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Saturday, September 29, 2007


Ohio Daily Blog will be offline for site renovation from 12:00 am on Sunday, September 30th until 9:00 am on Monday, October 1st.

Thank you for your patience!

Gingrich (R) Will Not Run; Gore (D) Still Being Mentioned

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich officially cancelled the idea of entering the presidentialrace today, after figuring out that he can't both explore a bid for president and remain as head of his tax exempt organization, American Solutions (for Winning the Future).

Gingrich was the last major candidate-in-the-wings on the GOP side. Christopher Hitchens argued in Salon this week that Al Gore still falls in that category on the Democratic side, with his final decision not to be made until the Nobel Peace Prizes are announced on October 12th.

As a candidate, Gingrich would have been somewhat hampered by his turbulent personal life and his unceremonious departure from Congress after the GOP's dismal performance in the 1998 midterm elections. After serving as the public face of the GOP-led unsuccessful impeachment of Bill Clinton, he came to be viewed as a highly divisive figure. However, conservative Ohioans still revere his role in developing the Contract with America and the groundbreaking GOP victory in the 1994 midterm elections. Since leaving Congress he has largely rehabilitated himself with the GOP base through his public activities as a commentator and advocate.

If Gore does decide to run, it will be fascinating to see whether Ohioans respond well him on the basis of his Academy Award, best-selling book and popular movie, and (if it happens) Nobel Peace Prize. Certainly an impressive and unprecedented string of accomplishments for a presidential candidates. He did win the majority of popular votes in the 2000 presidential election, and history has vindicated his strong positions about global warming and against the war in Iraq. However, it is difficult to overcome the stigma of losing a presidential election, and his performance on the campaign trail in 2000 is not highly regarded. Still, I know from personal experience that among Democratic activists in Ohio he has a strong following.

Friday, September 28, 2007

OH-5: Nine File for Special Primary Elections

Today was the final day for filing election petitions in Wood County for the November 6th special primary elections in the 5th Ohio Congressional District. Subject to verification of petition signatures, the candidate list looks like this (h/t CQ Politics):I received an email earlier today from a reliable source indicating that Sandusky County Commissioner Brad Smith (R-Fremont), who was widely regarded as a strong potential candidate from the eastern reaches of the district, decided against running at the eleventh hour. Smith was not convinced that he had a serious chance of success and is unwilling to play the spoiler or be a pawn. Reportedly he does have future political ambitions, and does not want to do anything to jeopardize his reputation as a sincere public servant.

UPDATE: Thanks to a reader and a commenter for directing me to this interview of Dr. Campbell.

New Fox Poll: Clinton & Obama Lead Three GOP Candidates

In a new national poll just out from Fox News, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) has a big (and growing) lead over three major GOP contenders in head-to-head matchups (parenthetical numbers are from July):

46% (46%) Clinton (D)
39% (41%) Giuliani (R)

48% (47%) Clinton (D)
35% (38%) Thompson (R)

46% (45%) Clinton (D)
39% (42%) McCain (R)

The poll didn't test Clinton against Romney, and it didn't include former senator John Edwards (D-NC). The poll shows Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) also leading against the three GOP contenders, but not by as much as Clinton (and his leads are shrinking):

41% (45%) Obama (D)
40% (41%) Giuliani (R)

45% (48%) Obama (D)
33% (30%) Thompson (R)

40% (47%) Obama (D)
38% (37%) McCain (R)

Among other findings, the poll puts approval of Bush at 34%, down from 37% right after the testimony of Gen. Petraeus before Congress. Approval of Democratic Party is at 50%, of the Republican Party is at 44%.

Calls for GOP Condemnation of Limbaugh "Phony Soldier" Remark Growing

I've been trying to keep track as the number of Democrats calling on Republicans to condemn Rush Limbaugh's reprehensible remark on Wednesday that U.S. military personnel returned from Iraq who criticize the war are "phony soldiers." (Limbaugh also called Vietnam veteran Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) "Senator Betrayus" back in January.) Here is a scorecard:
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Chair of the DCCC - "It minimizes the sacrifice our troops in Iraq and their families are making and has no place in the public discourse. Rush Limbaugh owes our military and their families an apology for his hurtful comments that minimize their service to our country."

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)
, a veteran of the Vietnam War - "[It is a] disgusting attack. ... [Limbaugh] is an embarrassment to his party, and I expect the Republicans who flock to his microphone will now condemn this indefensible statement.”

Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA), an Iraq War veteran - "Someone should tell chicken-hawk Rush Limbaugh that the only phonies are those who choose not to serve and then criticize those who do."

Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) - "I wonder if Republicans who showed so much outrage towards MoveOn.org yesterday will hold Rush Limbaugh to the same standard, and I wouldn’t hold your breath," he said.

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) - "It's ironic, if not remotely surprising, that Rush Limbaugh - who makes his living shooting his mouth off - would impugn the patriotism and service of American troops simply because they have voiced their opposition to this failed policy. It's clear that he has no idea what the brave men and women of our armed forces are ostensibly fighting for."
And the number of blogs calling for Democrats in Congress to introduce a resolution condemning Limbaugh is also growing:
Think Progress
Carpetbagger Report
Down With Tyranny
Cliff Schechter
Crooks and Liars
So, where are Ohio Bloggers and Ohio Democratic legislators on this?

Brown Hails Senate Vote on SCHIP

Yesterday the Senate joined the House in approving the compromise bill to extend and expand the SCHIP program, which in 2006 helped provide health insurance for 6.6 million children nationwide and 218,000 children in Ohio. The Senate vote was by a veto-proof 68-31, while the House vote fell some two dozen votes short of that goal. Industry groups such as American's Health Insurance Plans and the Federation of American Hospitals hailed the vote.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D), who sits on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, released this statement about the legislation today:
“Soon after moving into the White House, President Bush pledged to leave no child behind. What about uninsured ones? To do well in school and thrive outside of it, children need the right care, at the right time, from the right provider – and they need our president to do the right thing. If President Bush truly wants to leave no child behind, instead of vetoing this bill he will champion it.

“I wish the president could meet the children and parents I talk to in Ohio. He wants private insurers to cover these children. So do I. But wishful thinking doesn’t cover kids, and neither does indifference. We have an opportunity to help millions of children to receive preventive care in the doctor’s office instead of acute care in the emergency room, and we should grab it.”
I searched the internet but could find not any statement from Sen. George Voinovich (R) explaining his vote against the legislation. I am waiting for a return call from his press secretary.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

OH House-30: Mecklenborg (R) To Replace Seitz (R)

A screening committee of the Ohio House Republican Caucus has approved attorney Robert Mecklenborg (R-Green Township) to replace State Rep. Bill Seitz (R) in the 30th Ohio House District. Seitz will be appointed to the Ohio Senate on October 10th to replace retiring term-limited incumbent Patricia Clancy (R-Cincinnati), so that Seitz can run for the office in 2008 as an incumbent.

OH-14: O'Neill (D) Calls "Iraq Compact" Signed by LaTourette (R) a "Political Stunt"

A few days ago Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Township) joined a group of 24 House members in signing a "bipartisan compact on the Iraq debate," which they call a pledge designed to reduce political infighting and promote a "bipartisan solution." Among other things, the document states that cutting funding for troops in Iraq would endanger service members, future military involvement in Iraq requires a "clearly defined and measurable mission," the Iraqi government must steer Iraq's future course, and U.S. troops must have adequate recuperation between deployments.

Challenger Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell), the former appellate judge and candidate for Ohio Supreme Court, is calling it empty hypocrisy. O'Neill earned a Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam and his son served in Afghanistan and Iraq. O'Neill's press release states:
"I agree that bipartisan efforts are the only way we are going to get our troops out of harm's way. But this compact appears to be nothing more than empty words in lieu of action - an attempt to put a happy face on what has become a foreign policy disaster.

"It's hard to take Rep. LaTourette seriously when his record simply doesn't match up to his words.

"The compact requires that our troops have adequate recuperation periods between deployments. But last month Rep. LaTourette voted against a bipartisan bill that would have done just that (H.R. 3159). The compact requires a mission that is 'clearly defined and measurable' – and I applaud that goal. But Rep. LaTourette has consistently voted against measures to require accountability in Iraq.

"It is intellectually dishonest to suggest that defunding this war places our troops in peril. The truth is that funding without benchmarks is precisely what has placed our troops in peril over the past four years.

"This bipartisan compact is nothing more than a political stunt. And our men and women in Iraq deserve so much better."

Cordray Brings Financial Guidance to Domestic Violence Shelters

The Ohio Domestic Violence Network has learned through focus groups around that state that personal finances are the most compelling reason preventing battered women from leaving an abusive situation. Finances made it harder for 89 percent of women to leave, compared to 77 percent who indicated they were concerned for the well-being of their children, and 67 percent who said they feared for the lives of themselves or others.

