The (sort of) live blog of the HCDF meeting

(This liveblog was taped live before a studio audience. Any re-broadcast of these events or any other use of this text without the express written consent of Drinking Liberally Cincinnati is strictly prohibited. Don’t challenge us; we’ve got deep pockets. Seriously, we do, look at our bar tabs.)

Welcome to the third edition of the Drinking Liberally liveblog of the Hamilton County Democratic Forum. Tonight I’m flying solo, but I’ll give you a minute-by-minute overview of the happenings here at the Westin Hotel. The featured speaker for this evening is gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland.

Given the events of the last few days, I’m very curious to hear his remarks on the state of the ‘war on terror’, and how that might affect his race with republican candidate Ken Blackwell. That and many other surprises to come tonight.

7:08 PM: Most of the crowd is still over at the Strickland reception, where there’s an issue with the music; they can’t get it shut off. Apparently the technician in charge of the music there is John C. Miller from the National Review Online. But the crowd is slowly starting to filter into the ballroom.

7:17 PM: Just spent several minutes explaining to a semi-frequent DL visitor what exactly a blog is. It’s always good to try and get more eyeballs to the site, as well as to open more people up to our little techie world.

7:20 PM: State representative candidate Karen Adams stopped by to give her best, as did fellow candidate Steve Silver. Looks like we’ll be starting closer to the 7:30 timeframe.

7:28 PM: Small world. Just crossed paths with an old co-worker from years gone by that used to work in the Strickland office. See, and who said blogging wasn’t a good time? The request to move all parties inside has been made, so we should be starting very soon.

7:32 PM: Some additional dignitaries that have come into the room: County Commissioner Todd Portune, Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, former U.S. representative candidate Thor Jacobs, County Commissioner candidate David Pepper, and fellow DL blogger SLYLIKEA…, and a really, really tall guy.

7:34 PM: Opening remarks time, or as I like to call it, please put your butts in your seats time.

7:36 PM: Connie Pillich, state representative candidate, will be M.C.’ing the night’s proceedings. Gives a little plug for the hospital levy, which loyal DL members in Cincinnati had never heard of until tonight (you get snark with your liveblogger too).

7:38 PM: Proving the age old adage that you never let the interviewee get their hands on the microphone, Connie gives the first address of the evening. She hits on the level of corruption in Ohio, and what an opportunity the Dems have in 2006. The people she talks to want affordable education, clean air and water, and better health care. She finishes by pointing to each of us and says it is up to us to make the changes. Smokey the Bear is currently speaking with his lawyer about copyright infringement.

7:42 PM: Karen Adams is next up. Her first shot is at the state government for forcing schools to try and pass levies to make up for lost state funding. The Supreme Court has found the funding methods of the Congress to be illegal, yet the legislature has ignored their orders. But tax cuts continue to be given for the richest. Increased pressure on Congress to fund appropriately is needed. Easily gets the award for getting the most out of her two minutes.

7:44 PM: Representative Steve Driehaus takes the podium. He’s a Democrat on the West Side of town, which is as common as polar bears in Blue Ash. His talking point is on the urban crisis in Cincinnati, specifically with housing. Predatory lending, foreclosure, and lease options are among the issues that get in the way of solving the problems. He wants a change all the way down, from Governor to Attorney General to Treasurer. He’s an excellent speaker, almost preacher like, I’m not sure why he’s not better known around the city. Someone get this guy out to DL.

7:48 PM: Representative candidate Brent Gray is up next. Some republican technician is playing with the lighting. Brent’s platform is to improve the voting process within Ohio. Blackwell and Diebold are doing everything they can to suppress votes. He considers the fight for the ballot box to be a war. He then hits briefly on the uninsured issue, and how he wants to represent the poor and disaffected.

7:53 PM: Fighting 33rd district Representative Tyrone Yates is the next speaker. He wastes no time ripping into the republicans. Congress is passing bills without any sort of discussion. Taft called a special session to raise the limits for individual contributions, and removing them from corporate contributions. By retaking Congress, he believes we can reshape the state. Powerful, to the point, and quick. Very energizing.

