Sunday, May 11, 2008

Beating Republican Incumbents in Medina County

Including 1980, only three Democrats have beaten elected Republican incumbents in the last 28 years. Those three are Greg Happ, who defeated Roger Ingraham for County Prosecutor in 1980, Dean Holman, who defeated Jill Heck for County Prosecutor in 1988, and Ferris Brown, who defeated Charles Hawley for County Commissioner in 1992. All three of these candidates ran aggressive campaigns. All three of these candidates focused on one or two issues and hit those issues repeatedly.

In the case of Greg Happ in 1980 it was the fact that Roger Ingraham's name was reportedly on the list of people known by a Medina County bookmaker who had been murdered in an unsolved case. The murder was widely reported in the local Medina County newspapers.

In the case of Dean Holman, it was the fact that Jill Heck's office had lost more jury trials than it had won as county prosecutor and also the fact that she had taken the Fifth Amendment while testifying in front of the Ohio Elections Commission.

In the case of Ferris Brown, it was the fact that Charles (Chuck) Hawley had backed a unvoted on increase in the sales tax while Ferris Brown had led a petition drive against the tax. The petition drive was successful, the tax was defeated, and Ferris beat Hawley in the next election. (By the way, if you believe that Medina County residents should have the right to vote on increases in the sales tax, thank Ferris Brown. Since his successful petition drive, Republicans have never backed an unvoted sales tax increase again.)

The point of this essay is that defeating elected Republican incumbents in Medina County is not easy. Successful Democratic candidates who have done so have focused in on one or two issues and have hit those issues repeatedly. They have done this even though they were told by other Democrats that it was wrong to go "negative."

Well here is a tip: voters remember so-called "negative" information about four times as long as they remember so-called "positive" information. This is because humans are "hard-wired" to remember negative information longer than positive information. If you think about it, it makes sense. When human society was developing, what was more important, to know which plant smelled nice, or which plant would kill you in you ate it?

So, here is the situation: if you are a Medina County Democrat running for county office against an elected Republican incumbent, and you are told that you shouldn't go "negative" and run ads that point out legitimate differences between you and your opponent, ignore that advice. It isn't good advice and it is probably being given by a person who has never ran or won an county-wide campaign.

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