Ohio Daily Blog

Just Can't Get Enough

Saturday, February 17, 2007

OH-13: Sutton (D) Speaks in Support of Iraq Resolution

Friday, February 16, 2007

Ohio Daily Blog On Hiatus Until March 1st

Ohio Daily Blog is closed for renovations.

I am shutting down daily posting until March 1st, when I plan to re-open the site with an exciting new format and multimedia features.

Thanks for your patience!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

OH Sen-28: Sawyer (D) Gets the Appointment

Redhorse at Psychobilly Democrat breaks the story -- former Congressman and current Ohio Board of Education member Tom Sawyer (D-Akron) will be appointed to replace State Sen. Kimberly Zurz (D-Green).

Sawyer is smart and knowledgeable (especially on education issues) and has the name recognition to retain the seat in the next election cycle. His Congressional primary campaign last May never seemed to catch fire, but I think he will run a good enough campaign to win re-election. The Democratic delegation in the Ohio Senate can use his experience and perspective.

I liked him being on the state education panel, but presumably the Governor can come up with a good replacement.

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OH-18: Space (D) To Start Week-Long Listening Tour on Farm Bill

Starting on Saturday, freshman member of Congress Zack Space (D-Dover) will travel to seven locations throughout the 18th District, to hear from farmers what they have to say about the new Farm Bill.

"The Farm Bill is crucial to the economic future of Southeastern Ohio, and I'm looking forward to meeting with farmers and producers throughout the district to learn more about how I can fight for them in Washington," said Space. "Farmers can count on me to be a strong advocate for them and their communities, but to be as effective as possible I need to hear directly from them."

In addition to the seven public forums (listed below), Space will visit a number of private farms, as well as tour several ethanol plants. "This bill is such an enormous undertaking in the life of our farmers nationwide and in the life of southeastern Ohio," said Space. "It's absolutely critical that I get as much information and feedback from our farming families as I possibly can."

Knox and Licking Counties


Saturday, February 17, 11am-1pm
Knox County 4-H Center (Basement Room)
401 West High Street
Mount Vernon, OH 43050

Tuscarawas, Harrison and Belmont Counties

Monday February 19, 11am -1pm
Jim's Place
228 West High Avenue
New Philadelphia, OH 44663

Carroll and Guernsey Counties


Tuesday, February 20, 11am-1 pm
Villa Restaurant
701 Crest Street
Carrollton, OH 44615

Coshocton and Holmes Counties


Wednesday, February 21, 11am-1 pm
North Appalachian Watershed Research Station
428850 SR 621
Fresno, OH 43824

Vinton, Jackson and Athens Counties

Thursday, February 22, 12:30-2:30
Jackson City Library
21 Broadway Street
Jackson, OH 45640

Hocking and Ross Counties

Friday February 23, 11am-1pm
Calvary Lutheran Church
74 West Main Street
Chillicothe, OH 45601

Muskingum and Morgan Counties


Saturday February 24, 11am-1pm
Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church
400 Pleasant Grove Road
Zanesville, OH 43701

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OH-13: Sutton (D) Speaks in Support of Iraq Resolution

New member of Congress Betty Sutton (D-Akron) laid out the case for the Iraq resolution clearly and compellingly at a meeting of the Rules Committee last night. She's at her best when she talks about Iraq casualties in her district, including a letter written by Paul Schroeder, the father of a fallen soldier. Here's the speech:

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Cincinnati City Council Committee Votes to Oppose Iraq Surge

The Finance Committee of the Cincinnati City Council voted 5-3 today in favor of a resolution introduced by Councilman David Crowley to oppose George Bush's "surge" strategy in Iraq. Congressional candidate John Cranley, Jim Tarbell, Cecil Thomas, and Laketa Cole joined Crowley in voting for the measure. Jeff Berding, Chris Bortz, and Leslie Ghiiz voted against, saying that it is inappropriate for a city council to address the issue.

The full nine-member council will take up the matter tomorrow. If the five members vote in favor again, the resolution will pass.

Cincinnati would join about 250 local governments who have passed similar resolutions.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

ODP Chair Chris Redfern Profiled

There's a good read in the Cleveland Plain Dealer today - a lengthy front-page profile of Rep. Chris Redfern (D-Catawba Island), Ohio's brash and energetic state Democratic party leader. One thing that caught my attention was that Redfern recruited a slate of about ten candidates to run for intra-party offices last May against established party insiders, many of whom opposed Redfern's election as state party chair. Most of them lost. The incident reveals a strikingly aggressive dimension to Redfern's political ambition, but also the practical limits to his ability to consolidate power in the notoriously fragmented state party apparatus.

Another significant item: last week Redfern gained a seat on the national Democratic party's executive committee. This will help him shape the presidential race in the Buckeye State in 2008, and lends weight to the suggestion by reporter Mark Naymik in this week's podcast on the Cleveland Plain Dealer blog Openers that Redfern's future may be in national rather than state politics.

The article also details an intramural spat between Redfern and the Senate campaign of Sherrod Brown (R-Avon). Redfern told the New York Times less than a week after Brown won the primary last May that national Democrats should "focus on the governor's race above all" because it was the Democrats' best chance of success in the fall. Brown campaign manager John Ryan complained angrily about the remark, saying it could scare off donors, but Redfern refused to back down.

Overall an interesting article that captures Redfern's dynamic but brusque personal style very well.

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Sen. Ken Blackwell (R-OH)?????

