Cleveland’s “coyote atop a casino in the stuffy northern state on the left” would be a familiar sight at any rate — unless you’re a long-time Ohio resident.
Following a rule of thumb in journalism, if it exists in a state’s history, it isn’t a true image unless it’s archived somewhere in an archive of state or national documents (though exceptions can be made for certain bizarre images that people are fond of never actually seeing again). So while you can trace the route of course-correcting history by relying on books and online explanations, there’s a solid bet that part of what makes Ohio an endlessly fascinating state is that it is easily the most random state in the union.
It’s not the nature of the state itself, of course, but the evidence.
If you want to put a human face on America’s economic conflict, you need look no further than Ohio, a flat state with its own historical and cultural mythology. It’s a crazy land where Ohioans like to re-tell (and re-tell) stories of the state’s defiance of the British at the Battle of Waterloo. (Spoiler alert: They lost.) It’s a crazy land where the most famous National Football League franchise is based. (Spoiler alert: They lost.) It’s a crazy land where Calvin Coolidge named public lands after himself. (Spoiler alert: He became president because Dwight Eisenhower lied to a major war hero.)
Both, above all, are just the effects of reality — a bizarre, agricultural, temperate state wedged right in the middle of a huge (relative) country that, to the east, is rolling in the dough. And no wonder, given how its politics are so similar to Texas: Both states are Republican-dominated, and both will almost certainly be the battleground in a 2020 presidential election that, at this point, only one person really has a handle on.
That individual? The state’s next governor, Ohio attorney general, and high-profile candidate for 2020.
It’s called Pete Beatty.
Tuesday night, Beatty performed his first solo show at The Carnegie Hall in New York City, in which he portrayed the entirety of the state of Ohio, not just one particular small slice of it, as he is wont to do on tour. With a surprising range of emotions and sensibilities, Beatty, who will be running for the state’s 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nomination, is a candidate for the role that has traditionally gone to more conservative politicians.
He certainly has the credentials to be a symbol of America as is. Born in Springfield, Ohio, and raised in Stow, Ohio, Beatty graduated from Cleveland’s John Carroll University with an undergraduate degree in communications and a minor in theater, and is an award-winning playwright and poet. He lives in Columbus, Ohio, in a home built around a barn.
Given all of this, it’s no surprise that he was performing Tuesday as, among other characters, Ohio’s former governor and Republican presidential candidate John Kasich. (Since Beatty has not performed all of the characters in his repertoire, I will excuse us from adding “him” here.)
Ahead of that performance, Beatty told The Daily Beast about Ohio and what he aims to be represented by his portrayal of it, and why that will make America’s 2020 election more interesting than is usual.