7:56 PM: DL fave Steve Silver gets the podium next, and takes a quick shot at his opponent Brinkman. He immediately pulls out a biblical quote, “joy comes in the morning”. Anything from the Bible gets you 500 new votes in Cincy. Being a Delta pilot, he knows what tough times are like. His travels have shown him that there are many people in his district that are down on their luck, and this group of candidates can help to fix that up.

7:58 PM: State senator Eric Kearney quickly replaces Steve. His first statement is that only 3 areas in his district are currently growing. So his solution is to develop small businesses. He also wants to pass bills to apply higher penalties to criminals that commit crimes against children. More on his list of things to do is to pass incentives for usage of bio-ethanol, as well as for the adoption of children (they don’t exactly go together on paper, but they both go towards incentivizing doing the right thing). Eric finishes by asking for support for the Democratic candidates to help make all this happen.

8:02 PM: Dr. Vic Wulsin, a quite popular choice, is next up. And the lights come back on again. Obviously she’s well liked, since she’s running against the princess of darkness. She seizes on the terror alert from yesterday. Even though the threat has been known for a decade, the government had done nothing about that until yesterday. She hits out on the port screening issues, as well as why Congress has not acted on the recommendations of the 9/11 commission. She wants to push for improved health care (and more affordable), and for energy independence. The policies of this government have isolated us from the rest of the world, and she believes that Democrats can reverse that trend. For my money, she’s 200% better of a speaker than she was six months ago, the evil one is so dead.

8:07 PM: U.S. representative candidate John Cranley gets the state. He relates a story from his career as a lawyer and a councilman. While at UC law school he founded the Ohio Innocence program, which aimed to free innocent people from jail. He talked about one case in particular, where the man spent nine years in jail. The OI program got the DNA evidence to prove his innocence, and ended up finding the real criminal. So what’s dealing with George Bush compared to that? Very interesting story, that would work very well as part of a stump speech as well. The story shows the power of being able to turn things around in your favor. He also takes a shot at the silly advice from W after 9/11, that the best way to help the country was to go shopping. Service and patriotism should carry the day over consumerism.

8:14 PM: County commissioner candidate David Pepper is the last speaker before Ted Strickland. And what better way to start the speech than to make a Heimlich Remover comment. The evening is starting to take a more evangelical tone. He believes that all it would take is his election to team with Portune and turn things around for the city. He relates a story from his most recent debate with Heimlich. They were discussing issues with crime and schools, where Heimlich stated “Schools, they’re not my problem. I’m not a root cause kind of guy.” Which is one of the stupidest comments possible. This should be a fun quote to pin on him for the next three months.

8:20 PM: Beer break for the blogger.

8:22 PM: And the main event is underway, as Strickland gets the podium. His first move is to ask all of the candidates to come up with him. Would make for a nice team picture. And almost as if he read my mind, up go the hands for the team picture.

8:23 PM: Just pointed out to me that all of the female candidates are wearing red. Should be fun getting that color back this year.

8:24 PM: Ted gets going, pumping up the candidates and the constituents to go all out for the next 90 days to get everything back. He then talks about a meeting he had with John Glenn recently. Glenn has never been as concerned for his country as he is today, which is saying something given that he’s a veteran and an astronaut.

8:26 PM: What brings groups like this together is the common deeply held values of its members. Everyone in the room should do as much as possible to do whatever it takes to push us over the top, including insuring that all votes are counted.

8:28 PM: Strickland tells everyone a little about his background. He comes from the same neighborhood as Roy Rogers and Branch Rickey. He had a working class background, with relatives being concrete smoothers, pipe fitters, and electricians. The Dayton Daily News questioned his story, so he showed them his old hometown, including the chicken coop that he lived in for a time when his house burned to the ground. The point he made was to be proud of your upbringing.