This is why it is so important that Ohio Treasurer Richard Cordray, the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, and Verizon Wireless today announced a plan to bring resources and information to women who are trying to escape domestic violence. “Women who must, for the sake of themselves and their children, escape an abusive situation are in critical need of help in assessing and rebuilding their personal financial situation,” said Nancy Neylon, Executive Director of the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, in the press release. “This initiative will lessen the struggles these survivors must endure. We’re gratified to see that Treasurer Cordray recognizes this need and is taking action to address it.”

The plan involves two-hour "Financial Freedom NOW" workshops which are coordinated by Treasurer Cordray’s office, presented in cooperation with the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, and funded through a grant of over $12,000 from Verizon Wireless. Participants will receive help in assessing their financial situation, an action plan for addressing their challenges, materials for organizing financial documents and records, local resources, and instruction on financial components of legal and housing needs.

The workshops are scheduled for Columbus, Cleveland, Marion, St. Clairsville and Toledo, with more expected to be held in the coming months. Workshop presenters include Consumer Credit Counseling Service; Fifth Third Bank; Ohio State Legal Services Association; Southeastern Ohio Legal Services; Legal Aid Societies of Columbus, Cleveland, Marion, and Toledo; and the Belmont, Columbus, Cuyahoga, Lucas, and Marion Metropolitan Housing Authorities.

“Domestic violence service organizations tell us that the number of victims who say they need financial guidance is greater than the number who need vocational and child care assistance combined,” said Cordray. “The kind of information we can provide to women during this key period in their recovery will give them the necessary tools to rebuild their lives and those of their children.”

Brunner: Vote Law "Institutionalized" Vote Caging

An article published yesterday by McClatchy Newspapers' Washington Bureau says that new voting laws in Ohio and Florida could dampen Democratic voting in 2008, and the part about Ohio contains a hair-raising warning from Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (D).

The article starts with this description of the overall problem:
Backers of the new laws say they're aimed at curbing vote fraud. But the statutes also could facilitate a controversial Republican tactic known as "vote caging," which the GOP tried in Ohio and Florida in 2004 before public disclosures foiled the efforts, said Joseph Rich, a former Justice Department voting rights chief in the Bush administration who's now with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights.

Caging, used in the past to target poor minorities in heavily Democratic precincts, entails sending mass mailings to certain voters and then using the undelivered letters to compile lists of voters for eligibility challenges.
Later it gets into the comments by Brunner:
In Ohio, which swung the 2004 election to Bush, new Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner said in a phone interview that an election law passed last year and signed by former Republican Gov. Bob Taft effectively "institutionalized" vote caging.

The law requires that the state's 88 county election boards send non-forwardable, pre-election notices to all 7.8 million registered Ohio voters at least 60 days before the election.

Undelivered letters are public record, she said, meaning that effectively, "now the counties are paying for" the data needed to compile challenge lists.

In addition, Brunner said, the law toughened voter ID requirements and "took away rights of some voters to be heard about whether or not their registration was valid."

In the past, Ohio voters were entitled to an official notice and a hearing before an election board could declare them ineligible, but the new law says the board can make that decision without notice. A disqualified voter who shows up at the polls must demonstrate that he's fixed any eligibility problem or opt for filing a provisional ballot that may not count.

Brunner said the new law has left her feeling "like being in a sword fight with one hand behind your back."

She said she's sought, "while working within the framework of preventing fraud," to make it "as easy as possible for people who are eligible to participate."
Just having a Democratic Secretary of State isn't going to prevent GOP attempts at voter suppression, not when she's constrained by an election law that helps them out.

Ohio Launches New Health Care Reform Web Site

The helpful blog Ohio Health Policy Review notes today that the Ohio Department of Insurance has created a new website to promote Gov. Ted Strickland's Healthcare Coverage Reform Initiative. The purpose of the initiative is to provide access to affordable health insurance coverage to all uninsured Ohioans, with an initial goal of providing coverage to 500,000 more Ohioans by 2011. To that end, Strickland has asked for a bi-partisan, inclusive, transparent process to develop reforms tailored to Ohio. From the OHPR blog:
"The website brings together the different work being done under this initiative, including Ohio's participation in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation State Coverage Initiative, which allows people from the Governor's administration, Ohio General Assembly, and key stakeholders to work with leaders and experts from around the country on how to cover Ohio's uninsured residents. Another aspect of the initiative is the Governor's Healthcare Coverage Initiative Advisory Committee, an advisory group to provide guidance in developing reforms.

"According to the Health Coverage Reform Initiative website, 'stakeholder groups are currently being formed to share information that will shape plans to cover Ohio’s uninsured residents.' Anyone desiring to join one one of these stakeholder groups should go the 'Public Input' section of the website and provide their contact information and group preference."
This initiative is the larger framework into which the expansion of SCHIP to provide Medicaid coverage to uninsured children fits.

OH-13 & 18: Space (D) and Sutton (D) Promote Mortgage Crisis Legislation

Kudos to Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) and Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Township) for continuing to take the lead on legislation to address the continuing mortgage crisis.

Yesterday the House Ways and Means Committee passed legislative language introduced by Space that would severely cut the "foreclosure tax" that occurs when mortgage debt wiped out in bankruptcy is treated as taxable income to the now homeless and bankrupt borrower. According to the press release, Committee Chairman Charles Rangel told Space that he "would like to applaud your leadership on this important issue, especially given that foreclosure rates in Ohio have risen 138% since August of 2006. Your state is just one example of the tremendous reach of the housing crisis, and its impact on working Americans."

“I am very pleased that the ideals set out in my Foreclosure Tax Relief Act are being incorporated into our legislative agenda,” Space responded. “The IRS should stop adding insult to injury when these families are obviously in financial trouble. This is great news for Ohio’s working families.”

As for Sutton, she has introduced two bills. The Foreclosure Prevention and Homeownership Protection Commission Act creates a Federal commission charged with analyzing the underlying causes of the subprime mortgage crisis and recommending legislative and regulatory actions that would help homeowners avoid foreclosure and unfair rate increases. “This issue is much more basic, more fundamental than partisan politics,” Sutton said. “We need a bipartisan commission with the expertise and authority to find the causes of the current crisis, and to offer up real solutions. Congress has already taken action to address some of the immediate causes of this crisis, but we must also find the root causes and come up with long-term solutions. There’s no reason to keep patching a broken system if we can repair the system from the inside out.”

The bipartisan commission, which would include representatives of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is modeled in part on the commission created by Gov. Ted Strickland, who praised Sutton's bill. “In representing a state that has been hit particularly hard by foreclosures, Congresswoman Sutton understands first-hand the devastating effects of this crisis on our homeowners,” said Strickland. “Ohio’s Foreclosure Prevention Taskforce, created in March, has been instrumental in studying and providing solutions to an escalating foreclosure problem in our state, and I strongly support Congresswoman Sutton’s efforts to establish a commission to address these issues on a national level.”

Sutton’s second bill, the Fair Disclosure for Homeowners Act, deals with adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs). “Many homeowners with ARMs are being caught by surprise when their monthly mortgage payments increase sharply overnight,” said Sutton. “Mortgage rate sneak attacks are bringing a lot of suffering and hardship to American families. This bill would require creditors to send a notification, separate from their monthly mortgage statements or any other notices, to homeowners holding ARMs six months before rates are due to change.”

The notification would include the creditor’s best estimate of the homeowner’s new monthly payments, contact information for Federal and state government agencies that homeowners can contact to get help, options homeowners can pursue if they anticipate difficulty meeting their payment obligations after the rate resets. The bill also requires creditors to include the reset date on all monthly statements.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Real Struggle To End Iraq War Will Be Waged in Ohio and Florida, Not in Congress

Salon's Washington Bureau Chief Walter Shapiro has an article out that explains in straight-forward terms why Democrats in Congress can't end the war -- they don't have enough votes to override a veto, and Republicans won't join them in opposing it. Here is the end of the article, the last paragraph of which really jumped out at me:
With Congress slated to adjourn in mid-November, the clock is fast running out on legislative efforts to reshape the war. Symbolic gestures like "sense of the Senate" resolutions and toothless withdrawal plans -- even if they survive a filibuster -- are unlikely to cow the administration, especially next year when Bush has less than a year left in the Oval Office. Democrats in swing districts will be even more reluctant to engage in a scorched-earth battle with the administration over war funding as the congressional elections draw near.

But the date that is most important to keep in mind is Feb. 6, the morning after the Super-Duper Party-Pooper orgy of primaries when both parties are likely to have de facto presidential nominees. The victorious Democrat in particular will want nothing to happen in Congress that could possibly jeopardize winning back the White House. And congressional leaders (along with most back-benchers) will be shrewd enough to understand that electing a Democratic president is the only surefire route to ending this debilitating war.

That is why angry antiwar activists should realize that their targets are no longer skittish congressional Democrats and Beltway insiders who are their counselors in caution. This is not the moment for guerrilla theater and mau-mauing the moderates. For the true struggle on the home front to end the Iraq war is no longer going to be waged in the chambers of Congress. The coming battleground instead is the familiar terrain of Ohio and Florida -- and the hearts and minds of the swing voters who will decide the 2008 election.

