Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Are Chuck Schumer And Jon Tester Trying To Take Over Ohio Next?


Rank-and-file Democrats are smart enough to make their own decisions, and don't need party insiders and bosses telling them how to vote, especially not party insiders and bosses from Inside-the-Beltway. Democratic voters in Florida know Patrick Murphy isn't a real Democrat no matter how deeply buried up his ass Jon Tester has been instructed by Chuck Schumer to bury his head. Voters in Maryland may fear Chris Van Hollen is a careerist wheeler-dealer ready to compromise their interests at the drop of a corporate campaign check, but they know that Donna Edwards-- like Alan Grayson down in Florida-- has an unblemished record of being from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party and fighting the battles that normal working families need fought on their behalf in the halls of power. There's never any question which side Donna Edwards or Alan Grayson is on. Chris Van Hollen and Patrick Murphy? They're on the side of whoever writes them the biggest campaign checks (i.e., Wall Street)... and the DSCC.

Chuck Schumer and Jon Tester are trying to hand-pick non-progressive Senate candidates who are acceptable to the Wall Street donor class. And they're doing that despite knowing it's a losing strategy. If a Democrat in Florida wanted what Patrick Murphy is offering, he or she could just as well be-- or at least vote-- Republican. Murphy's a little extreme in this sense because he was an active Republican for his entire life until, opportunistically, reregistered as a "Democrat" to run against neo-fascist war criminal Allen West. But in Ohio Schumer and Tester have forced the DSCC to endorse Ted Strickland, a relatively conservative former congressman and governor, over the progressive in the race, Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld.

Back in April, when the DSCC and the Ohio Democratic Party dropped their neutrality pledges to back Strickland in the Ohio Senate primary, the state's newspapers have been denouncing the unwarranted interference regularly. The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cleveland Plain DealerDayton Daily News, Akron Beacon Journal and Toledo Blade have dealt with the premature endorsement by pointing out that "Ohio Democrats need a conversation, not a coronation" and that the endorsement was "another mistake by the Ohio Democratic Party's myopic insiders," tantamount to resigning itself to "remaining a party where the future is never now."
As Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O'Neill aptly wrote on his Facebook page after learning that 73-year-old Ted Strickland is the endorsed Democrat to challenge Republican incumbent Rob Portman in next year's U.S. Senate race, "When you see Ted, give him a hug and kiss him goodbye. He is a walking dead man. ... The inmates are running the asylum."

They have been for a while.

A couple of hours before the perennial losers who run that asylum engineered a backroom deal designed to pressure Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld into ending his Senate candidacy, Sittenfeld was the featured speaker at a party event in Delaware County.

Sittenfeld is a smarter, more likable version of Republican Josh Mandel. He's 30, ambitious, has earned degrees at Princeton and Oxford, and is unwilling to kowtow to the old guard's suggestion that he "wait his turn." And on the morning of April 11, those brains and talent were on display at an event organized by longtime Delaware County Democratic Party Chairman Ed Helvey.

"We had about 60 people at a fundraiser-- a really bright core group with lots of Ph.D.s," said Helvey. "P.G. just turned them on their heads. He's an energetic guy-- very bright."

Maybe too bright for the hacks, labor goons and self-dealers who've wrecked the state party. So instead of respecting the future and endorsing neither the Democrat who is probably too old nor the one who might be too young, 150 Democrats who falsely claim to represent the rank and file opted for age.

In doing so, the schemers were, as Democrat O'Neill wrote, "telling all the young people who wanted to get involved in that race to get lost."

David Pepper, the state party's new chairman, is probably wondering why he wanted the job.

Thoughtful Democrats-- and there are still a lot of them-- make two arguments on Strickland's behalf. First, that he's certain to beat Sittenfeld in the party primary. And, foremost, that a contested primary would distract Strickland, who brings to the race enough baggage to sink a battleship, from devoting every waking moment to raising money and persuading voters that Portman should be replaced.

Their points have merit. But a better option would be for Strickland simply to ignore Sittenfeld, rather than appearing complicitous in a tainted endorsement that makes him look like someone desperately in need of a last hurrah to validate 40 years on the political stage.

It's too late now.

By ignoring a body of precedent to the contrary and awarding Strickland an early endorsement, the Democrats come off as thuggish bullies heading into an election where it's conceivable that support from Ohio's young people will determine who wins the presidency.

What's more, the whole notion of young people needing to stand in line until it's their turn to seek high office is preposterous on its face... "This kid's got a future," longtime political consultant Gerald Austin said of Sittenfeld. "He's not getting in line. So now the party bosses will try to shut down his money and whisper bogus charges about him."

