Let me start by saying that the idea of of a "unity" event after an election, even a primary, is not something that I usually subscribe to; but this was a particularly nasty and bitter primary, so I can kind of see the point.
The point, is that with Blackwell's win, conservatives won the top of the ticket. Petro's constant beat of the drum for an open tent party is falling on deaf ears. That he used Reagan to do it shows the level of desperation that the establishment is feeling. Reagan never compromised on the 20% that his 80% allies disagreed on, to expect Blackwell to do so is ridiculously absurd. Petro is a great guy, and he ran a heck of a campaign; but the fact is he lost. Blackwell did the magnaimous thing and acknowledged that Petro did have some good ideas and has asked Jim to head up the effort to reform state government. Unity. Yeah!
Blackwell's assertion that he is who he is and that we will get what you see is reassuring to conservatives who might have been concerned that he would "moderate" as every ONN reporter was hoping for on election night. This was the first time I saw Blackwell speak live and I wasn't disappointed: he is everything I expected and more.
I got a chance to meet Tom Raga during some downtime and let me tell you, Tom is a good one. Definitely a keeper. He is a well polished politician who is smart, charming and engaging.
It is no secret that I think Betty Montgomery is just another establishment candidate with nothing to offer in a time of reform. Mark and I sat with a number of Montgomery staffers including her press secretary, the lovely Kathryn, so we got a chance to find a reason to support Betty.
Isn't it time for a hot CPA to be Auditor of State? Yeah, we think so too. Mary Taylor is that hot CPA. And I recommend that you all watch this one...she's smart too.
Greg Hartmann is going to be our next Secretary of State. He's got great ideas including increased training for election boards and workers. He's emphasizing communication and is planning a daily blog to help out with that...now there is something I can get behind!
The one candidate that I'm actually worried about is Sandy O'Brien for Treasurer. Her presentation demonstrated that she is not an experienced politico. She is conservative, there is no doubt about her credentials; it is just that it is apparent she will need some work from the guys who make candidates strong and confident.
Last on the speaker's list was Mike DeWine. The less I say about that the better.
We had a surprise call from Karl Rove which was very interesting. As expected, he told us what everyone already knows: that the focus of the world will once again be on Ohio. It is very clear that the Democrats are going to be working very hard in Ohio. It is equally imperative, if not more so, that the Republican effort in Ohio exceeds and succeeds.
The most interesting session was with the communications and political staffs of the Ohio Republican Party. I knew these guys were super smart, but I really didn't have a firm grasp on just how much talent we have working behind the scenes. Jason Mauk, the political director comes from the communications shop and is well versed on the message that will resonate in Ohio. John McClelland, the new communication director, is very knowledgeable and is doing a great job. That these two guys work so well together is a great sign, but more imporatantly, these guys work very well with their counterparts in the RNC and other GOP organizations.
Overall, I was pretty impressed with the political aspects of the event. I looks forward to forging a strong relationship with each of these candidates and their staffs in order to bring you the best information I can get. This event went a long way towards doing just that.