Sunday, April 30, 2006

Bill Ritter: A Study In Bad Decision-Making

Here in Ohio's race for state representative, District 14, you have three Democratic candidates to fill the spot vacated by Dale Miller (who got appointed to state senate when term-limited Dan Brady stepped down).

Erin Lally, a former state representative from another part of Ohio and whose yard signs dishonestly ask voters in our district to reelect her--even though she's never been elected to represent our district. Why on Earth should we elect a liar to represent us? As if we didn't have enough of them destroying our state to begin with.

Mike Foley, an attorney and grass-roots activist with a solid record of getting things done and who is endorsed by Dennis Kucinich, Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson, Cleveland city councilwoman Dona Brady and a good number of politicians in Brook Park.

And finally, there is Bill Ritter.

Now I'm sure this guy, a teacher who took out a mortgage on his house to get the money to run his campaign, is at heart someone who means well. But he doesn't strike me as being very bright.

With just over a week to go before the May 2nd primary, Ritter sent out a mail-piece attacking Foley for his position on gay marriage and even going a step further to attack the Stonewall Democrats, who support Mike. As if that weren't silly enough in a region generally friendly to Democrats and Progressives, Ritter placed his home telephone number on the mail-piece and invited people to call him.

Needless to say, Ritter has since been flooded with calls by bloggers and voters expressing their dissatisfaction with his attack.

The UAW union, which had until this incident backed Ritter, pulled its endorsement. Of two teacher's unions supporting Ritter, one (the Ohio Federation of Teachers) has only failed to withdraw its endorsement due to the shortness of time before the primary to hold a full meeting and take a full vote on an endorsement withdrawal.

The conservative newspaper Cleveland Plain Dealer reported on Ritter's troubles Friday.

Further damaging his campaign is Ritter's whining in the face of his blunder. From the Plain Dealer article:
A distraught Ritter claims that the issue has been "blown out of proportion" by his critics, principally the Stonewall Democrats. "I'm getting harassed," he said. "I'm getting hangup calls, ranting calls where people are calling me lewd names. What they've done is immediately go on the attack, as opposed to checking the source and the intent.
Well, Bill, maybe you ought not to have given your home phone number out and invited people to call you any time they wished. It also might not have been a good idea to state the following in your mail-piece attacking said Stonewall Democrats:
I feel a Marriage is between a MAN and a WOMAN. That is the WAY I WILL VOTE in Columbus! In FACT Mike Foley has been ENDORSED by the STONEWALL DEMOCRATS, who are a GAY/LESBIAN political action committee.
Sounds like an attack to me. And one can certainly understand their anger at having had their name mentioned in what can only be taken by any reasonable person as a negative light.

The bottom line is that Ritter has made a series of blunders in his campaign.

First, it wasn't a good idea for him to have mortgaged his home to pay for his campaign because win or lose he is now stuck paying off that mortgage for years. The thing to do, especially when wanting to run for a representative office, would have been to go directly to the people Ritter wants to represent.

Second, it's probably not a good idea in an era of Republican corruption, deceipt and pandering on so-called "moral issues" to run on a platform pandering to voters on so-called "moral issues." If voters want Republicans in office, they'll vote Republican. If a candidate wants to run a non-Republican campaign--say, a Democratic candidate--then that person should run as a Democrat campaigning on Democratic issues. A good example of this is Barbara Ferris, who has plagiarized Republican Ed Herman's disgusting talking points in her delusional race to unseat Cleveland favorite and incumbent Dennis Kucinich from his U.S. Congressional spot in the House of Representatives. Herman, you may recall, is the Republican who ran against Dennis in 2004 only to lose by a wide margin.

Finally, if he don't want to get harrassed at home or subject his family to the calls of outraged citizens, it helps not to give out your home phone number! The thing to do if Ritter wanted input would have been to give the number of a campaign office, or work phone number where he could be reached. Or a special voice mail set up in his office, where only he would have been likely to answer calls. Just not his home number.

So, a note to Ritter (and any other Democrats who might want to run for office): Don't mortgage your house, don't tick off Democrats, don't run on GOP talking points, and oh yeah, don't give your phone number. Because, you know, that is kind of dumb.

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