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.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Who You Calling Rusty?

A study by the Columbus Chamber on behalf of the OSU Medical Center examines job growth in Central Ohio over the past 6 years, determining that OSUMC is responsible for half of the net job growth in the area over that time, and 3 of the top 5 employers in terms of job creation are in health care.

In Columbus, jobs and health care are not separate issues.

The most eye-catching pieces of the report, however, are two tables. One showing the 20 largest employers in the Columbus Metropolitan Statistical Area (treating OSU and OSUMC as separate entities), and the net jobs added or lost by those employers between 2001 and 2007. The title of this post refers to the fact that there is only one manufacturing firm among the top 20 employers: Honda. While Columbus is dominated by public-sector employees (being the state capital, county seat, largest city in OH, and home to the nation's largest university) the public sector employers represent 5 of the six biggest net losers of jobs, and the private sector is still represented by more financial services firms (Chase, Nationwide, Huntington) than it is by companies that produce or process commodities.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

In which Electability and State Type arguments get thrown in the compactor

Survey USA, a polling outfit with a pretty good track record this year, has polled 600 people in each of the 50 states, and created electoral college maps based on head-to-heads for Obama-McCain and Clinton-McCain. Although they have already warned that there will be some minor tweaks as they update the map to reflect that Nebraska will actually be giving an electoral vote to one of the Dems (the state is not winner-take-all), the preliminary maps show the following margins:

276-262 Clinton
274-264 Obama
(calculated using the interactive map here)

Final Maps show:
276-262 Clinton
280-258 Obama

2 points flipped to Obama in NE. I'm not sure where the other 4 flipped, or if I got it wrong in my first map. The rest of the post remains true.

The fascinating thing about these numbers is that they show almost the exact same margin of victory for each Dem vs. McCain, but the following states each go for McCain on one map, but the Dem on another:


In other words, the Clinton and Obama victories use entirely different coalitions of states to get to the same EC count.

(OH is Dem on both maps)

Overdue Fawning

The title is a bit of an inside joke, but of the things I should have been putting on the blog during the time I wasn't blogging, the most egregious omission wasn't election-related, it was related to Bexley Government and blogging.

Specifically, I failed to help promo the launch of Ben Kessler's City Council Blog. Ben is attempting to create wider access to and interaction with the Bexley City Council for those of us it serves. I don't know if he discussed the blog in his ongoing interview on WCRX-LP, but if you hear it, let me know.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Morning After Notes

1) BB welcomes readers referred by WLST,, and (even if the Times' blogger did take things a little out of context...)

2) Congratulations to David Robinson, John O'Grady, and Nancy Garland, winners of contested primaries for US House, Franklin Co. Commissioner, and State Rep, respectively. I didn't support all of them in the primary (although 2/3 winners is an astounding success rate for me), but I will wholeheartedly support all 3 in their races going forward.

3) Thank you to all of the Democratic candidates who poured their hearts, minds, time, and money into primary campaigns this winter. Some people say that primaries are bad for the party. I'll admit that the short term downside often makes me sympathetic to those who hold that opinion. But in a two party system, primaries are essential for the vitality of our party, and our democracy. So thank you to those who faced losing battles and continued to fight. Thank you as well to all of the Dems who voted yesterday, and decided the directions in which we are taking the party.

4) I listened to the audio of JMZ's interview on the BBC. She says many of the things I said in describing my dilemma, and many things I didn't say but could have. As it turns out, we voted for the same presidential nominee, though I did it for a somewhat less dispassionate and rational reason. On the eve of the election someone made the case to me that they wouldn't ever ask me to change my vote, but if I was truly undecided, would I consider voting for the candidate they cared deeply about, as a personal favor? I'm one less favor in debt now.

5) And finally, I have to highlight one of the comments made in response to my voting story that has made me absolutely ill. As I have no way of confirming any details about an anonymous commenter, I can't give this the push it might deserve:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Completely Unacceptable - Franklin Co. Pollworkers...":

I recently moved into the county and even though I have a valid Ohio DL I, my wife and our son (22 yrs old) were all denied ballots, even provisionals, because the address on our DLs did not match what they had in the book.

I saw what they had in their book - it was our correct, current address of 8 months.

I'm aghast at this. How many other people were denied their right to vote for the same reason?

