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Setting The Record Straight On The Judicial Name Game

Much has been made about the races for Ohio Supreme Court this past election, with a lot of focus paid to Name ID over substance.  This past weekend, Ohio newspaper editorialists jumped into the fray.

From the Columbus Dispatch’s Joe Hallett:

Cupp and McGee Brown received “highly recommended” ratings from the Ohio State Bar Association. They are members of arguably the best Supreme Court Ohio has had in the past 30 years.

That didn’t matter. On Nov. 6, Ohio voters replaced them with two candidates blessed with Irish names. McGee Brown was defeated by Sharon Kennedy, a Republican domestic-relations judge who was rated “not recommended” by the state bar. Cupp was beaten by Democrat William O’Neill, a former state appellate judge who had been working as an emergency-room nurse.

And the Plain Dealer’s Brent Larkin:

Republican Justice Robert Cupp was beaten by a Democrat with a far better ballot name: former appellate Judge William O’Neill. And Justice Yvette McGee Brown, a Democrat, failed to keep her seat as the high court’s first black woman, losing to Butler County Common Pleas Judge Sharon Kennedy, a Republican.

But while I can agree in the substance of their argument, anyone who lumps O’Neill and Kennedy together is either lazy, or lacking the judicial integrity to actually do some research.  Yes, they both certainly benefited from great ballot names, but it seems everyone in the media is content overlooking one key component of judicial electoral victories:

The actual campaign.

Justice-elect O’Neill did next to nothing to advance his campaign, refused any and all monetary support from anyone—save having his name placed on Democrat slate cards—and has a history of running afoul of the Disciplinary Counsel of the Ohio Supreme Court.

How does someone like that get elected?  Name ID and nothing more.

As for Justice-elect Kennedy, all she did was raise more money than any candidate for the Ohio Supreme Court, other than her opponent.  All she did was traverse the entire state, making appearances at every event in which she could take part.  All she did was work her tail off, visiting every county in Ohio, and many of them more than just once.

All she did was everything a successful candidate is asked to do—and she won.

Did Name ID play a role?  Almost certainly.  But the Ohio Democratic Party’s carpet-bagging chairman and Ohio’s media would have us believe that Kennedy’s opponent was a poor victim in the race—that her name was no match for her opponent’s.

But we’re not talking about Justice Yvette McGee Dollypoposkallius.  This is Justice Yvette McGee BROWN.  Another statewide Democrat candidate seemed to do alright with that name on Election Day…

Not to mention the two Ohio Governors, two Attorneys General, four Secretaries of State and four Lieutenant Governors who all were elected in this state bearing the same last name.

Justice Yvette McGee Brown cannot be a victim of the name game when she has a popular ballot name herself.  Despite what Redfern and others would have us believe, Justice-elect Kennedy beat her with solid fundraising and a great grassroots campaign effort.

That’s how campaigns are won.

Democrats can whine and moan or try to fumble for excuses, but at the end of the day, they got outworked in the Brown-Kennedy race.  And they were the only party that took an election based exclusively on the judicial name game.

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Third Base Politics is an Ohio-centric conservative blog that has been featured at Hot Air, National Review, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and others.


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