Mark McKinnon, a former political consultant and co-host of the Showtime documentary The Circus, famously said that losing an election is a soul-crushing experience. He said he quit because the defeats were damaging his psyche.

The negative effects of losing two elections on the same day appear to have gotten to Melanie Leneghan, who finished a close second in Republican primaries for the unexpired term and new 2-year term as 12th District Congressperson on May 8.

Rather than accept defeat at the hands of State Sen. Troy Balderson, Melanie turned into a "sore loser" and has filed a legal challenge to the results in Troy's home county of Muskingum, whose county seat is Zanesville.

District 12 is a GOP gerrymander of three counties (Delaware, Licking and Morrow) and parts of four counties (Franklin, Marion, Muskingum and Richland). Most of the votes are in northern Franklin, Delaware and Licking.

U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi quit the post in January leaving 725,000 residents of central Ohio without representation for six months and counting after Gov. “National Johnny” Kasich briefly interrupted his 2020 presidential campaign to call a special election.  

Pat "adopted" and put hundreds of thousands of dollars into Troy's campaign because Melanie and her Tea Party cronies had been a thorn in Tiberi's side.   

U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, of Urbana, “adopted” Melanie and put money into her campaign as he wanted a follower in Congress to help take the country back to the Stone Age.    

Troy and his allies outspent and went hard negative on Melanie with TV ads and color postcards that depicted her as something less than the Christian and Trump conservative she proclaimed to be. They tagged Melanie for paving her own street as a Liberty Township trustee, for being a big tax spender and for alleged improper business maneuvers.

When the votes were counted, Melanie lost the full-term primary by 653 votes or about 1 percent. She lost the partial-term primary by a similar amount.

Instead of following Jesus’s dictate to “love thy neighbor” – that one would expect from a so-called Christian conservative – by congratulating and endorsing Troy, as is customary (even Mary Taylor managed to endorse Mike DeWine), Melanie started grousing about discrepancies in the vote total in Muskingum County.

Melanie announced that she would be running again for the seat in 2020, cementing her status as a “sore loser.”

Then Melanie paid for a recount of the full-term results in Muskingum County.

She conceded the nomination to Troy for the Aug. 7 special election to decide the unexpired term.

If Melanie were genuinely interested in finding chicanery and overturning the results, why not contest both elections?     

She may be more interested in embarrassing her “neighbor” Troy.   

Melanie then “discovered” that Muskingum County election officials had opened what were by law to be sealed boxes containing ballots of the 16 contested precincts before the June 6 recount. She claims the process was to be observed by Melanie's agents.    

She subsequently filed suit with the Ohio Supreme Court asking that either the Muskingum County results be thrown out – making Melanie the winner and the GOP nominee in the Nov. 6 general election – or that the Muskingum County vote be held again.

The all-GOP Ohio Supreme Court is more mainstream than Tea Party-esque and is highly unlikely to side with Melanie.

All this reflects badly on Troy and hints that his home county folks might have somehow cribbed the election for him. 

Melanie is sore because Troy won nearly 80 percent of the vote in Muskingum County while she barely got 10 percent.      

In Melanie's home county Delaware she barely got one third of the votes while Troy got one fifth. Melanie’s strident Tea Party stands have rubbed many Delaware County Republicans the wrong way and two-thirds of them took their votes elsewhere to Melanie's embarrassment.    

In the two upcoming elections, some of Melanie’s supporters will stay home, robbing Troy of votes. Others with environmental sensibilities will go for Green Party nominee Joe Manchik.

Waiting in the wings to cash in on the Republican blood-letting and chaos is Danny O'Connor, the Franklin County Recorder. He is a moderate Democrat who won the primary easily.        

Danny needs, first, to develop a fiery presence and start taking his message to the communities of the 12th District with public town halls where he takes on all comers. Tiberi hid from the public his last three years in office. The Indivisible 12 protesters brought Tiberi to his knees.        

Second, Danny must take a strong stand that voters should send him to Washington to begin to undo the damage caused by the Trump Administration. Danny must gamble that the public will be fed up with the abuse of power in DC and willing to vote for change on Aug. 7 and Nov. 6.

Thirdly and most importantly, the big donors to Democratic candidates nationally must write big checks now to make Danny competitive. Troy’s backers are dumping millions into this race already. It will take more than shoe leather for Danny to win.     

All we know for sure at this writing is that “sore loser” Melanie's political career is over.

(Please send your comments and suggestions for future columns to John K. Hartman,

(ColumbusMediaInsider, copyright, 2018, John K. Hartman, All Rights Reserved

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