Deadline Now: Lucas County GOP Chair Jon Stainbrook

Deadline Now: Lucas County GOP Chair Jon Stainbrook

Friday, July 26, 2013

Republicans hold Ohio's governorship and overwhelmingly dominate the general assembly. But Republican presidential candidates have failed to carry Ohio four out of the last six times.

Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown was easily re-elected last November, and -- once again -- Republicans were shut out in races for county-wide offices. So what’s going on here? Is Ohio becoming a significantly blue state? And is there any hope the G-O-P will ever be competitive in Toledo or Lucas County?

Jon Stainbrook, Chair of the Lucas County Republic Party, is this week's guest.

Here are Jack Lessenberry's Final Thoughts for this edition of "Deadline Now:"

Contrary to what many people believe, Republicans can win in urban areas. At least they have plenty of times in the past.

Donna Owens was Toledo‘s mayor for six years in the nineteen eighties, for example, and other cities have had Republican mayors.

But lately, that hasn't been the case. Two months ago, I was at a conference where former Florida Governor Jeb Bush talked about this. Partly, he felt, this is because Republicans are not only failing to reach out to minorities and immigrants.

It is, Bush said, because too many Republicans are sending the message that “we want your votes, but you can't join our club.”

He said the effects of this were particularly evident among Asian-Americans. On paper, a high percentage of them should be voting Republican. They have a strong work ethic, are heavily self-reliant and tend to be strong supporters of family values. Yet seventy-three percent of them voted for President Obama last November.

Republicans did equally poorly among Hispanic Americans, other than Cubans, and they are even slipping there.

One thing is for certain.  The changing demographics of America mean Republicans have to broaden their appeal, or get used to losing. Jon Stainbrook ran for the post of Lucas County chair five years ago on a pledge to broaden the party’s base -- and indeed, the local G-O-P no longer seems so much a country club party. But this has yet to translate into electoral success.

Local Republicans might want to consider two models that have worked elsewhere for Republicans. In Michigan in the 1970s, Republican Governor William Milliken openly courted inner-city voters and actively pushed programs to help Detroit.

He lost some conservative support, but won his last election by a terrific landslide, even carrying Wayne County. The other model was in the South, where after being virtually extinct for a century, Republicans began running strong candidates in the 1960s.

Most got overwhelmingly defeated the first time they ran, and many lost again a second time. But then they started to win.

If Jon Stainbrook ever wants to take any of the country row offices back, he may need a two election strategy. As they used to say in the South, you run once to get known, and the second time to get elected. And if I’m wrong about that, well, I’ll be happy to concede defeat.