This past week, I learned more about Ohio politics than I ever wanted to know, in particular next Tuesday’s (May 4) Democratic primary contest between Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher. The winner will go up against Republican Rob Portman in the November general election.
I suggest you read Kelley Bell’s Huffington Post column to get more facts and colorful descriptions of the intra-party machinations than I have bandwidth to recount here.
My involvement has been only peripheral. I happened to jump into a Facebook conversation begun by one of my favorite columnists, the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Connie Schultz, in which she bemoaned acrimony between women about the question of when (if ever) it’s incumbent on us to support our sisters who are running for office.
Well, you know me, I had to chime in with my opinion that when there are two candidates–one male and one female–who are both well-qualified and represent my positions major issues I care about, I will support the woman until such time as women have our fair 50% share of the elected official slots. Then and only then will gender not matter.
Adding to the Ohio intrigue, I learned after a bit of sleuthing is that Fisher has used time-honored good-old-boy strong arm tactics to capture the field (one blogger referred to this as “how to destroy a party from within”), sewing up the establishment big money contributions even from many people who privately say they prefer Brunner–and might even vote for her. This probably explains why in spite of Fisher’s huge money advantage, the polls have shown the candidates neck-and-neck until this week when Quinnipiac polls showed Fisher in the primary lead.
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The Women’s Campaign Forum has been on the ground working hard for Brunner. Staffer Julie Daniels asserts the race is far from over (the photo is of Brunner in front of her Courage Express bus, a nod both to the fact that she won the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for her work to clean up Ohio’s electoral act and the reality that because she has so little money, she must rely on grassroots efforts and going directly to the voters.)
The polls would have you believe that Jennifer is out of this race. But I’m here to tell you that this race is neck and neck. 35% of Ohio voters remain undecided, and 55% might change their mind.
Yesterday, a reporter from the Columbus Dispatch rode with us on the Courage Express. He sent Jennifer an email that said,
“As per the poll that you are dead in the water I have one thing to say.” And then he attached a picture of President Truman holding up a paper that says, “Dewey Defeats Truman.”
I’m telling you this race is still a toss-up. With Brunner driving around the state, meeting residents face-to-face, we still have the chance to earn the support needed in this primary.
This isn’t a good-against-bad contest to be sure; good-against-good is always the harder decision. Jill Miller Zimon wrote on her blog WritesLikeSheTalks (don’t you love that name?) about the respect she has for both candidates and why at the same time she never hesitated to put her support behind Brunner:
As Secretary of State, Jennifer has demonstrated without question her ability to tackle an utter mess of a system. She tackled a system that suffered from extreme degradation of trust. She rescued an untrusted system that undergirds every belief we have and every hope to which we cling that we can make a difference in our world: the electoral system.
Is there anything more basic to the reason why our country – our state – our county – doesn’t deteriorate into fist fights in our capitol buildings or on our streets when eventual winners and losers are declared?
Check out Jennifer Brunner in her own words here and I think you’ll agree–and if you’re in Ohio, will pull the Brunner lever on Tuesday.
GLORIA FELDT is the New York Times bestselling author of several books including No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, a sought-after speaker and frequent contributor to major news outlets, and the Co-Founder and President of Take The Lead. People has called her “the voice of experience,” and among the many honors she has been given, Vanity Fair called her one of America’s “Top 200 Women Legends, Leaders, and Trailblazers,” and Glamour chose her as a “Woman of the Year.”
As co-founder and president of Take The Lead, a leading women’s leadership nonprofit, her mission is to achieve gender parity by 2025 through innovative training programs, workshops, a groundbreaking 50 Women Can Change The World immersive, online courses, a free weekly newsletter, and events including a monthly Virtual Happy Hour program and a Take The Lead Day symposium that reached over 400,000 women globally in 2017.