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Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Sit down with Sittenfeld may prove to be informative

The good thing about this year’s elections is that they are local, so we may be spared the usual onslaught of TV commercials advising us which candidates are best qualified for whatever offices they are seeking.
The main problem with political ads on TV is that, unless you record the programs you are watching, you cannot speed through the commercials.
You just have to sit there and suffer – unless it is time for a trip to the refrigerator and the “mute” clicker for your TV doesn’t work.
As I have pointed out in the past, at our house we call everything that works the TV, the garage door or anything else that has a remote control a “clicker.”
In the sophisticated world of electronics, that sort of jargon may seem odd, but as long as the lady of the house and I speak the same language, what does it matter?
But I digress.
Politics this early in an odd-numbered year is often the furthest thing from my mind. It is parked there, in my mental garage, along with other things that I don’t particularly want to think about as I am preparing to cut the grass, trim the hedges or look for something I have been unable to find, for example, the spare turn signal bulb I stashed away following a two-day project to replace the burned out bulb.
That effort was indeed a valiant endeavor on the part of four people to remove the burned out bulb and insert the new one. The four experts who eventually got the job done before the arrival of winter were me, my brother Dave, Bob Riggin and Bill Crosier.
Let me be the first to assure you that when it comes to small, seemingly insignificant tasks, four minds are certainly better than one.
The fact that it was raining while Dave and I were involved in the project but it had stopped raining before Bob, Bill and I finally resolved the matter added to the confusion, if not to the chorus of “hurrahs” when it concluded.
But I am straying from my point, which is politics. It is well-removed from turn-signal bulbs.
The subject of politics was as far from my active thinking process as was the theory of integers (a fascinating element of mathematics which I never undertook) until the other day when my phone rang.
On the other end was a person regarded as one of the original geniuses in the field of political persuasion and one who is held in awe by all those who take the subject seriously and who yearn to learn a few things at his knee if only he would spare the time to talk a little shop – as in political shop talk.
His name is Dale Butland. That name is immediately linked by anyone in the political know-how with John Glenn.
Dale was the talent behind the Glenn campaigns and the two are still close, even though the former Marine pilot, astronaut and U.S. Senator is now 94 years old.
There is another Senate campaign that Dale is getting excited about, and he wanted to talk about it.
There is a Senate campaign coming up in 2016 ostensibly between the incumbent, Rob Portman, and the man who was governor of Ohio for one term, Ted Strickland, before he was ousted by one of my own personal favorites in government, Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Rob Portman is also one of my favorite people. Dale had guessed as much before he launched into his comments about the man he favors in next year’s Democratic primary.
“I know, Jim, that politically you are slightly to the right of Attila the Hun,” Dale said, “but I just wanted to talk to you about a candidate who will beat Ted Stickland in the primary and who stands a chance against Rob Portman in November.”
After I assured Dale that I always regarded Attila the Hun as a dangerous left winger, and I had no fondness for Strickland because of the unconscionable treatment I got from him when he first ran for governor (it’s a long story), we spent some time chatting about John Glenn.
I told Dale three stories about the ex-astronaut that endeared him to me before we got around to talking about his candidate for the Senate in 2016.
(Those three stories are worth repeating, but not right now.)
His candidate is P.G. Sittenfeld, a member of Cincinnati city council, who is regarded as a bright and rising star in Democratic politics.
Dale spoke glowingly of his candidate. I agreed that everything I had read and heard about him was positive.
Dale added that Strickland doesn’t have a chance in 2016, that no one his age has ever been elected to a first term in the Senate since the popular election of senators became law in 1913.
He said he would like to bring Sittenfeld around. “We’d like to have lunch,” he said.
I agreed that would be a great idea. He could never talk me out of voting for Rob Portman, I said, but sitting down and talking would be a good idea.
I’m a good listener. And who knows? I might end up telling a lot of other people what a great guy P.G. Sittenfeld is.


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