The "bogus charges" remark involves a selective smear campaign against Sittenfeld being waged by some Republicans and Democrats. The so-called skeleton they've found in Sittenfeld's closet looks like this:

On the night of Sept. 12, 2009, Sittenfeld and some friends were tailgating prior to Ohio State's football game in Columbus against the University of Southern California.

What happened next was scandalous. Sittenfeld cracked open a beer. Worse yet, he then began to drink it.

And he got busted. Sittenfeld and two or three female OSU law students in his group were cited by state liquor law enforcement officers for an open-container violation.

According to Sittenfeld, he paid the $35 fine on Sept. 28, a fact duly noted on the Franklin County docket. Nevertheless, he said, a bench warrant was issued Sept. 29 alleging the fine had not been paid. Sittenfeld said the warrant was canceled Sept. 30, after court officials realized the fine had been paid two days earlier.

Sittenfeld described the entire experience as "much to-do about nothing."

Despite the pressure, Sittenfeld insists he won't drop out. If he stays in, Sittenfeld has every reason to push back against so-called leaders in his own party who are out to wreck his candidacy.

With the primary still nearly a year off, this one's already gotten messy.

On April 11, the Ohio Democratic Party landed the first blow.

Right below the belt.
Power brokers like Schumer love tired old politicians like Strickland. Democratic voters don't. Many in Ohio remember that when he was in Congress, he voted to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act, which is what all the corrupt Wall Street shills in both parties did. That caused a catastrophic meltdown in the financial sector. 

Of course, Strickland and the man he's running to replace, Republican Senator Rob Portman, are on the same page with that one, so unless Democrats hold him accountable in the primary, he'll never pay for that disastrous vote. Nor for his cozy relationship with the NRA, which has endorsed him and awarded him an A rating. Ohio Democrats also remember that Strickland sabotaged Ohio's hard-fought campaign for paid sick leave and that he voted for the massive Republican tax break/giveaway to Big Oil. Do Ohio Democrats really want another senator like that-- one who refuses to say where he stands on the Keystone XL Pipeline? Strickland, who will say virtually anything to attract votes, is trying to pass himself off as a "progressive." But he isn't and never has been. In fact, he refused to sign-on to Bill De Blasio's Progressive Agenda to Combat Income Inequality (which P.G. Sittenfeld made a big deal about jumping right in on). Sittenfeld has made it clear that he stands with Sherrod Brown, Elizabeth Warren, Jeff Merkley, Bernie Sanders, Tammy Baldwin, Al Franken and Brian Schatz on issues relating to working families.

The 2016 Ohio Senate election should be about how awful Rob Portman is and has always been. Only one thing can disrupt that scenario: Strickland's presence on the ballot. Remember, this guy was widely viewed as the worst Ohio governor in decades. Aside from his pro-gun/anti-urban perspective, he just loved to play "I'm just a country boy from a little place called Duck Run." "Duck Run" was appropriate for him, because all anyone ever saw him do on issues where he could have made a real difference was duck and run. His appointments to key positions, like the Director of Commerce, were awful. That director, Kim Zurz, was a high school graduate who refused to do anything that might offend bank lobbyists even after the bottom fell out of the lending industry and the need for stronger regulations out of Commerce were painfully obvious. His waste of the tobacco settlement dollars to extend the Homestead exemption to all Ohioans without even means testing was a cynical move, inexcusable and something one would have expected a Jim Rhodes to do-- not a 'liberal' Democrat. 

P.G. Sittenfeld is the future of the Ohio Democratic Party; Ted Strickland isn't. Blue America endorsed P.G. today. If you'd like to help his campaign, he's now on our very exclusive Senate candidates' page. This video was shot in front of several hundred Ohio Democrats just over a month ago. It shows exactly where P.G. is coming from and demonstrates how progressives differ from conservatives:

UPDATE: Progressive Agenda

Last night P.G. spoke to a group of activists from Northwest Area Progressive in Grandview Heights. It isn't difficult for him to demonstrate how he differs from the more conservative Ted Strickland, who is over twice his age-- and probably too old in the minds of most voters to be starting a career in the Senate.
“People are hungry for a progressive agenda,” Sittenfeld said. “The country doesn’t need two Republican parties.”

Later, he got nods from the crowd by saying, “Damn right I’m offering a progressive agenda-- that’ll get people to the polls.”

He attempted to distinguish himself from Strickland, who got the top rating from the National Rifle Association, by calling for new gun safety laws.

“I think there’s a feeling among some folks that they’re supposed to kowtow to the NRA,” Sittenfeld said.

...If Democrats want to knock Portman out of office after about a quarter-century in Washington, “I don’t think you do that by saying here’s someone who’s been in politics even longer.”

Sittenfeld, 30, who referred to himself as a “fresh face and a dynamic new candidate,” often talked about fresh ideas versus the tired rhetoric of older leaders.

When asked whether those remarks applied to Strickland or Portman, he said “both.”

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