Words Columbus Media Insider with the M looking like broken glass

What has become of the Columbus Dispatch, that cranky, one-sided, right-wing, influence-peddling, friend-rewarding-and-enemy-punishing, black and white with a splash of color and read all over, or at least in break rooms and doctors' offices?

Three years ago, almost to the day, the Capital City's morning friendly was sold by the Wolfe family to New Media Investments/GateHouse Media, owned and controlled by SoftBank, a Japanese conglomerate.

I wrote then that the new ownership had an opportunity to transform it into a newspaper of the people after way too long as a publisher's propaganda play toy.

My reasoning was simple. Once Republican, Columbus and Franklin County have turned dark blue Democratic while the Dispatch was still embracing the Republican good old days.

Wolfe consigliore Ben Marrison, who held the title of executive editor, departed in 2015 to become auditor and attorney general wanna be David Yost's flack. Maybe Marrison's protégé and successor Alan Miller would lead the paper's editorial stands and coverage policies in a more responsible if not Democratic direction.

In the early months of the Miller regime there were flashes of moderation, but then the brakes were put on and the Dispatch lapsed back into aping the GOP.

Now we are witnessing a new Dispatch attempt at moderation if not downright Democratization.

Step one: Six weeks ago, a Sunday Dispatch editorial called out and denounced President Trump in a brutal unforgiving manner.

Step two: A month ago, a Dispatch editorial endorsed Democrat Danny O'Connor in the Aug. 7 special election for the District 12 Congressional seat and condemned his opponent for not differing with the President.

In a perfect world, Columbus and Franklin Democrats who have refused to  subscribe to and read the newspaper and its website over regressive political policies would step forward and subscribe.

If they do, the Dispatch managers can justify to the owners that the new direction is good for business.

I imagine dozens if not hundreds of the Dispatch's loyal Republican readers canceled the paper in a fury after it dissed Trump.

Gaining readers overall rather than losing would cause a cheer heard all the way from, say, Japan.

A cynic would say that I am daydreaming, if not day drinking.

A cynic would say that by endorsing a Democrat now, the Dispatch is just softening the blow and trying to look evenhanded when it endorses mostly Republicans for governor and other state offices and for legislative and county positions in the Nov. 6 election.

O'Connor must run again in the general election Nov. 6 against Troy Balderson. There is no guarantee of a second endorsement.

What a step forward for the Capital City if would be if the Dispatch finally fulfilled its destiny and transformed into a newspaper of the people?

DeWine, GOP Stumped On How To Spend Millions

Here it is early August and Ohio Republicans do not know how to spend their millions.

Under ordinary circumstances, Mike DeWine would already be lambasting Richard Cordray on TV, through the mail and on social networks, but the Republican standard-bearer for governor has been maintaining radio silence regarding his Democratic rival.

Two years ago, Rob Portman was well into his $60 million TV ad barrage convincing Ohio voters that Ted Strickland was a bad governor in the race for the U.S. Senate. Ted went from 10 points ahead to losing by nearly 20 points.

In late July the Republican Governors Association launched a TV campaign against Cordray, accusing him of failing to protect the public from "hacking" while director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It pictures him and Strickland in Portman's style and labels Cordray as an "incompetent big government Democrat."

Otherwise, the GOP and its candidates are sitting on millions of dollars, not to mention more millions that independent committees will put in. The Democrats have one tenth to one third of that, depending on the candidate.

Cordray probably has access to one third of DeWine's resources.

So why has the bombing barely started?

The simple reason is that DeWine and other statewide Republican candidates do not know what to do with their largesse.

If they hitch their wagons to President Trump, they run the risk of going down with a sinking ship. If they align too closely with Gov. "National Johnny" Kasich, they run the risk of alienating the 75 percent of Republicans that still support Trump and the 60 percent of GOP'ers who disdain Kasich. Polls showing a close race and no defining issues are not helpful either.

Lacking a clear direction, DeWine and company are holding onto their cash. They cannot wait much longer. The Nov. 6 general election is barely three months away.

Political Tracker Sees Tilt Toward Democrats

Congress: O'Connor by 2 percent over Balderson Aug. 7. Likely Trump visit futile.

Governor: Cordray by 4 percent over DeWine. Too little. Too late. Too indecisive.

Senate: Democrat Sherrod Brown by 6 percent over James Renacci. Hardly a Harley.

Attorney General: Democrat Steve Dettelbach by 8 percent over Dave Yost. ECOT not forgot.

Secretary of State: Democrat Kathleen Clyde by 10 percent over Frank LaRose. Star is born.                

Auditor: Democrat Zack Space by 7 percent over Keith Faber. Legislative baggage.    

Treasurer: Republican Robert Sprague by 1 percent over Rob Richardson. Still bias in the hills.

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

(ColumbusMediaInsider, copyright, 2018, John K. Hartman, All Rights Reserved)

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