Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Republicans Losing Part of Their Base

*As I drive through Ohio's 15th congressional district, I can report on several observations:
1. I have seen many, many more bumper stickers for Strickland than for Blackwell.
2. In my conversations with friends and neighbors, people are not happy with Deborah Pryce and the Republicans.
3. Physicians, many who supported Bush and the Republicans in the last election, are abandoning their support of the GOP.

*Ohio's farmers have always been big supporters of Republican candidates. However, this year might be a little different. It appears that farmers are finding friendlier folks in the Democratic Party. Here are some excerpts from the Akron Beacon Journal:

Dave Hutchins' two-toned cowboy boots come into view as he sits and his worn denims creep up past his ankles.

Hutchins is a farming activist, and when you ask how he plans to vote this year, he's ready to talk.

He pops open a soda and asks: ``Do you wanna hear a story?''

Last February, he begins, he spent $1,500 on a trip from his hometown in West Mansfield to Washington so he could pitch some agricultural issues on behalf of fellow farmers.

His first two stops were to see two men he had supported -- U.S. Sens. Mike DeWine and George Voinovich.

The senators, he says, couldn't make time for him.....

...By his account, he then went to talk to the Democrats, and with U.S. Reps. Ted Strickland and Sherrod Brown, he got the time he wanted....

....The Ohio Farm Bureau has 220,000 members who often meet monthly at the local level to share concerns and talk about public policy.

Campaign finance reports from May through August show the Ohio Farm Bureau's political action committee gave more than 60 percent of its money to Democrats. By this time four years ago, Democrats had received only 14 percent of the PAC's contributions, and only one Democratic candidate was on its recipient list.

Carlo LoParo, spokesman for Republican gubernatorial candidate J. Kenneth Blackwell, says support is strong from farmers. Last Saturday, the campaign hosted a fundraiser in Paulding County with Fred Daily, director of the Department of Agriculture.

Earlier in the week, both candidates for governor appeared before an annual meeting of the farm bureau attended by more than 700, Blackwell joking about his ability to distinguish straw from hay and Strickland underscoring his and his wife's farming heritage.

``I appreciate the fact that Ted was a farmer as a young man,'' said Jay Beggs, a lifelong Republican and grain farmer near Lima. ``I have some serious problems with the present Republican administration and Mr. Blackwell is part of that.''

And he added, ``Mr. DeWine hasn't been the best friend of agriculture.''...

Now this might not seem like big news to people outside of Ohio, but when farmers find patient listeners within the Democratic Party, we are talking about the possibility of a major shift.

Farmers spend a lot of time trying to get better prices for their crops. They are active in their communities. They know their neighbors. If a few farmers find open doors and cooperation with Democrats, every farmer will be told about the Democrats. In this case, it appears that Democratic candidates Ted Strickland and Sherrod Brown have provided access to Ohio farmers, and farmers like the special treatment they are receiving.