Tin Soldiers and Cheney's Coming

by Alec MacGillis | November 3, 2011

Well, John Kasich and others trying to preserve the new Ohio law undermining the collective bargaining rights of public employees may not be able to count on Mitt Romney's backing. But it turns out they will have plenty of money to blanket the state with ads in the final days before the high-stakes Nov. 8 referendum on the law. Greg Sargent did some good checking of the traps to ascertain that there will be a wave of ads running against repealing the new law, paid for by several different third-party groups representing both in-state business interests and murkier out of state players (including a little outfit called Citizens United that may ring a bell). Put together, the anti-repeal groups have booked $2.2 million worth of airtime in the final days, $400,000 more than the pro-repeal coalition of unions and progressive groups, We Are Ohio.

There had been some question of whether conservative groups would be opening the vault for a final push, given that recent polls showed the repeal side well in the lead -- enough in the lead, apparently, to lead Romney to conclude it would be unwise to endorse the anti-repeal forces in the very instant that he was showing up for a photo-op at one of their phone banks. But the union side was warning all along that the polls were of limited reliability, and apparently the other side agrees.

"It is what we were expecting," Mike Gillis of the Ohio AFL-CIO told me just now, referring to the wave of anti-repeal cash. "As it got later and later we were wondering if we were right, and now it looks like we were." He said that We Are Ohio still hoped to win the referendum with its advantage on the ground -- it has 4,000 people ready to start a four-day get out the vote push on Saturday.

So far, the ads being run by the anti-repeal side are pretty much what one would expect, urging voters to protect taxpayers against the greed of self-interested and grasping public employees looking to cut a deal unlike anything other workers these days can hope for. Politifact, the fact-checking group, recently slapped Kasich for one of his main arguments in favor of the law, that repealing it would allow "out of state" arbitrators to come into Ohio to set favorable terms for unions. Then there's Mary Cheney's group, the Alliance for America's Future, which is behind at least one of the anti-repeal mailings flooding the state, one targeting teacher's unions. You can see it and another anti-repeal mailing trying to capitalize on Barack Obama's unpopularity among a broad swath of Ohioans here. It's shaping up to be a wild weekend in Ohio after all.

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