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Midterm results could beget a lame lame-duck session: Capitol Letter

November 12, 2018 GMT

Midterm results could beget a lame lame-duck session: Capitol Letter

Rotunda Rumblings 

Guess who’s back? Ohio House Speaker Ryan Smith on Friday announced the chamber will be in session Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. and Thursday at 1 p.m. Let the lame duck session commence!

‘Lighter’ lame duck: With Mike DeWine keeping the governor’s office in Republican hands, Senate President Larry Obhof said he expects the Senate’s workload during the 2018 lame-duck session to be “lighter” than some prior lame ducks. “If we think that something needs a little bit more work, the world doesn’t end on December 5 or December 19 – we’re all back the first week of January,” the Medina Republican told reporters last week. 

Kumbaya moment: House Democratic Minority Leader Fred Strahorn says he wants to continue to work with Republicans when possible. “As respective leaders of this state, I believe we have a commitment to set the divisive and partisan, political battles of the past aside,” Strahorn wrote in a letter to DeWine. He suggested collaborating on Democratic-sponsored bills in lame duck to require steel used in school construction and renovations to be made in the U.S., extend alternative graduation pathways and create a state Office of Drug Policy. 

Dem dilemma: After Democrats got routed in Tuesday night’s election, there appears to be some internal friction over how effectively the Ohio Democratic Party is functioning, reports cleveland.com’s Seth Richardson. Multiple sources laid out instances of chaos during the campaign, putting Chairman David Pepper’s seat in jeopardy.

Walk it back: DeWine sparred on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Friday over whether he previously said if Medicaid is unsustainable, as host Willie Geist claimed. “We haven’t said it’s unsustainable. What we have said is it may be unsustainable.” DeWine replied. However, a quick search of DeWine’s own words reveals this is not the case. 

Beatty backs Pelosi: Democratic U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty of Columbus announced Friday she’s supporting Nancy Pelosi for House speaker. “Any attempts to undermine Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House are unwarranted and fly in the face of her stellar and unrivaled leadership that led Democrats to victory in the House,” Beatty said in a statement. That puts her at odds with fellow Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, who has called for new leadership.

Those votes don’t count: Secretary of State-elect Frank LaRose announced he was bringing some heavy hitters onto his transition team, including ex-Ohio House Speaker JoAnn Davidson as one of the co-chairs. The other co-chair? Former Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, who is currently on a media tour railing against Florida elections officials counting ballots, saying Democrats are manufacturing votes.

Bad moves: U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci’s decision to present unsubstantiated domestic abuse claims against U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown was arguably a low point of the 2018 cycle. Richardson compiled some of the sleaziest political moves in recent memory.

It’s never too early: The 2018 election is over and that means it’s officially 2020 election season. The Washington Post ranked the top 15 Democratic presidential contenders for 2020 and guess who made the list at number seven? None other than Brown.

Just a matter of time: Gov. John Kasich is heading back to New Hampshire this week, per the Columbus Dispatch’s Darrel Rowland. The governor wouldn’t talk about his visit to his favorite Northeastern state that conveniently happens to be one of the first presidential contests, but he will be meeting with 2016 supporters and other New Hampshire Republicans.

Political roadmaps: The electoral map looked relatively predictable for Democrat Richard Cordray on Tuesday night. The most interesting cartography experiment of the night, however, came from the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Jackie Borchardt, who looked at the county results for Michael Donnelly and Melody Stewart, the two Democrats elected to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Case dismissed: A three-judge panel has dismissed a complaint against Ohio Supreme Court Justice Pat DeWine for hearing cases involving his father, Attorney General and now Gov.-elect Mike DeWine. Cleveland.com’s Laura Hancock has details.

Aftab’s future: One of the Democrats’ more promising young guns this election was Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval, who lost a 5-point congressional race against GOP U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot. So what’s next for Pureval? The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Jason Williams theorizes how Pureval can bounce back.

Consent decrees: Ousted U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ last-minute memo on police department consent decrees likely won’t affect Cleveland’s police reform efforts, reports cleveland.com’s Eric Heisig. The new rules require top Justice Department officials to sign off on new decrees.

Ohio Matters: If you’re not over reliving Tuesday’s midterm results, then be sure to check out this week’s Ohio Matters. Richardson and data guru Rich Exner broke down the results and what they mean for Ohio heading into 2020.

Five Questions

Mark Weaver is a longtime Republican communications consultant who was the U.S. Department of Justice spokesman in 1987 and 1988. More recently, he helped Keith Faber win his state auditor’s race and advised committees making independent expenditures for Gov.-elect Mike DeWine. He has advised U.S. Reps. Bill Johnson and Brad Wenstrup as well as the Ohio Senate Republican Campaign Committee.

1. After this election, do you think Ohio is now a red state?

“Ohio gets more like Indiana every cycle. I say that with a tinge of sadness because I’ve been interviewed around the world by reporters who want to talk about the ultimate swing state. We may be giving a fond farewell to Ohio’s status as bellwether.. I wouldn’t say we are a lock the way South Dakota is for Republicans, or Mississippi. It’s certainly redder than purple.”

2. How did Ohio become a red state? 

“We have an older population, and we also have a somewhat less diverse population than the country as a whole...But I think more importantly it’s because Republicans have held power for so long in Ohio, the infrastructure of winning elections is so much stronger for Republicans than for Democrats. ....  As that advantage gets even bigger, it makes it even harder for the Democrats to overcome it.”

3. You’ve got decades of experience in political communications and you recently wrote a book on the topic. From your experience, what is the biggest error people make when trying to argue a point?

“My experience is people who are trying to be persuasive often forget that the listener has a different perspective than the speaker.”

4. You are someone who has devoted your career to making sure through logic people can win an argument. Is it discouraging now that we are in a “post fact” era in which people can choose their facts, politicians are allowed to lie and accuse the fact checkers of being the liars? 

“It is. Both parties are guilty of this, of course. I wish all of us would get back to appreciating logic. And also educating ourselves on the basic curriculum on things like history, economic, civics.” 

5. You live in Central Ohio. What are your favorite Columbus hot spots?

“My wife and I really enjoy dinner at Hyde Park steakhouse, which has an outstanding dinner if you like steak. The Plaza Restaurant on the second floor of the Sheraton on Cap Square, that’s a good place. Market 65 on Cap Square is another good place. We get salads and enjoy that.” 

On The Move

Ohio will get 600 new lawyers on Tuesday. Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor will administer the oath of office in ceremonies at the Palace Theatre in Columbus to the newest crop of applicants who passed the state bar exam.

Gov. John Kasich appointed former Cuyahoga Community College President Jerry Sue Thornton to the board of JobsOhio. Thornton’s term expires July 5, 2019.

President Donald Trump appointed Joe Hagin, a longtime ally of U.S. Sen. Rob Portman and former White House deputy chief of staff, to the National Commission on Military Safety, which is trying to determine the reason for the rise in military jet accidents.

Merle Madrid, Kasich’s former legislative liaison, will also join LaRose’s transition team, directing the day-to-day operations in a volunteer capacity. 

Straight from the Source

“It’s tempting to cut the state out of 2020 plans—after all, Trump won it by 8, and Dems don’t really need it to win. But it seems hard to imagine how Dems could ever hold Senate and House majorities without still being competitive in Ohio.”

-ProPublica reporter Alec MacGillis in a long and informative Twitter thread about last week’s election results.

Capitol Letter is a daily briefing providing succinct, timely information for those who care deeply about the decisions made by state government. If you do not already subscribe, you can sign up here to get Capitol Letter in your email box each weekday for free.