To win a statewide election in Ohio, one must overcome the twin tyrants: public opinion polls and fund-raising. Failure to do so means defeat.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan has demonstrated that he understands the tyrants because he kept on advertising on television and on social networks after the May 3 primary election after he won the Democratic nomination, while his Republican opponent in the U.S Senate race, J.D. Vance, has remained quiet since the primary.

Ryan kept on fundraising, too. He has access to millions by virtue to his own solicitations, the money the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee will put in, and what independent committees might do for him.

The result was that the first public opinion poll on the race, done by Suffolk for the USA Today Network, found Ryan and Vance in a dead heat, as I suggested in my May 17 column. ColumbusMediaInsiderPoliticalOutsider: How Whaley Beats DeWine | Vance had 41.6 percent to Ryan’s 39.4 percent but with a 4.4 percent margin of error.  It is too close to call.

As of this writing, Ryan has measured up to the two tyrants. He is even in the polls and he has money in the bank with the potential to raise a lot more. In spite of this, rating services call the race either leans Republican or likely Republican.

After an unimpressive win in the Republican primary, Vance has been staying quiet to let the public forget about the bloodletting played out in often vicious ads across television screens in Ohio.

Yet Vance made a good showing in the post-primary poll and will have all the money he needs once he and his advisers decide how to attack Ryan.

Ryan’s anti-China and pro-Trump comments in his ads may be wearing thing with some Democrats. Look for Vance to try and capitalize.

The bottom line is that Ryan has his head above water while his running made Nan Whaley does not.

The Twin Tyrants Get The Best Of Whaley

Whaley, the Democratic nominee for governor, trails Republican Gov. Mike DeWine by a whopping 15.6 percent in the Suffolk poll, 45.4 percent to 29.8 percent. If one applies the margin of error of 4.4 percent, plus or minus, then DeWine is polling between 49.8 percent and 41 percent while Whaley is between 34.2 percent and 25.4 percent. Even in the best-case scenario, her high-water mark is 6.8 percent behind his worst.

The public opinion poll tyrant has a hold on Whaley, too, and shows no signs of letting go. I predicted in my May 17 column that Whaley would lag DeWine in the first post-election poll. ColumbusMediaInsiderPoliticalOutsider: How Whaley Beats DeWine |

The only good news for Whaley is that DeWine is under 50 percent, a position seen as making an incumbent vulnerable.

The bad news is that nearly one third of the voters polled have never heard of Whaley even after an expensive and extensive primary campaign. Folks do not vote for candidates with whom they are unfamiliar.

More bad news is that while nearly three-quarters of the voters surveyed believe that Ohio government is at least somewhat corrupt, slightly more than half approve of the performance of Gov. DeWine, the head of said corrupt state government.

DeWine is a Teflon candidate – nothing sticks to him.

In a fund-raising email, Whaley’s forces quote a former Hillary Clinton campaign official as saying the poll numbers are no big deal. This is whistling in the graveyard and not helpful.

The second tyrant to be reckoned with is fund-raising, where Whaley is in even worse shape. DeWine has $8 million on ice while Whaley has $250,000. He has a 32-to-1 edge, not to mention that he is independently wealthy and can put in his own millions if necessary, not to mention that the Republican Governors Association will send funds his way if needed, not to mention that the Ohio Republican Party will do same, and not to mention independent committees spending his way.

Whaley has the Ohio Democratic Party to fall back on, but it is operating on fumes. She could call on the Democratic Governors Association, but it will not kick into a losing campaign. Independent committees could help but will hold back as long as she is way behind.

Ryan wisely kept advertising after the primary and he had the dough to do it. Whaley did not have the dough, so she relied on Twitter, Facebook, media news releases and mass events to get the word out to little avail.

The second tyrant, fund-raising, is not going Whaley’s way.

When it comes to the twin tyrants, Whaley is zero for two.

Prominent Analyst Declares DeWine Seat “Safe”

Larry Sabato, of the University of Virginia, the eminent, straight-shooting political analyst, recently moved Ohio’s gubernatorial race from “Likely Republican” to “Safe Republican.” This will dry up Whaley’s fund-raising efforts because the big money does not go to expected losers. (Sabato pegs Ryan’s race against Vance as “Likely Republican.”)

One person who can save Whaley now is U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, whose TV ads for her cinched her primary victory. He has the fund-raising prowess to scoop up millions for her and he has the cred with Ohio voters to go on the air and point them her way.

Brown can stand up to the tyrants of polling and fund-raising on Whaley’s behalf and get her back in the race, but he better hurry because five weeks after the primary, Whaley’s candidacy is dead in the water.

If Whaley loses a one-sided race to DeWine, she will drag the rest of the ticket down with her, including Ryan; the three Democrats running for Ohio Supreme Court; the strong down-ballot candidate for attorney general, Jeff Crossman, among others; congressional candidates; state legislative candidates; and even Democrats running for county offices.

