Ohio House 71st: Citizen Candidate Holliday (D) Opposes Career Politician Hottinger (R)
Over the weekend I had a long talk with Tom Holliday (D-Pataskala), running against term-limited State Sen. Jay Hottinger (D-Newark) for the seat of term-limited Rep. David Evans (R-Newark) in the 71st Ohio House District. I had met Tom briefly at the State Democratic Convention and told him then that I wanted to have a longer conversation about his background and his interesting race against a veteran legislator.
When I asked what prompted him to run in this particular race, Holliday said it was the dismal state of Ohio's economy and issues such as the unconstitutional school funding system and the minimum wage -- issues that affect working people every day. "I've thought about running for public office all my life," he said, but he didn't feel compelled to act until it became clear that the current leadership was doing nothing to solve important issues and was not serving the public interest. For a long time he would say "somebody should be doing something about this," but then he thought about it and decided that the "somebody" was him.
Holliday's desire to serve the public arises from the way he was brought up. His grandfather was a coal miner in Pennsylvania, paid in scrip for the company store in the 1920's and 1930's. He embraced the United Mine Workers and became a union leader, and later served in the U.S. Army in World War II. Holliday's parents are both civil servants, his father at a Veterans Administration clinic and and his mother in a Department of Defense supply center. His aunt worked at the State Department. "Being civic minded and wanting to give back to the community" was a daily part of his life, and this is why Holliday wants a return to "ethical leadership" that "works for people, not special interests."
Having never held office, Holliday sees himself as a "citizen candidate" running against a career politician. His opponent, barred from continuing in the Ohio Senate due to term limits, seeks to simply step down to the Ohio House. "This is not what term limits were meant to do," Holliday said. "Moving up the ladder is okay," he continued, but the "ploy of my opponent is so transparent, just wanting to stay in power." He doubts that his opponent has "ever held a job in his life" outside of his political posts, except perhaps working for his father at Jay Electrical Contractors. "Working for a family business is not like putting on a paper hat and working in a food place," Holliday remarked. In contrast, Holliday has worked for a living in retail, in restaurants, in human services, and currently as a project manager for a marketing services company. He also operates a small business. Having "felt the pain of having to pay the mortgage, the electric bill, and medical bills," he asks the question, "Who has a better background to understand the real issues?" Holliday's college degree from The Ohio State University is in psychology and he has long sought to help others through volunteer work, including helping at a suicide hotline and working with homeless people, not for his resume but because he really cares.
Holliday's small business is Global Enterprise Solutions LLC, a "budding enterprise" that assists U.S. companies wanting to globalize. When I asked if this included outsourcing jobs he said it did not. "Bad globalization" is running sweatshops and losing jobs at home, he said. "Good globalization," which he seeks to promote, increases jobs at home as a result of growth and revenue from spreading out. For example, a U.S. company could expand into a foreign market by partnering with foreign vendors or using a travelling sales staff, thus increasing domestic manufacturing without moving jobs overseas.
When I asked which current or historical public official most inspired him, Holliday chose Franklin D. Roosevelt. In particular, he cited FDR's Great Depression-era speech in which he said "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Holliday explained that he sees leaders in both Washington and Columbus as "using fear tactics to stay in power and to legislate." He said that he is "1,000% against using fear to lead." What FDR was talking about is that we must get past our focus on fear and have courage. In our day it means bringing positive change and hope back to the State of Ohio.
For this race Holliday and veteran campaign director Garry Goldsmith have "dusted off the old campaign playbook." In addition to door-to-door canvassing, phone calls, lit dropping, parades, and festivals, Holliday's efforts include "old school stuff" like big wooden signs on top of his car with recorded messages playing on a PA system, radio ads, and letters to the editors of local papers. When meeting voters Holliday encounters a fair number who reflexively ask him about his position on divisive social issues like abortion and gay unions, which strikes him as "sad" because "other things are more important." Some voters seem oblivious to the upcoming election, but many others are very aware of state government and what's going on.
So far Hottinger has not aired radio or TV ads, and Holliday is waiting to see if that will happen. There are attack ads running against his friends and fellow Licking County Democratic candidates Dan Dodd (D-Hebron) in the 91st Ohio House District and Dennis Lupher (D-Pickerington) in the 31st Ohio Senate District. Holliday commented that perhaps Hottinger "doesn't have his eye on the ball," rather like Ohio State "looking ahead to the Michigan game" instead of focusing on the game at hand. The "Michigan game" in this instance would be a possible run for Congress some time down the road. Hottinger was mentioned as a possible replacement candidate for Rep. Bob Ney (R-Heath), but he demurred when Ney dropped out late (just 90 days before the election).
Holliday has a fundraiser tonight (Wednesday) at the United Steelworkers Hall in Heath, Ohio from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. He invites Licking County Democrats to join him and other candidates at an Election Night Celebration at the American Legion Hall in Newark, Ohio, starting at about 5:30 ot 6:00 pm. on November 7th.