Saturday, April 12, 2008

Does It Matter?

By now, you've all read or heard about the possibility that the HamCo Democratic Party may endorse Chris Dole in his bid for the Dewine seat on the HamCo Commission (the Republican candidate and presumptive winner of the "contest" is Greg Hartman). Of course, that would break a deal made between HamCo Democratic Party Chairman Tim Burke and then-Republican Chair George Vincent. So current Republican Chair Alex Triantafilou is indicating the likely Republican response would be to endorse Ed Rothenberg, who is running against Todd Portune.

First, my own belief: the Dems should not endorse Dole. Whatever people think of the deal, it was made by the party chairman. If people think Burke was out of line for doing that, then there's a remedy: replace him. Of course, so far as I know, there's no one willing to step up to the plate to lead the HamCo Democratic Party other than Tim Burke. But so long as Burke is our chair, we should abide by the decisions he makes.

Second, I'm not sure how likely it is that Dole will, in fact, be endorsed. I'm not sure that there's really a huge portion of the Central Committee that would favor the endorsement. And I suspect the possibility is only getting the hype that it is because some members of our local media can't resist the urge to reprint anything that Tom Luken says as though it's a proclamation handed down from God to Moses on Mt. Sinai.

Finally, though: how much does the endorsement matter? Even if Dole is an endorsed candidate, he still won't be on the ballot as a "Democrat" (although I suppose he could at least then use the label in his campaign ads). Rothenberg, on the other hand, regardless of the endorsement, will appear on the ballot as a Republican. Does the no-endorsement deal preclude the parties from funneling money or support to the candidates? If not, then does any voter really care about the endorsement? I suspect that many will go to the polls not even knowing that Rothenberg wasn't "endorsed" by his party, even though he's its candidate. Those who pay enough attention to know the difference will also know that neither Dole nor Rothenberg would have been on the ballot had the deal not been struck (in all likelihood, the Dem would have been Greg Harris, and the GOP would have gone with Tracy Winkler).

So other than the negative publicity the Dems would generate by backtracking on the deal, is there any real benefit to an endorsement? And will anyone pay attention to the Commission race, or will it get lost amongst the hoopla that accompanies a presidential election?

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