ChrisWeigant.com

Party Infighting In Two Ohio Special Election Primaries

[ Posted Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021 – 15:40 UTC ]

There are two interesting special election primaries happening today in Ohio for two vacant seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The winners of the races today will likely coast through the special election itself, since both are in reliably partisan districts (one Democratic and one Republican). They are even more interesting because they are both fierce factional races which will provide a few tea leaves for those looking to see what the future of the two parties might be. Which factions will prevail? Whether it means anything in the grand scheme of things or not, it's at least something for pundits to discuss during the long "silly season" of August.

In the 11th District, the contest is between a progressive Democrat and an establishment Democrat. More on that one in a bit. In the 15th District, the race is between one candidate endorsed by Donald Trump and a whole pack of other Republicans who failed to get his endorsement. No matter which candidate wins this race, it's all going to be about Trump and his relative influence on Republican primary elections. This isn't really "factionalism," though, it's closer to who can show the most rabid form of fanaticism (for Trump).

The Republican Party really has no ideological battles left raging within it anymore, because they truly have moved on to what one might call a "post-ideology" phase. They do still agree on one main thing: taxes for rich people and corporations are always too high, and thus always need to be cut. By doing so, any and all problems -- no matter how seemingly unrelated -- will magically disappear. This is their key remaining ideological article of faith. They agree on a whole bunch of cultural hot-button issues as well, with virtually no disagreements left (it's tough to find a pro-choice Republican these days, to put this another way). Before Donald Trump, they stood for a few other things as well, but that all got blown apart, first by the Tea Party movement (who, through insisting on absolute purity of legislation, torpedoed almost everything else Republicans attempted to do even while holding the majority in both houses of Congress). Then Trump came along and proved that ideology was whatever he felt like blathering about today. He changed his mind so often and flip-flopped with such ease that, in self-preservation, all other Republicans learned to avoid contradicting their Dear Leader on anything. Even core Republican values they had been preaching about to the rest of us for decades went right out the window if Trump decided to take the opposite position early one morning.

So there's really not a whole lot left for Republican candidates for office to even fight about on the campaign trail, either. In fact, the races Trump has gotten involved with are run by one candidate with the magic endorsement, and all the others who claim "I'm a MAGA candidate and I will back Trump's agenda to the hilt," but without his key imprimatur. Ideologically, there just aren't any other big differences at all. Because the candidates are all so similar, though, people are drawing conclusions after the outcome not about the candidates, but about Trump's endorsement power itself.

Last week, Trump backed the wrong horse in a Texas special election House race. If his candidate doesn't win today, he'll have a recent record of 0-for-2. That's pretty bad. And (I would have to check) but as things stand now, I don't believe there are any other special elections scheduled, so this record may stand until the midterm primary season early next year. That's why this race is so important.

In the Ohio race, Trump backed Mike Carey, but there are a number of other strong GOP candidates in the race as well (the Washington Post has a good rundown of them all, for those truly interested). Trump has made a last-minute push to enthuse the voters, but so far they don't seem very enthused overall -- the early voting totals were pathetically low. So nobody really knows who is going to emerge the winner.

If Trump swings and misses again in Ohio, Republicans in general might begin to not be so afraid of Trump endorsing one of their opponents in a primary race. If Trump has lost his touch (if he ever even had it, which is debatable), then it means his nomination doesn't automatically bestow victory -- and GOP candidates will be a lot less fearful, as a direct result. Which could change the dynamics of the Republican primaries early next year in a big way.

Democrats, on the other hand, are seeing a direct one-on-one contest (in their own safe district) between the progressive wing of the party and the establishment wing. The Clintons and party leaders such as James Clyburn have lined up behind Shontel Brown, and they've been relentlessly trashing the progressive candidate, Nina Turner. Turner backed Bernie Sanders twice and he's now repaying the favor by campaigning for her. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has also campaigned for Turner, clearly showing strong progressive support. Turner was the frontrunner for a while, but Brown may be catching up, after all the relentless anti-Turner ads that have been running.

