Monday, April 30, 2012


Back in May, 2011, about two months after she was appointed by the the Republican Ohio House Caucus to fill the vacated 50th Ohio House seat (Stark County - formerly held by Lake Township Republican Todd Snitchler who had been appointed by Governor John Kasich to chair the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio), Christina Hagan of Marlboro Township held her first town hall meeting in Louisville.

Quite a venture for the former Alliance beauty queen with no prior public office holding experience, no?


But she did have help.

With her were two veteran Republican caucus members:  Ron Amstutz of nearby Wooster, Ohio and David Hall of Killbuck (Holmes County).


Mentors?  Political minders?

Interesting in that at the May, 2011 Louisville event oddly enough she, Amstutz and Hall were already concerned about the welfare of the nursing home industry witness this video.

To most Stark County political observers, Hagan was a surprise replacement for Snitchler.

Yes, her father and former state Rep. John Hagan (2000 - 2008) had intensely lobbied the Republican Ohio House Caucus (Caucus) for her appointment, but she had no Stark County elective political history as did applicant Richard Regula - son of retired U.S. House of Representative Ralph Regula - 16th District which included all of Stark County.

Moreover, Christina had ticked off the Caucus for taking on Snitchler (the designated Caucus candidate) in his first try for the 50th back in May, 2008.  As the SCPR recalls, she accused the Caucus of trying to get her off running against Snitchler by offering some sort of job Columbus political beltway job.

She rebuffed the overture and ran anyway.

So - yes - a surprise, a huge surprise!

And to many Stark Countians including quite of number of  prominent Stark Republicans, that a "in her early 20s not yet graduated college student" was able to get the appointment was a stunning turn of events.

Back in March of this year, the SCPR asked Richard Regula (who contended Hagan for the appointment) how it could be that such political neophyte could have bested him.

Answer:  he would not sell out "lock, stock & barrel" to following without fail the Caucus party line.

It appears to the SCPR that Christina Hagan did convince the Caucus power brokers that she would be putty in their hands and therefore was the person to get the appointment.

They undoubtedly did understand that they had more of an uphill struggle in retaining the seat with the Hagan appointment, but if they are successful, she would be much more manageable than Regula.

Hence after her appointment, the Caucus began Project-Buildup-Hagan (e.g. sending Amstutz and Hall to Louisville with her) to get her elected come this November.

Little did they know that they would be aided, abetted and facilitated in their endeavor by the Ohio Democratic House Caucus and Stark County Democratic Party chairman Randy Gonzalez (also Jackson Township fiscal officer and top official in the Canton clerk of courts office) in their failure to come up with a viable candidate.

Democratic Councilwoman Sue Ryan is not likely to cause much of a problem for Hagan to get retained.

Plain Township Trustee Louis Giavasis could have been a huge problem as a barrier to Hagan continuing on, but the state and local Dems could not convince him that it was in his interest to run.

He was not about to fall on his sword for the Democrats even though he has benefited largely (his position in the Stark County clerk of courts office) by virtue of his Stark County Democratic insider status.

Some of Stark County's biggest bellyachers about the Republican legislative agenda (which Hagan will slavishly support) are guess who?  Giavasis and Gonzalez.

Accordingly, the SCPR does not want to hear either Giavasis or Gonzalez rant about the bad deal they think the Republicans and one of their most stalwart loyalists (Hagan) are dishing out to local governments.

Last Wednesday, Hagan (along with fellow Republican Kirk Schuring) dutifully voted with the Republican majority in passing its version of its so called mid-biennium-review (MBR) giving the Medicaid fraud afflicted nursing home care industry an extra $30 million.


Where's extra money for local government as Canton faces a $4 million plus deficit beginning in fiscal year 2013?  Where's the extra money for local school districts?

Moreover, in Giavasis' case, the Ohio General Assembly protects the oil and gas industry and its fracking interests from some measure of local control to the detriment of his beloved Plain Township (so he says).  One would think that Giavasis would be ashamed to complain.

Again, when Giavasis, Gonzalez and the Democratic House Caucus could have possibly done something to turn matters around; they proved they were not up to the task.  Both the Ohio Democratic Party and the Stark County Democratic Party are turning into something of a joke in providing political competition to the Republicans these days.

It is Politics 101 that the best time to challenge for an office is the first time one has to run for the office.

And Hagan should have been particularly vulnerable has she face voters and not Republican statehouse politicos.

How so?

Because she is a neophyte and the 50th got reconfigured in redistricting (which takes place every 10 years by the Ohio Constitution) and the SCPR's read on the "new" 50th is that it is more friendly Democratic than in the past because of the inclusion of parts of Plain Township and the city of Alliance.

Notwithstanding the Democrats making their task easier, the Republicans are taking no chances.

