A Lesson From Woody

Woody Hayes once noted, “There are three things that can happen when you pass, and two of them aren’t good.”  That little math formula applies to any number activities in our daily lives.

The other day a friend of mine told me that the mayor of his bedroom suburb was running unopposed.  That isn’t uncommon in Cuyahoga County.  We have 50+ municipalities in our county.  We couldn’t possibly have enough qualified people to occupy the nearly countless elected and appointed positions of all of these fiefdoms.  Once someone manages to get in, they stay in.  Mayors, Councilmen, they either get wheeled out feet first or are led out in handcuffs.  This is countywide.  Eastside, Westside, South, if the harbor patrol were elected, they would serve for twenty years at a minimum.

So I bring you back to Woody Hayes.  There are three reasons why an elected official continuously runs unopposed, and two of them aren’t good.

  1.   They are truly loved and admired by the community
  2.   Nobody respects the position enough to want it.
  3.   Businesses and community leaders have already figured out how to get around the guy holding the job.

The last one is the most interesting.  If a politician continuously runs unopposed, he/she has no need to raise a big campaign war chest.  This is great for the bottom line.  If you as a business can get what you want without having to invest in the politician through the donation/election process, you are ahead of the game and the envy of businesses locked in competitive districts.  Nothing beats FREE. 

Is there a cost associated with the time and energy a business has to expend to stroke the fragile egos of some local politicians?  Sure.  But that is negligible, at best.  We are ramping up for the election season.  Karl Rove’s Super Pac, Crossroads GPS is already running ads on TV.  Those cost real money.  Hiring a caterer to do an extra ribbon cutting is just an expensive lunch.  

So the next time someone brags to you about being unopposed, ask yourself why.  Is it #1?  Is it #2?  Or are you standing next to a walking, talking embodiment of #3?

Rent Is Too DAMN High

Ready or not, it is time for one more election wrap-up. Mine. I would like to start with Jimmy McMillan, Vietnam War veteran, private investigator and recently defeated gubernatorial candidate. Not Ohio, New York State. You saw excerpts of the debate. You remember the gloves, the voice and the incredible facial hair. Yes, Jimmy McMillan wanted you to know that Rent Is Too DAMN High. Even Carl Paladino got more votes. But I smile every time I hear Jimmy say “Rent Is Too DAMN High”.

I have a couple of thoughts about last Tuesday’s election results and how we got here. And there is a good chance that you may disagree. Really disagree. When you do, I want you to say, out loud, “rent is too Damn high” (ritDh). I don’t care if you are on a bus or in a quiet library. Out loud. Rent is too Damn high. People will smile. You’ll make new friends. And, you’ll stay calm.


I have a friend who is righter than right and usually wrong. His prognostications are based on equal parts wishful thinking, Fox News, and talk radio. He rushed to predict on Wednesday that Nancy Pelosi, the biggest loser on Election Day, would resign, not just her leadership position, but from Congress. Even a broken clock is right twice a day, but I didn’t believe that this was one of his moments. It wasn’t. Speaker Pelosi announced on Friday that she wishes to be the Minority Leader. (ritDh) Even those of us who aren’t huge Pelosi fans have to admire her courage and determination.

The Democrats can’t choose their leader based on his/her approval among Republicans. Of course, that works both ways. The presumptive Speaker of the House is John Boehner, the punch line of countless jokes before he has done anything more than say “Hell, No”. Let’s see how loved he is two years from now.


At the risk of infuriating Jill Miller Zimon, Pepper Pike Councilwoman and author of the insightful blog Writes Like She Talks, I think the whole Republican tsunami narrative is vastly overstated. The problem in Ohio may have been Jennifer Brunner.

Take a deep breath and say it out loud – rent is too Damn high. Better? Some of you may need to repeat.

Jennifer Brunner has been an excellent Ohio Secretary of State. The votes are now counted without incident throughout Ohio. Cuyahoga County is no longer a national joke. This is not an indictment of her job performance, just her political judgment.

Car Dealer Tom Ganley wanted to run for the Senate. The Republicans were able to convince him to run for the House which gave Rob Portman a clear path. Jennifer Brunner would not be deterred. She was strong enough to deliver body blows to either Lee Fisher or Rob Portman, but incapable of scoring a knock-out. Lee Fisher was forced to blow millions of dollars in the primary. Weakened and way behind in cash, Fisher never had a chance in November.

Money is the issue. According to Nielson Co., the Cleveland television market led the country in political ad saturation. 23.4% of all ads aired locally in October were political. Many of these ads were courtesy of Karl Rove and his secret money. Lee Fisher was at a huge disadvantage, so much so that the Republican money could be shifted to the governor’s race and the hideous RenacciBoccieri slugfest.

Turn back the clock. Run Fisher against Portman straight up. Does Fisher win? No, but he would have been far more competitive and the rest of the ticket may have fared better. We will never know how much money was spent in support of John Kasich. We just know that it took every penny.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Rove’s American Crossroads may have millions to funnel into campaigns, but there are limits. Would Ted Strickland have prevailed if Jennifer Brunner had sought reelection as Ohio Secretary of State? Who knows? I think he would have. I firmly believe that Ms. Brunner would have easily defeated the highly partisan and overly ambitious Jon Husted. That would have put Jennifer Brunner perfectly positioned to be our next governor in 2014.

The Richard CordrayMike DeWine Attorney General contest was even closer than the gubernatorial election. Winnable? Again, possibly. No amount of money would have saved Kevin Boyce from Josh Mandel’s slime. Eric Brown and Mary Jane Trapp, running for the Supreme Court, were doomed to failure.

The election is almost over. The write-in votes will, one day, be counted in Alaska. The assorted recounts and law suits around the country will be resolved and/or settled eventually. And Cleveland television will again be the home of inane replacement window commercials.

But until then, which will be just about time for the 2012 presidential campaign to begin, I leave you with the immortal words of Jimmy McMillan. Rent Is Too DAMN High.