Words Columbus Media Insider

The Republicans in the Ohio legislature voted to take over the operation of the State Health Department so that Gov. Mike DeWine could no longer order Ohioans to wear masks, stay 6-feet apart and stop congregating.

The governor was too concerned about avoiding the mass die-in of unprotected Buckeyes and offended the backwoods Neanderthal GOPers who possess veto-busting margins in both the Ohio House and Senate.

The legislature remains in the grip of Jim- and Jane-bos who inhabit the small cities and rural bastions of Ohio and decorate their outdoors with now tattered Trump signs and dilapidated Stop the Steal banners.

The Republicans can't manage their lawmaking chambers, let alone administer the state government, the governor's job. They still haven't removed the indicted State Rep. Larry Householder.

Imagine if the incompetent GOP legislators took over other branches of Ohio government.

The public schools would be closed except for the boys' sports teams.

The COVID would be ravaging the unvaccinated masses.

Half of the highways in the state would be closed due to giant potholes.

Collection of income and sales taxes would be suspended by incompetence.

Ohio Highway Patrol officers would be cleaning up litter not patrolling.

Dr. Acton Puts On Her Running Shoes

The 2022 race for the U.S. Senate seat to be vacated by Republican Rob Portman, because he wanted to avoid a likely "fatal" primary challenge from a Trumper, has seen the spotlight turned onto DeWine's former Health Department director Dr. Amy Acton, a dedicated jogger.

A Democrat, she nonetheless was DeWine's pick for the health job and became a media rock star on his daily statewide TV broadcasts during in the pandemic. DeWine often called upon her to speak and her empathetic, reassuring, forthright and sometimes emotional presentations caught the fancy of Ohioans.

Yet she drew the wrath of the Neanderthals (aka Republicans) who thought she was curbing their liberties instead of saving their lives. For a while she persuaded DeWine to follow humanistic (aka Democratic) policies and eventually wound up with loony protesters in her driveway.

Before she resigned, she became the second most popular politician in Ohio (behind DeWine) and the most popular Democrat in Ohio, approaching 70 percent overall approval.

Speculation ensured that she would cash in on her popularity and run for public office in 2022. Others guessed that she would eschew the hard knocks of public life after having a taste of them.

Turns out she was listening to the former and she has been making some moves to run for the U.S. Senate as a Democrat. Out of loyalty to DeWine, she apparently did not consider running against him for governor in 2022.

I'm not sure she is ready for a knock-down, drag-out race for either senator or governor as it would be full of the off-putting dirty tricks and criticism that drove her from the directorship of the Health Department.

My recommendation, stated in previous columns, was for Dr. Acton to run for lieutenant governor and be given the health department job again if elected. The ticket would be stronger with her on it, she would avoid bitter criticism because nobody carps at the No. 2.

Acton and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Youngstown appear on a collision course for the Senate nomination. This is reminiscent of the titanic clash between then Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher and then Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner in the Senate primary in 2010  that soaked up millions of dollars and bitterly divided the party along gender lines. Emily's List failed to endorse Brunner, and became in my eyes a laughable fraud. Fisher won a close one and then got destroyed in the general election by Portman.

Democrats are 4-8% behind Republicans in Ohio going into 2022 in this formerly purple state, now red, and cannot afford a bitter primary battle. Unity is needed to overcome the Republicans in 2022.

New Democratic Party state chair Liz Walters and her backers (U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and the leaders of the major unions) must step in and referee the situation before it is too late.

Helping the Democratic cause is that the Republicans are feuding over their nominee for the Senate with former state treasurer Josh Mandel and former state chair Jane Timken, among others, jousting, often bitterly, for the nomination that Portman had locked up by this time 12 years ago.

Amy For Senate. Tim For Governor.

I have been recommending candidates for statewide office in 2022 for six months. In my first-go-round in November's column I omitted a selection for U.S. senator, but did state that it should be a female. In December I picked Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, in January ex-party chair David Pepper, in February NBA star LeBron James, and last month U.S. Rep. Ryan.

Now that Dr. Amy Acton is serious about running for the U.S. Senate, I am jumping on her bandwagon.

Congressman Tim Ryan has got to be persuaded by the powers that be (U.S. Sen. Brown and the union bosses) to give up his Senatorial ambitions, for now, and throw his hat into the gubernatorial race.

Candidly, the Democratic candidate for governor has got to be a gut-fighter who can take a sledgehammer to the GOP over state corruption from charter schools to dirty utility money to corrupt legislators and who knows what other screw-ups by the Republicans that have yet be revealed.

Ryan is pugnacious enough to take it to the Republicans every day on the campaign trail and convince average Ohioans, even a few Trumpers, that a Democratic takeover of state government would be in the public interest.

Former Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman would perfect the ticket as lieutenant governor.

I like Zach Klein, Columbus city attorney, for attorney general; Kristin Boggs, of Columbus, assistant House minority leader, as secretary of state; Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley as auditor and Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley as treasurer.

(I have omitted second choices for each office this month. They will return in May.)


-- The owner of Polaris Mall is reported near bankruptcy. JobsOhio should celebrate its 10th anniversary by using some of its liquor-sale profits to rescue it.

-- While state government corruption runs wild, see no evil Attorney General Dave Yost cries because states cannot use COVID-relief money to cut taxes.

-- The Wexners have left the L Brands board and sold a bunch of stock in their continuing effort to avoid having their names scraped off buildings around town.

-- How does one make up for a year of lost time? How do the school and college kids catch up? How does one book a COVID shot? Questions for our time.

-- Ultimately, the redistricting and reapportioning of state and federal legislative boundaries for 2022 will be decided by the Ohio Supreme Court, that is 4-3 GOP. Would lame duck Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor side with the 3 Democrats to make districts fair for a change?

-- With all the GOP wrongdoing around Ohio, the Dispatch did an "investigative" piece on Columbus Zoo management doing favors for family members. If I could talk to the animals...

-- The editorial pages of the Akron Beacon Journal and the Cincinnati Enquirer continually show up what is left of the Dispatch editorial page, "Johnny Nobody" Kasich's recent op-ed notwithstanding.

-- reporter Rick Edmonds quoted my comments in the Columbus Free Press last month where I suggested that the Dispatch is deliberately killing interest in the print product (and pushing folks to digital) by making the print deadlines so early. Production of print newspapers is migrating — up the interstate — with ever earlier deadlines as a result - Poynter Edmonds noted that the Dispatch print site was shifted from Indianapolis to Detroit in February.

-- If you are a careful reader of the Dispatch, This Week Olentangy (a Dispatch weekly) and the Delaware Gazette, you might have seen me quoted as one of the citizens opposing a massive commercial development in the middle of rural and single-family residential Liberty Township in southern Delaware County. We lost. We never had a chance. Two township trustees acted as midwives for the developer instead of representing their fellow citizens and then refused to place the measure on the ballot. That leaves collecting hundreds of signatures to force a referendum in a short time frame in the middle of a pandemic as the citizenry's only option. Democracy is on life support in my little corner of the world.

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

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