8:31 PM: He then goes on to talk about his childhood influences, including stories about his 4th and 7th grade teachers, his basketball coach (who recognized his lack of talent – now that is something I can relate to). When he had a stuttering problem in high school, one of his teachers told him, ‘you ought to grow up to be governor’. Coincidence? I think not!

8:34 PM: Amazingly, Democrats are allowed to be compassionate as well (though compassionate liberalism doesn’t have an alliterative quality), and we should all care about each other. And he wants to focus more on that than the recent issues of the right, though he could be cajoled to discuss those as well. It’s his believe that the people of Ohio are thirsting for a better day, and stronger leadership. He highlights that we should do everything legal and ethical to get these positions back, and once we do we need to do the right thing.

(side note: no mention of Taft’s name at all tonight)

8:37 PM: Strickland’s on a roll emphasizing that we need to make sure that the youth of Ohio is given the opportunity to get a high quality education and an affordable college experience. He also wants to invest $150 million in children under the age of 4 to improve their upbringings.

8:40 PM: Discussing with the mayors of Ohio, he wants to create small business investment and incentives, take historic preservation seriously, invest in wi-fi and broadband for the downtown areas, improve Ohio as a center of commerce, invest in smart growth and utilize existing structures before moving into the country, establish an office of urban development and infrastructure, support the local government funds, reform the jobs programs to allow urban areas to receive more funding, and to fashion a government that will reflect the values of Ohio.

8:42 PM: The general belief is that the current leadership has led through hate and fear, and he wants to change that and reject that sort of politics. He wants everyone to make sure that everyone has a say in the voting process, making that at least the 76th reference to Ohio’s voting issues.

8:45 PM: Currently 1.3 million Ohioans are without health insurance coverage. He wants to find ways to get them all covered, and that initiative is to be unveiled soon.

8:46 PM: Ohio is the 2nd largest user of ethanol fuel, and we need to stay focused on using renewable fuels. Natural resources and the use of academic institutions are the keys to continue to forward this initiative. The more we rely on our own resources, the less we need to worry about foreign assistance. This would include switchgrass, wind farms, coal (in an environmentally friendly manner like Montana would like to).

8:49 PM: As a wrap-up, he talks about his travels, and how people are interested in Ohio no matter where he goes, mostly because he believes that Ohio is a microcosm of America. Really, there’s a little bit of everything in our state. Large cities, small towns, big university and fantastic liberal arts schools, ports, lakes, rivers, ethnic diversity, and wide economic ranges.

8:51 PM: Taking back the governor’s seat in Ohio is perhaps the most important race in America. We’re the swing state of the country, and if we win the top spot we get to set the infrastructure of the state for 2008. And the right knows it, and they’re not going to give it up easily, and it’s going to be the struggle of all struggles.

8:55 PM: Blogger pause for the standing ovation.

8:56 PM: Q&A time, but first it’s fundraising time (hey, the electricity ain’t free, even if it didn’t work half the night).

8:57 PM: Q: How do you plan to balance local control vs. state opportunity?
A: There’s real advantages to having local school boards set their own policies, which are obviously compliant with the constitution and the legal standards. But tax dollars should not be used for vouchers with no accountability. He’s deeply troubled that money is being diverted from public to charter schools, which are doing a worse job of preparing our children.

9:00 PM: Q: Please comment on health care for seniors, specifically with Part D.
A: Plan D is a deeply flawed piece of legislation. Both he and Sherrod Brown oppose this bill, which was passed for the pharmaceutical companies more than for the seniors. The bill itself was passed after the vote was held open for over three hours late into a Friday night. It prohibits importation of cheaper drugs from Canada, does not allow the government to negotiate discounts with the drug companies, and creates the donut hole of benefits where people have a period of no coverage before it gets reinstated.

9:03 PM: Due to pumpkin evaporization outside, the evening is adjourned.

So overall quite a night. Many great speakers, many great candidates to reform the Ohio political system. Now the hard work of the next 90 days begins. But for me the quest for pizza begins now, I’m beat.

Victory is ours!

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