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Posted by on Jan 26, 2008 in Politics | 0 comments

Ohio primary will matter, say state & academic politicos

First, we have a Plain Dealer post on its political blog, Openers, that provides opinion from party people and analysts familiar with the Ohio scene.

Many analysts have expected Ohio to matter in the Republican nominating contest, but most assumed the Democratic primaries would wrap up before Ohio. That’s because more than 20 states, from New York to California, will hold primaries on Feb. 5, known as Super Tuesday, when 1,678 Democratic delegates will be won.

It was assumed that either Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama or John Edwards would pull ahead in the early races and keep the lead on Feb. 5, compiling the necessary number of delegates by then 2,025 to secure their party’s nomination.

But with the Democratic race heading to South Carolina Saturday, it is still neck-and-neck.

Matters are complicated by the crazy-quilt method many states use to award delegates, assigning some in a manner proportionate to how each candidate finishes in each congressional district. Even losers can win some delegates.

In fact, it now will be mathematically impossible for any Democrat to be over the top with the necessary 2,025 delegates at the end of Feb. 5, according to an Associated Press analysis.

E-mails with details of Obama and Clinton events that will take place in Ohio already fill my inbox (I’m trying to figure out how to perfect my “bloggers are media” pitch to get into them), so I’m sure these folks are right. But Ohio Democratic Party Chair, Chris Redfern, doesn’t sound as excited as some of us rank and file voters about the role Ohio might play:

Political junkies would be thrilled with an Ohio race. But Gov. Ted Strickland, who is campaigning for Clinton, cautions that a Democratic race might be about numbers in the margins but little more. If a candidate were to pull ahead on Super Tuesday, that could all but make the nomination official — with only the magic number remaining to be won. That would not mean Ohio was unimportant, Strickland said, but it will diminish Ohio’s importance.

If by then one candidate leads by several hundred delegates, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern said he hopes the one who lags would drop out. A prolonged contest would be expensive, with advertising in Ohio costing about $3 million, and could delay the party from unifying, he said.

“I just think from a party standpoint as chairman, it behooves us to rally around the leading nominee,” Redfern said. “If you are Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton and you’re at 1,900 [delegates] and your nearest competitor is at 1,200 or whatever the number is, we should focus on the November election.”

A day after the PD’s piece, blogger and former Plain Dealer Cincinnati bureau chief, Bill Sloat, wrote about Redfern’s appearance in Clermont County (Ohio) with Deputy GOP Chair Kevin DeWine on his blog, The Daily Bellwether. Sloat writes:

DeWine and Redfern also agreed the run up to the November vote for president will be more intense in Ohio than ever before. Both said the campaign will be fought across all 88 counties, and Redfern said John Kerry lost in 2004 because his strategists focused too narrowly on urban areas. Redfern said Kerry could have won if he’d spent money in small towns, “just a few bucks on rural radio in places like Fulton County.” He said the Dems have no intention of ignoring Clermont County this year even though it is overwhelmingly Republican.

I attended an unconference called RootsCamp two weeks ago and can confirm that the ODP is being aggressive in its attempts to keep all 88 counties in play.

As a bona fide wonkabee, I couldn’t be happier. But I guess this also means that I’m going to have to choose between Obama, Clinton and Edwards. I know I should be relishing the choice, but I’m not.

Note to the TMV Powers That Be: guess we need to add “Ohio” to that “Primaries” category, eh?

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