Saturday, April 10, 2010

BJ, PD, Ganley: holy triumvirate?

THE EDITORIAL PAGE gurus at northern Ohio newspapers are facing a unique situation posed by a wealthy businessman in the 13th Congressional District. That, of course, can only mean mega-auto dealer Tom Ganley, the right-wing Republican who is out to unseat U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton. For the first time in my memory, the leading advertiser in the Plain Dealer and maybe the Beacon Journal will be seeking their endorsements in the fall. My experience in hanging out with political wannabes is that unless you are a Dick Cheney sitting at the top of Halliburton, you are not likely to be so bored with making zillions of dollars in your business that you would toss it all in for a zip code in D.C.

Considering the desperation of newspapers to stop the bleeding in their advertising revenue, the PD and BJ will have to weigh that concern against endorsing a Democrat, a pro-labor congresswoman like Sutton who has never been in their comfort zone.

Trouble is, if the Ivory Towers would own up to it, there isn't much in Ganley's playbook that favors the issues that have been supported by the papers, not the least of which have been his vibrant opposition to the the new health care law and abiding interest in tax cuts, as well as a lot of other things that Tea Partiers find so inspirational these days.

Those things alone might not be enough to dump a big advertiser from the A-list. Besides, the BJ demonstrated its remarkable indifference to the candidates' positions when it trashed Democratic candidate Sherrod Brown, who went on to thrash Sen. Mike DeWine in 2oo6. (Sen. Brown has been considered to be an outrider by both papers, although the PD did prevail upon itself this week to connect him with the two new NASA programs ($2.1 billion!) that will add many jobs to the stricken Cleveland area. Front page stuff, too! On the other hand, the papers have had no editorial comment on DeWine, the GOP candidate for attorney general, for his grand style promise to repeal the health care law that both papers supported.

So far, the PD and BJ have endorsed Ganley in the Republican primary, which is clotted with a jumble of candidates, who, unlike Ganley, do not have the means for a limo-style campaign. I don't know how the papers squeeze play will turn out. So I can only humbly report the memorable tag on many an editorial: It bears watching.

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