A hair-raising column by Thomas Suddes in the Cleveland Plain Dealer today suggests that Ohio's big GOP names are "down but not out." Among other possibilities, he invokes the following:
  • Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted (R-Kettering) to run for the 6th Ohio Senate seat of term-limited Sen. Jeff Jacobson (R-Butler Twp, near Dayton) in 2008, and for statewide office in 2010;
  • 2006 gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell (R-Cincinnati) is "said to fancy himself" a successor to Sen George Voinvovich (R) in 2010, which Suddes calls "a triumph of hope over experience";
  • Auditor Mary Taylor (R-Green) will seek re-election in 2010, not higher office, to "keep at least one Apportionment Board seat for her party" (well, duh):
  • State Rep. Matt Dolan (R-Novelty), recently named to the Finance-Appropriations Committee by Husted, to replace Husted as House Speaker; and,
  • Former Attorney General Jim Petro (R-Rocky River), former State Auditor Betty Montgomery (R-Toledo), and former Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Cedarville) all "could take to the field again," possible races not specified. Hard to picture the former two trying for Governor again, or the latter trying to get back to the Senate, but I could imagine Petro making a Senate run in 2010. DeWine for Governor in 2010? Yoiks!
Suddes also intimates that the prospect of Husted deputy State Rep. Kevin DeWine (R-Fairborn, near Dayton) becoming Ohio Republican Party leader would strengthen Husted's career chances, and that Husted's alliance with Dolan could help him tap into Cleveland-area campaign donors.

UPDATE: There is more about Kevin DeWine's bid for the ORP leadership post in a story in today's Dayton Daily News. He is opposed by Stark County Republican Chairman Curt Braden and Lake County GOP Chairman Dale Fellows.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

OH House-52: Healy (D) Announces Mayoral Bid

Popular second-term State Rep. William Healy II (D-Canton) has announced his candidacy for Mayor of Canton, taking on incumbent Carol Weir Creighton (R-Canton). ODP Chair Rep. Chris Redfern (D-Catawba Island) was on hand to lend his support.

Healy lost narrowly in the mayoral primary in 2003, but won his seat in the legislature convincingly in 2004 with 71.04% of the vote and won re-election in 2006 with 75%.

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Friday, February 9, 2007

Check Out the First "Openers" Podcast

This is a significant development in the Ohio political blogosphere. The Cleveland Plain Dealer blog "Openers" has posted the first entry in a new feature -- weekly audio podcasts. This one is an interview by online editor Jean Dubail of political reporter Mark Naymik about Ohio Democratic Party boss Rep. Chris Redfern (D-Catawba Island).

It's very informative. For example, Naymik says that Gov. Ted Strickland (D-Lisbon) has made it clear to Redfern, ostensibly his close ally, that Strickland's support for Redfern as party chair is contingent on the latter putting aside his own political ambitions so that he can focus exclusively on the 2008 elections. In other words, no 2008 run at the Ohio Senate seat of term-limited State Sen. Randy Gardner (R).

Give it a listen!

OH Sen-20: Padgett (R) Not Running in 2008?

A reader suggested I look into the question of whether State Sen. Joy Padgett (R-Coschocton), an unsuccessful primary candidate for Lieutenant Governor last spring and unsuccessful again in her general election campaign for convicted former Congressman Bob Ney's seat last fall, will seek re-election to the Ohio Senate in 2008.

You see, Padgett filed a termination report with the Ohio Secretary of State during her brief Congressional campaign, taking her 2004 Ohio Senate campaign fund down to zero. She has not set up a new campaign account, nor has she redeposited any funds into her old one. That might not seem very significant, but other Senators typically keep their campaign accounts going as a head start on financing their re-election bids. State Sen. Gary Cates, for example, had $81,121.11 on hand in his 2004 campaign account as of January 31, 2007. State Sen. Patricia Clancy (R-Cincinnati) had 20,343.05. State Sen. Tom Niehaus (R-New Richmond) had $135,095.79.

(I'd give you an example of a Democratic State Senator who ran in 2004 and is up for re-election in 2008, but there aren't any. All three Democrats running for re-election in 2008 will be appointees, because Marc Dann (D-Warren) is now Attorney General, Charlie Wilson (D-St. Clairsville) is now in Congress, and Kimberly Zurz (D-Green) has stepped down to head up the Ohio Department of Commerce. However, I notice that State Sen. Capri Cafaro (D-Hubbard), appointed to take Dann's place, has already set up a campaign account.)

So, is Padgett going to run? Trying to find any buzz about this question, I did a news search and a blog search on her name. Nothing helpful there, although I did learn that there are continuing problems with the bankruptcy proceedings that plagued her Congressional campaign.

So, it looks like the 20th Ohio Senate District could be an open seat.

UPDATE: It occurred to me to check the balance in Padgett's Congressional campaign account at the FEC. At the end of 2006 she had a balance of only $1,438 in that account.

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Obama Fundraiser in Cincinnati Feb. 26

State Sen. Eric Kearney (D-Cincinnati) is organizing an 8:00 am breakfast fundraising event for presidential contender Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) at the downtown Westin Hotel in Cincinnati on February 26th. Tickets are $100, $500, $1000 or $2,300, with the latter amount being the limit for individual contributions during the primary phase of the presidential campaign.

Kearney's wife Jan-Michelle was a classmate of Obama's at Harvard Law School, and Kearney says that he and Obama are long-time friends. State Sen. Tom Roberts (D-Trotwood) is a co-host.

The Obama campaign has been reaching out to a number of prominent Ohio Democrats. Here in the Cleveland area, former city law director and candidate for attorney general Subodh Chandra (D-Cleveland) is a big supporter, and local NAACP president George Forbes has been approached by the Obama camp.

