This months Mother Jones is dedicated to Ohio and all it’s glory.

The Ohio Insurgency

Onstage, Hackett never actually conceded the loss. Instead, he declared, “We can take this to other regions of the country and other regions of the state. I don’t want to see any teary eyes–this was a success!” Echoing his rallying cry as a Marine, he bellowed, “Let’s rock on!”

At the party, an Indian Hill neighbor of Hackett’s, attorney Michele Young, charged over to tell me what she thought had gone wrong. “When the DNC came in here two weeks ago, they brought in money and volunteers, but they were thinking the old way”–aiming their get-out-the-vote effort at likely Democrats. But Hackett’s strongest showing was in areas where he drew large numbers of Republican and independent voters. The DNC “were traditional thinkers with an outside-the-box candidate,” she insisted. “That’s why they lost.”

Still, the party hierarchy is clearly salivating over Hackett–though whether it aims to control a maverick or follow him remains to be seen. In the weeks after the election, Hackett’s phone rang off the hook with calls from power brokers such as Senator Chuck Schumer, chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who invited him to come to Washington–a none-too-subtle hint that they back Hackett in his bid for DeWine’s Senate seat.

As Hackett moves forward, he will take fire from all sides. If the fate of Howard Dean’s antiwar candidacy is any indication, Democrats as well as Republicans will slam his anti-Bush rhetoric. Hackett’s own flaws–his hotheadedness, his political inexperience–will offer his opponents plenty of ammunition. A statewide race could quickly become a national barometer, with both parties pouring millions of dollars into Ohio as a down payment on 2008.

Hackett can taste the coming battle, and he likes it. Talking about what lies down the road, he sounds exactly the way he did during the August campaign, when he’d don his Ray-Bans and leap out of the car to change a few more minds: “You gotta get out there and fight the fight.”

Recounting Ohio


The Case of the Dead Computer

Sherole Eaton is a 66-year-old mother of five and a lifelong Democrat. In 2004, she was serving as the deputy director of the Board of Elections in Ohio’s Hocking County. Her path to controversy began on December 10, when a technician from Triad, a company that supplied electronic voting machines used in Hocking and 40 other Ohio counties, arrived at her office to help the staff prepare for the upcoming statewide recount of presidential ballots. According to an affidavit Eaton would later file, the tech, Michael Barbian, found that the computer the county used to store and count votes wouldn’t boot up. So he took it apart, connected it to a spare computer in the office, called Triad, worked on both machines some more, and then pronounced the original computer ready for the recount. He then instructed Eaton and the Board of Elections director, Republican Lisa Schwartze, on how to construct a “cheat sheet” so the hand recount would match the official tally. Barbian allegedly said he’d made similar service calls in five other Ohio counties.

To skeptics, this episode highlights one of the main ways the election was stolen: by manipulating the computers that recorded and tabulated ballots. According to the Free Press, 15 percent of Ohio’s ballots–a number seven times greater than Bush’s victory margin–were cast on electronic machines provided or programmed by companies with ties to the Republican Party, including Triad. True, a limited hand recount was held afterward, but it was a sham, the skeptics argue. They point to the indictment this past September of two Cuyahoga County election officials for offenses that include failing to randomly select the recount precincts. Eaton made a similar accusation in her county–and, as if to clinch the case, was later fired. When her affidavit was posted at one of the websites claiming that Bush stole Ohio, one blogger commented, “This speaks for itself.”

Firing Back

Democratic Party leaders, who recently hailed Hackett as one of their brightest new stars and wooed him into running for Senate, are now lining up behind their party’s insider. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has already endorsed Brown for Senate, and the rest of Ohio’s six-member Democratic congressional delegation are expected to follow suit, according to The Hill, the Washington, D.C. weekly.

Hackett campaign manager David Woodruff says that Hackett decided to stay in the race after attending a meeting last week in Portsmouth, Ohio. “We expected 20 people there, and we planned to spend an hour,” he recounted. Instead, “200 people showed up, and talked to Paul for three hours. We realized there are people like that all across the state looking for someone to support. Paul Hackett inspires people.”

Brown and Hackett are improbable adversaries. Brown helped Hackett in his Congressional run this summer by loaning him staff and contributing money. Had Brown not initially bowed out of the Senate race this summer, Hackett almost certainly would not have run for the seat.

Brown enters the primary battle with a $2 million war chest, and his campaign ads are already ubiquitous on liberal blogs such as DailyKos and MyDD (whose founder, Jerome Armstrong, is a paid consultant to the Brown campaign). Hackett, by contrast, starts his quixotic quest with $19,000 in the bank. The liberal blogosphere, which generated more than $500,000 for Hackett in his Congressional race, will be sharply divided between the two candidates. Hackett hopes to match Brown’s funding advantage by waging a grassroots campaign, barnstorming the state with his wife and three children in an RV that he just bought. He argues that being an outsider may actually be an asset. “I suspect that `06 is year of `throw the bums out,'” he told me. “It’s not gonna be musical chairs for professional politicians.” Brown counters, “I’m not giving up a safe congressional seat that I would be able to hold for at least a decade planning to lose. I want to see a change in the direction of this country and I think I can win this [primary] race and beat Mike DeWine.”

Friendly Fire Are Democrats trying to shoot down Paul Hackett in Ohio?


Brown dismisses the controversy his decision has sparked as a “tempest in a teapot.” He insists that “nobody recruited me to run against Paul Hackett.” And though Hackett says Brown told him point-blank that he wasn’t running, Brown maintains that he was simply wrestling with whether to run because of family considerations. “If your readers or others can’t understand that, then so be it, but my family comes first,” the congressman says. “Paul Hackett is a decent man, he served his country,” he adds, “but no one is entitled to a Senate nomination.”

The liberal blogosphere, which played a critical role in raising money and awareness for Hackett’s summer campaign, has been fractured by the dustup. Brown, who led the fight against CAFTA in the House and voted against the Iraq war, is a progressive who has long cultivated netroots support. This has prompted a crossfire between bloggers, with at least one former Hackett supporter, who is also a paid consultant to the Brown campaign, being accused of “looking for a payday” by boosting Brown.

0 0 votes
Article Rating