OH-5: Grandillo (D) Out, Campbell (D) In

A reader in Wood County informs me that Tiffin University administrator Mike Grandillo (D-Tiffin) has decided against running in the special primary election. However, petitions have been filed by Dr. Earl Campbell (D-Perrysburg), and there are reports that George F. Mays (D-Norwalk) may also file, so it appears that there will be a Democratic primary.

The other Democratic candidate, Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon), has sent out a press release indicating that she filed petitions today with 150 signatures, the maximum allowed, from all across the district.

OH-5: Two New GOP Candidates Declare

There have been four or five potential Republican candidates under discussion in the comment thread to this post, but meanwhile the Toledo Blade has reported that on two new announced candidates, neither of them a familiar name. Michael J. Reynolds (R-Columbus Grove) is a retiree who misspelled the deceased Congressman's name as "Gilmore" in his campaign announcement, and Mike Smitly (R-Van Wert) is a business consultant who is actually a Libertarian.

News and Notes: Ohio

What's going on today in the state whose width (220 miles) is the same as its height (220 miles):

Ohio Farmers Support Strickland's Energy Plan - Reporter Marc Kovac at the terrific Capital Blog reprints this press release from the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation announcing its unanimous endorsement:
“Our board believes the governor’s proposal is in the best interest of Ohio’s farmers, households and businesses,” said John C. (Jack) Fisher, OFBF executive vice president. He added, “We appreciate Governor Strickland’s willingness to listen to our members’ ideas as he created a plan to address many of the important energy issues that face our state and nation.”

Of immediate concern to Farm Bureau is that Ohio’s electric rate stabilization plan expires at the end of 2008.

Marc notes that hearings on the plan start today.

Assurances Regarding Production at Lordstown Included in UAW/GM Deal? - I haven't been able to track down a link, but I'm certain that I heard on the radio this morning (WCPN in Cleveland) that the tentative deal between the UAW and GM includes some kind of agreement to replace the Kobalt when it goes out of production at Lordstown in a few years. Can anyone confirm this?

Senate Passes Bill to Delay Tamper-Proof Presciption Requirement
- The Columbus Dispatch blog The Daily Briefing reports that last night the U.S. Senate passed a bill cosponsored by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) and Sen. George Voinovich (R) that would delay full implementation of a new reuirement that Medicaid prescriptions be handled electronically or with tamper-proof prescriptions, an anti-fraud measure with which doctors are not yet ready to comply. If the deadline is not changed, it may "make it more difficult for Medicaid patients to get prescriptions and it will force pharmacists to shoulder the costs for improperly filled prescriptions." A House version of the law introduced by Rep. Charlie Wilson (D) will be voted on next.

Ohio GOP Legislative Agenda Outlined - Jim Siegel of the Columbus Dispatch reviews the bills that may join Strickland's energy plan and banning cash-paying video machines on the legislative agenda this fall. Some are things that Strickland opposes, such as restricting the Ohio estate tax (stupidly called the "death tax" by opponents) and special education vouchers.

Brunner to Rule Whether Summit County Independent Candidates Are GOP - As reported in the Cleveland Plain Dealer today, the Summit County Board of Elections deadlocked on whether six candidates for Cuyahoga Falls Municipal Court clerk can appear on the ballot, and Secretary of State will rule on the matter. The candidates are running as independents, but Republicans took care of the filing paperwork, and it appears that they may be GOP plants jumping into the race in order to take votes away from the incumbent Lisa Zeno Carano (D) in her race against term-limited State Rep. John Widowfield (R). Running as an independent while you are a member of a political party is not allowed under Ohio law.

UPDATE: Ohio Supreme Court Takes Local Gun Law Case - I just caught this story in the Toledo Blade, reporting that the high court will hear a challenge to H.B. 347, which amended the concealed carry law to prohibit local governments from enforcing gun laws any more restrictive than state law. The case involved an ordinance in Clyde, Ohio that prohibits carrying firearms in public parks. The municipality is expected to argue that the law violates the home rule provision in the Ohio constitution.

Beware, the Carnival of Politics is Watching!

The 84th Carnival of Ohio Politics is up, and Pho did a great job with the "1984" theme.

As soon as you are done with your "Two Minutes of Hate," break way from your telescreen and head on over to the Ministry of Truth!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

OH-10: Palmer Says Kucinich and Bush "Like Petulant Children"

Democratic primary challenger Rosemary Palmer (D-Cleveland) lost no time in lambasting Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) for his mystifying vote against extension and expansion of SCHIP health insurance coverage for children:
I was appalled by Congressman Kucinich’s vote against the State Children’s Health Insurance Program on the House floor tonight. This bill would have expanded an already successful program to provide health insurance to millions of children across the country. It takes some twisted logic for someone who claims to support health care coverage for all to oppose this necessary and overdue move in the right direction.

On one hand, President Bush vows to veto the bill, and on the other, Dennis Kucinich votes against it because he doesn’t think it is perfect. This is a perfect example of what is presently wrong with Washington decision-making. Polarizing positions work against functional compromise resulting in a government that cannot serve in the nation’s best interest. While fringe politicians like President Bush and Congressman Kucinich rant like petulant children, the nation remains stagnant and desperately needing effective leadership. Unfortunately, children in Northeast Ohio and around the country will pay the price for their obstinate actions.

4 of 10 Ohio GOP House Members Vote for SCHIP

The House-Senate compromise bill to extend and expand SCHIP (H.R. 976, House Vote #906) passed tonight by a broad bipartisan majority of 265-159, with 45 Republicans voting "Yes" and 8 Democrats voting "No." Unfortunately, that is 24 votes short of the 2/3 majority needed to override the threatened presidential veto.

A substantial majority of Americans, including a majority of Republican voters, support the bill, as do a broad cross-section of trade organizations representing both the health care industry and insurance companies. Nevertheless, touting exaggerated claims that consumers would be driven from private to government insurance, and patently false claims that the bill would allow illegal aliens to obtain government health benefits, the White House and GOP leaders were able to keep enough Republican House members in line to preserve the threat of a presidential veto.

This vote against America's children will help define the 2008 election cycle. Those who opposed the bill will have much to explain to their constituents. In Ohio, the House members who voted "No" include four of the ten voting Republicans (Paul Gillmor being deceased and not yet replaced), and one Democrat -- none other than presidential aspirant Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland), who will no doubt say that the bill did not go far enough.

Here is the GOP roll call:

Mike Turner
Dave Hobson
Pat Tiberi
Steve LaTourette
Deborah Pryce
Ralph Regula

Steve Chabot
Jean Schmidt
Jim Jordan
John Boehner

Looking at the "No" votes, Jordan and Boehner are in such safe GOP districts that hey can probably ignore the will of the people with impunity, but Chabot and Schmidt are playing a dangerous game.

News and Notes: Ohio

Some interesting news items from the state whose highest point is Campbell Hill, 1550 feet above sea level:

Space Hosts Conference Call on SCHIP - Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover), Bob Ney's Democratic successor, had a press conference call today to support the compromise bill to extend and expand SCHIP. I was on the call, but David Potts at the excellent blog Left of Ohio has already posted details. Space noted a study that shows that dropping S-CHIP would cost states $2,121 more per child each year due to an increase in emergency room visits. Also, at DailyKos today it is pointed out that although Bush opposes the SCHIP expansion on the ground that it threatens to drive consumers from private to government insurance, the industry trade group Healthcare Leadership Council actually supports SCHIP, as does the Catholic Health Association of America. UPDATE: Here is a excerpt from the call, sent out by Space's office:
When I came to Congress one of the things we were focusing on was trying to make life better for the people we represent. This legislation is an important opportunity for me to cast a vote that will do just that. I think that we have a moral imperative to make sure that children regardless of economic situation have the health care they need so they don’t start their lives on the wrong foot or, God forbid, they run the risk of not ever reaching adulthood.

Passage of this bill means that we’re one step closer to ensuring that, just in Ohio, the existing 145,000 children who are covered will not lose coverage at the end of this month.

One thing that should be noted is that this compromise bill contains no changes in Medicare payments, it is simply about children.

The President has announced his intentions to seemingly veto this legislation once it’s passed. I find that not just disappointing, but disgraceful. He is threatening, through his veto, to eliminate coverage that currently exists now for 6.6 million children. The President’s proposal, which is to invest 5 billion into this program, if that were enacted, would take insurance away from almost a million children that are currently covered, 800,000.

He’s turning our children into a political issue and again I find it both disgusting and unconscionable.
Dann Pressuring Facebook on Child Safety - I received an email last night from Attorney general Marc Dann (D), confirming that he has been investigating Facebook.com:
As I have made clear, those running Web sites that are marketed to children and teen-agers had better do so responsibly. If Web sites put our children at risk, I will pursue every available avenue to stop them.

