For Immediate Release:
Subject: The Ohio 2nd State House, An Underrated Race
The Ohio Republican party called him an “antifa terrorist” on twitter. The Richland county Democratic Party denounced him and claimed no affiliation with him. And the Ohio Democratic Party has made it clear they want nothing to do with him. He’s promised that on the first day on the House floor, “I will call Nino Vitale a brainwormed snake oil salesman, I will call Larry Householder a corrupt fat cat, I will call Jay Edwards a bootlicking Householder lackey”.
He’s running a quixotic campaign but Sam Grady, a state representative candidate for the Ohio 2nd district (encompassing all of Richland county), is making surprising inroads in a district where Democrats haven’t surpassed 40% since 2012.
Grady’s biggest advantage: an open seat and a flawed opponent. Marilyn John, the Republican candidate and current county commissioner, was one of only six candidates to receive donations from the now indicted former house speaker, Larry Householder. And while she has donated the Householder money to various charities, she has continued to take large donations from groups like Political Education Patterns PAC which gave $400,000 to Generation Now, a 501(c)(4) organized by Jeff Longstreth (who pleaded guilty October 29th) “to receive undisclosed donations to benefit Householder”. That behavior doesn’t sit well with many voters.
What’s more damaging is how the Householder scandal sheds new light on a Republican primary that is already bitterly remembered by many. Householder used Generation Now to secretly fund the Growth & Opportunity PAC. The PAC sent mailers all across the district attacking Marilyn John’s Republican opponent, Nathan Martin, as a “never Trumper” and compared him to AOC and Nancy Pelosi. Martin was widely viewed as the more conservative candidate in the race. John’s connections to Householder and the sense that she won the primary over a traditional conservative like Martin through fowl play have spawned anti-John sentiments in the district.
Grady, as the only alternative in the race, has become the beneficiary of that sentiment. Sam is far from a traditional candidate having won his own primary almost on a whim with 49 more write-in votes than his opponent. He’s a young outsider with no political experience at all and few political aspirations. A relative unknown within the district in which he’s lived his entire life, he’d become notorious online as part of “Weird Twitter”, a “troll” of the “dirtbag left”, and as the originator of a Twitter “Map” that has yet to materialize.
Grady has also benefited from being politically idiosyncratic. More libertarian leaning than most Democrats or Republicans, he’s an outspoken advocate of individual liberties and skeptical of government authority. On social media he is a political bomb thrower yet his published policies are pragmatic, non-partisan, and far from ordinary. He has proposed eliminating the state senate and expanding the house to 225 members (ostensibly to reduce elite competition) and establishing something called the Department of Experimental Economic Analysis.
And while the local Democratic Party has denounced him, it does not seem to have substantially hurt him outside of the party leadership. He retains the support of local activists and Democratic voters. His shocking style of politics has earned him far more news coverage than is typical for a statehouse campaign where voter knowledge is usually low. This has allowed him to reach and excite a wider, younger, and less politically involved audience. With the support of the traditional Democratic base, disaffected Republicans, and the politically apathetic who are distrustful of another career politician, Sam has forged an eclectic constituency. But is it enough to overcome what in 2016 was a 20,000 vote deficit? That remains to be seen.
The real question is what could Sam Grady be a harbinger of in years to come? A younger, more social-media literate population is coming of age and coming into power. They are hyper-informed, deeply disillusioned with present politics, and face a future far more precarious than that of their parents. A quote Grady gave in an interview with The Michigan Daily in early 2017 might shed some light: “We already see it in the alt-right, a kind of ironic detachment from sincere belief that will replace genuine ideology. A kind of hysterical-realist ubiquitous media nightmare where all cultural iconography is reduced to complete meaninglessness. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.”
More on the Grady Campaign:
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