Thursday, December 14, 2000
Ohio could reap the spoils
Key appointments, federal goodies may be in offing
By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer
With George W. Bush on his way to the White House, Ohio Republicans will find out if the old saw of politics is true that to the victor belongs the spoils.
Or, in the case of Ohio, which had a lot to do with getting the Texas governor elected the 43rd president, the spoils belong to those who helped the victor.
It's hard to imagine a state that did more for George W. Bush, said Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett, whose statewide GOP organization was instrumental in producing primary and general election wins for Mr. Bush.
Texas and Florida were the only two bigger states that delivered their electoral votes for the Bush-Cheney ticket.
That ought to count for something, Mr. Bennett said.
It is too early to tell exactly what Ohio's role in electing Mr. Bush might count for, in terms of access, appointment of Ohioans to key administration posts, and flow of federal dollars into the state.
But no one in Ohio GOP politics doubts that the president-elect can find Ohio on the map.
And when he does, he is looking at a state where the GOP organization, headed by Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, helped him lock up the GOP nomination by producing a Bush win that doomed John McCain in the primaries.
In the fall campaign, it helped create a situation where Ohio was safely in the Bush column a month before the election, allowing the Bush-Cheney campaign to shift resources to key states where the contest was much tighter.
But it was not just the state GOP's vote-producing prowess that guarantees Ohio will be a player in the new Bush administration.
Mr. Bush's father, the original President George Bush, had long and deep ties to Ohio. The Texas governor inherited some of them and, over the years, developed his own, including two of his most prolific fund-raisers Cincinnati businessmen Mercer Reynolds and William O. DeWitt Jr., both Bush friends and former business partners.
There were individuals such as U.S. Rep. Rob Portman and Indian Hill resident Joseph Hagin, who worked in the first Bush administration and played key roles in the son's campaign for president.
Mr. Portman was one of Mr. Bush's key surrogate spokesmen throughout the campaign. Mr. Hagin temporarily left his job at Chiquita Brands International to be Mr. Bush's deputy campaign manager.
Mr. Hagin said he plans to return to Cincinnati. Mr. Portman, the subject of speculation for months about a possible role in a Bush-Cheney administration, said he, too, will stay put and concentrate on pushing the Bush legislative agenda in Congress.
I'm focusing now on help ing this president get a legislative package through Congress, Mr. Portman said.
He is going to reach out and work with Democrats. He'd do that if he won by a few hundred votes or in a landslide.
There were other key figures as well, such as Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, who backed Steve Forbes in the primary but who became one of the GOP nominee's few African-American surrogates during the fall campaign; and U.S. Rep. John Kasich, the first GOP presidential aspirant to drop out and throw his support to Mr. Bush.
Either one could be offered a job in the Bush administration.
Ohio turned out to be one of the Bush-Cheney campaign's principal sources of campaign cash. Only five other states Texas, California, Florida, New York and Virginia produced more money in individual contributions.
Put it all together, Mr. Blackwell said, and it spells influence for Ohio.
This state is going to have an unprecedented number of back channels into the White House, Mr. Blackwell said.
Sometimes, Mr. Blackwell said, the influence will be subtle.
You could have a situation where Ohio has some innovative program in mind but it needs the federal government to sign off and it gets bottled up by some bureaucrat, Mr. Blackwell said. Ohio can probably get that bureaucrat out of the way.
Ohio's first-term governor, the great-grandson of a president, developed a good relationship with Mr. Bush during the campaign. Wednesday, he said he plans to use that relationship for Ohio's benefit.
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Local voters just glad it's over
Lawmakers talk conciliation
Ohio could reap the spoils
Tristate Republicans could win appointments
Kentuckians see friend in Bush
Tristate scholars consider lessons, impact of election
Impact on Abortion
Impact on Education
Impact on Environment/energy
Impact on Health Care
Impact on Social Security
Bush electors in the Tristate