Posted by Anonymous to Blue Bexley at 6:57 PM

This is a complete disenfranchisement of (at least) 3 valid and legal voters by someone who, as a pollworker, did not know the rules about either Identification OR provisional ballots. If my story filtered up to the NYT website, imagine this story, in November.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

OH20 follow-up

After my post yesterday, the following anonymous comment was left in support of Nancy Garland:

She did this as a member of APTA and in fact those in question are PAC checks she signed. They were mistakenly reported as her contributions. Of course you forget to mention her work with Rep. Hightower, or the numerous Democrats she has given to over the year. Always good to make sure you have the facts before you post something. Heck you could even call the candidate and ask her to explain yourself. I think their was a contact on that press release.

I have no idea who this came from. There is, by the way, a contact link up there in the upper right. I realize that the site needs some updating (Mayor Brennan, your name is going up soon, Mr. Madison, I hope retirement suits you), but the email works just fine. I posted an entire press release verbatim that mentions the Dems she's worked with and donated to, and I posted her complete Federal donation record as obtained from the normally reliable Center for Responsive Politics.

As this commenter went first, s/he was not privy to the other responses which were somewhat defensive in tone and supportive of Ms. Campbell. If s/he had been, they may have been a little less trigger-happy. But s/he was not, and s/he calls me out. Most of the complaints are addressed above, but the big one is not. The commenter claims that a more valid and reliable record is available by talking to the campaign, and that the records are mistaken in listing Ms. Garland as the donor (The evidence is mixed* but bears considering). I'm not going to bother a busy campaign on election day, so I'll concede that it appears quite possible that Nancy Garland has never been a personal supporter of Republicans, she has merely been a lobbyist charged with cozying up to and trying to buy influence with Republicans.

*The APTA has a long record of bi-partisan contributions, spending between $500K and $1m per cycle, sometimes more on Dems, sometimes more on the GOP. They are not merely an incumbent protection racket. For instance, they gave $10k to Sherrod Brown and 0$ to Dewine in 2006. It seems plausible that a "mistake" could occur on the part of the recipient, listing the person who signed the check, not the account-holder from whose funds the contribution was drawn. In that case, one would expect that APTA would have listed the contributions in their expenditure reports. Initial digging suggested that wasn't the case. The report covering June 1996 is available here. There is no contribution to the RNC/State Elections Committee. The report covering August 1996 is here. There is no contribution to Monday Morning PAC listed. This morning I went back and found a $1000 contribution to MMP on the July expenditure report, made the same week as the contribution attributed to Garland. There is no single contribution to the RNC/RNSEC that matches up in time and amount with the contribution listed for Garland on 6/14/06. There is a 7/29/06 expenditure to the RNSEC listed for a different amount.

Completely Unacceptable - Franklin Co. Pollworkers Continue to be Trained Incorrectly

Team Bonobo left the house at 7:15 to go vote at Montrose Elementary in Bexley. Early turnout in the rain was light, and there were more machines than voters, and pretty close to as many pollworkers as voters. Thankfully.

I held Charlotte while my wife went up to the table. They found her name, checked her ID, took her to the machine, and she commenced voting. While I waited, a mother and son came up to the table, (This is not the important part, but it's necessary for my conclusion) and the son indicated that he was 17 and planning to vote. The two pollworkers at the table conferred for a moment, with one asking whether he could vote for both affiliation and issues. They decided that they remembered that a 17 year old could not vote for both, so they were going to give him an issues-only ballot. I butted in at that point, saying that a 17 year old can only vote affiliation, there's a special ballot. They looked up at me, and conferred again more quietly. Soon, a young female pollworker came over and discussed it with them, explaining that a 17-year old cannot vote on issues, and explaining how to get him his ballot.

At this point I wasn't thrilled, but at least the pollworkers seemed to know what they didn't really know, and the 17-year old vote is a bit quirky and particular to primaries. And, of course, a person who was obviously freshly trained and in command of the procedures was on the ball and made sure things worked correctly.

Then my wife finished, and I got to go up to the table. I gave my name and they asked for my ID. I gave it to them, and the woman with the book frowned and asked if I had something with my Bexley address. I replied that I didn't need anything with my valid Bexley address, as they had the correct address in the book, and I had a valid Ohio Driver's License. She insisted that the addresses needed to match. I asked the woman next to her - "You know that the address on a valid Ohio License doesn't need to match the address in the pollbook, right?" She told me that I was wrong, they had to match.

