Commentary Magazine


Topic: Ohio primary

Notorious Dictator Apologist Loses Primary

While the media was focused on the Romney-Santorum nail-biter in Ohio last night, crackpot conspiracy theorist and national embarrassment Rep. Dennis Kucinich lost in a landslide in the state’s 9th district Democratic primary. The winner of the race, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who was pitted against Kucinich because of redistricting, is far from perfect. But at least she hasn’t openly provided comfort to dictators via state-controlled media outlets.

WaPo reports on Kucinich’s defeat in an oddly favorable article:

Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), the two-time presidential candidate and icon of the antiwar left, suffered a bruising primary defeat Tuesday as a new Republican-drawn congressional map threatened to end the career of one of the most colorful figures in Congress. ….

With about 90 percent of the vote in, Kaptur led 60 to 36 percent.

From his stint as Cleveland’s “Boy Mayor” in the late 1970s, including two debt defaults and the forced sale of the city’s electric plant, to his unsuccessful effort to impeach Vice President Richard B. Cheney in 2007, Kucinich has repeatedly thrust himself into the national spotlight. Often coming up on the short end of his fights, Kucinich, 65, never stopped swing­ing but usually did so in a friendly spirit.

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While the media was focused on the Romney-Santorum nail-biter in Ohio last night, crackpot conspiracy theorist and national embarrassment Rep. Dennis Kucinich lost in a landslide in the state’s 9th district Democratic primary. The winner of the race, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who was pitted against Kucinich because of redistricting, is far from perfect. But at least she hasn’t openly provided comfort to dictators via state-controlled media outlets.

WaPo reports on Kucinich’s defeat in an oddly favorable article:

Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), the two-time presidential candidate and icon of the antiwar left, suffered a bruising primary defeat Tuesday as a new Republican-drawn congressional map threatened to end the career of one of the most colorful figures in Congress. ….

With about 90 percent of the vote in, Kaptur led 60 to 36 percent.

From his stint as Cleveland’s “Boy Mayor” in the late 1970s, including two debt defaults and the forced sale of the city’s electric plant, to his unsuccessful effort to impeach Vice President Richard B. Cheney in 2007, Kucinich has repeatedly thrust himself into the national spotlight. Often coming up on the short end of his fights, Kucinich, 65, never stopped swing­ing but usually did so in a friendly spirit.

The loss hasn’t completely put an end to Kucinich’s political aspirations. He’s reportedly considering running for a congressional seat in Washington state, despite the fact that he has no meaningful ties there. If that doesn’t work out, best of luck to Kucinich in his future career as a TV talk show host/international peacekeeping activist.

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Where Romney Won in Ohio

In Ohio, Mitt Romney won the cities and suburbs and Rick Santorum won the rural areas. On CNN, Gloria Borger and Hilary Rosen on the left and Erick Erickson on the Right argued that this was bad news for Romney because he lost GOP strongholds and won in areas Barack Obama is sure to carry in November. This was spoken so confidently, and reflected all over Twitter, that it may become a piece of conventional wisdom. But it makes no sense. It is important for a Republican candidate to show some strength in areas Republicans don’t win in the general election because that support will cut into the size of the majorities Obama will rack up there. Assuming that the Republican nominee will manage to win Republican areas, this is the path to victory not only in Ohio but in every swing state. One can only assume that when November rolls around, even the problems conservatives troubled by Romney’s ideological laxity and evangelicals troubled by Romney’s Mormonism would have with him pale by comparison with their negative feelings about Obama.

In Ohio, Mitt Romney won the cities and suburbs and Rick Santorum won the rural areas. On CNN, Gloria Borger and Hilary Rosen on the left and Erick Erickson on the Right argued that this was bad news for Romney because he lost GOP strongholds and won in areas Barack Obama is sure to carry in November. This was spoken so confidently, and reflected all over Twitter, that it may become a piece of conventional wisdom. But it makes no sense. It is important for a Republican candidate to show some strength in areas Republicans don’t win in the general election because that support will cut into the size of the majorities Obama will rack up there. Assuming that the Republican nominee will manage to win Republican areas, this is the path to victory not only in Ohio but in every swing state. One can only assume that when November rolls around, even the problems conservatives troubled by Romney’s ideological laxity and evangelicals troubled by Romney’s Mormonism would have with him pale by comparison with their negative feelings about Obama.

