Sunday, January 21, 2001

Bush bypasses Buckeye hopefuls


Ohio gets light share of spoils

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        If we were to have designed a commemorative T-shirt for Ohio Gov. Bob Taft to wear under his tux to this weekend's inaugural festivities in Washington, it would say this: “I helped elect George W. Bush president and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.”

        So far, at least, Ohio has gotten the short end of the stick in the new administration in Washington.

        Ohio saved Mr. Bush's bacon last spring when it slammed on the brakes of John McCain's Straight Talk Express in the GOP primary. It coughed up its 21 electoral votes to a Bush-Cheney ticket that only won the White House by one electoral vote and did it after two elections where Ohio went to the Democrats and while its neighbors, Pennsylvania and Michigan, went to the Al Gore column.

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AP coverage
        That, you would think, would buy the Taft political operation and the Ohio Republican Party something.A cabinet post, maybe? Just one?

        But that was not to be.

        Ohio will not be ignored, though, by the Bush administration. The next time around, Ohio's electoral vote count drops to 20, but that is still nothing to sneeze at.

        And word is that the governor will likely be successful in getting Lt. Gov. Maureen O'Connor appointed to a Justice Department position, which will probably lead to the appointment of recently term-limited Ohio House Speaker Jo Ann Davidson as the new second banana.

        This is good for Ms. O'Connor and Ms. Davidson, we suppose, but won't exactly make Ohioans strut around like Texans.

        Political organizations in the states, when they deliver for a presidential candidate, tend to measure the pay-back in appointments of their own to influential positions. And, with some 6,000 jobs to fill, Mr. Bush is like
ly to haul some more Ohioans to Washington.

        He already has two in the White House — Cincinnati's Joe Hagin, his deputy chief of staff, and John Bridgeland, former chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Rob Portman of Terrace Park.

        But no cabinet posts.

        The political types in Ohio may be sulking a bit, but the money people in Ohio Republican circles hit the jackpot with the election of Mr. Bush.

        Two Cincinnati businessmen, William O. DeWitt Jr. and Mercer Reynolds, two old pals and business partners of the new president, raised millions for the Bush cause last year. Their phone calls to the White House will be answered.

        So, too, will those of Cincinnatians like Richard Farmer of Cintas and Carl Lindner, who kicked in $100,000 each for the Bush inaugural.

        But the politicos disappointed over the absence of cabinet appointments may take heart in the fact that Ohio's biggest influence may be on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

        West Chester's John Boehner ended up with the House Education Committee chairmanship and Mr. Portman is a member of the House GOP leadership now, with a direct pipeline into the Oval Office. Ohio congressmen have two other chairmanships, as well.

        Mr. Taft may want to call Capitol Hill first when he wants something out of Washington.

        E-mail at hwilkinson@enquirer.com.

       



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