mike DeWine from an embarassment in the primary.  The motivations of the various players may not be 100% accurate, but what they did sure is.  The actions fuel the perception that this party is engaging in back room deals.  THAT is why the meeting is so important.

And let me address something else...  WMD has a pretty influential audience.  I want to get the story right.  That is why I keep trying to make connections with the ORP.  That they aren't willing to reach out on something like this beforehand, speaks volumes about how little they actually care about YOU.

UPDATE:  John Becker commented over at Facebook with what I think is a pretty fair point:
It is actually pretty rare that a screening committee gets formed to consider multiple candidates. Far more often, the SCC is overwhelmingly behind one candidate. Candidates lobby the individual members. Dave Yost earned the respect of the SCC and was overwhelmingly endorsed. Any member could have moved to endorse Seth Morgan or anybody else.
I have also heard from other SCC Members that their interaction with Seth Morgan has been less than positive.  One in particular would have been open to Seth's candidacy but apparently Team Morgan dropped the ball.  This comes down to specific knowledge of how the party works and access to get the job done.  Again, that makes it more difficult for new people to break in to the process and makes for a less transparent approach to the whole thing...but that's how the game is played.