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Romney Still Reaping Dividends From Weak Field of Rivals

In a year in which the Republican Party’s proportional delegate allocation rules have ruled out a quick end to the presidential race, it isn’t possible for any candidate to use this week’s Super Tuesday primaries to lock up the GOP nomination. With new polls showing he has either caught or surpassed Rick Santorum in the crucial Ohio and Tennessee primaries, Mitt Romney can take a crucial step toward the nomination in tomorrow’s 10-state showdown. If Romney wins in both of those states, that may mean Santorum could end the day without a single triumph to his name. With the fading Newt Gingrich ahead in his adopted home state of Georgia, a Super Tuesday shutout might be a telling blow to Santorum. By tomorrow night, Santorum’s February surge may well be replaced by a March collapse.

The reason for Romney’s growing strength isn’t hard to discern. The frontrunner’s problems have not gone away. He still has trouble connecting with voters and conservatives have yet to accept him as one of their own. But the continued presence of two weak conservative rivals in the field have nevertheless put Mitt Romney in position to solidify his delegate lead as well as strengthen the impression he is the inevitable Republican standard bearer.

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In a year in which the Republican Party’s proportional delegate allocation rules have ruled out a quick end to the presidential race, it isn’t possible for any candidate to use this week’s Super Tuesday primaries to lock up the GOP nomination. With new polls showing he has either caught or surpassed Rick Santorum in the crucial Ohio and Tennessee primaries, Mitt Romney can take a crucial step toward the nomination in tomorrow’s 10-state showdown. If Romney wins in both of those states, that may mean Santorum could end the day without a single triumph to his name. With the fading Newt Gingrich ahead in his adopted home state of Georgia, a Super Tuesday shutout might be a telling blow to Santorum. By tomorrow night, Santorum’s February surge may well be replaced by a March collapse.

The reason for Romney’s growing strength isn’t hard to discern. The frontrunner’s problems have not gone away. He still has trouble connecting with voters and conservatives have yet to accept him as one of their own. But the continued presence of two weak conservative rivals in the field have nevertheless put Mitt Romney in position to solidify his delegate lead as well as strengthen the impression he is the inevitable Republican standard bearer.

Romney’s path to the nomination remains the same as it was before the votes started being cast. With conservatives unable to unite behind a single, viable candidate, the well-funded Romney has managed to survive the scorn of most Tea Partiers and evangelicals and continued to pile up pluralities in most of the contests. Few in the party are sold on him, and the slight revival of the economy in recent months has even cast some doubt on his electability against a strengthened Barack Obama. But politics is always a matter of comparisons, and alongside Santorum and Gingrich, not to mention the libertarian outlier Ron Paul, Romney looks like the only one with even a prayer in November.

Santorum had his chance last week in Michigan to turn the race around and send Romney into a tailspin from which he might not have recovered. But in the week before that vote, his long record of embarrassing statements on social issues caught up to him in much the same way some of Gingrich’s personal and political baggage eventually dragged him down during his two surges in the polls. With both of his main rivals crippled in this manner and with each of them ensuring the other can never achieve a one-on-one confrontation with Romney, the former Massachusetts governor has become, almost by default, a frontrunner and is now on the verge of being acclaimed as the certain nominee.

The keys to achieving that status will be found in Ohio and Tennessee. Romney’s momentum looks like it will be enough to carry him over the top in the big prize tomorrow in Ohio. However, Tennessee could be just as important. It is the sort of southern state that Romney is expected to lose because its Republican electorate is largely made up of voters who have shunned him so far. But the We Ask America poll of the state published today shows him taking a one-point lead over both Santorum and Gingrich. The 30-29-29 result is a virtual three-way tie, so no one should assume a Romney victory, but the perception of a rising Romney tide may help him there. If Romney can win in a southern state like Tennessee, the argument will underline the fact he is the only one of the GOP contenders who is truly running a national campaign.

Though Gingrich will pretend a win in Georgia gives him a chance to become a regional candidate and win other southern states, a Santorum shutout will be the beginning of the end for the Pennsylvanian and make it harder for him to raise the money to run a viable campaign elsewhere.