For the past month, my staff has been investigating the Facebook Web site, culminating in a meeting last week with representatives of Facebook and several attorneys general’s offices [at which I] expressed serious concerns about the current availability of inappropriate material on Facebook, as well as the dangers of sexual predators seeking out children on the site. At the same time, I also expressed my hope that we could work with Facebook to seek creative solutions to protect our children."
Bill Sloat at the Daily Bellwether has more, linking Dann's efforts to those of New York Attorney Andrew General Cuomo (D). The Daily Briefing also has more, including quotes from former blogger Chris Geidner, now Dann's counsel.

Sutton Pans US-Peru FTA - Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Township) joined five other members of the House Trade Working Group today in criticizing the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement, which follows the same model as NAFTA and CAFTA. The bill is the subject of a non-binding "mock work-up" by the House Ways and Means Committee, but has not had a formal hearing since the White House and Congress announced a deal on labor and environmental standards in May. Said Sutton:
"Everybody knows the global trading system is broken. Last November, my constituents and the American people across the country cast their ballots seeking a new direction on trade. They are counting on this new Congress to fix this broken trading system so that it no longer leaves American workers and businesses at a disadvantage. The American people are counting on this Democratic majority to provide a trade model that will truly allow for fair competition, because we know that if given a fair playing field, we'll excel in the global marketplace. Unfortunately, passing the Peru Free Trade Act is not consistent with our responsibility as a Congress and it is not consistent with the needs of the people who elected us.”
Oh, The Irony: Comparing Chabot and Schmidt Fund-Raising - Howard Wilkinson has a post up at the Cincinnati Enquirer political blog Politics Extra that compares the fund-raising situations of Cincinnati-area House members Steve Chabot (R-Westwood) and Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland). Chabot has no primary opponent and is sitting on a campaign fund of $413,932 (as of June 30th), but he is charging $1,000 per ticket for his fundraising breakfast at the Queen City Club next Monday. Schmidt is facing GOP opposition from Phil Heimlich (and perhaps others) and has only $85,169 in the bank (and $309,126 in debts, both as of June 30th), yet tickets for her Queen City Club fundraising breakfast on Friday are going for only $250.

Call Your Congressperson - Vote "Yes" on SCHIP!

Today's the day to rattle the phone lines and put pressure on Ohio's House members to extend SCHIP, the program that extends Medicaid insurance to children in lower-to-middle class working families who can't otherwise afford it. A number of GOP legislators are leaning toward supporting it, so calls to them are critical:
Steve Chabot (R-OH-1)
Washington Office:
Phone: (202) 225-2216
Main District Office:
Phone: (513) 684-2723

Jean Schmidt (R-OH 2)
Washington Office:
Phone: (202) 225-3164
Main District Office:
Phone: (513) 791-0381)

Michael Turner (R-OH 3)
Washington Office:
Phone: (202) 225-6465
Main District Office:
Phone: (937) 225-2843

Jim Jordan (R-OH 4th)
Washington Office:
Phone: (202) 225-2676
Fax: (202) 226-0577
Main District Office:
Phone: (419) 522-5757

David Hobson (R-OH 7)
Washington Office:
Phone: (202) 225-4324
Main District Office:
Phone: (937) 325-0474

John A. Boehner (R-OH 8)
Washington Office:
Fax: (202) 225-0704
Main District Office:
Phone: (513) 779-5400

Patrick J. Tiberi (R-OH 12)
Washington Office:
Phone: (202) 225-5355
Main District Office:
Phone: (614) 523-2555

Steven C. LaTourette (R-OH 14)
Washington Office:
Phone: (202) 225-5731
Main District Office:
Phone: (440) 352-3939

Deborah Pryce (R-OH 15)
Washington Office:
Phone: (202) 225-2015
Main District Office:
Phone: (614) 469-5614

OH-14: Big Fund-Raiser for Bill O'Neill Saturday, With Ted & Lee

September 30th is a reporting deadline for campaign contributions, so Congressional challengers should be focusing their time and attention this week on raising as much early campaign cash as possible. A strong campaign fund-raising report now means enhanced credibility and momentum going forward, which translates into better fund-raising down the road. In other words, now is the time to collect critical seed money for the campaign ahead.

Former state appellate judge Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell), taking on entrenched incumbent Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Chagrin Falls) in the 14th Ohio Congressional District, understands this very well. He is having a major fund-raising event at Lakeland Community College, 7700 Clocktower Drive, Kirtland, Ohio this Saturday, September 29th, from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm. Highlighting the event are special guests Gov. Ted Strickland (D) and Lt Gov. Lee Fisher (D). That will be an exciting campaign reunion, since O'Neill (then a candidate for Ohio Supreme Court) traveled the state with those two and the other statewide Democratic candidates during the wildy successful "Dream Team" bus tour in August, 2006.

If you have an appetite for change on the political scene, this is an important race for you -- and now is definitely the time for you to help O'Neill out. The suggested donation for students and union members is $25, and for everyone else starts at $100 per guest (or $175 per couple). Higher levels are $150/$250 for "Patrons" and $300/$500 for "Friends." Event organizers Terry and Janet Carson ask that attendees start by making a contribution through O'Neill's ActBlue page, and they will then contact you before the event. Questions may be directed to Janet Carson at carsontrry-at-yahoo-dot-com.

UPDATE: Seniors also qualify for the $25 rate.

Monday, September 24, 2007

State Controlling Board Authorizes Testing of Voting Machines

This is huge. After two weeks of delay, the state controlling board has approved the request by Seccretary of State Jennifer Brunner (D) to conduct thorough testing of electronic voting machines in Ohio.

Unfortunately, State Sen. John Carey (R-Wellston) managed to include restrictions on the authorization, the most troublesome of which appears to be listing the technical standards to be used. I do not have the information to assess whether that restriction will interfere in any substantial way with the study. However, this restricted approval is far better than outright rejection of the request.

The contractors are going to have to work around the clock to get their work done, thanks to the two weeks it took for the controlling board to approve the work. However, the testers are dedicated professionals and can be expected to go the extra mile.

New Ohio Poll: Head-to-Head Matchups

A new poll from Survey USA shows former mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NY) virtually tied against either Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) or former senator John Edwards (D-NC) at 48%-47% in each case, but well ahead of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) at 52%-39%. In other matchups, Clinton is virtually tied with former senator Fred Thompson (R-VA) at 48%-47% but ten points ahead of former governor Mitt Romney (R-MA), Edwards is nine points ahead of Thompson and twenty points ahead of Romney, and Obama trails Thompson and Romney each by ten points.

If you average the results for Democrats, Edwards is overall the strongest against the GOP field. It is interesting, however, that he and Clinton poll the same against Giuliani.

News and Notes: Ohio

Some of what's happening today in the state that fought a boundary war with Michigan in 1835 over the "Toledo Strip":

Space Announces Law to Improve VA Health Care - Responding to the report on treatment of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans by the Dole-Shalala commission (created in response to the exposure of poor facilities for out-patient care at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center), Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) today announced the Healthier Heroes Act. “Every single person who puts on a uniform in service to this country is a hero, and they should be treated as such,” Space said. “It is sad that it took the scandal at Walter Reed to create the impetus to do something about the system caring for our returning soldiers, but I am confident that this legislation will go a long way toward improving the care our newest heroes receive.” The proposed law would enact four recommendations from Dole and Shalala, including better coordination between the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration, removing the two-year time limit for getting treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, extending TRICARE benefits for primary caregivers of members of the uniformed services who incur a serious injury or illness on active duty, and extending the Family Medical Leave Act to cover severely injured service members’ families up to 26 weeks.

Weirauch Declares Support for Striking GM Workers
- Jumping on the UAW walkout that occurred this morning at 11:00 am, 5th Congressional District candidate Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon) announced that she supports workers on the picket line and challenged Republican candidates State Sen. Steve Buehrer (R-Delta) and State Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) to join her. "It's time for General Motors to address the reasonable concerns of UAW workers and deal fairly," writes Weirauch in a press release. "Northwest Ohioans deserve to know where the candidates stand. I'm standing with working families. Will you stand with us?" Thousands of General Motors workers are on strike in Northwest Ohio, including 1,540 at a GM foundry in Defiance.

Board Certified Teachers Clustered in Wealthier Districts
- A study by the Columbus Dispatch reveals that Ohio has plenty of board-certified teachers (2,629, which is fifth in the nation), but most work in richer districts with higher-performing students. Sixty-four percent teach in high-performing schools, and the richest 10% of districts have four times as many board certified teachers as the poorest 10%.

ABA Team Requests Death Penalty Moratorium; Strickland Will Think About It - As I reported on Wide Open today, the ABA Death Penalty Assessment Team for Ohio has release its 452-page report, revealing serious problems with how capital punishment is administered in Ohio, including racial disparity, inadequate representation, and failure to preserve biological evidence for DNA testing. The study says that Ohio meets only four of 93 ABA recommendations to ensure a fair capital punishment system, and asks Gov. Ted Strickland to halt executions to allow a review of the system. Strickland's spokesman says he'll read the report and think it over: "Capital punishment is something the governor takes very seriously and it would be irresponsible not to consider the report," spokesman Keith Dailey said.

