Nan Whaley

As predicted, Nan Whaley’s campaign is stuck in the mud having gained no ground and perhaps lost some to Mike DeWine in the three-and-a-half months after the May 3 primary. Only two-and-a-half months remain until the Nov. 8 election.

The Emerson College poll released by the pollster Aug. 18, showed Gov. DeWine, the GOP nominee, solidly ahead by 49% to Dem nominee Whaley’s 33%. The margin of error was 3.2% meaning that there is a high probability that DeWine has a 52.2% to 45.8% support while Whaley’s backing fluctuates between 36.2% and 29.8%.

The only other respectable poll in the gubernatorial race, The USA Today/Suffolk Poll, taken shortly after the primary, showed DeWine ahead by 15%, 45% to 30%, with a margin of error of 4.4%.

Any way you slice it, Whaley has not closed the gap in three months and may have lost some. The failure to gain has set off alarm bells among prominent Ohio Democrats who increasingly fear that Whaley’s campaign is cratering and will take the rest of the ticket down to an ignominious defeat on Nov. 8.

Finally, and in response to her critics, Whaley ended her TV advertising silence two weeks ago and started running 15-second commercials on network television stations around Ohio.

I doubt that the ads have been on the air long enough to make a dent in DeWine’s support.

The ads introduced the concept of class warfare to voters, contrasting Nan’s middle class upbring to millionaire Mike’s.

The Emerson poll release caught Whaley and her advisers flatfooted and they did what inexperienced politicians do. They overreacted.

Whaley’s people decided to release an internal poll (read biased) conducted for them by Lake Research Partners, self-described as “one of the most respected Democratic polling firms in the country.”

A conventional political technique is when confronted by bad news, immediately announce good news. Never mind that the results are suspect. A Lake Research Partners poll showing the race was dead even was announced all over social media BY THE WHALEY CAMPAIGN. The previous two polls showing DeWine way ahead were done by independent polling organizations and RELEASED BY THE POLLSTERS, NOT BY A CANDIDATE.

(There are two websites I regularly consult that report polls, but only ones considered legitimate. and are not publishing the results of the Lake Research Partners survey apparently because they are suspect.)

The desperate overreaction by the Whaley campaign was designed to blunt the confirmation that DeWine remained comfortably ahead and had held its lead for three-and-a-half months. The Whaley campaign is foundering, unable to raise enough financial support to put forth a comprehensive TV ad campaign until recently and trying to cover it up with a publicity trick. If (and probably when) a new legitimate poll is published and shows Whaley still lagging DeWine, the Whaley campaign will get double egg on its face and any future in-house poll releases will be immediately suspect.

Meanwhile, as I also predicted, independent committees supporting DeWine started carpet-bombing Whaley with dark-toned cartoon-style TV ads that attack her record as mayor of Dayton (she left office last year). She is called a tax-hiker and police “defunder” among other negativities. A typical political tactic is to attack one’s opponent’s strongest attribute and turn it against her. That is what DeWine’s pals are trying to do to Whaley, who claims an exemplary record as mayor. Another typical political tactic is to not let attacks stand, and to immediately counter and refute them. So far Whaley’s people have let the attacks stand without rebuttal. Either they are not taking them seriously (big mistake) or they lack resources to respond (big weakness).

The goal of DeWine’s forces is to reduce Whaley to rubble and to never let her out from under a barrage of negative ads (more versions of bad mayor are waiting to be aired).

DeWine wants a landslide that not only sweeps him back into office but also brings his fellow Republicans along with him. As the top of the ticket goes, so go the other statewide races typically in Ohio.

Whaley needs to clean her campaign’s house, boot the aides who are giving her bad advice and reboot the apparatus in a smarter direction or become a footnote in Ohio political history.

Her chances of winning at this writing: 1 out of 25.

Darrel Rowland Fired. Dispatch Institutional Memory Shrinks

In my opinion, Darrel Rowland did one too many exposes on how Big Pharma jacked up drug prices and how pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) were a big part of the problem.

He was messing with the big advertisers that Gannett Co., the parent of the Columbus Dispatch, wanted to court. Rowland had to go.

The 31-year veteran political reporter and columnist with a long memory about the political scene was terminated in early August as Gannett’s shaky finances and slipping stock price led to more layoffs at its local newspapers.

The Dispatch now has mostly rookies and second-stringers covering and commenting on political and government news. Its editors’ idea of a big story has become: go to a local library and ask patrons what is newsworthy.

I was not always a fan of Rowland. I believed that as political writer under the Wolfe family ownership, he occasionally served as their errand boy.

However, when the Wolfes sold out to what subsequently became Gannett. Co., Rowland seemed to change his tune and became a fair, truth-telling journalist. I honor him for that.

Rowland was an honest broker. He will land on his feet.

I have a weakness for Ashland County folks. I was born and raised in the city of Ashland while Rowland grew up in nearby village of Jeromesville. He was a star basketball player for Jeromesville High School. I covered him as sports editor of the Ashland Times-Gazette.


  • U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, the extremist Republican from Urbana, who allegedly ignored abuse of Ohio State University athletes as an assistant wrestling coach and who apparently ignored a coup attempt by a former U.S. president, has formidable competition this time around for re-election in the 4th Congressional District. Tamie Wilson of Delaware, the Democratic candidate, is giving him fits. More on upstart Wilson in my next column.  

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

(ColumbusMediaInsider, copyright, 2022, John K. Hartman, All Rights Reserved)