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Welcome to Road Blocks, Motorcades and Super Delegates

By Joe Wessels · February 20th, 2008 · Wessels

If so goes Ohio so goes the nation, then here we go again. It's almost like we can't shake our political prowess or the trust, much like Iowa and New Hampshire, the country places in us. The pundits tell us that apparently we have the collective power to dictate new presidents here in the Buckeye State and, some say, even more so in Hamilton County. That's because we're one of the few urban counties in the country to consistently vote Republican.

But that's shifting, as even some Republicans will admit. The change was evident in the election of David Pepper to the county commission in 2006, swinging the commission majority to the Democrats and breaking a 44-year hold by Republicans.

For the average Joe Voter, this has little to do with anything. But at least Joe Voter votes. All of us are barraged of television ads, glossy mailers that don't say much and constant appearances and re-appearances by presidential candidates as well as their spouses, children and soon, I wouldn't be surprised, uncles, aunts, moms, dads and pets.

This time it's the Democrats' fault. The Republicans, thankfully, have already picked a candidate and therefore won't subject us to many Secret Service road blocks and road and highway closures that allow easy access for motorcades of black Chevrolet Suburbans, white passenger vans filled with bored reporters, ambulances and possibly hazardous materials units from the Cincinnati Fire Department.

Thanks to the GOP, there will be fewer random metal detectors as you enter the same ice cream parlor a candidate decided to "campaign" in -- at least until later in the year.

Thank you, God. Thank you, Republican primary and caucus-goers who already cast their support, for actually having a clear candidate collectively in mind -- even if buyer's remorse has set in.

The Democrats can't make up their minds. They like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama about as much as Republicans swear on their mother's grave they won't vote for Republican-in-Name-Only John McCain. Can't wait to see Ann Coulter stumping for Democrats, by the way.

Because of this apparent deadlock, Ohio -- whose primary is March 4, along with Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont -- has become another "battleground state." It's the battle before The Battle, which will be like a war. Expect it to start soon after the Democrats end their Denver convention Aug. 28 and the Republicans wrap up in Minneapolis-St. Paul on Sept. 4.

If you love politics, living in Ohio is like a dream come true. Personally, I think it's a lot of fun getting to see and hear all the candidates up close and personal.

But the fatigue of being so damn important is starting to wear down even the most die-hard politico. The city of Cincinnati even set aside thousands of dollars in its 2008 budget just to cover the police and fire overtime needed to protect candidates and to close roads when they slip into town for some Skyline Chili and a photo opp.

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory is this area's super delegate, becoming one of around 795 such Democratic delegates nationally through his serving on the Democratic National Committee. Though the Republican Party also has what are officially called "unpledged party leader and elected official delegate," or PLEOs, they have only 150.

With such a close race and Mallory's unwillingness to commit to either Clinton or Obama, he's become really popular. Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland is also a super delegate and supports Clinton. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear is a super delegate and remains uncommitted.

On Feb. 15, Mallory was a big draw, getting face time in the morning with Clinton when she visited the Oakley Skyline Chili and later in the evening with Michelle Obama at Music Hall. This isn't a perk, he says.

"I don't see this as perkiness," Mallory says. "It's one of the duties of the party."

He also says he resents being called "uncommitted."

"I'm not an uncommitted delegate," he says. "I'm absolutely committed that Democrats take over the White House."

Mallory says he's confident the Democratic presidential nominee -- either Clinton or Obama -- will beat McCain.

That can only mean more road closures, more political rallies where candidates talk in sound bites, more motorcades down major highways during rush hour and a whole lot of responsibility for both super delegates and regular Joe Voter to really pay attention.

CONTACT JOE WESSELS: joe@joewessels.net



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