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After election day, spin war centers on Ohio initiatives

November 09, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli
  • Courtney Johnson, a schoolteacher in Ironton, Ohio, gives a speech after the failure of Issue 2 at the We Are Ohio event at the Hyatt Regency Ballroom in Columbus.
Courtney Johnson, a schoolteacher in Ironton, Ohio, gives a speech after… (Brooke LaValley / Columbus…)

One day after Ohio voters resoundingly rejected the state's new collective bargaining law, Democrats and their allies in organized labor said Republicans have reason to worry about more fallout to come from that party's overreach.

The GOP meanwhile is pointing to results of another initiative on the Ohio ballot, offered by Republicans as a rebuke to President Obama's healthcare reform, as just as powerful a rejection of Democrats.

What's the day after election day without a healthy serving of spin?

To be sure, each party had something to crow about after Tuesday's off-year elections. In addition to the vote on Ohio's Issue 2, to repeal the collective bargaining law, voters in other states rejected Republican-backed initiatives on abortion and election law. Democrats also held the governorship in Kentucky and a host of other local offices.

Republicans appear set to control all levels of government in battleground Virginia, held the governorship in Mississippi and may have won a majority in that state's House for the first time since Reconstruction.

And then there's the healthcare initiative in Ohio. Issue 3 was an amendment to the state's Constitution that stated, in part, that "no law or rule shall compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in a health care system."

"Despite a nearly $30-million effort by Democrats and Labor to win a collective bargaining initiative, 180,000 more Ohioans voted 'yes' to repudiate Obamacare than 'no' collective bargaining," the Republican National Committee noted Wednesday morning.

Democrats have countered that the issue, in addition to being only symbolic, was one that was barely contested in the state. The liberal-leaning Atlas Project called it "deceptively worded" and said it won't have "any practical effect," while the success of Issue 2 shows that the coalition of voters that delivered Democratic victories in 2006 and 2008 can still be coalesced and mobilized around a core Democratic issue."

Labor groups hope to sustain the momentum from last night's victory, saying they will be setting up a structure to mobilize year-round in response to efforts to curb their power. And they said governors like Ohio's John Kasich are on notice.

"One of the lessons is, if you make war on workers it's not a good electoral strategy," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told reporters Wednesday afternoon.

The turnout in races Tuesday night was likely lower than in the midterm contests of 2010, and certainly will be lower than 2012.

The parties are certainly looking at Tuesday night's results and trying to find lessons that can be applied to 2012. Kasich, who defeated Democratic incumbent Ted Strickland in 2010, appeared ready to change course. Activists who had launched a recall effort against Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who pushed similar collective bargaining legislation in Wisconsin, seemed as emboldened as Kasich was humbled.

The turnout Tuesday night will likely prove far lower than what will come 52 weeks later. But it may be just as unpredictable.

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