Strip Club Referendum is Over 100,000 Signatures Short
- Backers of a statewide referendum on a law regulating strip clubs will now get another 10 days to come up with an additional 115,906 signatures from registered voters. Fewer than a third of the 383,600 turned in on September 3 were valid.

Now Blogging at ... "Wide Open"

Starting today, I join three other Ohio political bloggers as regular contributors to a new group blog, sponsored by Cleveland.com and The Cleveland Plain Dealer, called "Wide Open." The name builds on the name of the Cleveland.com politics page ("Open"), and is meant to convey that the site is reaching out to the Ohio blogosphere.

The name also suggests, correctly, that the four participating bloggers represent divergent political perspectives. Jill Miller Zimon (of Writes Like She Talks) and I are on the left, Dave (of Nixguy) and Tom Blumer (of BizzyBlog) are on the right.

So far as I know, this new group blog is novel in both respects: outside bloggers commenting on the news at a group site hosted by a news source, and bloggers of opposing political stripe squaring off on a daily basis in a single forum.

As for us bloggers, an important part of our agreement to participate in this project is that the editors at The Cleveland Plain Dealer will not censor or edit our submissions. Also, we are under no obligation to praise or to avoid criticizing Cleveland.com or The Cleveland Plain Dealer. It is also significant that although we have substantial disagreements among ourselves over candidates, issues, and policy, about which we will be outspoken, we have agreed to conduct the debate respectfully.

Today I have posted at Wide Open about Attorney General Marc Dann's creative and aggressive litigation on behalf of Ohio consumers, and today's request by the ABA-sponsored Ohio Death Penalty Assessment Team that Gov. Ted Strickland impose a temporary suspension of executions and undertake further study of the problems uncovered in a 30-month study of the death penalty in Ohio. I hope that Wide Open will be an interesting and welcome addition to the Ohio blogosphere, and I look forward to reading your comments, both there and here!

OH-7 & 16: More Buzz About Hobson (R) and Regula (R) Retiring

In a piece in the Washington Post by Chris Cillizza and Shailagh Murray yesterday, the authors include Rep. Dave Hobson (R-Springfield) and Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Navarre) in a list of six GOP House members "who might bow out over the coming weeks and months." They also comment that "the sudden recent death of Rep. Paul Gillmor, a 20-year home-state colleague, could help tip the balance for" Hobson, and that Regula's "primary opponent invited Regula supporters to an upcoming fundraiser."

There was speculation last August about Hobson retiring, which I reported on this blog as well, but shortly after that I believe I heard that Hobson has said he will indeed run. Is there anything new on this out there?

I hadn't heard about a fund-raiser for a Regula primary opponent that targeted Regular supporters, and I'm not sure if this is a reference to State Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) or Ashland County Commissioner Matt Miller (R-Ashland).

Sunday, September 23, 2007

News and Notes: Ohio

It's Sunday evening and I thought I'd clear out the feed reader - so here's a sampling of what's going on in the state whose name is derived from the Seneca word ohi:yo', meaning beautiful river:

County GOP Seeks Expulsion of Kucinich - As reported today in the Cleveland Plain Dealer blog Openers, the Cuyahoga County Republican Party has created a web site to support its plan to petition the Ohio General Assembly to ask the U.S. House of Representatives to expel Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland). Echoing Kucinich's primary challenger Rosemary Palmer (D-Cleveland), local GOP officials contend that Kucinich is ignoring his constituents for the sake of his long-shot presidential campaign. Of course, the chances of such an expulsion occurring are infinitely more remote than of Kucinich becoming president. Meanwhile, Kucinich will take his presidential campaign to NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno tomorrow evening. He will tout his soon-to-be-released autobiography, Courage to Survive. (I am NOT making this up.)

Sherrod Stands Up For Consumers - On the campaign trail Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) frequently promised to stand up for the middle class and the less fortunate among us, and he is doing it. Here are two recent examples: Brown and Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) have introduced legislation to make companies financially responsible for defective foreign-made products and food they import (i.e., the importers would have to pay the costs of recalls and for damages caused by the defective products), and Brown has introduced a bill to limit the new requirement of either electronic prescribing or tamper-proof prescription pads for Medicaid prescriptions, set to go into effect on October 1. Under Brown's bill the requirement would only apply to Schedule II narcotics until April 2009, when it would go into effect for other drugs. The problem with the new requirement is that many doctors are not ready to follow the new procedures, so beginning October 1 pharmacies would be compelled to reject prescriptions from lots Medicaid patients, leaving them without their meds.

Subodh Chandra Defends Marc Dann - They tangled in a sometimes bitter Democratic primary for the office of Ohio Attorney General last year, but Cleveland attorney Subodh Chandra (soo-BODE CHUN-druh) stepped up to defend his former rival from criticism that Dann has tried to stretch the law too far in filing aggressive lawsuits, including attempts to ban cash-paying video games under the consumer protection law and to shut down failing charter schools under charitable trust law. Chandra told a reporter for the Columbus Dispatch:
For 16 years, we had attorneys general who did the bare minimum, which is representing the state when it was sued but doing very little else to use the authority of the office. The attorney general should be acting in the public interest. That's why we have a separately elected attorney general. If the attorney general was only supposed to represent the state when it was sued, the Constitution would say so.
Ohio Observes "National Employ Older Workers Week" - That's right, the proportion of the available workforce who are over 45 is increasing (it will be 40% by 2008) and worker shortages are expected. “Americans age 55 or older are a dedicated and experienced core of our workforce,” says Barbara E. Riley, Director of the Ohio Department of Aging. Employers rate older workers high on factors such as judgment, commitment to quality, attendance and punctuality. Mature workers include retired folks who want second careers, people working beyond age 65, and people wanting part-time work to supplement their retirement income. Ohio helps low-income older adults find employment through the Senior Community Services Employment Program (SCSEP). Later this fall, Governor Strickland and the Department of Aging will convene a group of business leaders and human resources professionals at the Governor’s Conference on Aging. Read more in the press release posted by Mark Kovac at Capital Blog.

Friday, September 21, 2007

OH-5: Scorecard! Scorecard! Can't Tell The Players Without A Scorecard!

5th District. North Central Ohio (Ashland, Crawford, Defiance,
Fulton, Henry, Huron, Lucas, Mercer, Paulding, Putnam, Sandusky, Seneca,
Van Wert, Williams, Wood, Wyandot Counties). Includes Norwalk, Bucyrus, Tiffin,
Defiance, Bowling Green, Fremont. Cook PVI R+10.1. Bush won 61% in 2004. Incumbent Paul Gillmor, who defeated repeat challenger Robin Weirauch by 57% to 43% in 2006, died on September 4, 2007. A primary election will be held on November 6th and a special election on December 11th.
  • State Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green)
  • State Sen. Steve Buehrer (R-Delta)
  • State Rep. Jeff Wagner (R-Sycamore)
  • Mayor Terry Overmyer (R-Fremont)
  • Sandusky County Commissioner Brad Smith (R-Fremont)
  • Former University Administrator Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon)
  • City Councilman Mike Grandillo (D-Tiffin)

OH-5: Damschroder (R) Out; New GOP Names Mentioned

I have received an email from a reader in the eastern part of the 5th Congressional District who confirms an anonymous commenter's report that former State Rep. Rex Damschroder (R-Fremont) has decided not to run. He goes on to say that because of that decision, and a local desire to have a candidate from the eastern portion of the district, there is a movement underway to get one of the following three people to jump into the race:
* State Rep. Jeff Wagner (R-Sycamore), a farmer, who can only run one more time due to term limits;

* Mayor Terry Overmyer (R-Fremont), a businessman who is the longest-serving mayor in Fremont's history; and,

* Three-term Sandusky County Commissioner Brad Smith (R-Fremont), an attorney, who worked for the Ohio House Republican Campaign Committee under JoAnn Davidson and has served as a City Councilman and an prosecutor.
Any of these candidates would have an uphill battle in the primary, but would carry a lot of votes in the eastern part of the district, and that could tilt the race from State Rep. Bob Latta (centrally located in Bowling Green) toward State Sen. Steve Buehrer (from the western town of Delta).

Clearly, there will be many more meetings held this weekend to figure this all out - but very interesting, not so much because any of these people have a realistic chance to win, but who they take votes away from, thus affecting the outcome.

Republican Defectors May Defeat Threatened Veto of S-CHIP Extension

House and Senate leaders are negotiating a compromise bill to extend and expand the S-CHIP program, which allows children in certain low-to-middle income families to enroll in Medicaid. (The popular program will expire in ten days without Congressional renewal.) The compromise bill reportedly would permit states to extend the program to families with incomes up to 300% of the federal poverty level, sufficient to permit Ohio to go ahead with the plans reflected in the recently passed state budget.