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Thursday, February 8, 2007

Despite IPCC Report, Global Warming Skeptics Persist

I suppose I should have known that the authoritative IPCC report on global warming, detailing the rock-solid scientific consensus that the phenomenon is real and is caused by mankind, would not put an end to the quibbling by politically motivated doubters.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), the ranking Republican member of the Environment & Public Works Committee, said late last week that the report is "a political document, not a scientific report, and it is a shining example of the corruption of science for political gain."

Even Pat Sajak, host of the popular TV game show "Wheel of Fortune," mocks the IPCC report on his personal web site.

It's going to take more than mere scientific evidence to force them to acknowledge reality.

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Bush Budget Slashes Public TV

After scrutinizing Bush's proposed budget, public TV officials and congressional staffers report that at least $114 million of the $460 million Corporation for Public Broadcasting budget for FY 2008 would be cut.

The cuts include the $50 million already appropriated by Congress for next year, elimination of additional funding for digital conversion of public TV stations, and a slight decrease in the Ready to Learn program. In addition to those cuts, the traditional advance funding for future years' programs would disappear, potentially making it harder for public stations to commit to future TV programming. The Association of Public Television Stations said the total impact could be $145 million when cuts in related programs are added, including a program to upgrade radio station satellite facilities.

"In a 24-7 television world with content often inappropriate for young children, the public broadcasting system represents an oasis of quality, child-oriented educational programming," said Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's telecom panel. "We owe America's children and their parents this free, over-the-air resource."

"For PBS, it could mean the end of our ability to support some of the most treasured educational children's series and primetime icons to which CPB funding contributes," said Lea Sloan, VP-communications. "We are hopeful that Congress will recognize the unique value public stations offer to their communities in everything from advancing literacy, math and science skills among children to providing rich, diverse cultural arts as well as news and public affairs programming to people of all ages."

Past proposals to cut the budget for public TV have been rejected by Congress.

News and Notes: The National Scene

Checking in on today's news:
House to Debate Resolution Against Iraq Surge
House Democrats decided at their caucus meeting this morning to propose a straightforward resolution supporting the troops in Iraq but opposing Bush's surge stategy and debate it for three days next week. They will allow the Republicans to introduce a single alternative resolution.
Anna Nicole Smith Dies
The busty celebrity collapsed and died today. Born Vickie Lynn Hogan in Houst, Texas in 1967, she was a stripper in an obscure club when she catapulted to stardom as Playboy Playmate of the Year and model for Guess jeans. She was also famous for her brief marriage to wealthy octogenarian Howard Marshall and her bizarre reality show in 2002-2004. Most recently she lost a lot of weight and became a spokesperson for TrimSpa weight loss products, and last September her 20-year-old son Daniel died suddenly from medical complications relating to drugs.
Ohioans Endorse Presidential Contenders
As reported in the Columbus Dispatch today, Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Painesville) favors Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Navarre) is supporting former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA), and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland) supports Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY).
Edwards Joins 2/21 Forum, Obama Declines
Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) will participate in the candidates forum in Nevada on February 21, joining Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and six others, but Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) won't join them.
Edwards Refuses to Fire Bloggers; Accuser Promises Retribution
Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) refused to bow to pressure from fringe Catholic activist Bill Donohue and blogger Michelle Malkin to fire two bloggers on his staff who had criticized the church using profane langauge in past writing. Edwards said that he was personally offended by what the bloggers had written, but believed in giving them a fair shake. The bloggers issued written statements apologizing for any offense caused. Donohue responded with a scathing press release, promising a campaign of negative publicity over Edwards' decision.
Clinton and Giuliani Start with Most Cash
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) began the year with $11 million in campaign cash left over from her Senate race, putting her far ahead of her Democratic rivals. On the GOP side, Giuliani started the year with $3 million, far ahead of rival Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) who had under $500,000.
Bush Approval Still Low, Democrats in Congress Rate Higher Than Republicans
A Harris poll released today has George Bush's approval rating at 32% favorable, 66% unfavorable, virtually unchanged from his 31%/67% tally in November. While all Congressional approval rankings are low, House Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) fares considerably better than her GOP counterpart at 38% approval and 45% disapproval. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) is at 23%/46%. Democrats in Congress in general are at 41% approval and 52% disapproval, up significantly from 36%/57% in November, and much better than Republicans in Congress who are at 26%/69%.
House To Vote on Tax Breaks Related To Minimum Wage Hike
Potentially breaking the logjam over raising the mininum wage, House Democrats plan to vote next week on a package of small-business tax breaks worth about $1 to $1.5 billion. That's far less than the $8.3 billion over ten years that was added to the minimum wage legislation in the Senate, but sets the stage for negotiations that could lead to final Congressional action.

Voinovich (R) On The Hot Seat

Sen. George Voinovich (R) is the target of an email campaign and a TV ad, all orchestrated by MoveOn.org, ProgressOhio.com, and other groups, intended to put pressure on him to vote for the Warner/Levin nonbinding resolution against Bush's surge strategy in Iraq.

Today the Cleveland Plain Dealer blog "Openers" reports that Voinovich agrees that the vote should take place. “The American people have to know their elected representatives have debated this and taken a position on it and voted on it," Voinovich is quoted as saying over breakfast in the Senate dining room. “People need to show the courage to take a position."

Voinovich voted against cloture on Monday, a procedural move that prevented the measure from being debated and brought to a vote. However, yesterday Voinovich joined six other Republican Senators in signing a letter to Senate leaders from both parties, demanding that a vote on the resolution take place. The letter contains this key sentence:
We strongly believe the Senate should be allowed to work its will on our resolution as well as the concepts brought forward by other Senators.
Those "concepts" include a resolution introduced by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), stating opposition to cutting off funding for U.S. troops in the field. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has so far refused to bring that resolution up for consideration, thus triggering the GOP opposition to debating the Warner/Levin resolution against the surge.

