Thursday, January 2, 2014


The SCPR saw an article (an obvious press release piece) in the Hartville News earlier this week about former State of Ohio Board of Education president Debbie Cain (a Democrat of Lake Township; elected from District 8) running to unseat Republican Christina Hagan (of Marlboro Township) from her 50th Ohio House of Representative seat.

The Report's first reaction?

Forget it Debbie!

Not a chance of Cain defeating Hagan barring some politically explosive story breaking.

It would take something like local press revelations made about Roland K. Burns, III which likely led to his losing to former Republican [now independent] Richard Hart in their November, 2013 at-large Canton City Council race.

One week before the 2013 general election (October 29th) Matt Rink of The Repository posted a story (Candidate's properties subject of numerous complaints), to wit:
Roland K. Burns III, an at-large candidate for city council, has been pressured by the city health department to clean up several properties he owns in the city.
The department has cited 15 properties owned by Burns for alleged health code violations in 2013. Two properties went before the Canton Board of Health on Monday. Most of the properties are owned by Burns' company, RBLW Properties.
The SCPR had been hearing for some time that a number of Canton Democrats were not that wild about having Burns on council and, apparently, (The Report surmises by those politically loyal to Mayor William J. Healy, II) a full court press was launched in the latter days of the campaign (a week or so before election day) to try to stop Burns, a Democrat, in a 9 to 1 registration Democrat rich city from winning.

And the effort worked.

Practically everybody the SCPR talked to before the election were of the opinion that Burns would be a solid anti-Healy vote thereby giving the opposed-to-Healy-bloc-"on-key-issues" of councilpersons a clear 7 to 5 majority.  Even the beneficiaries of the anti-Healy tilt thought to be in Burns' political proclivities were not all that enthusiastic of having him on their side.

Richard Hart was the perfect candidate for the anti-Burns folks to latch on to inasmuch he formerly served on council as a Republican and has run for a number of offices (mayor of Canton and state representative) in the Canton political jurisdiction.

He was the right person, at the right time and the right conditions.

Do not expect Debbie Cain to be the beneficiary of a such political windfall in her challenge to Christina Hagan.

Even after more than two years in the Ohio General Assembly, Hagan is not impressing many Stark County Republicans.

Stark Republicans were stunned when she (still in college) was appointed to replace Todd Snitchler in early 2011 when he resigned his 50th District House seat to become Republican Governor John Kasich's chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

However, she is doing terrific work as a "whatever you tell me to do" member of the Republican Ohio House caucus, "I will dutifully do."  Moreover, she appears to be in thrall to the Republican extreme political right that currently dominates the Statehouse.

One has to wonder whether or not she took any critical thinking enhancing courses when she was a student at Malone University.

Moreover, she has proved that she is adept in using the House Republican caucus press release machine and The Repository seemingly prints virtually everything she sends a certain reporter who appears to have taken her under his journalistic wing.

Cain could use someone like Hagan's inside contact at The Repository.

The story in the Hartville News was printed on page 11 of the 12 page December 27th edition of the paper.

Here you have a home-town-girl (Cain has lived in Lake Township - the home of the Hartville News -  for years) and the best her campaign can do is get her candidacy announcement on page 11 of a 12 page edition of the local weekly?

One would think that a hometowner who served for a number years as a key member of the local board of education would get better treatment than that, no?

And say it again, why wasn't her campaign all over that one in insisting that she get page 1 billing?

This is just one sign among a number to the SCPR that Debbie Cain shows little promise that she is up to overcoming the huge registration edge that Republican Hagan has over "anybody Democrat" in the 50th.

Look at these numbers generated by the SCPR in an analysis of registration and voting patterns garnered from the Ohio secretary of state's Stark County voter registration database last updated on December 28, 2013:

When one squares up the registration numbers (those willing to say whether they are Republican or Democrats), Cain, the Democrat, comes up some 9100 short based on who voted in 2010.

The SCPR uses 2010 numbers because that was a gubernatorial year (Republican Kasich defeated incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland that year) and probably is indicative of vote totals to expect this election year.

So in this gubernatorial year Cain has to make up nearly 10,000 votes in the registration deficit Democrats to Republican Hagan.

Where are these votes going to come from?

Well, there is only one place.

From those not declaring themselves to be either Democrats or Republicans, the so-called "independents" or those assigned to the "non-partisan" category by the Board of Elections because they have not voted in a partisan primary election within the past three years.

But is it realistic to think Cain can out poll Hagan among the non-declarants (some 22,733 of them) 16,000 (more or less) to 6,000 more or less)?

The SCPR thinks not.

For starters it is The Report's assessments that non-declarants tend to "actually" be "closet" Republicans or Democrats depending on the overall predominance of the political party in the area of Stark County in which they reside.

For instance, if a city of Canton voter says he/she is a non-partisan, it is likely that such a voter generally votes with the Democrats because Canton is 9 to 1 registration majority Democratic.

On the other hand, in the 50th where there is a high predominance of Republican registration over Democrats, it is probable that the non-partisans in voting are going to significantly trend towards voting Republican.

