Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Ya gotta just love politicians who get religion when they are on the losing side of an issue, no?

Well, that is exactly what we are getting with Republicans J. Kirk Schuring (51st "old" - 48th "new) and Christina Hagan (50th) of the Ohio House and two-thirds of the Republican side of the Stark County delegation to the Ohio General Assembly.

On March 30th they were on board Republican state Senator Shannon Jones' "political" Cannonball Express steamrolling over the Democrats in the GOP's attempt to, at least in part, defang the political alliance (political contributions-wise) between Democratic candidates and unions.

The Report believes that such was a main motive - if not THE main motive - in being part of jamming SB 5 through the Ohio Legislature in March of this year.

Of course, it is perfectly alright for Republicans to have a tight, if not exclusive,  political contributions relationship with the likes of chambers of commerce, the Ohio Manufacturers Association and business political action committees.

No doubt, there were aspects of the bill designed to deal with the unsustainable financial burden on local governments with regard to health care and pension obligations.

But, again, it appears to The Report that SB 5 was seen as and seized by Republicans as "a political opportunity" to use the cover of needed reforms on the pension/health care contributions by employees (with the unionized fire, police and teaching personnel being the primary targets) to achieve a totally unrelated political objective.

One of the things that Republicans took away from their overwhelming victory in November, 2010 in House and Senate elections, in statewide department of government elections (i.e. secretary of state, auditor, treasurer and attorney general) and in the gubernatorial election was that they had a mandate to refashion government along doctrinaire and political party interest lines.

Accordingly, they indulged themselves in "overkill" and "overreach."

But a funny thing happened to them on their victory lap.  They got tripped up by the very same voters who put them in office in the first place.

In Stark County, here is how the vote on Issue 2 went:

Well, Schuring and Hagan can now see political danger in terms of their re-electability for themselves; especially Hagan who has not been elected to anything (she was appointed earlier this year to replace Todd Snitchler who moved on to be Kasich's Public Utilities of Ohio [PUCO] chairman, and, accordingly, are now having a political "born again" experience.

They (Schuring and Hagan) are now overflowing with conciliatory talk (apparently taking their cue from the governor) as is evident in quotes told to Massillon Independent reporter Matt Rink (Schuring seeks common ground after Issue 2 defeat, November 13, 2011), to wit:
  • “I thought the opposition mounted a very aggressive, well-financed campaign.  I thought they did an effective job, so I was not surprised. Now that the voters have spoken, I think it’s important for state elected officials to listen." (Schuring)
  • “Anything we would do relative to collective bargaining we’ve got to sit down at the table with all parties on all sides.  We’ve got to see if we can find common ground. There wasn’t enough of that with the enactment of Senate Bill 5. We learned a lesson from that.” (Schuring)
  •  “If we can’t find common ground then I guess we’ll have to keep things the way they are.  Whatever issues come to the top now there will have to be common ground.”  (Schuring)
  • “However, there were cost-saving components in the bill and many people, including union workers, public workers altogether — many people who were against the bill as a whole — who said they would support the pension pickup and the 15 percent health care pay. They thought that those were reasonable reforms and worth asking for. I think there are things in the bill that have merit and certainly are worth taking back to the drawing board because of the state’s financial situation and also for a job-retention reason.”  (Hagan)
  • [the state can] “create an environment where we can work together.”  (Hagan)
  • We should be solving problems by sitting around a table together."  (Hagan)
State Senator Scott Oelslager foresaw the problems with the bill before the fact of his vote; not after the fact as seemingly have Schuring and Hagan.  Moreover, he has far and away demonstrated with "against the party votes" that he is far more capable than Schuring and Hagan to place the public interest over the Republican Party interest.

For the record, it appears to the SCPR that Democrat Stephen Slesnick is the Democratic equivalent of Schuring and Hagan. 

With Ohio House redistricting (his new district being the 49th), he could be vulnerable to a Republican challenge from a viable candidate because of new areas included n the new district.

In those areas, Slesnick name ID weakness might present some hope to the Republicans to make the race competitive.

But does Republican Monique Moore fill the bill to take advantage?

What will the Stark Democrats under Chairman Randy Gonzalez do in presenting viable candidates to oppose Schuring and Hagan?  It will be interesting to see.

It is likely that Schuring will get a pass or at best a token candidate.  Several months ago yours truly talked to Gonzalez about prospects of having a competitive candidate run against Schuring.   The party chief did not seem optimistic that he could recruit a top notch candidate.

Hagan in the 50th could be a different matter.

With her unwavering support for SB 5, one would think that organized labor (the AFL-CIO, the trade unions, the police and fire unions and the teacher unions) would go all out to punish her.

Moreover, conventional political wisdom is that you challenge an appointed official the first time out with your best.  The first election is the most difficult hump that an appointee has to surmount.

A number of Stark County Republicans were in disbelief when the Republican House Caucus (Caucus) selected her to replace Snitchler.  Hagan - not yet finished with college and working as a restaurant server -  was and remains a political novice who got the appointment because of daddy's political clout. 

The Caucus shelters her by surrounding her with the likes of veteran Republican legislator Ron Amstutz.

In 2000, Lawrence Township trustee Mike Stevens was appointed to replace term-limited out Johnnie A. Maier, Jr and lost by about 1,000 votes to Christina's father John, who then went on to serve four consecutive terms until he was term limited out.

The Report believes that the 50th has changed enough, that when coupled with Hagan's peculiar set of vulnerabilities,  that the right Democrat can squeak by though the district still has a significant Republican index.

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