The political stakes in all this are clear. The White House hopes to neutralize the threat of a funding cut-off, leaving only a nonbinding resolution in play. Democrats don't want to be put in the position of voting "no" on a resolution against cutting off funding for troops, a vote that could be portrayed simplistically at election time as "not supporting the troops." Hence the stalemate.

However, Voinovich isn't happy with the deadlock. He is afraid that the Senate will be seen as ducking a vote on the issue, with good cause. The public is solidly against the war and opposed to the surge. The procedural niceties of the Senate are lost on the average voters, most of whom want Congress to rein in Bush on the war.

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Wednesday, February 7, 2007

DeLay Disses Giuliani and McCain, Says Clinton Likely to Win

The bug man speaks!

Appearing on CNN's "The Situation Room," former GOP House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX) told Wolf Blitzer that he does not support the Republican front-runners for the presidential nomination and said that Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) will likely be the next president, because she "has built the biggest, most powerful coalition that I've ever witnessed in my lifetime." DeLay warned that Clinton will be nearly unbeatable unless the GOP is able to sufficiently energize its base.

Although conceding that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NY) is a "leader," DeLay said he won't vote for him. "I can't vote for somebody that's for abortion," he said. "I never have and I never will." He panned McCain for having championed campaign finance reform. "I don't think he'll get very far because he is not -- does not reflect the vast majority of the party," DeLay said. He belittled Romney for changing his position on abortion.

DeLay likes former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR), saying that the two share an almost identical world view. He also said that if Clinton does become president, it "might be the best thing that ever happened to the Republican party."

Oh, and by the way, he does not attribute the Republicans' current troubles to George Bush's performance as president. It's caused by the GOP abandoning its core beliefs.

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OH-18: Space (D) Wins Approval of $48M Alternative Energy Initiative

Rep. Zack SpaceCongratulations to Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) for winning a significant victory today in his effort to bring economic development funding to his district.

Space is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. At a meeting this morning, Space's amendment to H.R. 799, a bill to reauthorize the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) for five years, passed with bipartisan support. H.R. 799, as amended, was reported out of committee.

ARC is a federal-state partnership that works with the people of Appalachia to create opportunities for self-sustaining economic development and improved quality of life. Fourteen of the 16 counties in the 18th Ohio Congressional District are included in the ARC program. Space's amendment creates an alternative energy initiative within ARC that could result in as much as $48 million in grants over four years. It will support projects that increase the use of renewable energy resources, especially biomass, and will support the development of advances in conventional energy resources such as advanced clean coal.

Speaking of the reauthorization bill, Transportation Committee Chair Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN) said it "builds on more than four decades of economic development successes through job creation in some of the nation’s most disadvantaged yet deserving communities. I have witnessed first-hand the triumph that is possible when the Federal Government joins in partnership with states, localities, economic development districts, and private businesses to break the cycle of crippling and pervasive poverty.”

Because of Space's alternative energy initiative
, the distressed areas of Appalachia may now find themselves a frontline in the country's effort to reduce its dependence on foreign oil. "Alternative energy production will breathe additional life into Appalachia because these counties are blessed with enormous resources that can be used for alternative energy," said Space. "These resources such as coal, corn, wind, and hydroelectric power already exist, but we haven't taken full advantage of them. Now we will. The economic effects will reverberate throughout the entire region."

"We hear a lot of talk on Capitol Hill about changing our energy habits without much action," Space added. "This bill sets the course for change."

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News and Notes: Presidential Race

There's a lot happening in the White House derby today:
Clinton Will Attend 2/21 Forum
CNN is reporting that Democratic frontrunner Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) has agreed to participate in the February 21 candidates forum in Nevada. Richardson, Vilsack, Dodd, Biden and Gravel have already committed to the event.
Obama Won't Accept Public Funds
Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) will join Clinton, former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC), former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA), and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in opting out of the public campaign financing system for the primary and general election campaigns. Obama and Edwards have also indicated that they will not accept contributions from lobbyists or political action committees. UPDATE: Ben Smith writes on Politico.com that the media reports are not correct. Obama simply asked the Federal Election Commission for an advisory opinion about whether he could accept private campaign contributions now that would not be allowed if he accepted public financing, and then return those contributions in the event he elected to do so.
Clinton Can Win
So wrote noted political prognosticator Stuart Rothenberg in a lengthy post on his blog, reprinted from Roll Call, in which he analyzes polling data and the strengths and weaknesses of various candidates. He isn't predicting a victory, just ruling out the prevalent notion that Clinton is not capable of defeating a strong Republican opponent.
Accusers of Bloggers for Edwards Shouldn't Talk
The MSM has given big play to the accusation drummed up by Catholic League president Bill Donohue and blogger Michelle Malkin that two bloggers recently hired by former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) should be fired as "vulgar, trash-talking bigots" for having used profane language while objecting to the positions of the Roman Catholic Church on women's reproductive rights in past blog posts. However, as Media Matters, Glenn Greenwald and Matt Browner Hamlin point out today, Donohue has his own history of trash-talking and bigotry, and so do bloggers who now work for Republican frontrunner John McCain. UPDATE: Salon is reporting that the Edwards bloggers have been fired, but Chris Bowers of MyDD doubts whether that report is accurate. Stay tuned. 2nd UPDATE: Still no comment from the Edwards campaign. Meanwhile, this Donohue character is really awful. Atrios reports that he told a gathering of right-wing Christian evangelists that lesbians are "something I'd expect to see in an asylum, frankly." And this is the guy who the New York Times portrays as speaking for all Catholics in objecting to Edwards' bloggers?
Giuliani's Support Doesn't Work Wonders
Hotline notes that Rudy Giuliani bragged in a Fox News Channel interview about how hard he has worked to support GOP candidates around the country, but the record of those candidates is not very impressive. Giuliani-backed candidates went a combined 32-43 in 2002, 2004 and 2006, and the candidate that Giuliani backed in a special election for the New York State Senate yesterday lost as well.
Romney's Policy Speech is First Step Toward Announcement
Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) gave a speech to a friendly business audience at the Detroit Economic Club today, promoting permanent tax cuts, portable health insurance and free trade. He has a strong base in Michigan because his father, who also ran for president, was governor there in the 1960s. Today's speech will be followed by an appearance at the Michigan Republican convention in Grand Rapids this weekend and the official announcment of his candidacy at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn next Tuesday.

