Political Animal


November 02, 2012 4:22 PM The Game-Changing Endorsement!

By Ed Kilgore

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 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.


  • Josef K on November 02, 2012 4:49 PM:

    I attended KSU for my Masters in Political Science (Public Policy emphasis) from 1995 - 1998, and never once heard this guy's name. My last semester was spent shuttling over twenty undergrads all over Washington DC for their intership programs, and again this guy's name never came up.

    Prior to that, I lived 25 years in western Wisconsin (La Crosse, specifically), from 1975 to 1995, and got my Bachelors from UW-L. AGAIN, this guy's name never came up in my undergraduate politics research. Tommy Thompson, sure, but the only "Stanton" who was ever mentioned was Lincoln's Secretary of War.

    If this guy ever had any juice, its strictly confined to a small audience. That the Plain Dealer printed him is...well, so what? Is it really going to swing 18 EV's to R/R?

  • c u n d gulag on November 02, 2012 4:53 PM:



    I hope someone beside the Mrs., and the rest of Stanton family, finds this feckin' influential - if, that is, they even notice.

    I'm awaiting the crucial Zell Miller endorsement for Mitt in GA.
    Now THAT might turn GA Republican, and make that crucial swing state put Mitt over 270 EC votes.

  • Peter C on November 02, 2012 4:54 PM:

    I grew up in Cleveland (my mom and brother still live there) and have been politically aware for about 40 years now, and I've never heard of the dude.

  • PeakVT on November 02, 2012 6:01 PM:

    It's a shame Mitt couldn't land the coveted Jim Traficant endorsement.

  • jpeckjr on November 02, 2012 6:20 PM:

    By my calculations, you would have to be at least 54 years old to have voted for Mr. Stanton, assuming 18 year olds could vote in the 1976 Senate primary in Ohio. He's 80 . . . which is younger than I thought he would be.

  • OhioRick on November 02, 2012 6:28 PM:

    I can't believe this made WaMo! I saw the letter in my PD this morning. I'd never heard of the guy so I Wiki'd him and, sure enough, he hasn't lived in Ohio for nearly four decades.

    BTW, the Cuyahoga County GOP Chairman had a letter in yesterday's PD bemoaning Obama's lack of vision vis a vis...NASA! No, I'm not kidding. (And, yes...of course I know we have a NASA installation here.)

  • exlibra on November 02, 2012 7:10 PM:

    Doubtless, between the Stanton endorsement and the ongoing electoral suppression tactics, the Cuyahoga County will fall into Romney's lap like a ripe piece of fruit:

  • Rich on November 02, 2012 11:53 PM:

    I haven't heard/seen Stanton's name in decades. I'm surprised he still alive. He's basically a relic--God knows what he's been doing with himself for the last 30+ years. He was a race-baiting city councilman and conservative Dem Congressman. He was redistricted out of existence if I recall. Kucinich lovers would be interested to know that he represented some of teh same areas of Cleveland and nearby suburbs and that Kucinich also began his career as a race-bating city councilman.

    BTW--the Cleveland area had a Republican Congressman named Stanton, too. His family owned a Ford dealship in nearby Painesville. His district was redrawn and many people (including my family) wound up in the district of long-time Dem Congressman Charles Vanik.

  • cwolf on November 03, 2012 3:15 AM:

    Some say George Wallace's 4th cousin is set to announce his Romney endorsement.

  • KH on November 03, 2012 7:29 AM:

    It's been a generation or more since Stanton was a Democrat in any meaningful sense. Since at least the 1990s (I haven't checked earlier), he's donated as much money to Republicans (over $40,000) as to Democrats. He's contributed to Spencer Bachus, Tom Tancredo, Don Young, Roy Blunt, Steve LaTourette, Ted Stevens, Lisa Murkowski, Ralph Regula, Richard Shelby, George Gekas, Joe Knollenberg, John Ensign, etc, etc. He was a Congressman for a short time long, long ago, and has been a DC lobbyist six times as long, longer than many voters have been alive, and his pattern of political support reflects his parochial interests as a lobbyist.

  • jhm on November 03, 2012 8:35 AM:

    In a slightly related story, I was informed on the local news last night that Hon. Sen. Brown, running for re-election in MA, has wheeled out Rudy Giuliani for an in person endorsement/rally tour. Granted I'm not anywhere near the man's target audience (although I get calls and mailings galore), but I can see how Rudy is anything but a minus for anyone's campaign.

    I have to wonder whether the Brown campaign asked for him, was put in the position of having to turn him down or what. My best guess is that Rudy, displaced from his NYC and/or Connecticut homes, was traveling to another home via Mass. not that I have any actual knowledge of the location of his places of residence.

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