Thanks to gerrymandering, Cuyahoga County is splintered into four congressional districts, even though its population wouldn’t quite fill two. That includes two Democratic congresswomen — Marcy Kaptur (OH-09) and Marcia Fudge (Oh-11) — are in safe Democratic districts. Both will be reelected easily and should be. They’ve done good work for constituents, with Kaptur especially laudable on labor issues and protecting our lake, Fudge fighting for seniors and kids, especially on hunger issues.
Two other districts which include parts of Cuyahoga County are represented by Republicans. David Joyce represents OH-14 to our east; Jim Renacci represents Oh-16, which includes parts of southwestern Cuyahoga. Renacci is retiring and running for the U.S. Senate against Sherrod Brown. Betsy Ryder is taking on Joyce, while Democrat Susan Palmer Moran is squaring off against Republican Anthony Gonzales. We’ll write more about Rader later, but now we want to tell you why you should vote for Palmer if you live in district 16 — a crazy-quilt district that extends down to Wooster, up to Bay Village and east to Portage County. It even includes half (!) of Parma.
Right now, a culture of toxic masculinity is running rampant in the U.S., epitomized by a president accused of sexual assault and harassment by more than a dozen women, and the hearings over U.S. Supreme Court nominee nomination Brett Kavanaugh. Given that, it’s shocking that Gonzales, a former professional football player with no government or policy experience, would tout playing football in the Plain Dealer endorsement interview as relevant experience.
Nowhere is that toxic culture more showcased than in football, which valorizes violence and creates an outsized sense of privilege in its players. Cases of bad behavior on the part of football players, whose lack of conscience has been nurtured by special treatment by coaches and others, are legion. We’ve all read stories about college football stars accused of rape where the woman is hounded off campus for daring to threaten good old U’s winning streak while the man continues to play. Meanwhile cases of brain damage caused by the sport keep piling up. Gonzales should be explaining how he has risen above football, not boasting about playing.
Susan Moran Palmer’s career, on the other hand, has been in the medical field: hands-on in a hospital setting in radiologic technology specializing in conduction issues of the heart, in a training capacity and on the business/sales side in both international companies and start-ups. This gives her a strong background on the issue which every poll and survey tells us is #1 with voters this fall: health care.
She tells CoolCleveland, “The advantage of having international experience is you can see how systems have worked in other places, see the things that can work here and things that can’t be adapted to the U.S. I had to know how Medicare and Medicaid work in U.S. and I can hit the ground running. I know changes that need to be made.”
She cites allowing the VA, Medicaid and Medicare to put drug prices out to bid as one example. She strongly supports defending the gains made by Obamacare — preventing discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions, banning lifetime caps on benefits, allowing children to a stay on their parents insurance until age 26, Medicaid expansion.
Gonzales, who has refused to appear at public forums sponsored by nonpartisan groups such as the League of Women Voters and stuck to relying on his fundraising power, has done a complete about-face on Medicaid expansion — not changing his mind but pretending his primary position didn’t exist. In the primary against state rep. Christine Hagan, he slammed her for supporting Medicaid expansion and assured primary voters, who are far to the right of general election voters that he would “work with President Trump” to “repeal Obamacare” and “build the wall.”
Palmer points to Ohio’s shameful status as a leader in opioid deaths, and how repealing Obamacare and along with it expanded access to Medicaid would worsen that situation.
“Addiction treatment is paid for by Medicaid expansion. We remove that expansion from Ohio and it will cost people’s lives because they won’t be able to get treatment. And it’s not just addiction issue; it’s economic issue because they can’t work.”
Another issue she sees — rightfully — as economic is women’s reproductive freedom: their access to abortion and contraception.
“This is no longer about choice; it’s about equality,” she says. “It’s about whether I as an American citizen have a right to self-determination, to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. When my employer can have conversation about my birth control, it’s a violation of my rights. I can’t explain it to employer nor should I have to. It’s absolutely an economic issue. We’d cut costs — Medicaid, child care — if we made long-term birth control available.”
Finally, she’s a strong proponent of fair elections: both in controlling the flow of big money and undoing gerrymandering, both issues that affect her race directly. She points out that while the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision removed almost all limits on what can be given to a candidate, limits can be imposed on how much they can accept.
“Gerrymandering is being fought on a state level,” she says. “People want it. [Ohio passed ballot issues for fair redistricting — legislative in 2015 and congressional in 2018 — by 70% of the vote]. I think you have the same groundswell on money, but because of the court ruling you have to work around it. If we elect people who make this a priority, you’ll see things change. There’s no doubt people believe it’s a corrupting influence.”
To learn more about Susan Moran Palmer, go to her website: susanpalmerforcongress.com