Friday, November 6, 2009

Brunner's low-key quest for the U.S. Senate

JENNIFER BRUNNER stepped up to the Akron Press Club podium Thursday as the third in the club's series of four candidates engaged in a senatorial quest to succeed Republican George Voinovich. It was a low-key 20 minute speech (plus a Q&A period) in which she seemed trapped more in her role as Secretary of State than as a potential Democratic U.S. senator with an eye on the national issues that would command her attention in an Obama Administration. (Her opponent in the Democratic primary next year is Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, who will close out the Press Club series on Dec. 8.)

Well, we're still in the preliminaries for the senate races and there is still much to learn from the candidates of both parties, although it does seem that on the GOP side, the litany will be tax cuts and more tax cuts, notwithstanding the fact that such holier-than-thou promises, when infused into the Bush administration's agenda, did nothing more than worsen the federal deficit and set the stage (along with Iraq's extravaganza) for a recession.

Brunner is an intelligent, thoughtful person who is less than forceful from the podium. She tends toward long answers to questions from her audience, each response becoming a rambling mini speech in itself. (Such was the case of Rob Portman, the bell cow of the Republican senate race hereabouts.) But as a career journalist, I can't pass up her remarks about the horrendous costs of political campaigns today.

She was absolutely right to note that the changing media culture has left candidates few alternatives to circulate their messages to mass audiences. As newspapers continue to shrink, relatively few political advertising dollars are spent in the print media. Cable networks, she said, reach far fewer audiences than the major mainstream broadcasters. So high-cost networks and local affiliates feast on political ads while spending very little on the coverage of the statewide campaigns.

So TV remains largely an entertainment medium? So what else is new?

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