City Politics: Blue Wave, or Red Tide?

. August 28, 2018.

Pundits and wags say there’s a storm a’ brewin’. The fierce polarization of ideologies at the national level, coupled with anger and frustration aimed at the current administration in Washington, have the potential to drive a massive increase of participation at the polls. How will that potential manifest itself here in the Swamp?

The general consensus is that there will be a Blue Wave in November, as Democrats and D-leaning independents come out in droves to repudiate the Trump administration. Swing voters will swing to the left.  Even centrist Republicans, the thinking goes, might be so fed up they’ll do the unthinkable and vote D.

In T-Town, though, the wave has always crested Blue. Every current county-wide elected official is a Democrat, from the Commissioners to the Coroner, from the Auditor to the Engineer, from the Treasurer to the Recorder. A Blue Wave in Froggy Bottom could help re-elect US Senator Sherrod Brown, but what difference will it make in local races?

Into the unknown

Plenty. This year, for the first time in over a decade, Rs have a real shot at making inroads in the County races. Sandy Spang, who styles herself an Independent but is cozy with the Rs, including new GOP Chair Mark Wagoner, has a broad base of support in her campaign for County Commissioner. She has been elected at-large in the County’s largest municipality, Toledo, getting more votes than top Democrats along the way. The endorsed R in the race, also named ‘Sandy something or other’, is a footnote in the race.

The endorsed D, Gary Byers, has only previously been on the ballot in Maumee. He is generally unknown outside that much smaller town. And even there, he is known for alleged fiscal mismanagement as a judge, which cost him his re-election bid in twenty seventeen after years on the bench. In other words, most voters don’t know who he is, and those who do threw him out of office just last year.

His only real chance is that big blue “D” behind his name. He’ll need the Blue Wave to materialize to have any chance against Spang.

The race for County Treasurer has a different dynamic. Current Treasurer Lindsay Webb, appointed to the office after hizzoner, former treasurer, Wade K, got elected Toledo mayor, is well known in Toledo. She was a district councilperson, but inserted herself into every public issue with an eye toward her political future. Her opponent, Lori Brodie, is Mayor of the Village of Waterville and largely unknown outside it. The race should be Webb’s to lose.

Which she could very well do. She famously nearly lost her appointment to be Treasurer when it looked like the County couldn’t bond her due to her atrocious credit score. When a bonding agency that would take a risk on Webb was finally found, it would only bond her for one year, and at the high-risk rate of ten grand. Brodie is running on a message of sound fiscal management in contrast to the credit woes of Webb, and if she can raise the money to effectively take that message to the voters, she just might win.

We think Brodie is a long shot in any event. But Webb should hope for the Blue Wave to seal the deal.

Riding the bench

One last race worth mentioning is that between Muni Court Judge Josh Lanziger and City Attorney and former City Council President Joe McNamara for Common Pleas judge. Lanziger has a name well-known in judicial circles. The McNamara name is also well known and has been prominent in local politics for decades, as Joe’s father was once a county-wide elected official.  Both Lanziger and McNamara have been elected city-wide. McNamara is the more tenacious campaigner, but voters tend to ignore judicial races, so that might not matter as much as it did when he ran for city council.

Once again, a Blue Wave could make the difference, taking McNamara to the Common Pleas bench.

There you have it.  A Blue Wave, if it happens, will likely keep the County offices blue and sweep a D into the County courts. But what if the Blue Wave never takes shape? Lucas County could instead experience a Red Tide. Time will tell kiddos.