The secretary of state position is one of the most important positions in the entire Ohio state governmental system.
It is the guardian of one of the most trusted of American rights…voting…and at a time when many Republican office-holders and officials nationwide are actively engaged in trying to deny that right to so many, especially to African-Americans.
Whether it’s the State of Pennsylvania, where a state Republican official bragged that the voter suppression shenanigans that his party engaged in will help to get Mitt Romney elected; or in Florida, where the state’s disgraced former GOP chairman says the party had meetings about “keeping blacks from voting”, there is no doubt, even in light of recent federal court decisions, that many in the Republican party are trying to suppress the Black vote.
They try to hide behind flimsy voter fraud accusations as they try to whittle away at voting opportunities. But their intent is obvious.
As an African-American Republican, a radio talk show host, a former President of the NAACP, former Deputy Mayor of the City of Canton, a veteran of many battles for voters’ rights and as an American, I abhor this tactic from any party, especially the one I happen to belong to.
However, voter suppression is just one part of their strategy. The party is engaging in scorched-earth politics and obsessive anti-obama-ism as a political strategy. Being against President Obama is not a policy of governing. And since when do whomever can yell the loudest and say the stupidest things garner the most attention in any party? That is the dismal state of today’s Republican Party.
Shutting down the Federal government and defaulting on the country’s debt certainly don’t constitute convincing arguments as to why a party should be given the privilege of governing. Better ideas and philosophies, inclusiveness and respect are much more suitable to do the trick.
But it is within this context…this partisan, combative backdrop…that the Ohio Secretary of State’s race is being seen and is being judged. It is plausible to assume that with so many Republicans trying to suppress the vote all around the country, that it’s just got to be happening here in the state of Ohio as well.
But there is a difference in what happens here in Ohio and those other states, and that difference resides with the person who is currently the Secretary of State…Jon Husted.
Husted is a conservative republican, though I think sometimes too much so. He is honest, extremely bright and he has already proved himself administratively, as he has indeed run an a-political Secretary of State office. He has reduced spending by $13 million as compared to his predecessor and provided more services with fewer staff.
Before he was Secretary of State, Husted was Speaker of the House in the Ohio legislature. While there, in a state legislature that was and is controlled by Republicans, he voted to create early voting in Ohio and he has since opposed a Republican effort to change to new voter I.d requirements. Secretary Husted and Representative Kirk Schuring were the only 2 Republicans to come out against this bill.
Husted also tried to forge a bi-partisan agreement on controversial redistricting, which could make districts more uniform and more politically competitive.
When he became Secretary of State, he continued his “Arc of Access” to the polls. He mailed out absentee ballots to every eligible voter in the state. He initiated a study that showed how minuscule voter fraud really was in the State, and he followed the bipartisan recommendations of the Ohio Association of Elections Officials…Republicans and Democrats who run local elections…that set uniform hours for boards of elections around the state.
He did oppose my beloved NAACP and others when he fought the decision that modified Ohio’s early voting schedule, a law that many Democrats, including his opponent, Senator Nina turner voted in favor of.
And while I am quite fond of Senator Turner, she being very intelligent, motivated, and passionate, I am sure she will one day have an even larger impact on policy in Ohio and the around the country. She is that talented. And, absent Husted being the candidate, I would avidly support her. But her candidacy, and this campaign, gives an ideal opportunity to bring attention to the extreme direction of the National Republican Party, and the foolishness that the likes of Texas Senator Ted Cruz and his ilk bring to America.
Our party needs someone who is not an extreme right wing zealot, not intent on burning down the country to save it from itself. Mr. Husted is not calling for any birth certificates, he did not favor the shutting down of the federal government, he did not support defaulting on the national debt, and he knows that the earth is not flat. He and others like him such as Schuring, Senator Frank Larose, former Congressman Steve Latourette, and quite possibly Governor John Kasich himself are where the future of the Republican Party should be.
And though Husted is no fan of the President nor many of his policies, he speaks of him in respectful terms.
Husted wants what’s best for his state and his country and has and will defy his party line (hopefully) to get that if he feels it necessary. He is reasonable, level-headed, eager to actually lead…and fair…not engaging in voter suppression. But just like false charges of racism, when compared with those that are true, the false charges of Husted engaging in voter suppression only diminishes and cheapens the argument where it really exists.
The only changes that I would want to see in the Secretary of State’s office start with a higher percentage of African-Americans employed in the office, online voter registration and someday on-line voting.
Right now, America needs an engaged, supportive Republican Party that can add their insight, points of view and possible solutions to the most vexing of America’s problems, not to stand on the sidelines and throw rocks at potential progress…or to try to suppress the vote of anybody. But this party needs to reengage in governing and get serious about being leaders of America. Identifying sane, intelligent Republican leaders and giving them encouragement and support… and sometimes constructive criticism…will help the entire country. And, unfortunately, it’s sad to have to say that about a party that has had great positive influence on this nation.
Jon Husted is one such individual that I have identified and that I support, and pointing out why I do so will hopefully cause the national republican hierarchy to take note and make the necessary changes to once again become relevant and part of the solution.
Therefore, based on his qualifications and his obvious differences with many of the other Republican Secretaries of State and officials around the country, I join “The Beacon”, “The Columbus Dispatch” ,”The Toledo Blade”, “The Canton Repository” and other major Ohio newspapers in endorsing Jon Husted for another term as Ohio Secretary of State.