Ohioans will vote in two weeks whether to keep a law curbing union power on the books, and a lot of people wish the country were paying more attention to the election -- reporters, Tea Partiers, unions -- except maybe Mitt Romney. When we noted that pundits see every single special election as a "test" for President Obama, we didn't expect one of those pundits to offer such a succinct illustration of this phenomenon as we saw in reference to a coming vote over Ohio's law to curb collective bargaining. NBC News' First Read writes:
The best -- and most meaningful -- statewide race of 2011 wasn't in West Virginia (where Democrats narrowly won the gubernatorial contest). Or in Louisiana (where Gov. Bobby Jindal cruised to re-election). And it won’t be in Kentucky (where Democrats are poised for a blowout gubernatorial win). Or in Mississippi (where Republicans are expected to hold the governor’s mansion). Rather, the 2011 race with the biggest political implications is taking place here in the Buckeye State, where voters two weeks from today will decide the fate of Gov. John Kasich’s (R) law curbing collective-bargaining rights for public-sector workers.
Their sentiment may or may not have something to do with the lead First Reader's travel plans: "NBC’s Chuck Todd moderates 7:00 pm ET debate on Issue 2." But Todd may just get his wish thanks to Romney who is now catching flak for not taking it seriously enough to commit -- right now at least -- to one side of the referendum, which if passed, would keep in place a law passed earlier this year that ended unions' ability to bargain for health insurance.
"I am not speaking about the particular ballot issues," Romney told CNN's Peter Hamby. "Those are up to the people of Ohio." The candidate's spokesman emailed Slate's Dave Weigel, saying, "Gov. Romney believes that the citizens of states should be able to make decisions about important matters of policy that affect their states on their own."