September 9, 2010

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘Ohio’s Dumb v. Dumber Election Campaign’) Is Up (Dumbest: Ohio’s Campaign Calendar and Other Incumbent Protections)

It’s here.

Sub-headline:

In the Buckeye State, dumb Republicans are ahead, but only because a) it’s 2010, and b) the Democrats have been dumber.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Sunday morning (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

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So Ohio is having a “Dumb v. Dumber” campaign this fall, while other states are seeing sensible conservative and even a few leftist insurgencies succeeding or getting uncomfortably close.

Why is Ohio being left behind? I think one of the main reasons is that Ohio’s electoral calendar and procedures are rigged to protect incumbents. Establishment Democrats and Republicans are both perfectly fine with that; in fact, they created the situation.

Start with the calendar. There’s no good reason beyond incumbent protection why Buckeye State party primaries are held in May during non-presidential election years and March during presidential election years. If Ohio’s primaries were held shortly after Labor Day, we would a) see a higher, more informed, and more focused turnout, and b) have more and possibly better challengers willing to run for office because of the shorter time commitment. Presidential primaries could still be held early, but they would be separate elections, as is the case in California and many other states.

The aforementioned advantages are clearly seen as bugs and not benefits by ORPINO (the Ohio Republican Party In Name Only) and the Ohio Democratic Party.

I submit that ORPINO’s ticket would be very different and probably better this November if the Republican primary were coming up next week instead of having been held four long months ago.

The game is also rigged against independent runs. There is no good reason why:

  • Independents generally have to come up with higher numbers of signatures than party candidates.
  • Independents have to file their petitions six or eight months before the general election.
  • The Secretary of State’s office needs (and apparently always uses up, regardless of who is in charge) 75 days before certifying the candidacies of independents. Other states get it done much more efficiently and effectively.

The handicaps on independents clearly serve both party establishments. Note how even some Democrats in states with later primaries are having to deal with insurgent candidates (see Barney Frank in Massachusetts, Carolyn Mahoney in New York).

A bedrock principle of capitalism is competition. One would think that the state’s Republican Party would recognize that as a better and more prosperous economy emerges in an open competitive free market, better candidates and better ideas for governance will over time emerge out of open, competitive primary campaigns. But noooo. This is ORPINO, which as I noted in the column, is a philosophical Seinfeld: i.e., all about nothing (except power, of course).

I’d like to think that perhaps in time for 2014 or 2016, sensible conservatives in the state legislature and (hopefully if elected) Governor Kasich would give scheduling later primaries serious consideration. If there’s no perceived seriousness about that, the Tea Party movement should consider getting behind a ballot initiative to get it done.

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UPDATE: For another example of how early primaries hurt a state’s political culture, see Illinois.

I believe that GOP US Senate candidate Mark Kirk would be in serious trouble right now against a sensible conservative challenger if he had to face a primary fight next week (Kirk is one of eight RINO congressmen who voted for cap and trade legislation). As it is, he was able to sew it up in February (!) before insurgents could gain any traction.

On the Democratic side, there’s Alexi Giannoulias. Thanks to the barrage of corruption-related stories about Mr. Giannoulias and his family that have come out in the past seven months, I believe that he too would be very vulnerable to a September primary takedown by a reform Democrat.

I don’t think it’s an accident that one of the most corrupt states in the union happens to be one where party primaries are held so ridiculously early.

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