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Dear Ohio Republicans: Just Admit It, You Overplayed Your Hand and Lost


Did you hear wailing and gnashing of teeth emanating from Ohio today? Oh my, Republicans are stumbling all over themselves trying to explain how Ohio voters turned down Issue 1 by a 3-2 margin.

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser tried to gaslight Ohioans by suggesting that others are to blame for the defeat of Issue 1:

Millions of dollars and liberal dark money flooded Ohio to ensure they have a path to buy their extreme policies in a pro-life state. Tragically, some sat on the sideline while outsider liberal groups poured millions into Ohio. A broad coalition of passionate pro-life Ohioans came together to fight parental rights opponents and try to take victory from the jaws of defeat. But the silence of the establishment and business community in Ohio left a vacuum too large to overcome.

Attacks on state constitutions are now the national playbook of the extreme pro-abortion Left. That is why everyone must take this threat seriously and recognize progressives will win if their opponents are scared into submission by the pro-abortion Left.

So long as the Republicans and their supporters take the ostrich strategy and bury their heads in the sand, they will lose again and again.

As you can see, Dannenfelser blames everyone but herself. Further, she outright lies when she says “Millions of dollars and liberal dark money flooded Ohio to ensure they have a path to buy their extreme policies in a pro-life state.” True in the sense that millions of dollars of outside money supported the Vote No on Issue 1 cause. What she neglects to say is that Vote Yes on Issue 1 received even more outside money.

The Ohio Capital Journal reported:

Roughly $35 million has flowed to political groups aiming to influence Ohio’s August special election. That includes money for campaigns for or against the ballot measure raising the threshold for constitutional amendments, as well as several closely aligned organizations.

On both sides — those opposing Issue 1, those supporting it, and those technically fighting November’s reproductive rights amendment — the vast majority of funding came from out of state.

The campaigns

Issue 1’s proponents have consistently argued a higher threshold for passing state constitutional amendments will act as a deterrent.

“This is about empowering the people of Ohio to protect their constitution from out of state special interests that want to try to buy their way into our state’s founding document,” Secretary of State Frank LaRose insisted in a televised statewide debate last week. “I’m here to say the Ohio constitution is not for sale.”

Opponents have repeatedly argued back that nothing in the proposal actually limits out-of-state influence.

The yes campaign committee, Protect Our Constitution, raised a little more than $4.85 million according to its filing. Nearly all of it came from a single individual who lives out of state.

Illinois billionaire Richard Uihlein donated a total of $4 million to the committee. The right-wing megadonor owns the Uline shipping and office supply company, and his grandfather and great-grandfather ran Schlitz brewing.

The largest contributions aside from Uihlein were $100,000 each from a PAC solely funded by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, and another connected with Ohio nursing homes. Other substantial contributions came in from Washington, D.C., Georgia and Tennessee. But less than $700,000, or just 14% of the total, came from Ohio donors.

Issue 1’s opponents are fundraising through a committee called One Person One Vote. The campaign raised a total of $14.8 million, about 16% of it coming from Ohio donors.

The filing doesn’t show anyone giving quite as much as Uihlein did in terms of dollar amount or percentage of the total. Still, the campaign did attract some pretty big fish. Karla Jurvetson, a Silicon Valley psychiatrist and philanthropist, cut checks totaling about $1.1 million.

One Person One Vote also got contributions of $1 million or more from liberal groups including the Sixteen Thirty Fund, among the largest left-leaning dark money groups, the Tides Foundation, Ohio Education Association and the National Education Association.

Alongside its filing, One Person One vote put out a statement describing their pride for “the enormous bipartisan coalition that has come together to defeat Issue 1.”

The (not quite the campaign) campaigns

Although One Person One Vote outraised Protect Our Constitution more than three-to-one, the ‘yes’ campaign was never just one committee. In all, there are four “Protect” organizations including Protect Women Ohio, Protect Women Ohio Action and Protect Our Kids Ohio.

Taken together, they give the yes side of the campaign a financial advantage.

These organizations are chiefly concerned with defeating the reproductive rights amendment that will be on the ballot this November. But because Issue 1 will raise the threshold for that November vote, they’re also deeply invested in its approval.