At this point I pulled out my electric bill, because there has yet to be an election where the pollworkers were trained correctly. With obvious relief, they gave me my slip and sent me to the voting machine. I voted. After I was done voting, I approached the young woman who had known how to handle the 17-year old. I said "You seem to know how things are supposed to work, can you please explain to the other workers that the address on a license does not have to match the address in the pollbook." She just looked at me. "You know that they don't have to match, right?" She replied "We were trained that the addresses have to match."

I found that statement to be entirely credible, and I am furious about it.

I went over to explain the situation to my wife, and while I was doing so the young pollworker had gone over to consult with two workers, one of whom I'm guessing was the presiding judge. They called me over and asked me to explain my concern. I had a discussion with them, and it took a while for them to understand my complaint. It was first assumed that I misunderstood the rules, but then it became clear that the three of us all understood that when the license address does not match a correct pollbook address, the pollworker is supposed to record the last 4 digits of the license number and provide a regular ballot. Then they were assuming that I voted provisionally, but I told them about the electric bill. Then they wondered what my problem was, since I had voted on a regular ballot. I explained that I was worried about the rest of the day, and that I shouldn't have HAD to have any supporting documents. Finally, one of them said "You would have been forced to vote provisionally if you hadn't produced the bill?" I said "Yes!"

"Gotcha. When the line clears out over there we'll clear them up on the rules."

So. One polling place in Franklin County now (hopefully) has workers who understand the ID requirements. How many polling places are still holding their ground and trusting their training as they hand out provisional ballots to valid voters complying with the ID law?

Monday, March 03, 2008

The rest of my first page ballot

These statements are not endorsements.
For entertainment purposes only.

U.S. House 12th District: There are a number of good reasons to support Russ Goodwin, and I will enthusiastically do so in the general if he is the candidate. I'll be voting, however, for David Robinson. Mr. Robinson has been an active campaigner, raising more money that the better-known and better-connected Goodwin. This race won't get a lot of help from the party, so I'm encouraged by the vim and vigor Robinson has shown. I would also like to thank Aaron Dagres for sticking out his neck and putting so much time and effort in as the first declared candidate in this race.

Franklin County Commissioner: Joseph at Plunderbund has been on quite a crusade for Cindy Lazarus, spurred in large part by the heavy handed tactics of the FCDP on behalf of her opponent. One might guess that I would agree, based on the fact that I have been indicating support for a non-endorsed candidate in each of the two races I've written about so far. In this race, however, I think the case for John O'Grady is stronger than the case for Ms. Lazarus. I think his campaign was smart early on to focus more on the endorsements from individual Dems, which made the party endorsement seem more like an acknowledgment than an attempt to influence.

U.S. President: I don't know. Given how close the two are on all major policy issues, folks must be voting for other reasons. Some possible differentiators:

1. Likeability/Have a Beer With Factor
2. Gut Feeling/Trust
3. Electability
4. Guessing at Difference Between Campaign and Presidency

I'm not a fan of using 1 or 2. I don't think they are reliable indicators of much of anything. I can certainly see why Obama would have an advantage in these domains, and I think that plays a big role in his campaign gaining traction. I'm also not a big fan of #3. If you are voting for a candidate you like less because you think some set of other folks would like them more, then you are betting on the validity of your own bizarreness. You are not, however, as different from "normal" folks as you think you are. If you don't like your candidate, neither will they. Having said that, however, I think Obama has the clearer shot at McCain than does Clinton.
So now I'm at #4, which should be my guide, even though I'm a lousy guesser. Ask yourself these questions: Who is the Secretary of State/Defense/Energy and A.G. in the Obama administration? In the Clinton Administration? What is the first thing you imagine Clinton vetoing? How about Obama? Who wins and who loses in the first Obama budget? The first Clinton budget?

In 2000 I had no idea how bad W would turn out to be. In retrospect, if I could have known about Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, etc. it would have been a lot clearer. Knowing about Cheney should have been enough. I think everyone knows the type of folks Clinton would appoint. Most, but not all, would be solid traditional Dems. Obama... I have no idea. His campaign is floating the idea of a Republican Secretary of Defense (to be sure, many Repubs view Hagel as the prototypical RINO, but still...), and has issued a lot of verbiage devoted to post-partisanship. On the other hand, a number of Obama supporters (and also conservatives) seem to believe that Obama is the left-wing version of W, someone who uses his personal appeal to convince moderates that he's one of them, even as he'll be putting the most progressive government of the last half century together. Me, I can't decide which is more likely. Some might say I should vote my hopes rather than my fears, and they probably don't care that my hopes are their fears.

