At the risk of hate mail and comments, I personally could care less if LeBron James stays in Cleveland, goes somewhere else to play basketball or retires. If he leaves Cleveland, that shows he is the one who doesn’t care about the fans. Though he’s been labeled as a “huge economic driver for the Cleveland area” by Seth Bringman of the Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) and by a later Cleveland Plain Dealer article (link). However, John Kasich’s radio interview back on June 17 with Alan Combs (link to Plain Dealer coverage) where he did not express being hugely concerned about “King James” leaving has been the focus of media releases by the ODP and media coverage. To borrow a line from Reginald Fields, “The Ohio Democratic Party hopes that refusing to bow down to King James is like kissing away precious votes.” (link).
What did Kasich say?
“I’m not singing in any chorus for LeBron James,” Kasich said.
Colmes: “You’re not?”
Kasich: “No, I’m not. Look, he’s a great basketball player, he’s a great guy. There’s a lot of great people in Ohio.”
Before that, Colmes asked Kasich if he were governor, what he would do to help persuade James to stay in Ohio.
“Alan, we’ve lost 400,000 jobs out here and the last guy I worry about is LeBron James. You know I mean, we all hope he’ll stay in Cleveland. We think we’ve got a great guy there that can turn everything around, but we got some serious problems,” Kasich said.
From there the ODP releases began as well as the launch of a satire website – OhioansAgainstLeBron.com. An NBC sports writer wrote “John Kasich’s LeBron gaffe could cost him the governor’s race” (link)
When the ODP announced the satire website via e-mail, it was stated:
“Our parody website shines a light on Congressman Kasich’s one-man movement to get LeBron to leave Cleveland,” Ohio Democratic Party Communications Director Seth Birngman said. “The Congressman from Wall Street seems to be the only Ohioan who doesn’t mind if King James goes to New York. It seems like if it were up to Congressman Kasich, Ohio’s losses to Wall Street, as with public pensions, would continue.”
While I’m hesitant to be the only other Ohioan besides Kasich to think we have bigger issues in Ohio, I really don’t think a good number of Ohioans, especially those who don’t live in the Cleveland area are really going to care about this or believe that Kasich’s answer indicated he wants “King James” to take his crown someplace else. If they take the time to actually read what Kasich said.
I can personally think of other reasons I’d not vote for Kasich that have nothing to do with LeBron James but? It’s getting attention – as well as the previous chicken shack moment by quite a few Ohio media outlets and the Associated Press, (link).
Negative campaigning works, we can rail against it all we like and state that we want candidates to focus on the issues and substance, however most voters don’t take the time to really look into plans or ideas. Negative campaigning, especially where it plays with the truth, makes me cringe. No matter which party is doing it. We’ve already seen some doozies so far this campaign season, the anti-Lee Fisher ad that made it look like he was masturbating was a real low point in Ohio politics but I’m not going to play the justification game of “look how bad those Republicans are” — I know why it’s being done and at least thus far the ODP has not gone into the land of the completely tasteless like the Republican ad against Fisher was.
The LeBron scenario helps to market the message that Kasich is not one of “us” that he’s an outside Wall Street guy who doesn’t care about the average Ohioan. The message of the “outsider” also works, it’s one other campaigns on both sides of the aisle are trotting out against their opponents. I’m surprised Dave Yost’s fundraising missive trying to take issue with David Pepper receiving a past donation from Rosie O’Donnell and to protect Ohioans from “Hollywood values” didn’t make any waves. Clearly there are more LeBron fans than Rosie fans out there.
As much as I hate the low road until voters show that the low road is not the way to victory, negativity will be with us for some time. This is an important election because of the Apportionment Board, as Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics said as quoted in the Blade yesterday, (link):
“The sad fact of human nature is that positive advertising does not move numbers,” he said. “Negative ads can move numbers. …Why waste the money when you already know you’re in a cutthroat, down-to-the-wire race?”
While I don’t plan to embrace the dark side and revel in the negativity, we’ll continue to focus when possible on the actual plans and ideas, there will be times I’m sure I’ll take issue with other statements and ads from both sides. At the moment though, the ODP appears to be in control of the ball, they are dribbling down the court with their eyes on more than a few slam dunks before this is over in November…