Republican National Convention
Tuesday, August 01, 2000

Power plays over breakfast

        PHILADELPHIA — Ask one of the brainiacs at your friendly neighborhood physics lab about the notion of “universes within a universe.”

        There are those who believe that if you could really get inside a particle of matter as tiny as an atom you might find that it contains a whole other universe, complete with galaxies and star systems and worlds and, yes, even political conventions.

        It's easy to understand if you have spent much time at a presidential nominating convention in our little universe.

        There is the Big Show — the one going on each night through Thursday at the city's basketball and hockey arena, where George W. Bush will become the Republican Party nominee for president.

        But if you fan out into the dozens of hotels housing the state delegations, you will find smaller yet just as lively parallel universes.

        That's where local politicos rub elbows with their counterparts around the state and where the “big fish” of the state parties work the crowd, schmooze the money people, buy breakfast for the house and generally grub for a place in the state party hierarchy.

        For state parties, the dramas going on inside the delegation hotels are just as important as what happens at the convention hall.

        Monday morning, Ohio Treasurer Joe Deters showed up at the Courtyard by Marriott, where the Ohio delegation is staying; he had to stay behind to organize the rally for Mr. Bush on Sunday in Blue Ash.

        Now that he is here, the Ohio delegates and guests will be closely watching the competition between him and the state auditor, Jim Petro of Cleveland.

        Everybody in Ohio politics expects that two years from now, these two state officeholders will be locked in a primary battle for Ohio attorney general. Incumbent Betty Montgomery will be leaving and is expected to run for Ohio Supreme Court.

        Primary contests are rare in Ohio politics. The old-timers remember the one 30 years ago when Gov. Jim Rhodes took on Congressman Robert Taft Jr. (father of the present governor) in a race that started ugly and went downhill from there.

        Mr. Taft won, but the party was split into factions for years.

        Nobody here wants that again, but most Ohio Republicans see it as inevitable.

        Mr. Petro got off to an early start Sunday at a brunch for the delegation. He passed out tiny key-ring calculators, which pleased the practical-minded Ohio Republicans greatly.

        This morning, Mr. Deters counters with his own breakfast. His guest speaker will be former education secretary and national morals nag William Bennett.

        But, if he's smart, he'll give them all a little present to take home in their tote bags, too.


        Back to

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