Pubdate: Sun, 08 Nov 2015
Source: Dayton Daily News (OH)
Copyright: 2015 Dayton Daily News
Author: Thomas Suddes
Note: Thomas Suddes is an adjunct assistant professor at Ohio University.


Issue 3 - the proposed Ohio marijuana monopoly - suffered a 
jaw-dropping loss Tuesday. But that doesn't mean another Issue 3-like 
ballot issue won't surface again, maybe as soon as next year.

That's despite such startling facts as the rejection of Issue 3 in 
all 88 counties, even party-hearty Athens. Likewise, the Western 
Reserve's liberal citadel, Oberlin, voted against Issue 3. For that 
matter, Issue 3 failed to carry one of the four precincts in tie-dyed 
Yellow Springs.

Still, "it took the casinos five times" over almost 20 years to win 
Ohio voters' approval, said Statehouse mega-lobbyist Neil S. Clark. 
Among Clark's many lobbying clients is the ResponsibleOhio Political 
Action Committee, the outfit backing Issue 3.

Ohio voters rejected gambling ballot issues in 1990 (a proposed 
Lorain casino); in 1996 (riverboat casinos); in 2006 ("learn 'n' 
earn" slot machines to fund college scholarships); and in 2008 (a 
proposed Wilmington casino). Then, in 2009, after Cavs' owner Dan 
Gilbert and Penn National Gaming Inc. spent $50 million on statewide 
ballyhoo, and then-Gov. Ted Strickland failed to propose a 
taxpayer-fair alternative, voters gave Gilbert and Penn National a 
four-casino Ohio monopoly.

Clark, asked how likely another statewide marijuana ballot issue is 
in Ohio, said "90 percent." And he predicted one may surface "next 
year." Meanwhile, though, both Republicans and Democrats in the 
General Assembly are talking about legalizing medical marijuana. If 
they do so, that could deflate some of the potential oomph behind a 
future Issue 3.

As for the Issue 3's tally when polls closed last week, Clark said it 
failed because turnout in Ohio's big cities was less than 
ResponsibleOhio had estimated. That may well be; indeed, Issue 3 only 
narrowly carried Cleveland - by about 52.9 percent. But Secretary of 
State Jon Husted said overall statewide turnout was greater than 
turnout for 2014's election, when Republican Gov. John R. Kasich 
walloped his Democratic challenger, thenCuyahoga County Executive Ed 

In some ways, Issue 3's Tuesday "yes" vote was bigger than, by 
rights, it should have been. From the get-go, Issue's 3 ballot 
wording or "language," which (correctly) used the word "monopoly" to 
describe the marijuana set-up that Issue 3 proposed, was a voting 
booth handicap. Then there was Issue 3's perceived ban on all 
homegrown marijuana. Consider the vote in Meigs County, along the 
Ohio River, south of Athens. Accurately or not, marijuana farming is 
said to be something of a cottage industry in Meigs. Statewide, Issue 
3 was rejected by 64 percent of Ohio's voters. In Meigs, 69 percent 
of the county's voters balked at Issue 3 - and in a several Meigs 
precincts, 77 percent did.

Meanwhile, bystanders forgot that polling on ballot issues is 
trickier than polling on candidates. And polls are leaked for a 
reason (say, to cheerlead for a campaign). Moreover, some Issue 3 
polling was simply not credible. Anyway, it's widely known that when 
Ohioans are faced with a complex ballot issue, they tend to vote 
"no." Issue 3 was plenty complex. A simple yes/no question on 
plain-vanilla marijuana legalization might have won. But something 
written in law-school pidgin? No way.

Whether or not a new marijuana issue surfaces, other ballot issues 
will. They're becoming a Full Employment Act, especially in off-year 
elections, for political consultants, "strategists" and all the other 
pilot fish swimming in Ohio politics.

That's why Ohio's "Californication" will continue - the packaging and 
advertising of big-ticket statewide ballot issues. Little wonder: 
Ballot-issues are one branch of politics where, like the plot gimmick 
in Mel Brooks's movie, "The Producers," even a flop could pay off - 
for insiders.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom