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Ohio Votes to Overturn Collective Bargaining Law, Votes 'No' to Forced Health Care

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AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said victory for unions was achieved among Democrats and Republicans in urban and rural counties.

Ohio Senate Bill 5, the new collective bargaining law, was overturned Tuesday after an expensive union-backed campaign. But Ohioans also voted "no" to forced health care.

As of 11:30 PM, 1,932,502 voted to overturn the collective bargaining law (with only 1,218,959 in favor of it) whereas 2,004,169 voted in favor of the anti-forced health care initiative (with only 1,042,232 opposed).

Therefore, although voters rejected GOP Gov. Kasich's bill, they also voted in favor of a ballot initiative that rejects President Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Nevertheless, Democrat opponents of the collective bargaining bill are celebrating.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said victory for unions was achieved among "Democrats and Republicans in urban and rural counties."

"Ohio sent a message to every politician out there: Go in and make war on your employees rather than make jobs with your employees, and you do so at your own peril," he said.

At a celebration at a downtown Columbus hotel, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern said Republicans and Kasich overreached.

"He literally thought he knew more than everyone else," Redfern said.

Asked whether the collective bargaining law, called Issue 2 on the ballot, was a referendum on Kasich, Redfern said, "Absolutely. He was the face of the campaign. John Kasich chose to put his face on this campaign for the last eight weeks. The people of the state pushed back."

However, recall in the above the number of Ohioans who voted to overturn the collective bargaining bill (1,932,502) and compare it to those who were in favor of it (1,218,959). Now compare the number of Ohioans who voted for the anti-forced health care initiative (2,004,169) compared to those who favored universal health care (1,042,232).

Perhaps it wouldn't be unfair to say that there was more than one referendum tonight.

"It's clear that the people have spoken," Gov. Kasich said according to the Wall Street Journal. He said he would continue to work with local governments facing budget challenges but warned there would be "no bailout" because "there's no money."

We Are Ohio, the largely union-funded opponent coalition, painted the issue as a threat to public safety and middle-class workers, spending millions of dollars on TV ads filled with images of firefighters, police officers, teachers and nurses.

The strategy must have worked.

"The idea that firefighters and teachers are overpaid is preposterous," said Heather Reese, a 25-year-old student at Ohio State University who voted to repeal the law, in the Journal report.

"I thought it was wrong . . . I just think it's extremely unfair," said Nancy Beadle, a retired teacher from Port Clinton, when she explained to the Chillicothe Gazette why she voted "no."

"It just struck me as a backward thing, and a vindictive thing," she added.

However, not everyone felt that way.

"I am unemployed and I paid a lot more of the costs of my insurance," John Mirgon Sr. of Zanesville told the Gazette. "I don't think it's fair that they get to pay the minimal amount and still get all the fringe benefits that the majority of people don't get."

Labor and business interests poured more than $30 million into the nationally watched campaign, and turnout was high for an off-year election.

Opponents of the collective bargaining law reported raising $24 million as of mid-October, compared to about $8 million raised by the committee supporting the law, Building a Better Ohio.

Some analysts have predicted that Tuesday's result in the closely divided swing state will "resonate from statehouses to the White House ahead of the 2012 presidential election."

For opponents of the law, its defeat is anticipated to energize the labor movement, which largely supports Democrats, ahead of President Barack Obama's re-election effort.

Allah Pundit of Hot Air questions whether this defeat for Kasich will have a ripple effect in other areas of the country:

A huge defeat for Kasich. I wonder what this means now for the Walker recall effort: Will labor try to capitalize on the momentum or will they back off, having already won a big victory they can tout?

That could very well be the case.

However, despite voting to overturn SB-5, Ohioans still favored "Issue 3."

The Plain Dealer reports:

With more than 1.5 million votes tallied, Ohio Issue 3 is winning with more than 66 percent of voters saying "Yes" to the proposal to prevent Ohioans from being forced to participate in a health care system.

The official language says it is a proposal to "preserve the freedom of Ohioans to choose their health care."

So now that they have voted "Yes" on Issue 3, what happens?

"It guarantees that Ohio could never be a state like Massachusetts with a large government-forced mandate that you purchase health insurance or participate in the health care system," Jeff Longstreth, campaign manager for Ohioans for Healthcare Freedom, told The-News-Leader.com.

"It's about rights. In order to enforce the individual mandate at the federal level, the federal government would have to step on the rights of Ohioans, who have a constitutional right to purchase or not purchase health care," he added.

And before analysts and union leaders start claiming that defeating the union bill will result in an explosion of Democrat victories, and that overturning SB-5 is a major GOP referendum, they should consider these points:

  • The collective bargaining bill was overturned (as of 11:30 PM EST) by about a 725,000 vote difference and cost millions of dollars to campaign against.
  • The Issue 3 initiative against universal health care won by almost a million vote difference and received a fraction of the coverage that SB-5 had.

If analysts are correct, and these votes are indicative of things to come, the Republicans shouldn't be the ones worrying.

This is a breaking story. Updates will be added. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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