An FYI News Exclusive
Note: First Posted on FYI News
Ken Blackwell, Ohio’s former Secretary of State, ran a campaign for governor that not only gained national attention – but also international attention.
He’s been called “The Anti-Obama” by the Chicago Tribune, “The Republican Hillary” by The Other Paper, and a dog by the Rolling Stone. Needless to say, Mr. Blackwell is well known by the media and the political arena.
He recently took some time to talk to FYI News’ Vince Tornero…
FYI News: What have you been doing since the election?
Blackwell: I’ve been helping my Secretary of State staff work through what, in many of their cases, is a major disruption in their lives and in their careers. The administration of the Secretary of State’s office has not just changed from one person to another, but an inter-party change. There are about 45 people on my staff who will be looking for new employment. So, this is a pretty tough holiday season to make that transition for many of them.
I have also reflected on what I would like to do in the first quarter of next year in the bigger effort to advance important ideas that will transform our nation and our state.
FYI News: What kind and how many job offers have you received since the election? Do you plan to take any?
Blackwell: I have had a lot of folks who have expressed an interest in me working with their respective organization. Anywhere from starting a new business enterprise, to joining corporations, to serving on boards of directors of publicly traded and privately held companies, to a variety of think-tanks both regionally and nationally.
I want to take my time and reflect on the offers and the opportunities and make a determination as to where I could have the most significant impact. I have always, in my 32 years in public service, been driven by something I heard Mother Teresa say: “Sometimes we find ourselves by losing ourselves in service to others.”
FYI News: If you could change anything about this past election, what would it be and why?
Blackwell: Even though I came out victorious and won by a substantial margin (in the primary election), the contest fractured the party. I’m not sure we ever pulled the base back together. If we could have avoided it, it probably would have had some impact on the November outcome.
I actually have much to be thankful for. In the whirlwind of uncertainty associated with politics, I was blessed with a core of volunteers. I think we came away from this political setback with a clear understanding that there are 1.4 million Ohioans that share a worldview, values, and aspirations.
You play the hand that’s dealt you; we played it to the best of our abilities.
FYI News: Do you plan to run for public office (specifically governor) again?
Blackwell: I haven’t made that decision; that option is not off of the table.
I’ve been engaged in public service and electoral politics for 32 years. I love service and I love politics. So, I would imagine that if the opportunity revealed itself again, that I would seize the moment and the opportunity.
I know that we will be re-engaged in that arena (of public policy) within the first quarter of next year.
FYI News: Do you think that the media played a large part for Republican losses? Why/why not?
Blackwell: I think the media had an impact, but I am not sure whether the media was the decisive factor in the outcome. I think the decisive factor was the frustration with the missed opportunity that Republicans had to change the government. In 1994, we were given that opportunity. The reigns of power were placed squarely in our hands. We controlled every constitutional office, the Supreme Court, and both chambers of the legislature. And, instead of changing government, government changed the Republican party in the state of Ohio. I think that sort of duplicity and failure to seize the opportunity of change frustrated a substantial number of voters – independent and Republican alike.
There is no doubt that the media in Ohio has a liberal bent. It just fed a momentum that was moving away from the Republican party.
FYI News: Do you think that race played any key in your loss?
Blackwell: Do I think that there were a handful of voters who voted purely on race? Yes. But you can’t quantify it, and I don’t think it was a significant factor.
What I know is that Republicans in the spring of this year had a conservative, African-American candidate versus a white, moderate-Republican candidate. They chose the African-American conservative to be their standard bearer.
FYI News: Do you have any predictions for the first years of the Strickland Administration?
Blackwell: What I’ve said consistently is that I am not going to engage in criticism or predictions about the Strickland Administration until after the first 100 days. He won the right to advance his agenda; there is an urgency in the state of Ohio that the agenda must be articulated and must start to have impact in the first 100 days. Once he lays that on the table – or fails to lay it on the table – we will engage in the process.
FYI News: What should your supporters do in the meantime; do you have any message for them?
Blackwell: I think we all must reflect on the lessons learned in this past election. We must make sure we strengthen our ties with our families and our networks. We must understand that voters did not reject the principles upon which we advanced my candidacy. We must stay in contact with one another. We know that time passes quickly. The key over the next over the next 100 days is to make sure that we stay in contact by telephone, by e-mail. We need to know that the strength is in our numbers.
FYI News: What is your best memory from the campaign?
Blackwell: There were so many magic moments in the campaign. In a word, it was the capacity of a campaign to beat the odds and to empower people with the spirit that we can get things done.
That’s why I have no doubt that everybody associated with my campaign knows that we were knocked down. We weren’t knocked out. We’re back up, we have our bearings, and we’re ready to fight the next round.