Ken Blackwell mulls Third World-style power grab in Ohio.
Ken Blackwell is the Ohio Secretary of State, and is running for Governor this year. Blackwell was also Bush's 2004 campaign manager for the state of Ohio—a job he held simultaneously while Secretary of State. Blackwell got to run the election and disqualify voters in this crucial swing state that decided the 2004 election. Due in part to Blackwell's glaring conflict of interest, many still hold the entire 2004 presidential election's results in question.
But this year, Mr. Blackwell is planning to outdo himself. Blackwell is running for Governor, and as Secretary of State, he has the responsibility to oversee elections. Blackwell has already pulled a lot of the same shenanigans in 2004 to depress voter turnout among minorities, who vote predominantly Democratic: inadequate numbers of ballots at polling places, vaguely defined voting districts, voters improperly purged from the rolls, etc. But Blackwell's gubernatorial race, where he's trailing Democrat Ted Strickland by 28% in most polls, requires something special: Blackwell is reported to be considering disqualifying Mr. Strickland as a candidate.
Blackwell's argument is, according to today's New York Times, this:
"One of [Blackwell's supporters] filed a complaint alleging that Mr. Strickland, who is a member of Congress, does not live in the apartment where he is registered to vote. Mr. Strickland owns a condominium in another part of Ohio, and the complaint alleges that he actually lives there. If Mr. Strickland was not a qualified voter, he would be prohibited from running for governor."
So Strickland, who is an Ohio resident any way you look at it, could be expelled from the race three weeks before Election Day based on a technicality that doesn't relate in the least to Mr. Strickland's actual qualifications for the office. I'll admit that I never thought Republican chutzpah could reach such a level, and although Blackwell hasn't tried it yet, it's bad enough that his people are talking about it. And to make matters even worse, the above decision was decided by the county board where Strickland lives. They decided on this 2 to 2, split along party lines. Today's Republican Party is reaching toward new heights of disgrace.
Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if he does it. If Blackwell pulls this autocratic power play, I wouldn't be surprised to see riots in Ohio. At least, I'd hope the good people of Ohio would be sufficiently incensed by this. I would expect nothing less.
Full New York Times story here.