The election of 2011 is in the books. But Senate Bill 5 no longer is. The effort to overturn it succeeded bigtime - but it was perhaps the most expensive issue campaign in Ohio history, as both sides spent nearly $40 million, with the anti-Issue 2 forces outspending the vote yes side 3 to 1.
The We Are Ohio party featured a parade of speakers including workers and Ohio AFL-CIO president Joe Rugola, but few elected officials, except for Democratic Congressmembers Marcy Kaptur and Tim Ryan, several state lawmakers, including Minority Leader Armond Budish, and Democratic former Gov. Ted Strickland.
Meanwhile, at an unusual election night news conference, Gov. John Kasich stood in a room in the Statehouse flanked by Senate President Tom Niehaus and House Speaker Bill Batchelder, and said "the people have spoken". But while Kasich congratulated the anti-Issue 2 forces, he also cautioned them that there could be trouble ahead for the communities that employ the workers who fought against the law. Issue 2 spokesman Jason Mauk now returns to his job as communications director for the Ohio Senate Republicans, and also has a prediction.
But there was another win on Election Night - for Issue 3, the amendment that would allow Ohioans to opt out of a government run health care system. Unofficial results show it won 2-1, with the largest margin of the three statewide issues. Jeff Longstreth was the campaign manager for Ohioans for Healthcare Freedom.
Progressive and liberal groups opposed Issue 3, but in contrast to their campaign against Issue 2, they spent almost no money on it. Dale Butland with the progressive-leaning think tank Innovation Ohio said he thinks the state will be forced to fix or repeal the amendment. Ohio Democratic Party chair Chris Redfern said Issue 3 is meaningless.
But two days later, Ohio Liberty Council co-founder Chris Littleton introduced his group's next project: the Ohio Workplace Freedom Amendment. Union groups are calling it the "Right to Work for Less" amendment, and the Ohio Democratic Party and the anti-Issue 2 We Are Ohio issued very similar statements, both noting that voters had rejected Senate Bill 5 less than 48 hours before. But Republican Senate President Tom Niehaus also put out a statement, which seems to agree on one point.
There was one other issue on the statewide ballot - Issue 1, which would have raised the mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 75. It was supported by Republicans and opposed by Democrats and the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, and it failed dramatically - 62 percent to 38 percent.
Bill Cohen and Jo Ingles from the Statehouse News Bureau also share their final thoughts on the election.
November 11, 2011