The other person who can save Whaley now is a billionaire who decides to form an independent committee and spend, say, $10 million advertising for Whaley against DeWine. She needs a name recognition booster shot and DeWine must be metaphorically dumped in the trash can as the most corrupt governor in decades … or he wins.

Sam Bankman-Fried, billionaire owner of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, announced he was going to give millions of dollars to help Democrats. Whaley should dial him up and see if he would like to change the political calculus of Ohio.

Time is wasting.

Matt Huffman Is Such A Nice Guy. Thanks for Scoops

In the annals of journalism there are news articles and there are “stroke-ola” pieces.

A Dispatch “reporter” recently produced the latter, puff piece about Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman. It was so fawning and biased that it appears to have been written to thank him for scoops and leaks.

Republican Huffman is the guy who perverted the will of the people of Ohio by stalling and manipulating the Ohio Redistricting Commission into producing maps that overwhelmingly favored Republicans for Congressional and state legislative seats.

“Gerrymander” is Huffman’s middle name, but the writer pooh-poohs Huffman’s intransigence by portraying him as the humble son of Lima, Ohio, dining at the local Kewpee Hamburgers.

“Nothing becomes law in Ohio unless Matt Huffman says so,” proclaims the writer.

Horse-trading is sadly common between journalists and their subjects. But when it causes journalists to write unwarranted sweetheart pieces, such as the article in the May 22 Dispatch, it is dubious ethics as best.

Journalists are supposed to be watchdogs, not lapdogs.

Meanwhile, Huffman is off opposing women’s rights, advocating for gun rights, arming teachers, raising a lot of money to keep the Republicans in power and discriminating against all who are not middle-aged white men.

New Dispatch Executive Editor Spent Last Decade In PR

The Dispatch’s publicity release posing as a new story about its new executive editor Edwina Blackwell Clark is loaded with malarky and self-serving bromides such as “the brand is really so much more than what’s on the page” (from her) and “The Dispatch is trying to broaden its online footprint while strengthening its relationship with the community at the same time” (from the journalist who wrote the article and who should have a better sense of objectivity).

The news release posing as a news article erroneously states that Clark is the paper’s first female editor when, in fact, Kelly Lecker served as interim editor earlier this year before departing to become editor of a Madison, Wisconsin, newspaper.

It was correctly stated that Clark is the first minority editor of the newspaper.

The article hailed her experience as an editor, yet she has been out of daily journalism for a decade in a series of public relations jobs for a foundation and for two state colleges.

Now the top two newsroom jobs at The Dispatch are held by minority women. Amelia Robinson was named opinion editor about a year ago.

Gannett Corp. has what amounts to a quota system for its newsrooms.

Emails, we get emails …

I recently received the following email:

Hi John,

I found your in-depth analysis of how Nan Whaley can beat Mike DeWine in Ohio’s Gubernatorial Race this year to be brutally honest. ColumbusMediaInsiderPoliticalOutsider: How Whaley Beats DeWine |  It’s tragic, however, that political dirt, and obscene spending are the only ways to win elections in Ohio.

Your analysis is so stunningly jolting, that I’ve shared your link with several friends.
I naively long for a democratic process that was not so filthy with corruption.
Thank you for your great analysis, thought, and writing.

A resident of Pickerington, O.

(Keep the emails coming to the address below.)


- The Ohio Democratic Party launched a new organizing campaign in May called “Workers First.” The name suggests a union organizing campaign and will not fly with the 85 percent of Ohioans who are not union-affiliated.

- OSU football coach Ryan Day said the other day that OSU fanatics need to raise $13 million to pay players for the use of their names, images, and likenesses to compete with the likes of Alabama and Georgia. He could kick in some of his next year’s contract of $9.5 million, but times are tough all over.

- I remain sick of the OSU athletics’ apologists who claim the $200 million-plus organization is self-supporting. They play games and practice on university land, on fields and in buildings owned and in many cases paid for by OSU and Ohio taxpayers, and they use the good name of The Ohio State University to raise money. Not self-supporting, but plenty self-indulgent.

- The Columbus crime spree came right to the heart of the state government when a young man was murdered outside the Ohio Statehouse. Paging Gov. DeWine.

- Speaking of our erstwhile chief executive, when will he stop copping the taxpayers for security costs while doing political business and keeping it quiet. Remember, his predecessor “Johnny Nobody” Kasich took upwards of $1 million of taxpayer dough for security while he ran for president and covered up the cost.

- Gannett Corp., the owner and liquidator of the Columbus Dispatch, is revisiting its hasty cancellation of Saturday and holiday print editions in the Capital City and at many of its other newspapers. It is bad business for the liquidator, err publisher. Would it be too much to ask for Gannett to return to a 7-days-a-week print publishing schedule and to replace the mid-afternoon deadline with a late evening one? What a joke to read the Dispatch on Monday June 5 and find feature stories about the Memorial Golf Tournament instead of reading about who won.

(Please send your comments and suggestions for future columns to John K. Hartman,  (ColumbusMediaInsider, copyright, 2022, John K. Hartman, All Rights Reserved)