The Game-Changing Endorsement!

Today’s Cleveland Plain Dealer included an eye-opening op-ed: an endorsement of Mitt Romney by a former Democratic congressman (and city council president) from the Cleveland area, one James Stanton. The content of the piece was pure boilerplate from the Romney campaign; the only thing that made it the least bit individual was Stanton’s reference to his Catholicism before he trotted out the usual “war on religion” stuff about the contraception coverage mandate.

This being Ohio, and thus the Center of the Political Universe right now, I was curious about Stanton’s post-congressional career, and discovered that he left Congress after losing a Senate primary in 1976, and immediately began practicing law in Washington, where he has apparently remained ever since (he currently lives in the tony DC suburb of Potomac, Maryland).

Now it’s possible Stanton left so heavy a legacy in Ohio that school-children still sing folks songs about him, or he at least has an overpass or two named after him. Maybe he’s from a family still prominent in the area. More likely, it reflects the peculiar Republican genius at trolling for apostates and exaggerating their importance (see Davis, Artur). Down south you could never get through an election year without being confronted with the latest cumulative count of party-switching dogcatchers.

Or maybe Ohio’s so close it’s assumed that warm feelings for a guy who left office–and town–36 years ago still generate enough heat to turn a few votes. I know that on Election Night I will be looking closely for signs of the Stanton Factor when the votes roll in from Cuyahoga County.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.