Monday, November 22, 2010

DDN... Ohio leaders with national profiles

From Dayton Daily News…
Commentary: Boehner part of resurgence of Ohio leaders with national profiles
By Jack Torry, Staff Writer
Updated 8:05 AM Monday, November 22, 2010

WASHINGTON — Here’s a trivia question: True or false — Southwest Ohio has had more House speakers than the entire state of California. And no fair checking the Internet.
The correct answer? True.
Southwest Ohio has produced three — J. Warren Keifer of Springfield, Nicholas Longworth of Cincinnati, and the man who will become speaker in January when Republicans take control of the House: John Boehner of West Chester Twp. in Butler County.
As for California? Just one — Democrat Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, who leaves her post at the end of this year.
So, you ask, what’s the point? Well, it is yet another sign of a political revival in Ohio, a state that for much of the past half century has been a nonfactor when it comes to congressional leadership and producing presidential political candidates.
The legacy of the past 50 years is pretty grim. The last Senate majority leader from Ohio was Sen. Robert Taft, who lost the 1952 Republican presidential nomination to Dwight Eisenhower. The last speaker from Ohio was Longworth in 1931.
The last Ohio politician on the national ticket was Republican John Bricker, who was Thomas Dewey’s running mate in 1944. Since 1962, only four Ohio officials have served in a presidential cabinet or an office as having cabinet rank.
For a state so critical to the outcome of a presidential election, the list of Ohio officials of national stature is, how to say this delicately – pretty weak. The state has had some competent politicians. But national names? No.
That is starting to change. For the first time in decades, Ohio has produced a wave of officials who either have achieved national rank or clearly harbor national ambitions.
The obvious one is Boehner. As speaker, he will become the face of the Republican Party for the next two years.
Then there is Republican Senator-elect Rob Portman, who served as U.S. trade representative and budget director under former President George W. Bush. By 2012 when the Republican presidential nominee is looking for a running mate, Portman will be at or near the top of the list.
Another is Republican Governor-elect John Kasich. During an appearance on CNN, Kasich was asked by John King about the vice presidency in 2012. “Are you crazy?’’ Kasich replied. “I’ve got a job to do in Ohio. I mean, come on.’’ But at least Kasich was asked the question.
On the Democratic side, the November election wiped out a generation of Democratic officials. Still, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, remains one of the more eloquent (some might say, loudest) progressive voices in the nation, particularly in his criticism of what he contends are unfair international trade practices.
In fact, an interesting sideshow to watch next year will be Boehner against Brown. The two will take diametrically opposite positions on taxes, trade and federal regulations.
Without even mentioning the other by name, the two Ohio lawmakers will be at the center of a national debate.

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