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OH-16, OH Sen-22: Todd (D) Switches Gears

Thanks to a reader for alerting me that attorney and state central committee member Michael Todd (D-Medina Township), who had previously announced his candidacy for the 16th Ohio Congressional District seat of Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Navarre), has apparently transferred his sights to the open 22nd Ohio Senate District seat of term-limited State Sen. Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster), in which race he is likely to face term-limited State Rep. Jim Carmichael (R-Wooster). This report is based on the fact that Todd's Congressional campaign site is down and he has filed a form with the Secretary of State designating a campaign treasurer for the Ohio Senate race.

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Democratic Activists and Ordinary Voters at Odds on Presidential Race

It's amazing how out-of-step are party activists versus the general population of party voters on presidential nomination preferences. Take a look at this new CNN/WMUR poll of New Hampshire voters, conducted by the University of New Hampshire:

35% Hillary Clinton
21% Barack Obama
16% John Edwards
8% Joe Biden
3% Al Gore
1% Wes Clark
1% Chris Dodd
1% Bill Richardson
1% Tom Vilsack
0% Dennis Kucinich
0% Mike Gravel
0% Al Sharpton
0% Undecided

Now look at this straw poll at DailyKos, the largest liberal blog in the nation:

26% Edwards
25% Obama
14% Clark
6% Richardson
4% Clinton
4% Kucinich
1% Vilsack
0% Biden
0% Dodd
8% Other
6% Undecided

The blog readers, presumably a representative sample of activists, have Clinton tied for fourth with Dennis Kucinich, while the general public has her in first place by double digits. Activists, the people who really pay attention and are actively engaged in politics, are extremely uneasy and uncertain about the putative frontrunner.

Interestingly, the activists like Richardson and dismiss Biden, but the standing of those two candidates is reversed among ordinary voters. [ADDENDUM: I should have also noted Wes Clark's dramatic shift from distant also-ran in the CNN/WMUR poll to third-place finish at 14% in the DailyKos straw poll. There is a lot of loyalty to Clark left over from the netroots-fired "Draft Clark" movement leading up to the 2004 primary season, but he has suprisingly little public support.]

The New Hampshire poll also looked at Republican candidates:

28% John McCain
27% Rudy Giuliani
13% Mitt Romney
9% Newt Gingrich
3% Tom Tancredo
2% Sam Brownback
2% George Pataki
1% Chuck Hagel
1% Mike Huckabee
1% Ron Paul
1% Tommy Thompson
1% Other
13% Undecided.

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Sutton (D) Blasts Bush Budget Plan

It was quite a coup when Rep. Betty Sutton (Copley Township), newly elected in the 13th Ohio Congressional District to replace Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon), was named to the powerful House Budget Committee last month. She's not wasting the opportunity. Yesterday her office issued a stinging press release about the proposed budget for FY 2008 released by the White House on Monday:

"The budget represents backwards priorities at odds with the needs of Ohioans and Americans. . . . [It] is a clear demonstration of how the President has chosen to ignore America's domestic needs for investment in education, energy, healthcare, veterans, and economic development in favor of protecting tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. . . .

"The budget released by the President yesterday is fiscally irresponsible and ignores the needs of the American people. The President's misleading accounting and his rosy projections do nothing more than create the illusion of a balanced budget. Unfortunately, what it adds up to is bad policy and red ink. This is the same reckless spending plan that has turned the $5.6 trillion surplus the President inherited into a $2.8 trillion dollar deficit. Enough is enough.
She is not alone in this assessment. The $2.9 trillion budget is very generous to the military (11% increase) and to wealthy Americans (the Bush tax cuts would be made permanent), but sharply cuts domestic spending. Although the Bush administration claims that its budget will restore fiscal discipline, that claim is dubious at best when judged by past performance. "They have consistently understated the effect on deficits and debt of their budget, and unfortunately America is going being to be in deep hock after this administration leaves town," said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-NE) yesterday.

Sutton also assails the budget for failing to permanently fix the Alternative Minimum Tax, which due to inflation is an ever-increasing tax burden on the middle class. Cuts to health care spending, however, receive her harshest criticism:
"The effects that the President's proposed budget would have on healthcare are unacceptable. This proposal would add to the already 242,000 uninsured kids in Ohio by not providing the sufficient funding to maintain coverage for the children already enrolled in the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)."

"The President provides no real solutions for our health care crisis in the budget. No solution to the 87% increase in healthcare premiums that we have seen in Ohio since 2000, no initiative to help the 1.3 million uninsured Ohioans, and no mention of how skyrocketing premiums will endanger access to affordable healthcare for Ohio's 1.7 million Medicare beneficiaries."
Cuts to veterans' benefits and to block grants for fire departments and community development are also big targets for the Democratic lawmaker:
"This budget neglects our veterans in failing to provide adequate funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and will make it difficult for Ohio's 982,000 veterans and troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to receive the accessible, affordable, and quality care they deserve.

