Yost is Toast

By Cyndy Rees


It is axiomatic that elections are not won or lost on Election Day.  Instead, there are always a few key milestones along the way that determine the outcome.  Filing day, the day first campaign finance campaign reports are released, etc. And in Ohio’s competitive race for Attorney General, one such day was May 10—the day of Yost’s disastrous ECOT press conference.  It was a spectacular failure on many levels and will ultimately and rightfully cost him the election.


You really ought to watch it (link).  


First, and this is inexcusable, he is totally unprepared on the substance.  After supposedly reviewing the books of charter schools (including online schools) for seven years now as State Auditor, he lacks even a passing understanding of how the system works and fumbles over “his notes” to answer the most basic of questions.


His factual errors have been and will continue to be enumerated, but just look at the man’s demeanor.


Normally smarmy and cocky (even if a phony), his ECOT presentation was tentative and weak.  Yost was never comfortable and even looked scared. His obvious nervousness stemmed from two things:  a lack of command of the facts and the law, and a fear that his zig-zagging all over on the ECOT issue has already ruined his career.  (Which it almost certainly has).


Even his conclusion (that is, the entire point of the event) was lame:  “something criminal may have gone on here." What a cop out. If someone committed a crime Dave, name them, succinctly say what they did, and call the police.  (You didn’t hesitate to do so when Columbus schools were data-scrubbing, did you?).


Instead we get an hour of innuendo— three outside vendors use the same lawyer!—but never a simple statement of who broke what law, and a cite to the statute.  


It was pathetic, political pandering to the left at its worst, and its disqualifying for an AG candidate.


Obviously, the average Ohioan will never watch the press conference.  (Lucky for Yost). But in the end, it doesn’t matter, and here’s why.


Yost just conceded the primary Democrat narrative for this campaign:  that school choice is just a sham, that online schools are criminal, and that anyone who has supported them is an accessory to a crime and as such, is per se corrupt.  Hence Yost, Faber, and the boys all giving back years worth of campaign contributions (that they themselves no doubt begged for).


What Yost will soon enough realize is that now that he has conceded the cornerstone issue to the Democrats and the media, nothing he can do will ever be enough.


Now that he has belatedly and begrudgingly told Sandy Theis, Brent Larkin, and Steve Dettelbach, “you’re right, ECOT was kinda-sorta criminal,” neither he nor his Republican cronies will ever be able to atone for the sin of supporting school choice, speaking at ECOT graduation, giving the school the Auditor awards, and taking political contributions from its founder, vendors, and employees.  If it was all a sham, then it was a sham he perpetuated. Period.


He just hoisted himself on his own petard.


Dave “Quick Draw McGraw” Yost probably knows this.  Watch the moment in the press conference he was asked about ECOT kids, and he actually comes alive.  Finally speaking with some passion, he talks about how kids the local districts left for dead actually took matters into their own hands, enrolled in ECOT, and managed to pass every graduation exam to walk across the Commencement stage.


It’s an inspiring narrative—but almost like he momentarily forgot he was supposed to be playing along with the BS storyline that ECOT was criminal and the families it served were just lazy dupes.  


That is the political instinct he should have followed all along.  Defending school choice, fighting for the families for whom the old system wasn’t working, and as appropriate, endorsing education reforms that make all schools more accountable.  That’s what a self-respecting conservative would do.


But instead, Dave Yost is now running as Steve Dettelbach-light.  


Good luck with that.


P.S.  Yost isn’t going to be able to hide from this debacle any more than he can hide from the fact he knifed Trump ahead of the 2016 election. (link)