US Rep Tim Ryan

US Rep. Tim Ryan

Letters, I write letters ...

Dear Liz Walters, Ohio Democratic Party Chair:

You've been in office for more than a month now and nothing is happening.

Oh, you're meeting with loyal Democrats, reaching out to the 88 counties, trying to be inclusive and all that, but nothing is happening. If you had a blueprint of how you are going to revitalize the moribund party in your back pocket, it is time take it out, read it aloud and start leading.

I know you have been dealt a bad hand, but time is wasting.

You got a break with Republican Senator Rob Portman said he would not run for re-election in 2022. It is easier to beat a non-incumbent even in red Ohio.

Okay, I understand the finances of the party are shaky, but that is what the phone is made for: to call donors and get them to ante up. The big unions who paved the way for your ascension to the throne should be writing big checks. Your sponsor U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown should be pitching in to fill the coffers.

Finally, there seems no announced and organized plan for recruiting, training and vetting candidates for statewide office in 2022. Just a bunch of haphazard announcements and jockeying for position is taking place.

Put on your running shoes. Let's go.

Dear Senator Rob Portman:

I trust you were sincere when you announced your retirement in 22 months.

It was not a temporary dodge to avoid the target that former President Trump put on your back by promising to back a primary challenger, or was it Robby?

The completely loony and semi-loonies, an heiress and a retread, already have announced for your job and chaos is riddling the state GOP.

You wouldn't up and change your mind and get back in the race, especially if Trump's influence wanes as his court dates increase, now would you Roberto?

God, I'd miss those TV ads featuring your wife Jane saying that are a good man, Robby Bobby Ding-Dong.


Dear U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan:

It looks like you really are going to do it. Really going to run for statewide office. After all those false starts, after the failed effort to oust House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and after the short-lived try for the 2020 Presidential nomination. You may remember that this column backed your presidential effort. That thank you note you sent me must have gotten lost in the mail along with a bunch of Republican ballots.

My sources tell me that you are all in for replacing Portman in the Senate, announcement forthcoming. The clincher was the likely loss of your Congressional seat because Ohio is probably losing one of its 16 seats after the Census causes redistricting and the Republicans are drawing the new maps.

You would likely be pushed into a majority Republican district in 2022 and likely lose, so why not bet your career on winning the Senate seat.

I doubt you will face significant opposition in the Democratic primary, so let the fund-raising begin. It will take $50 million to win the seat. Portman would have raised $75-100 million to defend the seat. The GOP nominee will not be able to raise Portman kind of money.

Your biggest obstacle: winning over the vast stretches of conservative Ohio that are not  cool with your Youngstown aura.

2022 Candidate Scorecard

Last month I floated LeBron James of basketball fame as the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate. That trial balloon exploded and fell to Earth, so I will go with the Mahoning Valley flow and put Tim Ryan at the top of my list. He's personable, he's good on TV and he can lay the wood to the Republican nominee. Aspiring painter David Pepper, the ex-state party chair, remains in the backup position.

The formidable task of challenging incumbent Mike DeWine for the governorship is best undertaken by former Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman, despite his protestations. A charismatic Black highly regarded in Columbus and his hometown of Toledo, Coleman could take it to DeWine like no other. Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, who is likely to run for the gubernatorial nomination, would be best as his running mate. Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley and former state health director Amy Acton would be the second best ticket at this writing.

Here are my faves for the other four statewide offices:

Attorney General. Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein, who is unopposed for re-election this year and should start campaigning now, with former lieutenant governor and attorney general Lee Fisher as back-up. (2018 nominee Steve Dettelbach is largely out of the picture as he is seeking appointment as U.S. attorney in northern Ohio.)

Secretary of State. 2018 nominee Kathleen Clyde, who needs to up her statewide visibility STAT, followed by ex-state senator Lou Gentile.

Auditor. Ex-state rep. Connie Pillich with Pepper in the (not on the) wings.

Treasurer: House minority leader Emilia Sykes with former state treasurer and attorney general Richard Cordray as alternate.

Dear New Dispatch Opinion and Engagement Editor Amelia Robinson:

Congratulations on taking over what is left of the Dispatch editorial page.

It used to be a lively and stimulating part of the newspaper and website, but it has fallen on hard times, barely taking up a page Monday through Saturday and morphed into something called The Conversation section on Sundays that, if you don't mind me saying, contains little worth talking about.

I miss the horribly biased, right-wing, reward your friends, punish your enemies, cranky, diatribe of an editorial section that was the hallmark of the Wolfe family ownership of the newspaper, that ended nearly six years ago. At least it was thought-provoking and stimulating in a perversely annoying kind of way.

When Gatehouse, now Gannett, took over, somebody in the executive suite apparently discovered a letter that had been mailed a decade ago that revealed that Columbus and Franklin County had changed from Pink Republican to Bright Blue Democratic and had large Black and LBGTQ communities and other smaller diverse entities that were not well represented in the morning friendly. So the Dispatch started representing them on the editorial pages, as well as in its news columns, and (gasp) started endorsing mostly Democrats for political office, much to the chagrin of its loyal Republican readers.

But last year the Dispatch got on the wrong side of the Black community when it editorialized in opposition to minority set-asides by the city. All hell broke loose both in the Black community and in the Gannett corporate suite, where diversity is demanded and enforced. The Dispatch vowed to make amends.

Meanwhile, a lot of Republicans quit the newspaper over its political switch, but Democrats did not rise up to subscribe. The papers readership kept collapsing and finally in the last year the paper stopped endorsing political candidates, started the Conversation awfulness and largely stopped writing local editorials in an effort to stem circulation losses. The new innocuous daily "editorial page" became an amalgam of editorials from other newspapers, a columnist or two (mostly people nobody ever heard of), an out of town editorial cartoon and some brief letters to the editor.

In other words, the readers began to be fed empty boring calories.

Amelia, you once headed the Dayton Daily News's Ideas and Voices section, its replacement for an editorial page. Years ago the DDN gave up endorsing candidates to avoid charges of bias and keep from alienating readers.

Ideas and Voices sounds like Unicorns and Rainbows, a kind of out there happy talk that neither offends nor stimulates. Readers would be made too drowsy to cancel their subscriptions.

Columbus and Ohio need the leadership and accountability that only a capital city daily newspaper can provide. So let us see what you can do. I'm here to help. And critique.

You can start by hiring some local columnists that are of the Black and female persuasion, such as you. I am sure you know that your hire is part of the making of amends to the Black community that the Dispatch promised after last year's set-aside opposition gaffe. A columnist from the LBGTQ community would be nice, too.

You have some pretty good white male columnists in the news section and the sports section. You might move them into your venue. A local cartoonist would not hurt either.

Good luck.


--The Dispatch appears be cutting costs by no longer subscribing to the New York Times and Washington Post news services. it now provides coverage of national and international news by republishing content from its sister paper, USA Today. This is very peculiar because you can read the same USA Today for free content online at Yet you must pay to read USA Today-produced coverage in the Dispatch in print or online. It feels like a rip-off and a bad business practice.

--The Dispatch's worst business practice remains moving up the deadline to 7 p.m. so that there are no reports of evening sports events and evening breaking news in the next day's newspaper. The sports section now prints 2-day-old game action pictures to try appear  interesting. Sports fans are laughing in their beer as they turn to sports news websites, not, to get up to date sports news ... and action pictures of their favorite teams.


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


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