"The President's budget cuts Assistance for firefighters by 54% of their funding, falling from $662 million to $300 million. Last year this vital program awarded over $14 million to Ohio fire departments. This funding is critical to help fire departments secure the equipment and training they need to keep our communities safe. Other grant programs suffered significant cuts. Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) were cut by $1.2 billion. These programs are essential to help small communities and Americans address the challenges of providing affordable housing and economic development for their citizens."
She also objects strongly to the continued spending on Iraq (included in a budget proposal for the first time), citing "the advice of military experts and the will of the American people to bring an end" to that conflict, and to the incorporation of Bush's privatization scheme for social security. She concludes by recognizing that "the fiscal disaster the Republicans left us with is going to force some tough budget choices" and "we can't fund everything," but she pledges to "align our priorities with the needs of the American people - the need to insure our children, protect our seniors and veterans, and put the middle class ahead of tax cuts for the wealthy."

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OH Sen-28: Caucus Vote Postponed

The Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus has just announced that the meeting at which they were to vote on a replacement for Sen. Kimberly Zurz (D-Akron), who is leaving to head up the Ohio Department of Commerce for Gov. Ted. Strickland (D-Lisbon), has been postponed due to inclement weather. No rescheduled date was annnounced.

The contenders are former Congressman (and current member of the Ohio Board of Education) Tom Sawyer (D-Akron), State Rep. Kathleen Chandler (D-Kent), and Summit County Council member Paula Prentice (D-Green).

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Ohio Congress Critters: Who's Got the Cash?

CQPolitics has an analysis by senior reporter Greg Giroux of campaign cash held by all 435 members of the House of Representatives heading into the next election cycle. The accompanying story notes that the two Congressional campaign committees (DCCC and NRCC) will be pressuring those who don't face tough re-election fights to turn over cash to retire national party debt from 2006, and there is plenty enough around for that purpose if the individual representatives cooperate:
The 435 winners of last year’s House elections began 2007 with their cumulative campaign accounts totaling $159.1 million, which is nearly seven times the $23.7 in cumulative debts reported by the DCCC and NRCC.

The 233 House Democrats had a total of $87.3 million banked, an average of $375,000 per House Democrat; a total nearly 10 times the DCCC’s debt of $9.3 million.

The 202 House Republicans had banked $71.9 million overall, an average of $356,000; the cumulative sum is almost exactly five times the NRCC’s debt of $14.4 million.
However, members of Congress don't like to give up the money. Few of them ever really feel "safe" and the 2008 election is really not that far off. A healthy cash balance helps to deter challengers in the next election. Also, those with ambitions of running for the Senate will want to start hoarding cash for that purpose.

None of Ohio's representatives are anywhere near the top five in campaign cash on hand. Rep. Marty Meehan (D-MA), whose Senate hopes were presumably dashed when Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) announced that he would run for re-election in 2008, has the most at $5.1 million. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), another possible contender were Kerry's seat open, follows at $2.42 million. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), mentioned for Sen. Frank Lautenberg's seat if he had opted to retire, has $2.41 million. Republicans Cliff Stearns (R-FL) and David Dreier (R-CA) are next with $2.3 and $2.2 million, respectively.

Ohio has only three above the average amount (rank out of 435 shown after name):
  • $816,103 Marcy Kaptur (D-9th) - 52nd
  • $748,507 Dave Hobson (R-7th) - 64th
  • $389,592 John Boehner (R-8th) - 138th
Those are very healthy balances for Kaptur and Hobson, neither of whom faced serious challengers in 2006. I wonder if they have possible Senate aspirations in 2010 (assuming, in Hobson's case, that Sen. George Voinovich will retire), or if they will turn cash over to their national party committees to generate political good will. I'm surprised that Boehner's amount isn't higher -- former Republican Congressional leader Tom DeLay was famous for using his campaign account to solidify alliances by doling out contributions to fellow members of Congress.

The following three are below the average amount but still in six figures, putting them in good position for 2008 if they run again:
  • $139,841 Steve LaTourette (R-14th) - 253rd
  • $112,863 Pat Tiberi (R-12th) - 270th
  • $106,540 Ralph Regula (R-16th) - 279th
LaTourette was able to conserve cash in 2006 because challenger Lew Katz didn't have enough money to get on TV. He strikes me as a possible Senate contender. Maybe. I'm surprised that Tiberi has this much, since self-funded challenger Bob Shamansky put up a tough fight in that district. Regula is rumored likely to retire, freeing up his cash for other purposes.

Then there are a half dozen above the $50,000 mark, which is still a substantial chunk of change:
  • $78,752 Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-11th) - 299th
  • $70,230 Deborah Pryce (R-15th) - 311th
  • $66,883 Steve Chabot (R-1st) - 317th
  • $62,673 Tim Ryan (D-17th) - 321st
  • $59,683 Charlie Wilson (D-6th) - 326th
  • $59,445 Jim Jordan (R-4th) - 328th
Pryce and Chabot had very tough races so I'm surprised to see them with this much left. Wilson's race looked tough at the outset and turned into a cake walk. Tubbs, Ryan, and Jordan are in pretty safe districts. Ryan is another name to keep in mind for that 2010 Senate race.