However, Bush reiterated the other day that he would veto the compromise bill, and called on Congress to instead pass a law that essentially extends the program with very little increase. The Senate version of the extension passed with a veto-proof bipartisan majority (it got 68 votes), but the House version did not (225-204). Thus, the question becomes whether enough additional GOP legislators will defect in order to defeat a veto.

Suddenly, the signs are looking good. This morning I spoke to a contact working on the issue who said that already at least three of Ohio's eleven Republican members of Congress will vote for the law. (None did so last time.) And now there is this news item at the Washington Post today, hinting at mass desertion of the White House by GOP legislators in this battle:
Republicans reacted angrily yesterday to President Bush's promise to veto a bill that would renew and expand the popular State Children's Health Insurance Program, raising the likelihood of significant GOP defections when the package comes to a vote next week.

"I'm disappointed by the president's comments," said Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who urged Bush, in an early-morning telephone conversation yesterday, to support the emerging bipartisan compromise. "Drawing lines in the sand at this stage isn't constructive. . . . I wish he would engage Congress in a bill that he could sign instead of threatening a veto.

"I'm very, very disappointed," said Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.). "I'm going to be voting for it."
Also cited in the article are Rep. Ra LaHood (R-IL), who says he is trying to get 20 to 30 House Republicans to vote for the compromise, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who when asked if he would override a veto said "You bet your sweet bippy I will."

Fave Comments on the MoveOn Molehill

Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), quoted in a piece by blogger Taylor Marsh, says what I wish Democratic leaders would say:
"I commend MoveOn for their ad and for speaking truth to power," said Stark. "Up is not down, the earth is not flat, and the surge is not working. General Petraeus betrayed his own reputation by standing with George Bush in opposition to the timely withdrawal of all of our brave men and women from Iraq. I thank MoveOn for their patriotic ad and call on Petraeus to help Bush end a war the President should have never started."
And I simply love this comment left on a CNN.com news item today by an ex-military man from Lansing, Michigan:
I am an ex-military man. I do not support the sentiments voiced by the moveon.org ad. However, the following needs be said:

1) General Petraeus is a big boy; they certainly don't give four stars and a bronze star with a 'v' for shrinking violets. As any flag officer knows, life is very political at that level and sometimes people just aren't nice. They should be ignored.

2) We have something in this country - something I was proud to contribute to - called freedom of speech. I may not like what a lot of people say (I try not to think of a lot of people out there spewing their bilge, on the right just as much as the left) - but I do feel strongly about the right to say it. if you don't like it, say something back, or better still, just ignore it.

3) Hasn't the senate got anything better to do with their time? Granted, they are often inept and hopelessly divided, but I can't help thinking that ignoring this ad would have been a better use of their limited brainpower and infinite ability to keep talking.

With all this, I believe it is obvious what the proper response to the ad SHOULD have been.


Chet Morrison
Hoo-ah, indeed.

UPDATE: By the way, MoveOn.org says that it is being flooded with messages of support from members of the U.S. military and their families, and that they have raised $500,000 from 12,000 contributors to run a new ad.

Here are some of the messages:
I have given a son to this country. My brother, my father, my uncle have all served honorably and bravely. I am a loyal American. I am outraged and sick to death of the tactics this administration uses to try to silence dissent to a war that is unjust, built and maintained on lies, political power, and greed. I was content to let others fight more loudly, but no more.
–Sharyn W., NC

I am a prior soldier who served in Iraq for 13 months, and am now an expecting mom with a husband who is deployed in Baghdad. I don't think I can ever forgive the Bush administration for the lies that tricked America into this war and hurt my family so badly. I am ashamed of those American politicians who would condemn an organization for practicing the Freedom of Speech that so many soldiers have died for.
–Danielle B., OH

As a US Navy veteran and an Iraq war veteran of over a year I want to ask, What has happened to us? What has happened to our voice? Where is this country going with stopping free speech and free press? ... Every time I think of the long nights I had in Anbar remembering what I was fighting for, well here it is....
–Ahmad H., LA

OH Sen-22: Interview with Mike Todd (D)

A few weeks ago I spoke with Michael Todd (D-Medina Township) about his campaign for the 22nd Ohio Senate seat of term-limited Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster). Todd is an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Summit County and a Township Trustee for Medina Township. He is also a member of the Ohio Democratic Party State Central Committee. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the Case Western Reserve University School of Law. He will face the winner of the GOP primary, for which State Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Lakeville) and State Rep. Jim Carmichael (R-Wooster) are declared candidates.

Michael Todd, Part One (7 min. 54 sec.)

In this first part of the interview, Todd explains how he became interested in politics and what motivated him to seek elective office. As a child he lived with his grandparents for eight years and recalls working on the 1984 presidential campaign of Walter Mondale. They were a working class family (his grandfather has a fifth-grade education and was a retired IBEW member). He traces his desire to serve the public to his military career, and especially his appointment to West Point on the strength of awards earned for military service. After his medical discharge in 2001 and his graduation from law school, he decided that political office was where he could use his leadership skills and lessons learned in life for the betterment of his community and Ohio.

Todd then details his military career, from being an intelligence analyst in Korea to transportation officer in Honduras working on drug interdiction, to executive officer of a company with responsibility for a $4 million budget, to transportation officer for a battalion overseeing troop deployment to Afghanistan.

This part concludes with Todd describing his position as township trustee, chairman of the board of trustees, and police commissioner of the largest township in Medina County, with an annual budget of about $2.2 million. He is the only Democratic chair of a board of township trustees in the county. Voter registration in Medina Township runs about 3 to 1 in favor of Republicans. Nevertheless, he won his election as trustee handily, doubling the vote totals of the other candidates (four candidates competed for three seats). He attributes his success to hard work on the campaign trail and his reputation as a problem solver and a coalition builder.

Michael Todd, Part Two (6 min. 38 sec.)

In the second part Todd describes what motivated him to run for the Ohio Senate and describes the 22nd Ohio Senate District. He says that he considered running for office ranging from county treasurer to Congress, but decide that the Ohio Senate was the place he could best put his skill set and coalition-building ability to good use. The 22nd District is relatively conservative and rural. Todd is suited to the district because of his military background and the fact that he and his wife are devout and practicing Catholics. Also, the social issues that the Republicans have used as a wedge against Democrats "are a non-issue" with Todd, allowing him to focus on things that really matter to Ohioans like jobs, health care, and the economy. (Todd is pro-gun and has views consistent with the Democrats for Life, who are more concerned with reducing the number of abortions than trying to change the law to ban them.) He has the ability to raise campaign money from his network of military contacts and from friends and associates he has built up in Medina County. In addition, Medina County accounts for about half of the votes in the Ohio Senate District, and Todd is a county resident while Gibbs and Carmichael are not. In some parts of the district there are rural voters who are more open to Democratic candidates than they used to be, and there are a lot more independents in the district than people think. However, there are many voters who belong to fundamentalist groups and there are strong Amish and Mennonite communities as well.

Michael Todd, Part Three (4 min. 40 sec.)

In the last part of the interview, Todd identifies the themes of his campaign as education (an issue that has been dodged for too long), employment, economic development, making sure that workers are taken care of in their retirement, and health care for middle and lower income Ohioans. He also mentioned the "brain drain" and said that here needs to be an "incentive package" to keep young college graduates from leaving the state. Todd said he did not grow up with a role model as a legislator/politician, but that he shares similer views, message, and core beliefs with State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown), also a military man, who is running for Congress in the area.

OH-10: Tale of Two Westlakes

This is a good bit from the campaign of challenger Rosemary Palmer (D-Cleveland) today about incumbent/presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland). Noting that Kucinich intends to visit Westlake, California tomorrow as part of a west coast presidential campaign trip, Palmer has released a "top ten" list that differentiates Westlake, California from Westlake, Ohio:
#10. Westlake, CA has a population of 8,368. Westlake, OH has 31,760 residents.

#9. Westlake, CA is home to YogaWorks, an eco-friendly spa. Westlake, OH is a short two-mile drive from Bath and Body Works, a scented candle and lotion store.

#8. Westlake, CA is known for its coastal equestrian trails. Westlake, OH has bike and pedestrian trails.

#7. Westlake, CA has a Four Seasons Hotel. Westlake, OH has two seasons - winter and everything else.

#6. Westlake, CA is home to Cuba Gooding Jr. Westlake, OH is home to Kellen Winslow II.

#5. Westlake, OH is served by St. John Westshore Hospital. Westlake, CA is served by The Southern California Oral and Facial Surgery Group.

#4. Westlake, CA features gated communities. Westlake, OH features real working-class neighborhoods.

#3. On September 22, Dennis Kucinich will campaign in Westlake, CA. Rosemary Palmer will campaign in Westlake, OH.

#2. Westlake, CA is represented in Congress by two Congressman. Westlake OH is "represented" by only one.