Turner has raised $3.9 million to Brown's $2.1 million, which is a truly staggering amount for a primary that will not change the balance of power in the House one iota (whichever Democrat becomes the nominee is almost automatically going to win the election, since the district is so heavily Democratic). The seat has long been a Democratic one and will continue to be no matter who wins it, in other words. Such races usually are sleepy local affairs, not big national news with millions spent on advertising and endorsements from national figures.

If Turner wins, she will almost certainly join "The Squad" and begin being a thorn in the side of the corporatist Democratic wing of the party. That's why they're so frightened, in fact, and why they've rolled out the big guns in an effort to stop Turner. With the margins so thin in the House (at present the margin Nancy Pelosi has to work with is only three votes), if the progressives get stronger and decide to flex their political muscles, they'll be able to block bills from being rammed through without their input. So far, they have not directly done so, but the fear of it is what's driving the establishment Democrats to be so concerned with the Ohio race.

As I said last week after the Texas race, it's not really valid to draw sweeping nationwide conclusions after the outcome of a single special House election. However, this isn't going to stop anyone from doing so (myself included, most likely, sooner or later). We're staring down the August silly season and for the first time in four years it truly will be a traditional silly season -- where political news is so thin on the ground (because Congress is absent, off enjoying themselves) that the tiniest little shreds of political stories get endlessly obsessed over. During the Trump years, it was almost the opposite. August provided a welcome breather from the other eleven months of nonstop silliness, so it was more of a "sane season" (or "saner," at any rate).

No matter what the outcome in either one of the Ohio races, the conclusions from the punditry are going to be overblown, that much is almost guaranteed. But the spin that comes out of today may in fact influence how other politicians think and position themselves, so it could be of more importance than normally-sleepy special elections usually deserve. Which is why I will be watching the returns come in along with everyone else. My own personal bias: I will be rooting for the Trump-endorsed candidate to lose and for Nina Turner to win. I have no idea what the chances of either of those outcomes happening are, though, which is why I'll be watching the counting tonight with great interest.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

21 Comments on “Party Infighting In Two Ohio Special Election Primaries”

  1. [1] 
    Kick wrote:

    My own personal bias: I will be rooting for the Trump-endorsed candidate to lose and for Nina Turner to win.

    You can't always get what you want.

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    So very happy the mainstream Democratic candidate won her primary!

    When does AOC have to run again?

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I think many progressive Democrats give progressivism a bad name.

    They always seem to want what they want when they want it the way they want it, and to heck with filibuster-proof Democratic majorities in the US Senate - or House, for that matter.

    It's one thing to move policies in the right direction. Quite another to persuade voters and govern responsibly.

    Progressives could learn a lot from president Biden about all of that, if they stopped long enough to listen and work together for progressive change.

    Yeah, most progressives rub me the wrong way ... maybe I'm just too old. :)

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    AOC calling Biden naive is pretty rich.

    This is what I'm talking about.

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    The Clintons and party leaders such as James Clyburn have lined up behind Shontel Brown, and they've been relentlessly trashing the progressive candidate, Nina Turner.

    Good God. I do detest being on the same side as the Clintons.

    What kind of ads was the Turner campaign running??

  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    The election was rigged! ... Nina Turner

  7. [7] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    It was the "evil money" that did Nina Turner in.

    Can we talk about naivete?

  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    "Evil is lurking in the Democratic party."

    Thank the gods she lost!

  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Besides, while Shontel Brown was described as an insider of the Democratic party and moderate, her political views are progressive ... if that word even means anything, anymore.

  10. [10] 
    Kick wrote:

    Elizabeth Miller
    2

    When does AOC have to run again?

    Even years... all of them.

  11. [11] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Next year!

    Well, maybe she'll learn a thing or two befor then. :)

  12. [12] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    If AOC is smart, and I believe she is, she'll have Biden campaigning for her and stay far away from Nina Turner's movement.

  13. [13] 
    Kick wrote:

    Elizabeth Miller
    7/8

    It was the "evil money" that did Nina Turner in.

    Nina Turner referred to Mike Bloomberg as an "oligarch" while working for Bernie Sanders, himself a millionaire with multiple homes and a member of the 1%. I'm not a big fan of Bloomberg, but referring to money in those terms while working for Bernie? Duh.