The first televised ads in favor of Issue 1? Those were paid for by Protect Women Ohio — not Protect our Constitution. Around the state, anti-abortion activists are making explicit appeals for Issue 1 based on undermining the reproductive rights amendment. Seth Drayer, the Vice President for Created Equal, recently warned the Delaware City Republican Club about a 2022 abortion amendment that passed in Michigan with 56% of the vote.

“If we move to 60% they’re not going to win in Ohio,” he said. “If we win August, we win November. It’s really about that simple.”

And like Protect Our Constitution, these allied groups are getting the vast majority of their funding from out of state.

Protect Women Ohio Action is actually a 501(c)(4) based in Virginia. Five million of its $5.2 million bankroll comes from The Concord Fund, a Washington D.C. based 501(c)(4) known publicly as the Judicial Crisis Network that spends heavily in favor of conservative judges. The other $200,000 comes from Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. The organization’s president is Protect Women Ohio Action’s sole board member.

Among Protect Women Ohio’s contributions is a $2 million check from Protect Women Ohio Action reported the same day The Concord Fund made a $2 million donation to the latter.

Of the groups pushing for Issue 1, Protect Women Ohio has by far the biggest piggy bank. But more than $6 million of that $9.7 million total comes from Susan B. Anthony. The only other substantial donations came from the Catholic Church. The Columbus and Cleveland Dioceses gave $200,000 each and the Cincinnati Archdiocese gave $500,000. In all, Protect Women Ohio raised about 16.3% of contributions in-state. The three donations from the Catholic Church make up more than half of that.

The Ohio Capital Journal by Nick Evans

President Joe Biden had this to say about Issue 1:

Today, Ohio voters rejected an effort by Republican lawmakers and special interests to change the state’s constitutional amendment process. This measure was a blatant attempt to weaken voters’ voices and further erode the freedom of women to make their own healthcare decisions. Ohioans spoke loud and clear, and tonight democracy won.

Biden rightly understood that this was a power grab by Ohio Republicans. They don’t want voters looking over their shoulders, daring to smack their hands when they overstep and ignore the will of everyday Ohioans. That’s what happens when you have a super-majority and control every major state office. The defeat of Issue 1 was Ohio voters saying to legislators that “we the people” have the final say. Hopefully, Ohioans will take the next step and vote deaf and blind Republicans out of office. They have largely stopped listening or seeing the commoners among them, so the only thing that will get their attention is to send them packing.

Ohioans rightly understood that this August special election was all about November’s vote on legalizing abortion. In 2022, eight percent of voters turned out for an August election. Afterward, Republicans did away with August elections, only to ignore this and hold a special election. Yesterday, forty percent of registered voters voted — a five-hundred percent increase in turnout. Take that Republicans, and come November’s election, a record voter turnout will lead to the approval of the reproductive rights amendment. Further, it looks like marijuana legalization will be on the ballot too. I guarantee you, more than fifty percent of voters want cannabis legalized.

The November vote will likely be a day of woe for Ohio Republicans. Supposedly, they are the party of “freedom.” Welp, this is what FREEDOM looks like. Don’t want an abortion, don’t get one. Don’t want to smoke marijuana, don’t take a toke. It’s really that simple.

I predict that Republicans will turn to the courts to stop the November reproductive rights amendment. Hopefully, their challenges will be rebuffed and Ohioans will have the final say on abortion.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar
    George J DeVos

    “Attacks on state constitutions are now the national playbook of the extreme pro-abortion Left.” Oh that’s a precious thing to say after the anti-rights RIGHT just failed in an attack on the Ohio Constitution. A perfect example of projection. Accusing others of what you did or want to do. It would be funny if it weren’t so sinister.

  2. Avatar

    Hey, if they really want to reform election financing then I am all for that. The way money influences and buys politicians needs to be addressed. It seems obvious to me that politicians live for the purse, not for the people. Many states see politicians pass votes that most of the public do not support. They know this and vote as they do anyway, all for power and money. Or, as they like to spin it, for god.

    The issue I see in Ohio and other states is that they are heavily gerrymandered. This puts republicans firmly in control of legislative roles. This will need to be addressed to make any real difference.

    In any case, this is a good win and rebuke of Ohio electret officials. And I suspect there is more to come in nivember

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    W.W. Jacobs

    I acknowledge sitting here gleefully thinking about the meltdown that is presently happening in a basement in the Phillippines, and look forward to the inevitable blog post that somehow blames you while simultaneously whining about how stupid Ohioans are.