#1. Westlake, CA has three congressman this weekend. Westlake, OH has none.

"Windustrious" Web Site and Video Promote Wind Farm Off Cleveland Shoreline

Windustrious.org is a web site created by Sarah Taylor and Dennis Yurich to promote the concept of wind turbines in Lake Erie, off the shore of Cleveland:
Cleveland [could] become, not only the first city in the U.S. to install an off-shore wind farm, but the first city in the world to install a wind turbine farm in fresh water. Wind turbines will eventually be constructed in lakes, including Lake Erie. The branding and marketing potential of being able to boast that we have created the first one on the planet, with the associated international recognition, would surely be enormous. It would translate into a powerful image of Cleveland as a progressive, productive, jobs-creating city, with a bubbling business climate, a place where young professionals will want to come and stay, and a very interesting tourist destination.

We can lead the way, or we can simply follow along, after the trend has gathered momentum elsewhere. Given our assets in infrastructure, location and historically-grounded expertise in relevant industries, one could say we had an actual responsibility, an obligation, to be at the forefront. By acting now, we could reap the tremendous business opportunities of being in the vanguard of research, development and production of the equipment that the rest of the country, and the world, will inevitably be demanding. If we reject this opportunity, and build turbines out on the lake only after others have taken the initiative somewhere else, we will be consciously throwing away not just that free marketing asset, but the economic advantages of taking a leadership role in this new technology.
In support of this effort, the site hosts this very fun video:

You can visit the site to express your support for the idea (no donations sought; statements and photographs of supporters are displayed on the site), and you can also download the video.

List of 2008 Ohio Candidates

I have finished updating my list of candidates, linked on the sidebar (and here). In many ways this list is the backbone of Ohio Daily Blog, as my efforts to keep the list current lead me to many news items about (and personal contacts with) the candidates.

New this year are Partisan Voter Index (PVI) numbers for all of the districts. I also included outcomes from 2006 in the description of each district.

Please let me know (in comments or at yellowdogsammy-at-hotmail-dot-com) if you have any corrections or additions -- thank you!

OH-5: Karen Gillmor (R) and Wachtmann (R) Out - Plus GOP Poll Results

The Columbus Dispatch blog The Daily Briefing reported yesterday that Karen Gillmor (R-Dublin), widow of Rep. Paul Gillmor (R), will not run in the special election in the 5th Ohio Congressional District. However, the same item reports that State Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R-Napoleon) is circulating petitions, and Right Angle Blog posted an announcement from Wachtmann yesterday that he is making an announcement today in Henry County, followed by stops in five other counties in the district, so Wachtmann appears to be in. (I'm waiting for a call back from Wachtmann's spokesperson to confirm.) UPDATE: I was totally wrong; Matt at Right Angle Blog was right. Wachtmann is not running and instead is endorsing State Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green).

A source in Wood County tells me that former State Rep. Rex Damschroder (R-Fremont) is also circulating petitions, so he is a good bet to enter as well. That makes the GOP lineup State Rep. Latta (R-Bowling Green), State Sen. Steve Buehrer (R-Delta), Wachtmann, and (apparently) Damschroder.

The following poll was taken of 300 primary voters by the Latta campaign (reportedly available to sbuscribers at Hotline.com):

Primary Election Matchups
Latta 34%
Wachtmann 20%
Buehrer 17%

Latta 30%
Wachtmann 18%
Buehrer 14%
Damschroder 12%

Latta 47%/ 3%
Wachtmann 35%/ 5%
Buehrer 30%/ 3%
Damschroder 29%/ 5%

Those are suprisingly good numbers for Wachtmann against Buehrer. I would have expected them to be tied, or for Buehrer to be ahead. The two of them have traded State Rep. and State Sen. seats due to term limits, much like Latta and State Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) in the eastern part of the 5th Congressional District.

Olbermann on Bush's Misuse of General as Political Frontman

Last nights special comment from Keith Olbermann on MSNBC was very good:

Another line crossed by this President in his gross politicization of every facet of government.

A Reader Expresses Disgust at Senate Condemnation of MoveOn

I'm "turning over the mic" to a reader who sent me this message about yesterday's political stunt by the GOP:
[T]he reason this has caused me to taste my own bile so bitterly this afternoon is it shows that this is the kind of pathetic b*llsh*t that our Senate has time for--perhaps being of the view that we have no domestic or international policy problems that we should actually be worried about.

The Senate today approved a non-binding resolution as an amendment to the FY 2008 DoD appropriation bill, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, H.R. 1585. Those who voted for the amendment include 72 of our 100 senators, including every Republican and a lot of Democrats, including Dems that we're supposed to like, like Diane Feinstein and Jim Webb.

The relevant text of the amendment says:

". . . . (8) A recent attack through a full-page advertisement in the New York Times by the liberal activist group, Moveon.org, impugns the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all the members of the United States Armed Forces. (b) Sense of Senate.--It is the sense of the Senate . . . . (2) to strongly condemn any effort to attack the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all the members of the United States Armed Forces . . . ."

That's right, folks, the Senate of the United States doesn't have the time to pass virtually any meaningful legislative initiative, but it does have time to agree, as a matter of almost sort-of law, that a particular political organization is a "liberal activist group." The statement in the Congressional Record by the sponsor of the resolution, John Cornyn of Texas, repeatedly states that MoveOn.org is to blame for genuine wrong-doing.

The ad that MoveOn ran in the NYT is here. For what it's worth, they give cites to support for the claims in the ad on this page. And both they and other bloggers give some evidence that the there has been a bit of a vast, right-wing conspiracy afoot to attack MoveOn.

Among other things, as a part of this backlash John McCain has publicly said that MoveOn--presumably like that now fairly significant majority of Americans who oppose the war--"ought to be thrown out of the country." That's right, you heard me. He said those words. We all "ought to be thrown out of the country."
Yup. A majority of Americans want our country to withdraw from Iraq, but the group that advocates that majority view most vociferously is merely some lunatic fringe. And anyone who disparages the military should be thrown out of the country. Let's see, does that include the Republicans who wore purple band-aids at the 2004 GOP National Convention to mock Lt. John Kerry, USN?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

OH-2: TV Ad Challenges Schmidt (R) on Iraq "Small Price"

Here is the issue ad being run in the 2nd Ohio Congressional District by Americans United for Change, calling on Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) to denounce the "small price" remark by Rep. John Boehner (R-West Chester) and vote against the war:

Voinovich Supports, Brown Opposes Senate Resolution Condemning MoveOn.org

This is absurd and outrageous. In an act of ideological posturing, the GOP has engineered a Senate resolution condemning MoveOn.org for an act of pure political speech, i.e., its newspaper ad criticizing Gen. David Petraeus on the eve of his Congressional testimony in support of staying the course in Iraq. Sen. George Voinovich (R) voted in favor of the resolution, of course. Twenty-two Twenty Democrats joined the GOP, but to his great credit Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) voted against.

Among Democratic presidential contenders, Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) did not vote and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) voted against. If Clinton becomes the Democratic presidential nominee, this vote will certainly be part of the GOP arsenal against her. On the other hand, Obama's decision not to vote won't help him with progressive voters (such as myself) in the Democratic primaries. On the GOP side, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) voted in favor.

It is a dark day when our government condemns political speech. Whether tasteful or outrageous, expression of political opinion is fundamental to democracy and is at the core of our most cherished freedoms. This brouhaha over MoveOn.org is not just a despicable diversionary tactic to deflect attention from popular opposition to the war, it is an affront to our basic civil liberties.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), who voted against.

OH-18: Space (D) Comes Out Strong Against Threatened Veto of S-CHIP

The folks at Open Left may be targeting Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) with their misguided "Bushdog" campaign, based on his votes for funding Iraq without a withdrawal deadline and for amending FISA, but he can definitely count on my support. Space comes out strong on many critical progressive issues relating to the economy, health care, and energy policy, and this reaction to Bush's threatened veto of Congressional action to continue and expand the S-CHIP program (which provides Medicaid coverage to children in middle-to-lower income families that don't qualify for Medicaid directly) is a great example:
“Instead of doing the right thing by signing the legislation and protecting the coverage of millions of children, President Bush is compromising the health and safety of our children just as they are starting their lives. The President has essentially told them that they must start their lives on the wrong foot.

“I never thought I would see a day when a president would veto legislation because it gave health insurance to too many children. This action is truly a tragedy for America’s children.”
As Space notes in his press release, 145,000 Ohio children are covered under S-CHIP. Without Congressional reauthorization the program will expire on September 30th.

As far as the Open Left/Bushdog attack, I actually think that it will help Space in this district. It is critical to his re-election chances that Space convince voters he is not "too liberal" and he is unafraid to go against his party.

OH-5: Weirauch (D) and Buehrer (R) Declare Candidacy

Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon) and State Sen. Steve Buehrer (R-Delta) have officially announced that they are running in the special election in the 5th Ohio Congressional District. From Weirauch's campaign site:

Here's coverage on Buehrer from the Toledo Blade:
Pledging to uphold conservative values, State Sen. Steve Buehrer launched a congressional campaign for Ohio's Fifth District this morning at the Fulton County Courthouse.

