Against Long Odds: Citizens Who Challenge Congressional Incumbents

By James L. Merriner; Thomas P. Senter | Go to book overview

8
OHIO
CLIFF ARNEBECK (R/D) v. REPRESENTATIVES CHALMERS WYLIE (R) AND DEBORAH PRYCE (R)

Previous chapters have examined challengers who played by the rules--challengers who raised and spent large sums of money, only to learn that the rules are rigged. Clifford O. Arnebeck, an experienced and well-regarded reformer, undertook to break the prime rule of modern electioneering: He refused to solicit money and explicitly ran against the incumbency-preservation system, believing the media would applaud his effort. He was dismayed by the outcome.

Arnebeck's races for Congress were not so much election contests as nonevents. In this respect, they were typical. Take away the Ted Kennedys, Ollie Norths, and other celebrities, and Arnebeck's campaigns in central Ohio can stand as a part for the whole, the archetype for the fate of committed citizens who oppose congressional incumbents. Arnebeck ran in an ordinary congressional district, Ohio's Fifteenth, comprising most of the state capital of Columbus and the suburbs on its west and south flanks. It is an entirely average white middle-class urban/suburban district, the sort of place where advertising executives from New York and Los Angeles go to market test the launch of new consumer products. Like many inland cities of its size, Columbus boasts of having a cultural life that unfortunately is still obscured by its old cowtown image.

-79-

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