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Enter, Mr. Blackwell: Was He Bush's Trump Card In Ohio?
As all America now knows, Ken Blackwell is the secretary of state of Ohio. He controls every aspect of the voting process, from his office.
It was Blackwell who supposedly told Andy Card that there were not enough provisional ballots on tap to make up the difference between Kerry's count and a possible victory for Kerry. In other words, no need to actually tally those provisional ballots.
We've heard stories that, in Ohio, certain precincts didn't have enough voting machines ready to handle what everyone knew would be an avalanche of voters---some of whom ended up waiting nine hours to cast their ballots---some of whom wandered off into the night, too frustrated to stand and stand and stand. It is ultimately Blackwell that presides over the disposition of those machines.
We know that Blackwell told CNN last night that, if a count of provisional ballots was necessary under his watch, he would assure it would be done in a very orderly fashion: 10 DAYS to prepare the ballots and check them out, and then the ACTUAL count would follow. CNN anchors almost fell into a funk when they realized that it could take a month or more to complete the job. Imagine how such a prospect could have backed Kerry into a corner. Rolling the dice on overtaking Bush during this post-election tally, the media of the nation on his neck for an "unconscionable delaying tactic"---"Kerry is ruining America and making it a laughingstock"---the Republican hounds after him every minute of every day---"the Democrats are creating their greatest moment of shame"---I have to wonder why Kerry finally conceded the election. Was it because he really thought there weren't enough provisional ballots to make a difference? Or was it because he knew he would be relentlessly accused of distracting and weakening "a nation at war against terrorism?" And who, besides Ken Blackwell, has the true number of provisional ballots in his pocket?
What we don't know is: who is Ken Blackwell? Does he have a built-in political bias? Did he favor one of the candidates? If so, how fervent is his passion?
Here is an excerpt from an Ohio government website devoted to the work and credentials of Blackwell. You be the judge. And oh yes, Blackwell is a Republican. Actually, he's been the co-chair of the committee to re-elect George Bush in Ohio.
Chief Elections Officer
As Ohio's chief election officer, Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell oversees the elections process and appoints the members of boards of elections in each of Ohio's 88 counties.
He supervises the administration of election laws; approves ballot language; reviews statewide initiative and referendum petitions, chairs the Ohio Ballot Board, which approves ballot language for statewide issues; canvasses votes for all elective state offices and issues; investigates election frauds and irregularities; trains election officials and reimburses counties for poll worker training costs.
The Elections Division compiles and maintains election statistics, political party records and other election-related records. Statewide candidates' campaign finance reports are filed with the office, together with the reports for state political action committees (PACs), state political parties and legislative caucus campaign committees…
Mr. Blackwell is a member of the national advisory boards of Youth for Christ…and was formerly a domestic policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C… Mr. Blackwell has held the nation's highest security clearance…He is a contributing commentator for Salem Communications, delivering commentaries on Salem's more than 90 [Christian] radio stations nationwide…In 2004, Mr. Blackwell received the John M. Ashbrook Award given jointly by the American Conservative Union and the Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs. Past recipients of this award include President Ronald Reagan, Ambassador Jean Kirkpatrick and Charlton Heston.
End of excerpt
The Heritage Foundation is a very famous and influential politically-right think tank (and that is only the beginning of its story). Is there anyone in the American Conservative Union who voted for Kerry? Is the Pope Protestant? As for Salem Communications, here is a snip from its website:
Salem Communications Corporation is the leading provider of radio programming, online resources and magazines targeted to the Christian and family themes audience. For over 25 years our core business has been the ownership and operation of radio stations in major U.S. markets. We have also developed a radio network, which offers talk, news and music content options to stations through affiliate partnerships. We own and operate magazine publishing and Internet businesses, both of which share our commitment to our target audience. We continue to look for opportunities to strengthen our leadership position in the distribution and development of Christian and family themes content across multiple media.
End of snip
Now, here is an excerpt from an interview with Ken Blackwell done by PBS host Tavis Smiley (Feb. 5, 2004):
Tavis: …Let me ask you before my time runs out here. As I mention again, you are the Secretary of State, but there's a big rumor that you're gonna run for Governor in Ohio and that, if elected, you would be only the second African-American elected Governor in this country since Reconstruction. The first Republican--Doug Wilder, of course, being a Democrat in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Are you really gonna run? And how serious are you about this?
Blackwell: I'm very serious. I've had the good fortune of being the mayor of my hometown. I've been the Treasurer of this fine state here in Ohio. I've been a U.S. Ambassador and an Undersecretary of the U.S. Department of HUD. I think I'm ready to put on the hat of Governor and to lead this state to growth and prosperity and opportunity…
Tavis: Let me ask you whether or not you think the Buckeyes, the folk in Ohio, are ready for Kenneth Blackwell, a black Republican, as the top executive of the state.
Blackwell: I think so. The fact of the matter is that folks elected me Treasurer of this state. I was the top fiduciary in the state. That's a statewide election, and now I, in fact, oversee all elections in the state, so when people of this state trust me with their votes and trust me with their money, I think they're ready to trust me to be their Governor.
Tavis: How much campaigning are you gonna do for George W. Bush between now and November?
Blackwell: Well, we're gonna do a lot of work in Ohio. Let me just tell you--Ohio is the battleground state. There hasn't been a Republican president elected or reelected without carrying Ohio, and George Bush, when you factor out Ralph Nader, only won Ohio by one percentage point. This is a battleground state. It's gonna go right down to the last day…
End of PBS excerpt.
I’m not making the point that Blackwell is bad because he’s a Republican. I’m illustrating that this is a very ambitious man who’s positioned as a Republican FOR BUSH and for what Bush believes, right down to his shoes. A man who campaigned resolutely for Bush and THEN oversaw the state election which handed Bush a second term. A man who is a player in the Republican party, who knows the score, who can give favors and then ask for favors back, as he pushes his own career upward.
Is this a conflict of interest that could have led Blackwell to improperly set the conditions for a Bush triumph? Is the Pope Catholic?
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