The two events clearly defined the opposites that will be projected in the contest between Democrat Betty Sutton, a favorite of organized labor, and Republican Tom Ganley, the wealthy auto dealer who is blanketing the 13th District with his TV auto ads for his 32 dealerships.
In his speech to the Akron Press Club last October, Ganley reminded his audience that he was an ordinary guy from a middle class family in Cleveland whose father was a mechanic and mother a waitress. It was his way of taking a little of the shine off his personal Midas-like bankroll, more than $6 million of which reportedly will be spent on this campaign. Sutton, a lawyer, grew up in Barberton in a family whose father was blue-collar. She won't come close to matching her opponent, dollar for dollar.
So the greater issue in the hall was how much impact Ganrley's money will have on the campaign. Moreover, will the Democrats get out their people to vote this year. They aren't taking chances, several of the union speakers headed by USW International President Leo Gerard bluntly called out the troops in the indelicate language that was current in the days of URW President Pete Bommarito and continues to ricochet in the rafters today.
If Sutton is to win, he declared forcefully , then those in the hall must "GET OFF YOUR ASS."
It's the sort of indelicately blunt talk that has long resonated in the union halls and brought cheers from the listeners. In this instance, the audience included Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic, Summit County Executive Russ Pry and Sen. Sherrod Brown, as well as a number of labor leaders from northeast Ohio. Informality was the standard for the evening.
There was some mention of Sutton's leadership in the Cash for Clunkers program that Ganley trashed while showing a multimillion dollar profit from it. I suspect there will be more of that theme as the campaign progresses. For now, there will be the repeated reminders to GET OFF YOUR ASS and work for Sutton.
Come to think of it, that demand serves perfectly as the acronym for the Spanish painter GOYA. He painted some troubling scenes including one large series of prints that he captioned "The sleep of reason produces monsters." He was a great artist, but how could he have imagined what we're witnessing in campaigns from coast to coast?