In the recent past I've advocated support for Bill Pierce, a conservative challenger to incumbent U.S. Senator Mike DeWine. Well, chalk that up to stupid idealism. Pierce is roadkill in the May 2nd Republican primary, based on the results of the latest poll by the Columbus Dispatch, which has DeWine in front with 61% to Pierce's 1%. With only 34% undecided, RINO Mike is again our standard-bearer by default. I'll vote for him only because when compared to Sherrod Brown he's the lesser of two evils. It will still chap my backside to support DeWine, a gutless member of the Gang of Fourteen, but I know better than to let Brown (my current congresscritter) get involved in judicial nominations and foreign affairs.
George Will is watching us here in Ohio, and in his latest column he predicts a tight Senate race between Brown and DeWine. I'm not so sure it'll be close. DeWine's lead over Brown grew from 5% in January to a 9% margin in a February 18th Rasmussen poll. Here's hoping that trend continues.
Two key paragraphs from Will's column:
DeWine is seeking a third term in an inhospitable environment -- the middle of the second term of an incumbent president of his own party. That is when the electorate often experiences "the six-year itch," the desire to reshuffle the political deck. ... The redistricting done for incumbent-protection after the 2000 Census may have made the House almost impervious to the itch ... so voters might vent their restlessness in Senate elections. And "restless" hardly describes Ohio's dyspeptic mood regarding its Republicans, who hold all statewide offices. Scandals and tax increases drove Gov. Bob Taft's approval rating in one poll to six. He has bounced all the way back to 16. Richard Nixon's job approval rating was 24 on the eve of his resignation.
DeWine, one of only four senators who supported John McCain in 2000, is a moderate conservative with an independent streak -- for example, he has repeatedly voted against drilling in ANWR. This may be enough to annoy some conservatives without being sufficient to distance him from the state Republican shambles. We shall find out late on Election Night when, as usual, the nation will be watching Ohio.
I'm so very, very tired of the Ohio GOP establishment and its candidates. They campaign as center-right conservatives but govern as liberals. The current leadership of the Ohio Republican Party foolishly thinks this state's voters can be made to march in lockstep behind any old fool as long as the candidate hangs an (R) after their surname. Well, this primary makes me feel like the proverbial critter caught in a leg trap who's forced to gnaw off a paw to survive. I'll reluctantly march to the polls this year and vote for RINO Mike, but if the Ohio GOP fields another crop of liberals in 2008 and expects me to step out smartly with two gnawed-off stumps, I'll cheerfully tell them where they can put this year's leg.
Update (11:25 PM): Tom from BizzyBlog.com points out that the poll is unreliable, and the Dispatch itself has a sorry history of shoddy polling practices. Here's the key paragraph I missed when I scanned through the article this morning:
The mail poll of 2,894 registered Democratic voters and 2,874 registered Republicans voters from March 15 through Friday has a margin of sampling error of 2 percentage points.
Notice it was a mail-in poll; those are notoriously unreliable. Also, the respondents were registered voters, not likely voters. That makes a big difference, too. Dave at NixGuy.com has more analysis that tracks with BizzyBlog's.