Finally, here are the bottom five, three of whom spent just about everything they had:
  • $32,255 Dennis J. Kucinich (D-10th) - 378th
  • $27,458 Zack Space (D-18th) - 388th
  • $8,870 Jean Schmidt (R-2nd) - 418th
  • $6,459 Betty Sutton (D-13th) - 421st
  • $5,951 Michael R. Turner (R-3rd) - 423th
Kucinich, of course, can spend his leftover cash on his presidential campaign. Space needs to start fund-raising for 2008 immediately (if not sooner) because he has a huge target on his back. Schmidt and Turner can also expect very competitive races. I'm not sure that is true of Sutton, who had a tough primary but defeated Mayor Craig Foltin (R-Lorain) quite handily.

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Friday, February 2, 2007

Dems Must Decide Now on Response to Iran Conflict

Kevin Drum makes an excellent point in his "Political Animal" blog for Washington Monthly today. First he quotes a chilling outline by Zbigniew Brzezhinski of the likely scenario for military conflict with Iran, then he makes a compelling argument that Democratic leaders cannot wait until hostilites are imminent to figure out how to respond:
Pretty speeches about how you regret voting for the Iraq war are all very fine, but the real test is how you react to the next big marketing campaign for war. It's coming, it's going to seem plausible, and it's going to whip a lot of people into the usual frenzy. Any Democratic politician who hasn't thought about how they're going to deal with this is being willfully delusional.
He absolutely right. Opposition to the spread of U.S. military involvement to Iran must keep ahead of the groundwork for conflict we now see being laid (additional carrier force to the Gulf, new policy of shooting Iranian operatives in Iraq, seizing an Iranian diplomatic facility in Iran). Once the frenzied buildup to war is in full swing, it will be politically impossible to catch up.

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Scarborough Sees Demise of GOP

Joe Scarborough, conservative host of "Scarborouh Country" on MSNBC and one of the "Contract with America" Republican Congressmen, has written a startling commentary in which he deplores Bush and his remaining supporters for taking the GOP "over a cliff." Titled "Demise of GOP just took turn for the worse," the piece pulls few punches:
The message from the Bush administration seems to be this: “Thanks for carrying our water on this miserable war for four years. Now we’re going accuse you of helping terrorists.”

. . .

The president is prepared to take his administration and his party over the cliff to prove that he right about Iraq—even if most of his generals and the majority of Americans disagree.

The question now is how long will Republicans stand by this war that has cost over 3,000 lives? Is it worth the $1 trillion dollars that will be added to our national debt? Is it worth undercutting our ability to strike at Iran and North Korea? I would say “yes” to all three questions if there were the slightest chance victory was around the corner. But it is not.

. . .

At some point, GOP senators and congressmen need to understand that this war is no longer a battle between Republican war heroes and Democratic 60s hippie freaks. The lines have now been blurred by Bush’s bungling war strategy. Now we find ourselves in a fight between war heroes and war heroes. Former secretaries of Navy and former Vietnam POWs. Conservative Republicans and protectors of the president.

That may not be so bad for George W. Bush in the short run, but it is a disaster for Republicans in 2008 and beyond.

Conservatives had better wake up before all the gains made by Ronald Reagan and the 1994 Revolution are lost. The clock is ticking.

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Thursday, February 1, 2007

Do Businesses Need Tax Breaks to Afford a Higher Minimum Wage?

The AP is reporting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has signalled "flexibility" in the matter of saddling the increase in the federal minimum wage with tax breaks. The House bill has no tax breaks, the Senate bill does, and the conflict may or may not get hashed out in a House-Senate conference.

The good news is this:
The tax breaks contained in this bill are significantly smaller than what Republicans demanded last year, when they combined a minimum wage increase with a reduction in estate taxes that could have reduced tax revenue by $268 billion over 10 years. The current Senate bill would cost $8.3 billion in lost revenue over 10 years, but that amount is paid for in part by closing some tax loopholes and by capping deferred-compensation for top executives.
Still, are the Republicans correct in their premise that businesses need tax breaks in order to accomodate the increase in the minimum wage?

The folks at Policy Matters say it ain't so. They point to this paper by Max B. Sawicky of the Economic Policy Institute, arguing that the economic effects of the increase will be negligible and the tax breaks under consideration are not logical remedies for the problems that would occur. Reviewing the specific tax breaks in detail, Sawicky shows that they won't necessarily help the burdened businesses and may in fact further hurt them. Bottom line, there is no practical way to tailor tax breaks precisely to the increased cost of minimum-wage salaries. "The only justifiable concern pertaining to a minimum wage increase is the elimination of some low-wage jobs," but "empirical evidence shows such an outcome is likely to be negligible," and "concerns about poverty and rising income inequality ... support an increase in the minimum wage without the need to consider extraneous issues in tax policy."

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Ah ... hello?

My readership is understandably down since I took a hiatus in December and relocated to a new URL, but nevertheless I had a healthy number of visitors yesterday and quite a few already today.

Thank you! I appreciate your interest!

But ... just one little question. I got just two comments yesterday, and none today. Never more than a few on any day since I resumed blogging.

Not that commenting is a requirement for visiting! I'm just wondering, is there something I could be doing here that would encourage more discussion? For that matter, what about this site to do you like and/or dislike? Are the News and Notes roundups fun, or tedious? Do you like the balance of Ohio and national items? Anything you' d like to see me cover in more depth? Why not leave a comment to this post and let me know!

I'm asking this now partly because I will be out of town for five day starting tomorrow. When I start afresh next Tuesday it will be a good time to consider changes based on your suggestions.

Thanks!

