That was a shorthanded audience (about 85) that lacked local officeholder beef for Ted Strickland's Akron Press Club appearance on Monday. Although the former Democratic governor is now on the circuit in the U.S.Senate race, the party's achievers decided to snub his speech in deference to their unofficial-official endorsement of Strickland's youthful primary oppnent, P.G. Sittenfeld, a Cincinnati councilman.
With a huff and a puff, that's showing Ted! It told you more about the state of the Summit County Democrats than about the relative merits of the two candidates, which is is not what this column is all about. A boycott of a candidate for a major federal office was awful political wisdom and a terrible display of hometown manners. Asked about the division, Strickland showed a little more class. If County Executive Russ Pry or State Sen. Tom Sawyer asked to meet with him if he is elected senator, he said he would be glad to accommodate them.
Sawyer's name keeps popping up in various conversations around town - from his brief presumptuous effort to jump into the 2015 mayor's race as "the adult" in the room, to his reported probes to land a job in Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan's administration.
The stated reason for the boycott is that Strickand is too old at 74, as against Sittenfeld's 31. Trouble is, even though nobody disagrees that the Ohio party's cave-like existence for many years should recruit new blood (Republican Party, too), it's not likely to be solved in 2016 and could come at the expense of a U.S. Senate seat held by tag -along Republican Sen. Rob Portman.
In his Press Club talk, Strickland slammed Portman, issue by issue, that cast the incumbent as a solid native of the GOP's hard right on abortion, minimum wage, jobs , and various other matters dear to the hearts of the Republican base The thread throughout the talk wove in his vision of better lives for the working class and less profits for the super rich.
The Ohio Democrats' biggest challenge this year will be finding a way to dump Portman.
At this point, it seems doable. The local Dem leaders will have to face up to which candidate they believe will be more able to accomplish that. Boycotts of someone in your own family are school yard chest- pounding for a political aggregate that more often than not acts as self-satisfied elected individuals than a cohesive force.
If you see me after the November election, I'll tell you whether the locals guessed right. But for now, a smattering of courtesy, even in politics, couldn't hurt.