Cuyahoga County Commish Peter Lawson Jones Exploring U.S. Senate Run
WKYC's Tom Beres is reporting tonight that Cuyahoga County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones is considering throwing his hat into the ring for U.S. Senate (h/t to jmz at wlst). Jones, who easily won re-election to the three-person Commission by defeating Bay Village Mayor Debbie Sutherland this fall, would not be making his first statewide run, however. Voters with long memories might recall him as the running mate to former State Senator Rob Burch in the 1994 Gubernatorial race. Burch/Jones only pulled 29.5% of the vote that year as George Voinovich and Nancy Hollister were easily re-elected.
Beres reports that Jones will make a decision by early summer.
There will be much discussion in the coming weeks about the possibility of a contested primary in 2010. I say, good. I have long argued that the very BEST way to strengthen voter contact, prepare your staff, test your message(s), and improve voter ID is through a contested primary—a primary where a strong, focused candidate emerges smelling like an unstoppable force.
The argument for "we need to avoid a costly primary" is complete nonsense. Ask Barack Obama how badly that primary race with Hillary hurt. Didn't hear John McCain's name for months, did you?
I know much was made about how things went down in the Senate race in 2006, and we probably all had varying degrees of anxiety over the whole thing, but I'm not sure Brown wouldn't have been even stronger had he been forced to take his Democratic primary opponent down on election day. It's not like he wouldn't have raised more money. Donors love a winner too.
So, what does Peter Lawson Jones do to the big picture? Way too soon to tell, but it does force a few folks in Washington and Columbus to sharpen the pencil and rework the math. You can argue all day long about whether or not Jones could win against Brunner, Ryan, Space, Fisher, etc., but the key thing to watch is how does his entry effect not only a head-to-head with any of the above, but more importantly, a three-way primary. Remember, Obama had to do it in Illinois in a seven-way primary that was close until he surged at the end. And Jones tells Beres "Barack Obama showed how this can be done in Illinois and I understand the formula."
Want to place the early bet? If any combination of two (Fisher, Brunner, Ryan, Space, Kaptur, etc) are in this race on Memorial Day, Peter Lawson Jones is in by the Fourth of July as the third (or fourth, or fifth) candidate.