Democratic Ohio state Rep. Jennifer Garrison announced this afternoon that she is no longer seeking the Democratic nomination for Ohio Secretary of State, the position currently held by Democratic U.S. Senate Candidate Jennifer Brunner.
On her Facebook page, she wrote:
I would like to thank all of the wonderful people in Ohio that supported me in my campaign over the last 6 months for Secretary of State. I announced today that I am no longer seeking that office, but will always be working to help the people of this region and state.
Garrison’s views on LGBT and choice issues had caused quite a stir both upon her entrance to the race and when Franklin County Commissioner Marilyn Brown dropped out of the race. Of Garrison’s entrance in the race, I wrote at the time:
Ohio is not a liberal state, by any means, but I’m still not sure that Garrison can win a statewide Democratic primary in 2010. If anything, Garrison’s announcement may have been the best way either to drive up interest in Brown — or to lead some other Democrats to consider jumping in the race.
Not quite, but . . .
Right now, it looks like the leading options to replace Garrison are Sharen Neuhardt, who fared poorly in her 2008 U.S. House race against U.S. Rep. Steve Austria when all other Democrats in Ohio had enormous success, and Franklin County Clerk of Courts Mary Ellen O’Shaughnessy, who lost two races for Franklin County Commissioner (1992 & 2002) and a run at Congress in 2000. The Cleveland Scene reported earlier this week that Neuhardt has taken out petitions for the race. [UPDATE: Multiple people are reporting to me that O'Shaughnessy is making the phone rounds today, letting people know that she, too, is in the race. The Dispatch more or less reported this as a "soon-to-be fact" on Friday.]
My question is simple: Why either of these people? As Marilyn Brown has amply proven, it’s not enough to be a progressive.
Particularly when entering the race this late — relative to, say, the long-raging U.S. Senate battle — the Democratic replacement for this race needs to stand out if he or she is to have any real shot at defeating the Republican, former House Speaker Jon Husted. I see one of two ways that this could work: (1) The person has a name that Ohioans know, someone who starts out with some name recognition to go after Husted with some power from the very start, or (2) the person is an “outsider” who can enter the race with non-political credibility for the job in a way that would depoliticize the Democratic side of the race against Husted.
My pick for 1 would be attorney John Gilligan (bio), who I understand from several people already has considered the race. My pick for 2 would be Ohio State Law Professor Dan Tokaji (bio), author of the Equal Vote blog and someone who I know personally and greatly respect. I’ve not spoken with either person about the race. They are emblematic of my views on the type of candidate Democrats need to compete in this race in light of today’s news. There may be others who fit the bill.
Popularity: 11% [?]