Ohio’s 2010 Senatorial Race

5 02 2009

We’ve talked a lot about Rob Portman, but who else is being looked at to replace Voinovich in the U.S. Senate? The Columbus Dispatch points us to a poll that lists one other Republican — State Auditor, Mary Taylor — and two Democrats — Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and Lt. Gov. Lee Fischer. The run down of the poll, btw, has either Democrat in double digits over either candidate at this point for three reasons: 1) Brunner and Fischer are better known; 2) Strickland is still a popular governor; 3) Obama.

But let’s look at the candidates and where they stand on LGBT issues.

Mary Taylor (R), State Auditor (2007-Present), Ohio House of Representatives (2002-2006), Councilwoman for Green Ohio
At this point we have very little information about this candidate, shockingly. Most of the information out of her, including her campaign website, highlights her views and her actions as the State Auditor rather than her feelings on issues. I checked out my usual source — Project Vote-Smart — and found little information about her. The only true indicator that we can find on this source is that she is rated very poorly by traditionally “liberal” organizations — NARAL, Ohio League of Conservation Voters, and the Ohio Federation of Teachers — while highly on traditionally “conservative” organizations — NRA, Ohio Gun Owners of America, and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. Things are looking bad for Ms. Taylor. OnTheIssues.org also has nothing listed for her. Her Wikipedia page is still pretty much empty as well, which will, no doubt, change.

In fact, the only thing I could find was that she voted YEA for the Ohio DOMA in 2004… along with Steve Driehaus, whom this blog endorsed in 2008 for the US House. It’s not necessarily a damning offense, then, but it definitely doesn’t bode well for Ms. Taylor.

On her side, though, at least for getting the nom, is that Republicans seem to want to appear more inclusive (see Sarah Palin and Michael Steele). Ms. Taylor is a “rising star” in the GOP here in Ohio, and the chance to grab the title of “first female Senator from Ohio” is sure to be a goal for the party this year, since they still look like a whole bunch of old white guys.

Jennifer Brunner, Secretary of State (2007-Present), Judge (2000-2005), Legislative Council to the Secretary of State and Private Lawyer

For Ms. Brunner we have a little more information, but from vastly different sources. OntheIssues.org, again, is worthless to us (it needs to be updated!!! AH!), and her Project Vote-Smart page is practically worthless. Nothing on there. But, we have two other sources.

First: her Wikipedia page is well developed. Though there is absolutely nothing listed about LGBT rights or issues, there seems to be a lot of information about her voting reform work (one of the main duties of the Secretary of State). It seems to have been an impressive bit of work too, and, since Ohio went smoothly this year, on that will be much heralded if she were to decide to run.

Second: We have JenniferBrunner.com — a perennial campaign site that originated, it seems, from her 2006 campaign for SoS. Most notable is an endorsement from the Columbus Dispatch that states:

“the next secretary of state needs to be an impartial arbiter of elections. Blackwell’s politicking in 2004 for State Issue 1, the amendment banning gay marriages, and on behalf of President Bush’s re-election gave Democrats an opening to question his neutrality.”

OK, not bad. And then we come across this YouTube video from the United Way:

Guess where she is? That’s right, kids. Columbus Pride 2008. I would say that’s pretty damned impressive ain’t it?

That’s all I can find so far, but there was a bit about her son on Facebook and some strange pictures — blah blah blah. I couldn’t really figure it out as the original post was taken down. And, of course, a great blog posted by Ms. Brunner on the Huffington Post which I just think is appropriately entitled “On Being Fearless…” How about “On Being Fierce,” Ms. Brunner.

Oh, and Brunner also attended a “Welcome Back to Ohio” brunch in 2007 hosted by Equality Ohio along with Strickland, Fisher, and a few others who are LGBT-friendly elected officials. Brunner, in this article, attributed her win to LGBT persons, as she tapped three Stonewall Columbus members to help run the campaign, and then tapped Brian Shinn (gay attorney) as her Assistant Legal Counsel, who is tied for the highest ranking LGBT appointed position in the State of Ohio with Mary Jo Hudson as the head of the Department of Insurance (Governor’s Cabinet).

But that’s Jennifer Brunner, for now.

And, last but not least…

Lee Fisher, Lieutenant Governor (2007-Present), Gubernatorial Candidate (1998), State Attorney General (1991-1995), State Senator (1983-1991), State Representative (1980-1982)

On experience alone, no one can beat Mr. Fisher. In fact, he looks like he may be the pick by Gov. Strickland, who is strongly dissuading other candidates to wait until Fisher decides. But let’s look at everything else shall we? Again, OnTheIssues.org is useless – HA! His Wikipedia article is still light, and his official state biography has nothing on it of value. I again remind you of the above-mentioned story about the brunch attended by Fisher and other LGBT-affirming elected officials in 2007 and hosted by Equality Ohio in the statehouse, most notably because of this quote by Fisher:

“This is where history has been made and unmade for centuries,” Fisher said, standing about 25 feet from a plaque noting that Abraham Lincoln spoke there. “But also the echo in here sends a ripple effect to all 88 counties that we’re back.”

Not as exciting as Brunner’s, but still important.

Then we run over to Project Vote-Smart’s page on Lee Fisher, and we have the only candidate so far to answer their Political Courage test. Two things are notable: 1) that, in 1998, he supported laws protecting people against sexual orientation discrimination in the state, and 2) he does not support recognizing gay marriages in Ohio (but it was 1998, I’d be curious to know if his opinion has changed at all). But that’s about all we can find, as he hasn’t yet been rated by anyone nor has there been much of an opportunity to say much about LGBT issues as Lt. Gov. I’m sure it will come if he runs.

So there we have the three other candidates that people are talking about. On the Democratic side, we’re, essentially, waiting for Lee Fisher to decide before anyone else steps up to the battle (though JenniferBrunner.com could count as a “campaign site”). On the Republican side, we definitely have Rob Portman, and we have a semi-campaign site for Mary Taylor.

What amuses me about all this talk is this:

Two years after we have the first black President elected, and the first female serious candidate for a major party, and the winds are screaming change…

…here in Ohio, we are still saying “pick the old, experienced white guy” over anything else.

Ahhh, to be in Ohio.

Oh, and just to be clear, folks, I’m totally supporting Jennifer Brunner because of the amount of information I found about her. I may switch the more I learn about Lee Fisher, but I will not be supporting either Portman or Taylor, I can promise you that, unless either one drastically changes their view.

And how weird would it be if Strickland said, “You know, I want to be Senator; Fisher and Brunner can run off for Gov?”

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One response

10 02 2009
Chris Groves

I did that United Way video. Thank you for including it.

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