    It defies logic, in my opinion, the way the progressive movement in one breath will criticize money as inherently evil and those who have it as "elitists," "corporatists," "warmongers," etc. and then in another breath sing the praises of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a former Assistant Secretary of the Navy and one of the richest presidents in history from one of the richest families in America (adjusted for inflation). Franklin's wife's uncle Theodore (26th POTUS) was the original progressive of the wealthy family (despite being even richer) and a definite influence on his niece, Eleanor Roosevelt as well as Franklin.

    So the whole progressivism rhetoric insinuating "money is inherently evil" and the disparagement of "millionaires and billionaires" combined with the FDR worship is a giant honking contradiction that seems to have escaped their notice... but I digress.

    "Evil is lurking in the Democratic party."

    Well, Nina is definitely the Democrat who outspent her opponent, and that meets Nina's own definition, does it not?

    It's like saying to somebody, "You have a bowl of shit in front of you, and all you've got to do is eat half of it instead of the whole thing." It's still shit.

    ~ Nina Turner (D), regarding voting for Joe Biden

    *
    I don't expect a member of any political party to be forced to endorse any other member of their Party or even to vote for them if they are so disinclined, but this type verbal diarrhea is nothing if not proof of a candidate's possessing "shit" where there ought to be brains.

  14. [14] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Heh. Very nice!

  15. [15] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris,

    Thoughts on your girl's concession speech?

  16. [16] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Liz (3)-
    How dare anyone want what they want when they want it.

    The Deathocratic "progressives" have been such a thorn in the side of Biden and the corporate Deathocrats.

    When they participated in Force the Vote, held back their votes to fight for 15 and have worked non-stop to force Biden and the corporate Deathocrats to pass medicare for all including participating in the medicare for all marches it is just the tip of the iceberg of their insurrectionist behavior.

    (11)
    AOC has learned what you want her to learn. How to sell out.

    She took money from her supporters given to her PAC to help "progressive" candidates and gave it to establishment candidates for 2022.

    She is doing EXACTLY what Pelosi did a few decades ago.

    Once again your spin that Biden is persuading voters and governing responsibly is just a fantasy.

    Persuading voters means making a case for the policies you intend to carry out.

    Persuading voters you are going to do things and not doing them when you could is actually deceiving voters- not persuading them.

    Governing responsibly would be doing things like a BMI, medicare for all, cutting the military budget at least in half, banning fracking and a host of other things that Biden, the corporate Deathocrats and the alleged Deathocrat progressives have no intention of doing.

    Evil is not "lurking" in the Deathocrat Party.

    It IS the Deathocrat Party.

  17. [17] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Liz (6)-
    CW admitted the election is rigged. He said it was a safe district in the general election for the winner of the primary.

  18. [18] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Don[16],

    Shocking. Positively shocking.

  19. [19] 
    Kick wrote:

    Testing. My comment is being swallowed.

  20. [20] 
    Kick wrote:

    Don Harris
    16

    Persuading voters means making a case for the policies you intend to carry out.

    And you, of all people in this comments section, are criticizing Biden for not making a case for his ideas?

    Heh... check your mirror!

    Persuading voters you are going to do things and not doing them when you could is actually deceiving voters- not persuading them.

    So what's your excuse for the abject failure of your "things"? Obviously you could be doing those things, except you're clearly not doing them because you're a DeceiverĀ® and not a PersuaderĀ®.

    Governing responsibly would be doing things like a BMI, medicare for all, cutting the military budget at least in half, banning fracking and a host of other things that Biden, the corporate Deathocrats and the alleged Deathocrat progressives have no intention of doing.

    As if they could "be doing" all those "things" by snapping their fingers and/or issuing orders via presidential edict, except they just refuse to do that!

    This is why no one takes or need ever take you seriously, Don.

    Evil is not "lurking" in the Deathocrat Party.

    It IS the Deathocrat Party.

    And with that ignorant nugget, you need never waste your time ever again arguing that your bullshit is not a Purity TestĀ®. :)

  21. [21] 
    andygaus wrote:

    I imagine whichever Democrat won will probably be all right. And I'm sure whichever Republican won in Ohio would be terrible, but I'm sorry to hear that apparently Trump's horse successfully ran for the roses.

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