The pages to read on how Ohio became a pivotal state in national politics over the past decade are found in Ohio Politics, edited by Case Western Reserve University political scientist Alexander P. Lamis. The book is the only comprehensive study of the state's post-World War II political development.
Lamis, associate professor of political in the university's College of Arts and Sciences and a co-editor of the new book with Brian Usher, organized a team of Ohio academics and journalists to study all of the gubernatorial eras since 1944 as well as all of the state's major political institutions. Kent State University Press published the first edition in 1994 under Lamis's editorship as well as the 2007 expanded and updated edition.
"This book is the place to turn to fully understand the vital battleground state of Ohio," Lamis wrote. "To achieve this understanding requires delving deeply into all aspects of the state's political system."
"In this new edition we were able to cover the remarkable period of Republican Party rule since the early 1990s as well as its abrupt end in the Democratic Party's triumph in the historic November 2006 elections," said Lamis.
The first edition of Ohio Politics had 15 chapters that followed the state's political development until the book's publication in 1994. The newest edition was expanded by six chapters, with three chapters devoted to the two gubernatorial eras of George Voinovich and Bob Taft.
Lamis said that Joe Hallet, a veteran political reporter at the Columbus Dispatch, wrote the new edition's chapter on Taft's less-than-successful two terms in office from 1999 to 2007. Also featured in entirely new chapters are thorough analyses of post-1994 developments in the state Legislature and the Ohio judiciary. Coverage in the latter chapter focused heavily on the controversial DeRolph school-funding cases that called attention to inequitable public school spending throughout the state.
In his concluding chapter, “Ohio Politics in the Twenty-first Century," Lamis traced the path of the Republican and Democratic parties in the state since the New Deal realignment, highlighting, among other things, the recent pro-Democratic trends in Columbus/Franklin County, a longtime GOP stronghold. He noted that statewide Democratic strength in 2006 surged to 56.4 percent, its highest mark in two decades.
The work also covers the 2004 presidential election when, as Lamis wrote in the new edition's preface, “Ohio lived up to its advance billing and truly became the 'Heart of It All' … in a memorable election that few politically interested Ohioans are likely to forget."Ohio Politics co-editor Brain Usher runs his own public relations firm in Columbus and is a former statehouse correspondent for several Ohio newspapers and a former press secretary for former Governor Richard Celeste.
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