In some ways, Coughlin's ambitious attention grabber isn't surprising. It's the political version of Project Runway. The Cuyahoga Falls arch-conservative Republican will be term-limited out of his seat in 2010 and faces severe unemployment unless he finds another way to succeed in the political world. You may recall the fuss he stirred up last year when he led the failed effort to unseat Summit County Republican Chairman Alex Arshinkoff. That was the subtext - there's always one in politics, as I've mentioned before - to establish his credentials with the significant number of Arshinkoff-haters in the party.
But he faces a much greater challenge at the state level. Although the Republican Party gives a lot of evidence of drifting still farther into Coughlin's comfort zone on the right, the Browns may score their first touchdown before he sets foot into the governor's office. But the Coughlin Saga doesn't end there. What better way to signal to the state GOP brass that you believe you are perfectly competent to hold a statewide job than to announce plans to seek the top job?
So now he will be in the mix when the governor's field is mentioned, as it will be this year. Plenty of free exposure that will earn him media interviews and invitations to chicken dinners.
Later, as all of the other state races are sorted out this year, might not he be wedged in somewhere down the ticket? For anyone inclined to dis this logic, I would offer this caution:
There is no perfect time to look for a python in the tall grass.