What the Ohio Democratic Senate primary tells us about the state of their state parties.

There’s an interesting – in the ‘Chinese curse’ sense of the term – thing happening in Ohio’s Democratic Senate primary.  The not-really-short version is that national Democrats have told themselves a marvelous fairy tale about how they can take back to the Senate in 2016: unfortunately, state Democrats actually have to make that a reality somehow. And they’re being hampered by the way that national Democrats managed to blight state Democratic political gardens in 2010 and 2014.


Case in point: Ohio. The Ohio Democratic party leadership has seized upon the elderly (74) Ted Strickland for their Senate candidate, despite the fact that the former governor got beaten in his reelection bid in 2010 by John Kasich. Why? Because there isn’t anybody else at Strickland’s level. The Democrats got wiped out in the Ohio Congressional delegation in 2010, and have not recovered. In 2010 they had ten seats to the GOP’s eight; today they have four seats to the GOP’s twelve (Ohio lost two seats after the last Census). The state legislature is also heavily Republican, if not quite at this level. There are no Democratic state-wide elected officials in Ohio. And the previous Democratic gubernatorial candidate? …Well.

So it’s pretty much Ted, who takes comfort in the year-out polls saying that he’s ahead. …Still, there’s this guy from the Cincinnati city council called P.G. Sittenfeld. Insanely young for the gig (30), but apparently has some people backing him:

In recent weeks, old party leaders like former state chairman Jim Ruvolo and long-time Democratic political operative Jerry Austin – who were powers in the Ohio Democratic Party before Sittenfeld was born – are lined up with the Cincinnati city council member.

At the same time, the Ohio Democratic Party, led by 44-year-old David Pepper, a former Cincinnati council member and Hamilton County commissioner, came out of a disastrous 2014 statewide election vowing to pump new blood into the party, is backing the 74-year-old Strickland, who is of Ruvolo and Austin’s generation.


It utterly fascinates me how the Democratic party will confidently declare itself the party of the young – while at the same time ruthlessly avoiding ever letting any of those young people actually get their hands on the reins of power.  Which is, equally fascinatingly, the exact same technique that they use for African-Americans, Hispanics, women, and other assorted non-white-dudes. Why, it’s almost as if the Democrats don’t actually believe their own rhetoric! Which is silly, right?

The truth of the matter is, on a short-term level going with Strickland looks like the Smart Take… if you believe that the Democrats can beat [mc_name name=’Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000449′ ], which means that it is actually not really a Smart Take at all. It’s not that Portman won’t have a tough fight: but Portman has not made any real mistakes  and has no burning scandals looming over him. Couple that with plenty of reelection money and you have the basics for a successful incumbent campaign. So it would actually make more sense for the Democrats to toss out their wormy deadwood and instead run new candidates. Sure, they’ll still lose… but they’d get more of their people learning things, yes?


…Trust me: they won’t listen to me until it’s far too late. And maybe not even then. Which is just one of the many things that I love to see in our opposition, bless their hearts.

(Image via Shutterstock)

Moe Lane


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