Following are a few quick takes on the Nov. 6 election results. Please take into consideration that these were concocted after a late night and an early morning wakeup call.
Surprise Surprise (at least for me)
I’m surprised (kind of stunned, actually) that the Athens City School District’s capital improvements levy prevailed at the polls, 52.47 to 47.53 percent. This levy was unlike any Athens levy in memory in that people who value local education stood on each side of this issue; usually in Athens, school levies have pitted pro-education, pro-schools people against residents who either don’t want to, or can’t afford to, pay higher taxes for schools.
That means I under-estimated the strength of the pro-levy forces; I thought for sure that any school issue that didn’t have monolithic support from people who usually support schools would have a difficult road to passage. This time, the pro-levy side faced other headwinds as well.
They had to push back against a well-funded opposition campaign whose messaging in the weeks before the election appeared basically everyplace, from front yards to YouTube pages to public ash-trays. This, despite the fact that nobody has taken credit for the mysterious “white sign” anti-levy campaign that mainly targeted OU student voters. Major student landlords in Athens are the top suspects for bankrolling this expensive anti-levy effort, since anybody owning multiple rental units (and some local landlords own hundreds) will see their property tax bills rise significantly with this new levy. Plus two local landlords recently confirmed that they had been approached for contributions to the opposition effort (but said no).
Yet, the school levy won anyway, and now the notion is already floating around that the victors owe at least part of the credit to a backlash against the incognito opposition group’s aggressive campaign. Over the top by anybody’s standards, it received scrutiny from the local media as well.
Hopefully, before moving forward, the Athens City School Board and district administrators will welcome input from the many local residents who voiced compelling concerns about the school district’s significant rebuilding plans. In particular, they should discuss blending a serious long-term educational plan with the now-approved building plans.
Here’s hoping that pro-school folks on each side of this bitter school levy campaign (at least the ones who had the courage to identify themselves) can come together without rancor and let bygones be bygones.
Ohio Democratic Party in Trouble
It was a sad day for the Ohio Democratic Party. The Dems lost a crucial governor’s race with their quality candidate, Richard Cordray, falling to Lt. Gov. Mike DeWine. Adding insult to injury, they lost every down-ticket race, despite having competitive candidates in most of the races. The margins of victory for the GOP in nearly every case was slim, ranging from 3 to 5 percentage points. A silver lining for the Ohio Dems – Democrats won in the two state Supreme Court races.
The overall bad night, however, definitely upended my expectations. Wrong again!
The House Flipping Dem a Big Deal
If your number one concern going into Tuesday evening was whether the U.S. House would switch to Democrat, you can’t be too unhappy with other, less positive results (such as the aforementioned statewide Ohio results and the Dems losing seats in the U.S. Senate).
Crucially, President Trump and the Republican majority Senate now will have a meaningful check on their actions. The prospect of the preening blowhard in the White House controlling the entire government for another two years – I have a hard time even writing that.
Now Democrats in the House can properly investigate plausible corruption and other misdeeds in the executive branch, and the nation likely will fall into gridlock till 2020. That last part sounds bad unless you realize that movement and action in the wrong direction (on health care, taxes, infrastructure, spending, entitlements, education, etc.) is worse than doing nothing.
Nonetheless, we should all fervently hope that somehow or other, the remaining moderates in Congress can create a bipartisan coalition to actually get stuff done. I wouldn’t bet the farm on it, but it would be nice.
Expect to see some bombshells from Special Counsel Mueller in the next few weeks.
Jay and Tay
Congrats to state Rep. Jay Edwards in his re-election bid against an impressive young Democratic candidate Taylor Sappington. Edwards won easily with 58.29 percent of the vote.
Now that Edwards has another two years ahead of him, we hope he remains open to input from all corners in efforts to address local and regional issues of importance. He's received support for bucking his party on poverty issues and affirmative action to address uniquely Appalachian problems. If Edwards continues on that path, Democrats and independents in the 94th District might be more willing to forgive his positions more in line with Ohio's very conservative Republican Party.
Being less thin-skinned on social media and in dealings with the media would be a nice bonus.