Saturday, March 08, 2008

Late Hit in OH-12

Maybe it's sour grapes. Maybe it was a reporter with an agenda taking quotes out of context. Whatever the cause (and email to Goodwin's campaign email address yesterday has gone unanswered), it was ugly and certainly has not been a great kickoff to the supposedly shared goal of getting new representation in Congress for OH-12.

"It" is an article published on March 7 innocuously entitled "Goodwin Loses His House Bid" in the Gay People's Chronicle. The article includes a number of reasons given by Goodwin, the former head of Stonewall Democrats in Central Ohio, for his loss:

1) “We were outspent by quite a bit, possibly four to one,” ... Goodwin said he raised and spent around $12,000, and guessed that Robinson had closer to $50,000.

2) “We ran a clean race, but it didn’t pay off,” said Goodwin

3) Goodwin said one of his opponents ran a quiet gay-baiting campaign behind the scenes, though he cannot tell which one. That campaign included phone calls and “push polls” questioning why the Democratic Party would endorse a gay man to run in a conservative, Republican-leaning district.

Goodwin did add “I’m a good Democrat. I endorse Robinson,” against Tiberi.

I'm sorry, but claiming you lost because you ran a clean race, while your opponents threw money at the electorate and ran a quiet gay-baiting campaign does not an endorsement make, especially when the only reason you can come up with is generic party loyalty. This is a Monday morning hit piece, and the only questions are whether Robinson deserves the hits and whether Goodwin was accurately represented in the piece. As I've said, my attempt at contacting Goodwin has been unsuccessful, so I can't answer the second question, but I had a conversation with David Robinson this afternoon, and I'm definitely leaning toward an answer on the first:

No, he doesn't.

Before I spoke with him today, I had already gone to double-check the FEC filings. As of 2/13/08, Goodwin and Robinson had both raised about the same amount of money, with Robinson having raised a few hundred dollars more than the $12k Goodwin had raised. Robinson's filing showed that a chunk of his funds had come from a few maxed-out donors. The claim that Robinson had raised almost $40,000 dollars from a brand new donor base, when the party had endorsed his opponent, in three weeks, during which time Goodwin apparently raised absolutely nothing, was far-fetched enough to make me question Goodwin's credibility.

As it turns out, the Robinson campaign estimates that it spent about $25000 on the primary, or about double what Goodwin had raised at the time of the last report to the FEC. It's a pretty impressive total given the circumstances, but it is half of what Goodwin claimed. Robinson was actually sympathetic to Goodwin regarding this, as a central part of Robinson's campaign strategy is centered on efficient use of campaign funds, getting lots of "bang for the buck." Tiberi has a major cash-on-hand advantage, and will be able to raise more on demand if he feels threatened. The fact that the campaign was able to make their warchest seem twice as large as it actually was in the primary is being taken as a good sign.

As for the rest of it... Robinson was clearly disappointed at the suggestion his campaign may have engaged in gay baiting tactics. Robinson described such tactics as "personally repugnant," and offered two pieces of information to make his case. First, when it came to light that a caller to a radio show had engaged in such tactics, the Robinson campaign had gone out of their way to denounce the action and assure the Goodwin campaign that they had no interest in engaging in that type of offensive campaigning. Second, Robinson pointed to a statement he wrote for the February 21 issue of Outlook Weekly, in which he sought to make apparent his intent to be a strong ally of the LGBT community. The statement reads, in part:

As I see it, securing full and equal rights before
the law for the LGBT community is central to the
advancement of the American Promise of “life, liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness” for all. Our Constitution
legally grounds this premise. But even
more fundamentally – on the level of the soul and
spirit – I believe that all of us are the expression of
the divine (however one conceives of this), and the
world is poorer when any of us is forced to suppress
the positive, full expression of who we are and how
we love. Until these ideals are realized and codified
in law, we, as a nation, remain in a state of contradiction
with ourselves.
If chosen to represent the 12th District in Congress,
I will wholeheartedly support legislation that
extends equal rights to LGBT couples of all ages, in
regards to civil unions, healthcare and social security
benefits and inheritance tax laws. I will support,
unlike the incumbent, final passage and enactment
of HR 1592: Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes
Prevention Act of 2007.

I know that losing an election can be rough, and that things get said that one sometimes regrets ("monster," anyone?), but if Goodwin really wants to be seen as a good Democrat, he'll clarify his comments or at least keep them to himself in the future. We've got a very good candidate motivated to take on Pat Tiberi, and this sort of post-election stinkbomb isn't good for anybody.

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