Monday, July 13, 2009

Coughlin bows out. That's news?

SEN. KEVIN Coughlin's withdrawal as a Republican gubernatorial candidate should have surprised nobody. He was never in the game, even before ex-congressman John Kasich blustered his way onto the GOP's A-list with deluded promises to cut taxes. Tax reduction is no longer a serious policy matter with GOP candidates. It is simply feel-good politics, like telling the voters that you were late for a town hall meeting because you were busy delivering groceries to an elderly couple. It has a nice rosy glow to it even if it is a fool's paradise in a time of desperate revenue needs.

Interestingly, it would be hard to distinguish the ideological differences between the two men. Both are crackerjack conservatives, and you can take it from there. The only difference, I'd guess, is that Kasich, being a Central Ohioan with more than a few dimes in his pocket as a former Wall Streeter, has earned more Brownie points from the GOP's front office in Columbus than did Coughlin, who allows that he may try again someday.

Still, it must be said that his decision to forgo a gubernatorial campaign was the fastest exit since the late Sen. Oliver Ocasek decided his chances for winning the Democratic nomination for governor in 1978 were none and none. I doubt whether you will find any mention of Ocasek's clandestine candidacy in the political annals, but for a short time at least he was an eager warrior. His ambition was carefully nurtured by his good friend and Summit County Democratic powerhouse Robert Blakemore, who believed that Ollie had toiled long enough as a leader in the Ohio Senate to build a statewide constituency . Blakemore assembled a group of labor, education and political activists in private meetings around Mansfield, Oh., to discuss an Ocasek candidacy.

When I learned of it as a political writer for the Beacon Journal, I wrote something to the effect that Ocasek, though a decent man, was on a wild goose chase inasmuch as another Democrat, Richard Celeste, had a huge head start in raising cash. Always the gentleman, Ollie called to say that he was deeply hurt by my article and would prove me wrong. He took off around the state, meeting countless township trustees, school officials and political friends, certain that his campaign would rise to any challenge. But, alas, when he returned to Akron several weeks later, he arrived in our office with a one-line statement: He had decided not to run after all. He was in shock, really, that for all of his good efforts as an Ohio state senator, he was given so little encouragement -and cash - to fulfill his dream. He also sustained the theory that nice guys don't win pennants.


Mencken said...

It's telling that the only Coughlin for Governor bumper sticker I ever saw was on the back of Coughlin's own minivan

Grumpy Abe said...

That would qualify it as a rare political collector's item, right?