Christina Hagan has surfaced as the darling of the oil and gas industry in being the third highest beneficiary of campaign contributions (only behind Hall and Speaker of the House Billy Batchelder) and she has latched on as a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

How is it that an appointed, unseasoned and very, very young (the youngest in the entire Ohio General Assembly) politician gets huge support from an industry which is lobbying hard to get favorable legislation out of the Ohio General Assembly for his controversial fracking initiative?

Probably two reasons:  The likes of David Hall, Ron Amstutz and Speaker Batchelder let it be known to the oil and gas lobbyists that the way into their legislative good graces is to prime Hagan's campaign fundraising effort, and, moreover, Hall/Amstutz/Batchelder convincing them, that in the Caucus appointing Hagan, they have created a loyal foot soldier who will unfailingly follow their and the industry's direction.

She has not disappointed.

Another interesting development is the public relations style writing that Repository political reporter (?) Robert Wang has engaged as an aid in the overall effort to buil up Hagan.

While Stark County local governments face huge problems in balancing their budgets in the face of huge State of Ohio Local Government Fund cuts (which Hagan supported), Wang gives her a pass (also her support of the anti-collective bargaining bill [SB 5, State Issue 2 [November, 2011]) and writes about her sponsoring or co-sponsoring this bill and that bill (way oversold as to its significance) as if he were her press agent.

Nothing in Wang's work on the MBR $30 million give away to the fraud tainted nursing home industry.

But he has let us know she is engaged to be married.


Of course, it is unusual for a rookie legislator to take the legislative lead on anything.

But things are changed since the Republicans brought on term limits in the 1990s.

It used to be that new legislators were back-benchers who put their time in, learned the political ropes and slowly were allowed to make their mark with a leadership afforded opportunity to sponsor or co-sponsor significant legislation.

With term limits, a legislator only has eight years to become seasoned and significant.

How does one who doesn't have a clue on the complexities of cobbling together legislation with a chance of passage and who has very limited life experience overcome her/his deficiencies?

Answer:  join up with the ALEC.  For $50 a year ALEC has a prearranged conservative political legislative agenda to serve up to member legislators across the nation.

And Christian Hagan has joined up.

She is one of 57 Ohio legislator (43%) members; 56 of whom are Republicans. 

About itself, ALEC says:
The American Legislative Exchange Council works to advance the fundamental principles of free-market enterprise, limited government, and federalism at the state level through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector and the general public. (emphasis added)
However, a New York Times writer (Conservative Nonprofit Acts as Stealth Business Lobbyist, Mike McIntyre, NY Times, April 21, 2012) describes ALEC thusly:
Most of the attention has focused on ALEC’s role in creating model bills, drafted by lobbyists and lawmakers, that broadly advance a pro-business, socially conservative agenda. But a review of internal ALEC documents shows that this is only one facet of a sophisticated operation for shaping public policy at a state-by-state level. The records offer a glimpse of how special interests effectively turn ALEC’s lawmaker members into:
  • stealth lobbyists, 
  • providing them with talking points, 
  • signaling how they should vote
and collaborating on bills affecting hundreds of issues like school vouchers and tobacco taxes. (larger text and bullet pointed added for emphasis)
As such, ALEC is the perfect solution for Hagan to make up for her obvious deficiencies especially in the light of the fact that membership numbers indicate that ALEC is hardly non-partisan.  ALEC appears to fit the bill as a "to be trusted" Republican legislator support organization.

What few Democrats remain are quickly vanishing.  

Christina Hagan comes by her need for being propped up honestly.

Father John served in the House from 2000-2008 and has term limited out of the House.  Yours truly opposed him in the 2002 and 2004 elections.

As a freshman legislator, the then-Republican Speaker of the House,  handed John THE leadership role getting passage in the Republican-controlled Ohio General Assembly a  "cannot fail" legislative initiative to help Ohioans with prescription drug costs.

Because then-Republican state Senator Lynn Wachtmann and the Ohio AFL-CIO opposed some aspects of the bill,

it took father John better than four years to get a watered down version of his bill passed and he was only able to do so after the Republican Ohio General Assembly leadership brokered a deal with Wachtmann and Bill Burga (the then-head of the Ohio AFL-CIO).

Throughout his legislative career, John Hagan was the personification of a loyalist Republican legislator, above all else. His unfettered loyalty was rewarded by Republicans in redistricting by configuring the district in 2000 to be "safe Republican."

In Christina, it appears that "the apple has not fallen far from the tree."

While seeming to be intellectually a step or two ahead of her father; not so much so that she demonstrates an ability to think for herself as a public official.

Perhaps in time she will do better.  Stark Countians and her 50th District constituents can only hope.

But for now it is political survival time.

So look for her to "hang on for dear life" to the likes of Amstutz, Batchelder, Hall, her Repository PR man and, of course, ALEC

After all political dependence on others appears to be a characteristic she inherited from her father.

No comments: