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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Another shot for the Gilligans

Talking to Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and her father, former Ohio governor John J. Gilligan, Wednesday afternoon, after her speech at an Obama rally in Evanston, it was hard not to think back to the last time a Gilligan was being mentioned as a possible presidential or vice presidential candidate - the way Sebelius is being mentioned now, as a possible running mate for Barack Obama.

It was the fall of 1974. Richard Nixon had just resigned the presidency in disgrace. The Republican party nationally was in shambles. Democrats were poised to sweep statehouses and congressional districts all over the country, and were salivating over the propsect of the 1976 presidential election, hoping some of that Watergate malaise would carry over (President Gerald Ford's pardon of Nixon in September helped fuel that hope) and they would reclaim the White House.

There were a host of Democrats whose names were being being mentioned as possible presidential contenders, including Gilligan, the former congressman and councilman from Cincinnati who had been elected Ohio governor in 1970.

Gilligan's term as governor had not always been a joy ride. But he clearly had some political skills. He took on the cause of instituting Ohio's first income tax and somehow convinced a nervous legislature to approve it. Then, in 1972, anti-tax groups got a referendum on the ballot to repeal the income tax. Gilligan stumped around the state and somehow managed to convince Ohio voters to reject the repeal.

He had to close the state park system for a time in a budget crunch, turning pretty much every fisherman and camper in the state against him.

His natural wit, too, could get him in trouble sometimes. On one visit to the Ohio State Fair, he walked through the sheep barn, with some reporters, talking to the 4-H kids and having his picture taken. When asked if he wanted to help shear a sheep, Gilligan let loose a wisecrack that gave Republicans something to pound into his head for the rest of his days in office. "I don't shear sheep,'' the governor said. "I shear taxpayers."

Still, there was widespread agreement that, in 1974, he was the favorite for re-election, especially in the post-Watergate atmosphere and because of the fact that his opponent was his predecessor in the governor's office, James Rhodes, who was blamed by many for spending the state into a situation where it needed an income tax.

On election night, Gilligan's campaign staged a victory party at the old Neil House hotel, just across the from the statehouse. Rhodes had his party in another ballrooom in the same hotel.

Early in the evening, Gilligan supporters wheeled a giant cake into the ballroom - a cake in the shape of the White House.

The vote count went on all night, with the lead shifting constantly. Finally, about dawn, the final result was in: Rhodes had won by 11,488 votes - less than one vote per precinct.

That ended the talk of Gilligan on the national ticket. The governor went on to serve for a while in the Carter administration and taught for years at Notre Dame before returning to Cincinnati in the early 1990s. And, of course, he served on the Cincinnati school board before retiring this year.

It's hard to say what might have happened had he won that 1974 re-election campaign. Winning the presidential nomination in a crowded field might have been difficult, but the second spot on the ticket was certainly a possibility.

Now, at age 85, he is watching the same kind of speculation swirl around his eldest daughter, the two-term governor of Kansas, where she moved after her marriage ot a Kansan 33 years ago.

We don't know what kind of advice he might offer. Maybe it boils down to this: If you find yourself in a sheep barn, keep your mouth shut.


at 4:22 PM, February 21, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

What? No photos of Jack since the invention of color processing?

at 8:42 PM, February 21, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe if he had and his hangers on concentrated on being Governor in 1974 he might have won re-election.

at 10:31 PM, February 21, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Except for Gilligan, 1974 was a washout year for the Repug-Nazis and it would be great for Kathleen to avenge her father's loss by getting elected Vice-President during the upcoming 50-state blue wave that is going to permanently eliminate the criminal enterprise formerly known as the Republican Party.

at 9:31 AM, February 22, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @ 10:31 PM said.....Except for Gilligan, 1974 was a washout year for the Repug-Nazis and it would be great for Kathleen to avenge her father's loss by getting elected Vice-President during the upcoming 50-state blue wave that is going to permanently eliminate the criminal enterprise formerly known as the Republican Party.


You really have in for the Republicans, don't you? Yes, the Republicans bothched things up over the past few years regarding spending, but, after four years of Obama or Hillary the country will embrace any Republican candidate in 2012. In fact, if you recall the Clinton victory of the elder Bush in 1992 turned out to be a blessing for the Republican party. Clinton had to deal with a Republican house and senate for six years and his socialist agenda was brought to a grinding halt.

Bill Clinton even signed on to a welfare reform bill sponsored by Republicans.

I've a feeling that Obama or Hillary will somehow find a way to rescind the welfare reform act and get as many people back on the dole as they can.

2010 will prove to be an interesting year when the Republicans march back into control of the Senate and House and put a stop to the socialist ideas of either Obama or Hillary.

So, enjoy your first two years, because after that it is back to common sense.

Even you, anon @10:31 will be better off under the new Republican control after 2010.

at 12:35 PM, February 22, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Repugs are so unpopular and so washed out now, they will easily lose another 20-30 seats in the House and 6-8 in the Senate. That's a pretty big hold to climb out of. Also, the Repugnicants have spent over a trillion on the illegal war, so the big-spending argument is out the window.

Plus, we'll still be digging ourselves out of the housing mess from when the Repugs decided to stop regulating mortgage brokers and let the banks rip off millions of Americans.

Then we won't forget how the Repugs effectively shut down any inspection of goods from overseas, allowing the Chinese to posion American kids and pets.

Then we have the Repug members of Congress who made themselves rich and/or used children for their sexual gratification.

Also, when the new administration starts enforcing antitrust and laws against price-fixing, oil and gas prices will magically drop down to where they were the last time the Democrats ran things.

Your tax cuts for the wealthiest one percent expire in 2010, so, yeah, I do think that 99% of us will be better off.

The Repugnicant Party is about finished ruining America. If I were you or any other person who has been associated with a Repugnicant politican in any way, shape, manner, or form, I'd get myself a good lawyer now.

I don't think you or any of the other right-wing, Jesus-freak, relative-shagging defenders of the Gang Of Pedophiles realize just how angry the American people are with you and your ilk.

at 9:04 PM, February 23, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want either Senator Obama or Senator Clinton to tell us how and when they plan to ask for their Attorney General or a special prosecutor invgestigate the Repugnicant party as a a corrupt organization. If so, do they believe a RICO prosecution is justified, given the illegal war and the ever-growing number of its officials at all levels coast to coast who have been convicted of various fraud and corruption crimes and sex offenses against children.

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