February 15, 2005


The anti-Obama: Ohio's Bible-quoting secretary of state tests the GOP with his ultraconservative, unpredictable stylle (Tim Jones, February 11, 2005, Chicago Tribune)

At 6-feet-5 and 255 pounds, J. Kenneth Blackwell still is the noisy head-knocker the Dallas Cowboys brought to training camp 35 years ago.

Pro football didn't work out for Blackwell -- he insisted on being a linebacker, the Cowboys wanted him at guard -- so he walked away from a three-year pro contract and opted for the often brutish equivalent: politics.

The transition has paid off handsomely for the controversial Republican who, as Ohio's secretary of state, oversaw the election in that crucial state, which gave President Bush four more years in the White House.

Blackwell, a Bible-quoting child of Cincinnati's West End poverty pit, may be less well known beyond the borders of Ohio, but he is emerging as a national spokesman for black conservatism. Like Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, Ohio's Blackwell is one of a new generation of black leaders who have risen to national prominence by virtue of powerful government offices.

But in personality and politics, Ken Blackwell is the anti-Obama, a loud and persistent advocate for tax cuts, smaller government and a greater role for religion in daily life. With the cranky fiscal conservatism of H. Ross Perot, the saber-rattling chutzpah of Newt Gingrich and the volatile verbosity of Alan Keyes, Blackwell has already been elected statewide three times in Ohio. Now he is running for governor, aiming to be only the nation's second elected African-American governor.

"There are those who believe it is not my turn, but I believe it is my time," Blackwell said recently, with the unflinching self-assurance that has defined his three decades in politics.

And he's in the party where he could be elected president one day.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 15, 2005 2:37 PM

"he insisted on being a linebacker, the Cowboys wanted him at guard -- so he walked away from a three-year pro contract"

What, this offended his principles? (Not a chance that he just got cut is it?)

Posted by: h-man at February 15, 2005 3:36 PM

I live in Wisconsin. However, if I had died in Chicago, I'd vote for him.

Posted by: AllenS at February 15, 2005 4:29 PM

As you're well aware, I'm a huge fan of J. Kenneth even tho' a resident of CA, which is redder than one would think.
The biggest obstacle he would seem to face is the heretofore spineless OH Republican Party. May they share the 72 Virginians with Osoma!

Posted by: Mike Daley at February 15, 2005 9:24 PM

I think I have posted on this before. In summary, the Ohio Republican party is unreconstructed moderate Republicanism. Its iconic figure is James Rhodes who was Governor for 16 years in the late 60s and 70s. His philosophy of government was that any problem can be solved by covering it in concrete. Our Senators George Voinovich and Mike Dewine are only barely republican. Bob Taft, the current governor, is a dope whose strongest qualification for office is his ancestry.

Taft is term limited. The race to replace him has 3 republican candidates who have held statewide office for at least the last 14 years. Jim Petro, current AG, former Auditor, Betty Montgomery, current Auditor, former AG, and Blackwell current SS former Treasurer.

Petro is the establishment candidate. He is the white guy who has paid his dues and who will not rock the boat. He will continue the heritage of Jim Rhodes. Betty is a flakey lesbian of indeterminate but high age. She scares the establishment, but not as much as Blackwell who wants to cut spending and reduce taxes.

The establishment has spent most of the last few years trying to figure out how to screw
Blackwell. I have determined that the rumors about him being appointed to a Cabinet position were floated by the Democrats who were simply trying to stir the pot. But the establishment probably thought it was a great idea and may yet figure out how to make it so.

I have made contributions to Blackwell's campaign fund and intend to support him fully in his effor to become our next Governor. It should be very interesting.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at February 17, 2005 3:15 AM