by David Kowalski, Fri Feb 17, 2006 at 06:52:03 AM EST
If there is a worse, more confusing election set up than that presided over by J. Kenneth Blackwell in Ohio I haven't found it in this country.
It says volumes that republicans in Ohio are publicly fearful of Blackwell and his tricks. Not only did his memorandum" set off a stampede of new petitions, but his actions as a whole have set off fear throughout the state among both Republicans and Democrats. Look at the major Ohio papers like the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Columbus Dispatch, and Cincinatti Enquirer and it seems like at least half the "politics" stories are involved with Blackwell's chicanery around the filling deadline. Half of em.
To be fair, Ohio has a crazy system in place. The state is responsible for statewide offices but the responsibility for Congressional Districts is split between county boards and Kenneth Blackwell. No convenient place exists to see who has filed for Congress. Ohio, after all, has 88 counties and most of its 18 congressional districts cross county lines. The formal bar is set very low ($85 and 50 "valid" signatures) but formal has little to do with it.
The Ohio secretary of state web site may be OK for notaries and corporate filers. It is a nightmare for ordinary folks trying to follow what is happening. Blackwell lives and dies by a series of written pronouncements sent out to county election boards. These Directives instruct the counties to thoroughly review all petitions that have been submitted with an eye towards disqualifying them. Hostility, thy name is J. Kenneth Blackwell. Of course, the list of statewide filers is haphazzard. Blackwell included 21 Directives on his site, presumably 21 candidacies. At least the numbers go to 21. But Directive 1 is Kenny boilerplate rather than any filing and two of the Directive Numbers are not used, numbers 9 and 10 (is this Paul Hackett and Eric Fingerhut's preliminary paperwork? Blackwell, as usual, leaves you in the dark).
The Directives are not sorted out by office making a short and sweet list compilation a little harder. And one has no idea if the directives listed will be disallowed.
Meanwhile, Blackwell is engaging in shit himself. Push polls to "blacken" the reputation of his primary opponent Jim Petro. Deliberately vague instructions. No up to date or ongoing list. NO list of submitted paperwork for Congress. Illegal, or at least potentially illegal, collaboration with two Ohio megachurches. Fear by Republicans in Cincinatti, Cleveland, and Columbus. Befuddlement and fear by Democrats. A full 18 hours after the filing deadline I still can't come up with anything other than regional newspaper lists. And Barry Welsh.
What does this tell me? Well, the Plain Dealer covers Northern Ohio. It had lists (possibly of no value) for seven Ohio Congressional Districts on its web site. The six districts covered were OH-9, OH-10, OH-11, OH-13, OH-14, OH-16, and Oh-17.
One Ohio Congrssman, Democrat Tim Ryan of Ohio-17 was listed as unopposed. Marcy Kaptur had no primasry opponent in Ohio 9 but three Republicans had filed for this seat. Ohio 16, shown as unopposed ny Barry Welsh had three democrats according to the Plain dealer in Tom Mason, Jeff Seeman, and Thomas Shaw. I kind of remember Seeman's name being spelled with two n's but at least we have two others with paperwork.
BTW, overall, things look worse in the Ohio filing front for 2006 than they did for 2004. In 2004 two districts were "unopposed", both held by Democrats. Ted Strickland in Ohio 6 and Stephanie Tubbs Jones in Ohio 11. Republicans have filed in each of these districts in 2006 (not approved by the counties, however, as yet). At least two districts appear unopposed for 2006 (before Kenny and the election Nazis do their thing). That would be Ohio 7 where Republican Dave L. Hobson got 65% in the general election two years ago and Ohio 17 where Democrat Tim Ryan is at least for now unopposed.
The Columbus Dispatch reports that Charlie Wilson's petitions were invalidated in Ohio 6. Wilson submitted 96 signatures for a requirement of 50. David NYC's story sounds legit. I have a big problem with Belmont County Ohio deciding what is legit in a multi-county election for a federal office. Welsh lists a second Democrat, Diane Murphy in Ohio 6 so we might have dodged the bullet there. Similarly, Welsh lists Democrat Mort Meier as running against John Boehner in Ohio 8.
Ohio 7 appears to be open. Do we have to check all 88 county boards and their web-sites to know what is going on for either party? Outrageous! Of course, it's Mr. Blackwell (the worst dressed secretary of state). If I were running a newspaper in Ohio (and I'm not), I would pound away unmercilessly on Blackwell, his incompetence, his (narrowly defined) partisanship, his dirty tricks, his holier than thou pronouncements, and a lot more. This guy would be a horror story for Ohio reporters and editors as Governor because he makes Dick Cheney look open and non-partisan.
So start the crusade, Ohio papers, or you will be shut out for at least 4 years and probably a lot longer. Why let the public know what you are doing when it is so easy to shut them out.