I fully expect Obama to be the nominee. I also think that the enthusiasm that Obama has inspired may well be the difference in November. As such, there's a part of me that just wants to get out of the way.

Talk to me tomorrow.

More Fuel for the OH20 Fire - Nancy and Newt

Update 05/08/2008- A lot of folks are getting this post in particular when searching for info on the OH-20 race. Garland supporters immediately disputed the below info (see comments). Although I had already checked the contributions against APTA's expenditures on those dates, I did a more thorough search of the FEC records after receiving the comments below. There is, in fact, a record of an APTA contribution to Monday Morning for an identical amount in a different month's report. There are several contribution to RNSEC listed by APTA in that cycle, which do not exactly match in time or amount with the contributions reported by RNSEC purportedly from Nancy Garland, but I find it parsimonious to assume that the contributions I highlight below were in fact actually made by APTA as claimed by the commenter, and merely delivered by Ms. Garland in her role as lobbyist. I have left the post intact so as not to re-write history, and I explained all of this in a separate post the next day.

This is one of the races that has caused me to sit out the primary season. On the one hand, Bev Campbell is not an ideal candidate. On paper, some might say she's not even a very good candidate. Her opponent Nancy Garland has the support of the local party, which should count for something, and also gives one hope that the party might actually put some resources into the race this time around.

On the other hand, Bev Campbell knows the district very well, and ran a campaign that almost took out a Republican incumbent with little or no institutional support. When she called for a recount, she did it in a targeted way, and handled the negative outcome in a professional manner. She has also been a long-time commenter and supporter of Blue Bexley.

I was leaning toward coming out and making a statement in support of Bev today, but then I got her mailer this weekend. The Campbell campaign accuses Ms. Garland of using her position as director of the Ohio Physical Therapy Association to support Republicans. It puts the evidence next to an unflattering candid photo of her opponent. I thought the piece was a little too ugly, and I was leaning toward keeping my mouth shut again.

Then I got the FCDP and Garland response:


As the Executive Director of the Ohio Physical Therapy Association (OPTA), Nancy Garland's role is to work on behalf of the Association's 2,400 members and all physical therapists across the state of Ohio. As part of this effort, OPTA has contributed money to Democrats and Republicans as the Association has worked for Direct Access legislation and other initiatives to simplify the health care system and to enable patients to get the care they need. During a time when the House and Senate were controlled by Republicans, it was imperative that OPTA work with members of both parties to ensure their voice was heard.

OPTA made contributions totaling $4,250 to the following Democratic campaigns overthe past 3 years:

  1. Friends of CJ Prentiss
  2. Committee for Joyce Beatty
  3. Teresa Fedor for Senate Campaign
  4. Friends of Driehaus Committee
  5. Chris Redfern 2006
  6. Ohio House Democratic Caucus Fund
  7. Friends of Dale Miller
  8. Ohio Democratic Party
  9. Citizens with Celeste
  10. Tom Sawyer Senate Committee

Garland did not make the above contributions, OPTA Political Action Committee did. To say otherwise, would be false and misleading. Nancy Garland wants to make it clear in the strongest language possible that she is a committed Democrat and that OPTA's contributions to Republican candidates were not done on her behalf, but on behalf of the physical therapists and patients that OPTA represents. (emphasis added)

As the endorsed Franklin County Democratic Party candidate, Garland is the unanimous choice by the Franklin County Democratic Party's Screening Committee to represent Ohio's 20th District.

"Nancy Garland is a loyal Democrat who has been working to help the party for 37years. From her days on Capitol Hill as a staffer to Congressman Hightower and through her work as an advocate for the Physical Therapists, Nancy has been committed to fighting for the principles of the Democratic Party. The Franklin County Democratic Party fully supports Nancy Garland as our Candidate for State Representative in the 20th House district," said Chairman of the Franklin County Democratic Party Bill Anthony.

To me, that's a little to strong of a response given the record. Ms. Garland may not have made a personal contribution to Husted, MacGregor, et al., but at the federal level, she has made multiple large contributions to the Republican National State Elections Committee, and a 4-figure contribution to Newt Gingrich's Monday Morning PAC. These contributions were not made by the American Physical Therapy Association, they were made by Nancy Garland (click photo to enlarge).

I'm not endorsing in this contest (or any other for that matter). I'm personally voting for Bev Campbell because she has worked hard for my vote. While I can certainly understand a vote for Nancy Garland, it wouldn't appear that it should be based on a supposed 37 year commitment to the Democratic Party.