By: Chris Zimmer – Columnist
Have you ever wondered how men and women in this country get elected for public office? There’s an ill-conceived notion that campaign financing from lobbyists and special interest groups win elections; but that’s far from the reality.
Money might be able to buy you advertisement slots on a media platform. Money might be able to pay for fundraising logistics. However, there is something in politics that money cannot buy: supporters.
I began working on the re-election for U.S. junior Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), in August 2015. One of my sophomore year roommates told me Sen. Portman was just about to open an office in the area, and needed college and high school students to campaign for him. I was a little hesitant at first, for a few reasons.
For one, I am not a fan of the Republican (or Democratic) Party. Secondly, I wasn’t a big fan of the idea of going door-to-door or calling strangers, especially about politics. Lastly and most importantly, it wasn’t a paid internship. However I jumped on-board after talking on the phone for nearly an hour with the senator’s field director, Evan Albertson. He convinced me this race wasn’t about getting another ‘W’ for the GOP in November, but rather re-electing a man who has crossed aisles in Congress to positively impact the lives of many in my home state of Ohio.
I also embraced the danger element of the campaign, and realized it was also a good opportunity to expand my people skills. I still might roll my eyes at the fact that I haven’t been paid for doing the ‘dirty work,’ but I can sleep well at night knowing myself and many others are fighting to keep Ted Strickland out of office.
For those who might not know, Strickland represented District 6 in the U.S. House of Representatives in the ‘90s and early ‘00s. He was very ineffective, to say the least, in Congress. Ted passed zero bills into law and was ranked as the third-most-absent member of Congress during those sessions. He’s more infamously known for being governor of Ohio from 2007 to 2011.
As the Recession unraveled in 2008, Strickland announced public deficit shortfall of $640 million. A majority of the spending cuts went to infrastructure jobs and mental hospitals. He then announced one year later that the state would be taking $844 million in Ohio tax refunds to pay for the financial miscalculations.
At the end of the day, Strickland depleted our state’s ‘rainy day fund’ from $1 trillion to $0.89 cents. Of course there were many other politicians and actors to blame for the economic struggles in Ohio, but his lack of leadership didn’t help. Strickland just sat back and let employers, specifically in Dayton, pack up their bags and leave.
The closing of the General Motors plant and departure of NCR was bad, but many small businesses ceased to exist when Strickland left office too. At the end of the day, the city of Dayton lost 25,000 and the state lost 350,000 jobs under his watch.
Since then, Strickland has spent his time living as a resident fellow at the Harvard Institute for Politics and working for a lobby group, the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Now he’s trying to make a political comeback by trying to become a Congressman again.
I knew Sen. Portman had the better résumé going into this election, but the polls didn’t reflect so. Given that more registered Democrats vote for their party during presidential election years, and the negative media coverage surrounding Donald Trump and the entire GOP, Real Clear Politics had this as a dead even race when we started in August 2015.
While he controlled the lead for a few weeks here and there–that’s not the case anymore. After regaining the lead in July, the most recent poll from RCP has the Portman spread ahead by 13.1 points. Some polls in that average only have him up by 8 points or so, but then others have him up by 15, 17, and 21 points! Despite the senator’s surge in the polls, the campaign is still on fire. As our field director likes to say, “We’re just trying to run up the score at this point.”
Sen. Portman’s track record is ultimately the reason why he’s winning the race now, and will win in November. His twelve years being a member in the U.S. House of Representatives positively impacted the lives of many in southwestern Ohio. He also served as the 13th United States Trade Representative and 46th Director of the Office of Budget and Management under President George W. Bush.
He’s fought for our state and country as well as serving in the United States Senate . How can you not like a bi-partisan politician who stood up against the practices of federal government shutdowns, and passed legislation to fight human trafficking and the opioid addiction epidemic?
He’s even gone against the status quo of the Republican Party to support LGBT rights and protecting Lake Erie and the waterways in Ohio from harmful pollution. He’s a politician who doesn’t just deserve to be re-elected. He’s a politician worth ‘doing the dirty work’ for.
It’s an honor to work for Sen. Portman, and I’m positive everyone else who has been a part of the campaign would say the same thing. It’s so encouraging to see so many other millennials (and older folks as well) out on the trail fighting for his re-election.
Many wonderful memories have been made, and there have been countless learning experiences. I look forward to campaign as the election season winds down in the coming months.
In an age of disorder in Congress, it’s good knowing we have a voice of logic and compassion in Sen. Portman. His leadership should serve as a model for legislators across the country.
Photo Courtesy of cleveland.com