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Romney’s Winning Streak Strengthens Notion of Inevitability

Due to its being squeezed in between the crucial Michigan and Arizona primaries and Super Tuesday, not much attention was paid to the Washington state caucus by either the Republican presidential candidates or the media. But while the voting, which took the form of a straw poll at caucuses where delegates to a state convention were chosen, presented the now familiar pattern of chaos that we have to expect from GOP caucuses, the result went pretty much as expected as Mitt Romney cruised to an easy win. Romney took 38 percent of the vote. Second place went to Ron Paul, who narrowly edged out Rick Santorum by a 25-24 percent margin. The fading Newt Gingrich finished last with 10 percent. Along with recent wins in Maine, Wyoming, Arizona and Michigan, this gives Romney a modest five-state winning streak heading in to Super Tuesday with most of the focus on Ohio where he hopes to once again head off a strong challenge from Santorum.

Though Romney’s critics can look at these results and point to the same lack of enthusiasm and inability to win the affection of conservatives that have plagued him elsewhere, his win in Washington highlights the fact that he remains the strongest candidate in the field with the organization and resources to fight and win contests all over the map. Accumulating victories of this sort doesn’t change the narrative about Romney’s personal shortcomings, but it does reinforce the notion of the inevitability of his being nominated by the Republicans.

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Due to its being squeezed in between the crucial Michigan and Arizona primaries and Super Tuesday, not much attention was paid to the Washington state caucus by either the Republican presidential candidates or the media. But while the voting, which took the form of a straw poll at caucuses where delegates to a state convention were chosen, presented the now familiar pattern of chaos that we have to expect from GOP caucuses, the result went pretty much as expected as Mitt Romney cruised to an easy win. Romney took 38 percent of the vote. Second place went to Ron Paul, who narrowly edged out Rick Santorum by a 25-24 percent margin. The fading Newt Gingrich finished last with 10 percent. Along with recent wins in Maine, Wyoming, Arizona and Michigan, this gives Romney a modest five-state winning streak heading in to Super Tuesday with most of the focus on Ohio where he hopes to once again head off a strong challenge from Santorum.

Though Romney’s critics can look at these results and point to the same lack of enthusiasm and inability to win the affection of conservatives that have plagued him elsewhere, his win in Washington highlights the fact that he remains the strongest candidate in the field with the organization and resources to fight and win contests all over the map. Accumulating victories of this sort doesn’t change the narrative about Romney’s personal shortcomings, but it does reinforce the notion of the inevitability of his being nominated by the Republicans.

This momentum will be crucial on Tuesday as Romney seeks more victories that will make it clear he is the only possible winner of the GOP race, no matter how long his rivals drag out the battle. In particular, a win in Ohio over Rick Santorum will come as close as any to sealing the deal. Santorum has been leading the polls in Ohio for most of the last month. As was the case in Michigan, the state’s blue-collar voters are perfect targets for Santorum’s appeal to the working class. But the Pennsylvanian’s perceived extremism on social issues that helped Romney come from behind in Michigan appears to be a factor in Ohio, too. Romney is closing in the polls and one more win in his pocket over the weekend will only strengthen the impression Santorum has already lost his one chance to knock off the frontrunner.

Santorum continues to complain, much as Gingrich has done, about Romney’s lack of authenticity. But though Romney’s attempt to portray himself as a true conservative has often come across as phony, despite an unprecedented number of lead changes and twists and turns, the basic outline of the race has remained constant since the fall. Romney continues to take advantage of the fact that there is no single credible conservative challenger who can match him when it comes to electability. Much like Gingrich’s personal baggage and inconsistent record, Santorum’s self-inflicted wounds have left most Americans viewing him as running more for the post of national scold than president, leaving Romney as the only plausible Republican candidate in the race.

This may bitterly disappoint many conservatives, but the mathematics of the delegate race is starting to shape up as a formula that will leave them little choice but to make their peace with Romney or settle down for another four years of Barack Obama in the White House. Another few victories on Tuesday for Romney should lead many Republicans to understand that this reconciliation process must begin as soon as possible.

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