    I am a former resident of Colorado, just like several members of our friend’s family that he changed his name to hide from … but I’ll come back to that another day.

    Colorado has a similar process for amending its Constitution at a grassroots level. Most famously, this process came to the nation’s attention when the voters passed Amendment 2, incorporating anti-gay discrimination into its constitution until SCOTUS struck it down in 1996. (Lest certain people decry the evil influence of the Democrat in office at that time, the vote was 6-3. Of the 6, 3 were nominated to the Court by King Ron and Squire 41, and Stevens was a Ford nominee.)

    A little over 20 years later, the same state that voted for Amendment 2 elected the first openly gay governor in America.

    Now, there have been times when Coloradans would perhaps have liked some controls in place over this process, like in 2010, when someone proposed an amendment directing the city of Denver to establish a commission charged with ensuring the city’s readiness to receive extraterrestrial visitors. No, I am not making this up. But similar forces as the ones you are dealing with have tried to meddle in Colorado affairs over the years. Amendment 62 would have sought to define a fetus as a child. This followed a proposed amendment to define life as beginning at conception and attempting to effect a 24-hour waiting period for abortions. All of them passed by huge margins in El Paso County (the seat of which is Colorado Springs, home of Focus on the Family) and failed at the state level.

    In more recent years, amendments have raised the minimum wage (to $12.00 an hour in 2016), capped payday loan interest rates, legalized sports betting … and all of a sudden, you started hearing suggestions that the amendment process was being invaded by out-of-state interests and the process should be changed, similar to what was proposed in Ohio.

    Whatever assurance this may bring you, those efforts also failed. Colorado voters are willing to put up with being asked to put up a “Welcome E.T.” banner now and then in exchange for the right to legalize marijuana.

  4. Avatar

    So glad voters turned down that issue. I do phone banking, and I was supposed to join a 2 hour phone bank one evening for just that issue, simply to encourage people to vote. But I had a nasty headache and went to bed, feeling a bit guilty. OMG, what if voters stayed home? Fortunately voters didn’t need my calls that time, they went to the polls and kept the 50% in place.
    I hate calling strangers, but with the software on my computer screen, I don’t have to dial any numbers, and the other person’s name pops up on my screen.
    I also participate in postcard campaigns to encourage people to vote. I will get volunteer deputy voter registration training for this year soon.

  5. Avatar

    If ever there was clear evidence that the Supreme Court is fighting the cultural mood of the country then this is it. I’m not convinced that the anti choice lobby is really all that concerned about abortion per se, it’s more a symbol of liberal revival, a rallying cry if you like. Whatever it is, I despair when so much political attention and effort is directed at preventing something that is a basic human right. And for the RWNJs who proclaim the rights of the unborn I say…grow up!

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      They are indeed fighting the cultural mood of the country. Ultra conservative politicians are using this issue, along with other “ religious rights” and beliefs to limit women’s rights in general, destroy racial equality, roll back rights in the LGBTQ community and the list goes on. They will use anything they can find to create division , fear, and unrest which enhances their power and control. It was never about religious belief or protecting the children which has become their latest target

  6. Avatar
    Kathy Hughes

    I’m thankful this amendment failed. I voted no, because it was such a transparent power grab by the Ohio GOP. The GOP has gerrymandered itself into power and the General Assembly and Senate obviously care more about listening to their big money donors rather than the voters. We can also thank them for our lopsided state government and our gerrymandered Federal districts, which ensure that we have backbenchers like Gym Jordan grandstanding for Trump.

  7. Avatar
    Benny S

    Does anyone know if blowhard Janet Porter has posted a whining response to the defeat of Issue 1? Or her own attempt at gaslighting? I’m unable to find anything. I do see that Faith2Action has already posted a money beg.

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    Keep fucking around and finding out, anti-choice authoritarians. In each state that has so far put choice up for referendum to the people directly, and not handled through legislators or judges, guess what’s happening? Voters are saying, women demand to be treated as equals. Period, stop. Take away the rights of half the population, and there ARE CONSEQUENCES.

  9. Avatar
    Barbara L. Jackson

    Political and religious conservatives are trying to force their beliefs on everyone. Thanks to the people of Ohio they now have a lower chance of forcing their views on others.

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Bruce Gerencser