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Looking at Quinnipiac Poll More Closely

Looking through the cross tabs in the second part of the Quinnipiac Poll, a few things jump out at me:

Ohio Likes Sherrod - The approval numbers for the new Senator are nearly as good as those for the new Governor, with just a few more people saying they don't know. The overall numbers for Ted are 45% approve, 12% disapprove, 43% don't know, while for Sherrod they are 42%/18%/40%. Interestingly, the category of white born-again evangelicals approves of each official to the same degree as does the general population. However, Sherrod has a steeper dropoff among Republicans (28% approval) than does Ted (34%).

Southeast Ohio LOVES Ted - Ted's approval numbers in his home territory are astronomical - 66% approve, 14% disapprove, 20% don't know. Compared to the statewide numbers, the "don't knows" are cut in half and almost all of them moved up to "approve." (To know him is to love him.) And, it seems to rub off on Ted's friend Sherrod. Sherrod's approval in southeast Ohio is the same as his approval in his home area of northeast Ohio (47%), and fewer people in Ted's home turf say they "don't know" Sherrod (30%) than in Sherrod's own neck of the woods (33%). What's up with that?

As to Schools, the Grass is NOT Greener on the Other Side - I don't know what to make of this. Ohioans are evenly split on whether Ohio public schools in general are excellent or good (48%) versus not so good or poor (48%), but when asked about the public schools in their own community, significantly more say the schools are excellent or good (68%) than not so good or poor (30%). Apparently the known quantity fares better than the unknown, or (another way of looking at it) the general reputation of public schools is lower than deserved. Something similar happens when people are asked about Congress: they disapprove of the institution as a whole, but tend to like their own representative.

Tepid Support for Increasing Taxes to Help Poorer School Districts, Except in the Southeast - Support for increasing spending on public schools in poorer districts is huge (70% favor, 2% oppose, 22% keep the same), but support for increasing state taxes to accomplish that goal is weak (47% favor, 47% oppose). It's not suprising that Democrats tend to support the tax increase idea (53% to 39%) or that women tend to support it somewhat (48% to 45%). The biggest support, however, is in Appalachia. Residents of southeast Ohio are much more supportive of a tax increase for this purpose (66% to 34%) than residents of any other region, none of which offer more than 49% support.

Ohioans Don't Mind Ted Delaying Three Executions - Although voters favor the death penalty over life without parole for convicted murders by a substantial margin (48% to 38%), there is little opposition to the governor's decision to delay three executions in order for him to review their cases more closely (60% support, 31% oppose). Even Republicans are okay with the delay (49% to 45%), though they are particularly adamant about favoring the death penalty over life without parole (63% to 24%). Men and women support the delay about equally (59% and 61% respectively), although men are much more likely to favor the death penalty over life without parole (54% to 33%) than women, who are about evenly divided (44% to 43%).

Geographic Support for Death Penalty Very Uneven - This surprises me. Liberal-leaning northeast Ohioans are the biggest supporters of the death penalty over life without parole (52% to 37%), while conservative southwestern Ohio doesn't really favor either one (42% to 43%), and southeastern Ohio actually prefers life without parole (40% to 45%).

Ohio News Roundup

Shake, rattle and roll:

Q-Poll Reveals Ohioans Approve of Ted, Mixed on Education Amendment - The second part of a Quinnipiac Poll was released this morning, showing that Ohioans approve of their new governor (although with many saying they don't know enough to answer the question), they approve his delay of three executions to consider clemency (although most voters prefer the death penalty to life without parole for convicted murderers), and they favor the idea of an amendment to increase spending on poorer schools but don't like the fact that the amendment doesn't say where the money will come from, and they oppose a tax increase for that purpose. Discussion on Openers, As Ohio Goes, and Buckeye State Blog.

Keiper Nixes Ohio Senate Bid - The Akron Beacon Journal has the story, and Redhorse at Psychobilly Democrat has the analysis. Portage County Commissioner Chuck Keiper (D) has taken his name out of consideration for the 28th District seat of State Sen. Kimberly Zurz (D), who is stepping down for a post in the Strickland administration, and the contenders appear to be Rep Kathleen Chandler (D-Kent), Rep. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron), County Council member Paula Prentice (D), and Ohio Board of Elections member (and former Congressman) Tom Sawyer (D-Akron), with Sawyer getting the nod in Redhorse's estimable opinion.

Sherrod Brown Meets With Sheriff on AK Steel Lockout - The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon) met in Washington with the Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones for about 30 minutes yesterday to discuss the 11-month-old lockout of union workers from AK Steel's Middletown Works. The senator agreed "to do whatever he can in trying to bring the matter to a successful conclusion."

GOP Girding for Legal Battle Over Ted's Veto - Also from the Dispatch, state GOP leaders have hired the politically connected law firm Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease and authorized the expenditure of $150,000 to contest Gov. Ted Strickland's veto of legislation that would cut back damages in consumer lawsuits and immunize paint companies from public nuisance lawsuits over lead-based paint. Attorney General Marc Dann (D-Liberty Township) will defend the validity of the veto.

Bush Warrantless Wiretapping Challenge Argued in Federal Appellate Court - Dan Horn has an interesting rundown in the Cincinnati Enquirer of oral arguments yesterday in the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati on the secret federal program that allows the government to monitor calls to or from the United States if one of the parties is suspected of terrorist activity. "It is this court's duty to serve as a check on the arbitrary exercise of government power to wiretap American citizens on American soil," said Ann Beeson, an ACLU attorney. "The president has the inherent constitutional authority to engage in foreign intelligence gathering," said Gregory Garre, a deputy solicitor general. The White House recently agreed to submit the program to supervision by the secret federal "FISA" court, but this is still a live controversy because the president reserves the right to opt out of that arrangement at any time.