Sunday, March 1, 2015

Do some political parties age better than others?

Former Gov. Ted Strickland's decision to challenge Sen. Rob Portman, Republican "commonsense conservative," as he sees it, has drawn mostly yawns from Ohio's media stallions who  argue it is a dramatic  sign of the Democratic Party's pathetic  lack of youth and energy. (Strickland is 73).

I would agree that the party needs a younger profile.  But for the articles and editorial pages to fret over the Democrats' creaking bones is a rare sign of  Ohio's Republican-leaning newspapers to fret over the general welfare  of the  "other party".

Young or old, it usually doesn't make that much difference who shows up on the state ballot as a Democrat.    Don't take my word for it.  If age is a factor, here are some engaging figures from the 2014 vote:

Of the five state offices on the ballot, only one posted a Republican younger than his opponent , Treasurer Josh Mandel, 37, big deal(!),  who was younger than his opponent Connie Pillich, a lively and competent 54.

In the other four, Republicans were the greybeards - none  more pronounced than the attorney  general contest that pitted Republican incumbent Mike DeWine, at 68  against Democrat David Pepper, 43!

As long as these many years that I've followed DeWine's career, I've never figured out how he maintains his Rasputin-like grip on editorial writers leading them to such contradictory endorsements.   The Plain Dealer produced not a single negative word about Pepper, a Cincinnati lawyer who had ably served as a county commissioner and city councilman.  The PD however, did go on distressfully about the lengthy downside of DeWine's tenure as the state's top lawyer, from questionable awards of state contracts to other matters that led him "astray'' by "insulting Ohio's voters for refusing"   to debate Pepper.

So what will it be?  Sayeth the lords of the Cleveland newspaper world:

"DeWine is a work in progress.  But his flaws and blind spots are more than outweighed by his energetic and effective advocacy on behalf of all Ohioans on a range of issue" thus earning him a approval for a second term.  

A work in progress at 68? Better hurry.

The PD lined up six of its opinion writers to record the  event.    Elizabeth Sullivan, the opinion director of the Northeast Ohio Media Group,  expressed her sorrow over the old folks party thusly:  Strickland's  return is "another sorry statement about the dearth of  viable Democratic candidates for a statewide run..."

Then, my old paper, the Beacon Journal, concluded that although DeWine "has stumbled at times"  the record also showed that he ''has been a much better attorney general than  Pepper allows" and deserves a second term.

Jarring, too, is DeWine's active  agenda that has been at odds with the paper's position on several major  issues dominating everyone's lives, from the Affordable Care Act to abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

With the yawners, I guess, it depends what party is creakily on the ballot.

So for the Dems,  would it improve their chances  if they sent in a teenage  candidate for an endorsement interview?   You might grow old waiting for a reply.

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