So Cain has little chance to win even a majority of the independent/non-partisan vote in the 50th; let alone doing the "unthinkable" of winning that segment of the vote by a 10,000 plus majority.

A phenomenon that plays in Stark County (as well as generally across America) is that in off-presidential-year-elections large numbers of independents/non-partisans do not vote in non-presidential years.

Here in Stark County some 16,939 50th District independents/non-partisans voted in presidential year 2012 who did not vote in 2010.

If Cain could get 10,000 or so of these folks to vote and to vote her way, she might, just might, make her race with Hagan competitive.

And who these folks are is no mystery.

A "we know what we are doing" campaign would identify these folks and work overtime to get these folks to the polls on November 6th?

But are the Cain folks politically savvy enough, industrious enough to put such a plan into operation and thereby perhaps pull off a stunning upset?

Probably not.

But we shall see.

To repeat, for Cain to win, she will have to get a combination of 10,000 plus of independent/non-partisans (who normally vote in gubernatorial election years but who probably vote predominately Republican) and/or presidential year only voting independents/non-partisans (who stay at home in gubernatorial years) to vote her way.

Debbie Cain "credential-wise" is an impressive candidate.  Much superior to Christina Hagan in the judgment of the SCPR both in terms of life experience and public service.

However, she does have one characteristic that The Report thinks is eerily similar to Hagan.  She appears to be a left-of-center Democrat who mostly takes her political cues and marching orders from others.  Much like Hagan does from Republican right wingers.

A member of the Ohio Board of Education since 2006 (re-elected in 2010), Cain served as the board's president 2009 - 2011 which undoubtedly had something to do with the fact that Ted Strickland (a Democrat) was governor through the end of 2010 which included most of her time as president.

Recently, the Akron Beacon Journal did a profile on her that outlines her experience and her position on various education issues that The Report thinks trumps anything Hagan can offer.

This quote from the Hartville News article shows that Cain has a good grasp on the importance of education to Ohioans.  Moreover, this piece is evidence that she is not a "one-issue-candidate."  She must watch out for be tabbed as such if she is going to attract those 10,000 or so votes referred to above that she needs to come out a winner in November.

Hagan, on the other hand, made a different kind of news in the Beacon.

One could look at this story a number of different ways.

The Report's reaction was:  How could somebody run up $80,000 in student loan debt?

Has she learned her lesson as implied in the Beacon piece?

Is it not impressive that she is owning up to her poor judgment and not shirking at all her responsibility to pay off the loans?

Or, does the story indicate that she might not be someone - because she as demonstrated poor judgment - that 50th District voters want weighing-in on state budgets and finances?

It will be interesting to see whether or not Cain comes out with attack campaign literature as election day draws near that focuses on the student loan debt.

One would think that the story does not set well with some of her constituents.

However, it is not the kind of thing - even if viewed negatively by some 50th District voters -  that is anywhere near being the equivalent to the Burns' problem in terms of producing the necessary votes for Cain to be a November winner.

You can be sure that the Hagan handlers will be spinning the story as a positive (e.g. she is doing the responsible thing in working two additional jobs to retire the loan) and deserving of voter empathy.

The ABJ writer doing the November article on her, touts Debbie Cain as being an impressive fund raiser.

But the numbers quoted in that article are small potatoes when compared to what has been spent on relatively recent elections (e.g. Bosley in 2010).

Bosley did quite well in raising money but it did him no good at all in making their respective races competitive.

(Note:  Bosley and DeHoff ran in a 50th District that was somewhat differently structured, but still was a lopsided GOP registration advantage)

Though Hagan has not raised nearly what Snitchler did when he ran, if Statehouse Republicans sense that Cain poses a serious threat to Hagan's remaining in the House; they will assist her "big time" in getting whatever she needs to match Cain dollar for dollar plus some.

Back to the initial question.

Can a Democrat win in the 50th?

The SCPR's answer?

An emphatic NO!

Cain is a better quality candidate (on the issues) in opinion of the SCPR than either Bosley or DeHoff were, but with the overwhelming registration margin that the GOP has in the 50th - look for the 2014 race to be pretty much of a repeat of the Ryan/Hagan face off of 2012.

All that the SCPR thinks Debbie Cain can hope for is that "the unexpected" happens and Christina Hagan commits a Burns' like snafu and thereby "politically" self-destructs.

Certainly possible, but highly unlikely, no?

1 comment:

ANDREW J. Di LiDDO, JR. said...

Martin: A very interesting analysis. Just one comment and one question for you: First the comment: as a citizen in district 50 I find it disconcerting for my state rep to take the posture you described in your post. "tell me what to do tea party and I will dutifully do whatever you say"....that's not the independent mindedness that I want in my state rep and from reading your blog I get the impression that you value an independent mindset as well. Now for my quetion: I feel that in any district including 50, that the public is served best when an incumbent is challenged by the opposing party. Do you agree? I do not believe the Democrats should let Hagan get away with a free pass. thanks, your thoughts..... p.s. I will look at your blog to find your posting about the sheriff situation in Stark.