Polls are showing that there aren't many people who remain undecided this election year, but that's not stopping the heads of Ohio's two main political parties from making their cases on Issue 2. Ohio Public Radio's Karen Kasler sat down with both of them to talk about that and more.
There are a lot of ideas and items tied up in Issue 2 - but Democratic Party Chair Chris Redfern and Republican Party Chair Kevin DeWine
actually agree on one thing about it.
Redfern: "This is not a Democratic or Republican Issue. It's about right and about wrong, in my opinion."
DeWine: "I don't think it's necessarily a Democrat or Republican issue either. I think it's an issue for taxpayers."
But that is one claim that is refuted in recent polls, which show a definitive party line split on Issue 2. And the party chairmen have very different messages about Issue 2. DeWine says it's about controlling costs, but Redfern says it's a power grab.
Redfern: "We're going to strip away that entire process to achieve a political goal of trying to dismantle the Democratic Party and the right of labor to contribute to Democrats. This is what fundamentally this issue is about."
Kasler: "And is it about that fundamentally? Stripping away the Democratic Party's power?"
Redfern: "No, I'm happy to see that happen if that's what Chris thinks. I'm happy to let it take place. I won't stand in the way of it. But it's about giving local governments and schools tools to manage their workforce."
Redfern says he's confident Issue 2 will be defeated by a wide margin, and he says moderate Republicans in the legislature will risk their re-elections next year if they come back and just pass the collective bargaining reform bill again. DeWine says that might be true if the result is lopsided, but if the vote is close, then he says lawmakers may consider revisiting at least parts of collective bargaining reform. Next year voters may also decide on a Republican-drawn Congressional district map that Democrats are working to put on the ballot. And both Redfern and DeWine says the way the map was drawn and the mechanism to put it on hold till voters decide are part of the process.
DeWine: "You have a robust, two party system where we have disagreements and agreements from time to time debated."
Kasler: "But is this map an example of the robust, two party system?"
Redfern: "Absolutely not."
DeWine: "Look, it's a product of the rules of the game that are in place today."
DeWine says he thinks the Democrats' opposition to the map - and to the election reform law that they're also taking to the ballot - is pure politics, with an eye on next year's election.
DeWine: "You might have a problem with the merits of it, or do you look at it and say, well, they just want to keep in place the same sort of rules and laws that they were able to utilize for the successful election of the president in Ohio in 2008. You look at it from the standpoint of the map - is this really a concern about the map, or is it because, as my friend Chris said last week, that it's much more difficult to elect a president when you don't have a competitive race south of I-70?"
But Chris Redfern says he's not deterred.
Redfern: "The ad hominem attacks, the attacks on the party, on me, why are we standing in the way? I don't care. We will collect the 231,000 signatures as set by the constitution, and we will place these districts on the November 2012 ballot. And John Boehner and the Republicans will have to risk Congressional chaos or they can sit down and draw fair districts."
Democrats were hoping the Ohio Supreme Court would allow them an extra month to gather those signatures by setting the deadline based on the court's ruling allowing the map to go to the ballot. But the high court says the deadline is based on the enactment of the map law - so the signatures must be turned in the day before Christmas Eve.