Somewhere in a secure office bunker outside Washington, D.C. …

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, convenes a meeting of his top political advisers.

The octogenarian minority leader has placed winning the Ohio Senate seat on the agenda today.

“Gentlemen,” he says, “We must win Ohio in 2024 in order to regain control of the Senate. I am tired of the near misses of the past two elections and I am getting too damn old to wait any longer to reclaim my rightful destiny as majority leader.”

“What do we know about this Ohio State Senator Matt Dolan, who just announced?”

An aide replies, “Dolan ran in the primary in 2022 and finished third to J.D. Vance and that former state official who has a robotic personality. Can’t think of his name. Dolan is the likable scion of the wealthy family that owns the Cleveland Indians, err Guardians. The family put millions into his last campaign. He comes from the not completely crazy wing of the Ohio party.”

“Who else?", says Mitch.

The aide goes on,  “Frank LaRose, secretary of state and budding Trumper, wants in. He’s a publicity hound. Was re-elected big last year so he can run from cover. Not independently wealthy, but a decent fund-raiser. An annoying personality.”

“And?”, says Mitch.

The aide answers, “There is the attorney general, also re-elected last year, Dave “yo-yo” Yost. He tries to pass himself off as a country lawyer but he is every bit a publicity hound and political hack as LaRose is. Not rich, but good at raising dough. He may get sucked into the political corruption trial of the former speaker of the House, now under way. They call him “yo-yo” because he changes positions as fast as the popular toy goes up and down.”

“More?”, Mitch intones.

The aide takes a breath, then answers,” There is the just re-elected lieutenant governor, Jon Husted. He’s a pretty boy with a sharp fund-raising operation. Then there is a long shot with lots of trouble because she crossed the Republican elders on redistricting in retired Ohio Supreme Court Justice Maureen O’Connor. She was too old to seek re-election as a judge. She runs well statewide. She was once elected lieutenant governor. Fund-raising, not so sure.

“What about Governor Mike DeWine? Would he give it a shot? We used to serve together,” Mitch wonders aloud.

“The diminutive one, “ the aide says, “just got re-elected in a landslide, swept all other statewide Republicans into office and added  to Republican  margins in the legislature. He is unusually popular with Democrats and Independents. His inauguration and state of the state speech were classic political campaign theater. He’s 76 and has a large family.”

Mitch speaks, “Sherrod Brown will not be taken out easily next year. We cannot play around with amateurs and training programs. You saw how J.D. Vance screwed around and nearly lost to Tim Ryan last year. We had to rescue him with a truck load of cash. There is only one name I have heard today who can beat Brown. It’s Mike DeWine. Get him on the phone.”

In a farmhouse outside Yellow Springs, Ohio …

Mike and Fran DeWine are drinking coffee and munching on cookies in the family room of their rural estate when the phone rings.

“Hello,” Fran says.

“Hi Fran, it’s Mitch McConnell. How are you?,” Mitch says. “Might Mike be available to chat?”

“Mr. Majority Leader,” Mike says. “For what do we owe for the pleasure of your call.”

“You are too kind,” Mitch replies. “Congratulations on your splendid victory. I believe we call that a whipping in my old Kentucky home.”

“We had some good days together back in the Senate two decades ago,” says Mike. “I am sorry I let that scalawag Sherrod Brown get the better of me in 2006. I would be your right-hand man now if I could have stayed around.”

“Now Mike, that was a bad year for our side,” Mitch says. “Which brings me to my reason for calling other than to say hello to you and Fran? You are No. 1 on my list to win that Senate seat back next year. There is no second choice. You are our one and only opportunity to take back the Senate. There was a more than half a million vote swing to our side from Brown’s result in 2018 compared to Ryan’s losing result last year. Nobody has done more than you have to turn Ohio red in recent years. You might as well cash in.

Speaking of cash, you would have $100 million coming your direction as a candidate. I guarantee it. And I promise you will be on the committees you want and playing the leadership roles you want. You would make your 80-year-old friend who wants just one more time in the sun – as majority leader – very happy.”

“Gosh. I’m flabbergasted,” says Mike. “I would not do it for anybody but you, Mr. Majority Leader. Fran and I have been planning our retirement, but maybe one more trip around the political track is not too much to ask. I could return the “favor” to Sherrod after he did me in 17 years ago. If elected, I would hand the governorship off to lieutenant governor Jon Husted, a good man who has been very loyal to me for 5 years. Dolan, LaRose, and Yost are nothing special. Sherrod would carve them up. Sherrod pissed me off the other day when he said that Ohio had the most corrupt government in the country.  He should be ashamed. We are doing great things here, not the least of which is the Intel plant. Let me talk it over with Fran and call you in a few days.”

“Senator Mike DeWine. The comeback kid. It has a beautiful ring to it. Let us do this, my friend. Please, let us do this. Bye, for now,” Mitch concludes.

“Bye, and thanks for thinking of me. I am honored. I’ll be in touch soon,” Mike says.

He turns to speak to Fran. She has left the room.

There’s A New TV News Sheriff In Town: Channel 6

Channel 10 has been dethroned as the early evening news leader in the Columbus market of 2.3 million people

The anchor trio of Bob Kendrick, Stacia Naquin and Marshall McPeek at channel 6 now dominates the 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. news blocks, according to the December 2022 Nielsen Ratings.

They are reaching 39,401 households   at 5 p.m. and 50,302 at 6 p.m.

Total viewers are 50,567 and 68,274, respectively.

In what is known as “The Demo”  -- what advertisers are most seeking, adults 25-54 --Channel 6 is reaching 12,757 at 5 p.m. and 16,828 at 6 p.m.

Channel 6 has sizeable leads over channels 4 and 10.  Channel 10 was once the top dog but has lost ground since primo anchorman Jerry Revish retired. Channel 4 needs a refresh, especially at 6 p.m.


-How is the search for a new Ohio State University president going? Who knows? They won’t tell us anything.

-Tim Ryan has landed on his feet, employed by the natural gas industry. It gives him a paycheck and   the ability to remain in the political fray.  (Governor 2026?)

-The Ohio House increased expense money for its members by $500,000 over two years. It is another reason to minimize the Ohio Legislature and cut its budget by 70 percent.  ColumbusMediaInsiderPoliticalOutsider: Rogue Legislature’s Gotta Go. It’s Time For Part-Time Reps | If you want to join my crusade, hit me up at

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

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