"The solutions to our problems are not far away in marble buildings in Washington," Mr. Buehrer said. "They are here in the common sense wisdom of the heartland."

On the issue of Iraq, Mr. Buehrer said Congress should not attempt to "armchair quarterback" the war but allow the generals on the ground to implement their strategies.
UPDATE: For the record, Buehrer is an extreme fiscal and social conservative. He enjoys enthusiastic support from the virulently anti-tax Club for Growth along with right-to-life and gun groups. He defeated then-State Rep. Jim Hoops (R) in a bitter primary in 2006, with each candidate accusing the other of being insufficiently anti-tax based on a single Taft-sponsored bill that one supported and the other opposed (whether the complicated legislation was a tax increase or a tax reduction was a matter of interpretation).

Buehrer's extreme conservatism is highly suitable to the 1st Ohio Senate District, in the western part of the 5th Congressional District, but not so much to the east. He may in fact be too conservative for the 5th district, or at least much more conservative than a Republican candidate needs to be to win there. State Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) presumably has much more name recognition than Buehrer across the entire district, due to his father's long tenure in Congress as well as Latta's career as a county commissioner, state representative and state senator.

OH-13 & 18: More From Sutton and Space on Mortage Crisis Legislation

Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley) has sent out a press release with more from her floor speech in support of H.R. 1852, passed by the House on Tuesday. The legislation would "revitalize" the Federal Housing Administration by increasing the range of borrowers eligible for FHA mortgage reinsurance and making other changes, including providing for financial counseling for borrowers and emergency housing grants. As Sutton notes, 1 in 10 Ohio homeowners with a mortgage is at least a month behind on payments, and 1 in 4 with a subprime loan is delinquent or in foreclosure. Here are her remarks on the floor:
The American Dream is in peril for many families in this country as foreclosures rise and dreams shatter. The American Dream means owning a home, belonging to a community, and being able to provide a safe and stable place for our families. But for too many families, that dream can be a nightmare when predatory lending practices and a complacent government get in the way. We in Congress can help working families take steps toward achieving the American dream, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.

My home state of Ohio has been rocked by problems with the national economy. In difficult times, the thing Ohioans should be able to count on is their homes. And yet Ohio has the highest rate of mortgages that were seriously delinquent or in foreclosure in the nation. While my constituents faced the horrible sinking mortgage market, the FHA was missing in action. This bill provides the help that should have been available years ago.

This country was built by working men and women. It is unacceptable that the American Dream should be constantly moved out of reach of the very people who make it possible. The Federal Housing Administration should be able to help those working families deal with predatory lenders and turbulent mortgage markets.
Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) has also taken the lead on the mortgage crisis, supporting H.R. 1852 and introducing legislation that would limit the "foreclosure tax" (i.e, when a borrower goes into foreclosure and the house is sold below market value, the difference is treated as taxable "income" received by the distressed former homeowner). Space's press release offers this helpful summary of additional provisions of H.R. 1852 (it is a very long and complicated bill):
The Expanding American Homeownership Act raises loan limits for FHA-backed loans, boosts loan limits in high-cost areas, allows the agency to vary the premiums it charges borrowers based on their credit risk, modifies disclosure requirements to provide more information concerning mortgage choices, and allows for lower monthly payments for borrowers who make on-time payments for the first five years of a loan. It also extends the maximum loan term on FHA single-family loans to 40 years from 35 years.
In support of H.R. 1852, Space had this to say:
This legislation is a step in the right direction toward righting the problems of our nation's current housing market. Instead of borrowers turning to predatory lenders who are looking to profit off of others' misfortunes, families can finance their mortgages through the FHA. The FHA can serve subprime borrowers at better rates and provide fairer mortgage opportunities than predatory lenders. FHA mortgages are a safer bet and could prevent foreclosure in many cases. I am also very pleased this legislation contains provisions to make sure legal Americans are the only people who can take advantage of this program.

Next "Big Story" is Hillary Calling Cheney "Darth Vader"?

Just as the Republican noise machine and complicit beltway pundits have worked themselves into a lather over MoveOn.org calling Gen. Petraeus "Gen. Betray-Us" in a newspaper ad last week, it could be they will try to stoke up a similar furor over Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) jokingly referring to Vice President Dick Cheney (R) last night at a fundraiser as "Darth Vader."

As Alexander Mooney notes on CNN, however, Cheney himself has assumed the Darth Vader nickname (in jest). "I suppose people sometimes look at my demeanor and say, well, he's the Darth Vader of the administration," he said last year.

And, of course, this is the same Dick Cheney who famously used the "F" word in a hostile encounter with a Democratic senator on the floor of that august chamber (and refused to apologize). And, Cheney and the GOP in general have heaped criticism on Clinton in the past. Recently the RNC actually arranged someone to dress up as a "Pander Bear" and stand outside a Clinton fundraiser.

But could any of that stop this from becoming the next big distraction on the cable TV shows? Not really.

Predatory Lending: Edwards Takes the Lead by Endorsing AFFIL Principles of Fairness in Lending

Ohio's place in the forefront of the mortgage foreclosure crisis highlights the larger issue of predatory lending in general. Abusive practices by lenders can lure or steer borrowers into loans with unnecessarily high interest rates or unfavorable terms, and some of the terms that lenders stick into loans simply ought to be banned.

Americans for Fairness in Lending is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of abusive credit and lending practices and calling for re-regulation of the industry. Sarah Byrnes, Campaign Manager for AFFIL, informed me in an email today that on September 13th former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) became the first presidential candidate to endorse their Six Principles of Fairness in Lending. From their press release, Edwards said:
For too long, on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures around the country, the advocate members of AFFIL have been lone voices for consumer protection. For too long, politicians have ignored your voices, listening instead to the wishes of lenders and their lobbyists. Today I am proud to lend my voice in support of AFFIL’s principles for fairness in lending, and to let you know that when I am president, I will listen – and together, we will end the game.
Prof. Cathy Lesser Mansfield, Chair of the Board of AFFIL, said:
Since the 1980s, the federal government has moved quietly to virtually deregulate the lending industry in America – from fanciful mortgages that grossly overstate property values and borrowers’ ability to pay, to credit cards and payday loans with astronomic fees and interest rates designed to trap consumers in never-ending spirals of debt. We are asking all of the presidential candidates to articulate a clear position on these issues – do they stand for reasonable protection for consumers, or for polices that provide unfettered profits to banks and other lenders while impoverishing American families and neighborhoods?

AFFIL’s principles were developed before the subprime lending crisis, but that house of cards, which has fallen in on millions of consumers around the country, illustrates why a return to reasonable oversight and regulation of lending is long overdue in America. Allowing lenders to police themselves, as the current administration and some presidential candidates seem to favor, is like waiting for bears to clean their own cages. It isn’t going to happen.
The six principles are stated here.

Byrnes tells me that since Edwards signed on, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) have also endorsed the six principles. So where is the Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) on this issue?

On a related note, the mission of AFFIL includes trying to alert young people about the risks of taking on consumer debt before they get into trouble. This can be a difficult demographic to reach, so they have put together this raucous video clip, hoping that it goes viral:

What do you think?

P2008: Must-Read - Mark Halperin's Thoughts on Candidates

Wow. Evan Smith and Paul Burka of Texas Monthly have each posted notes on comments made by Mark Halperin in Austin, Texas two nights ago. Halperin was political director at ABC News and creator of the insanely popular (among political junkies, anyway) internet site "The Note." Halperin was full of ideas and insights about the presidential race, so you have to go and read the full posts, but here are a few tidbits:
* Fred Thompson is toast. McCain, by contrast, should not be written off yet.

* Clinton's strength as a candidate is that she's learned from both her husband and George W. how to run a campaign.

* If Clinton wins Iowa, she runs the table and wins the Democratic nomination. If Obama wins Iowa -- less likely, but not impossible -- he runs the table and wins the Democratic nomination. John Edwards could win Iowa and still not be the nominee.

* For Republicans this is an extraordinary election because they always seemed to have an annointed frontrunner with establishment support, fundraising, polling, buzz. This year, it's divided: McCain started out with the establishment support. Romney has been the most successful in fundraising. Giuliani is leading in the polls. Fred Thompson has the buzz. It's so divided that it's impossible to know at this point who is going to win.

* What is the country looking for? Change. This is a change election. This favors the Democrats. Of the Republicans, McCain can credibly talk about change.

* A few months ago Obama was on a trajectory to beat Clinton in Iowa and win the nomination. He made mistakes, she didn't. The thing he said about not using nuclear weapons was a rookie mistake. He's not ready to be president. Oprah's endorsement probably hurts more than it helps. He needs to be seen as ready to be president.
Halperin is the author of The Way to Win and the forthcoming Undecided Voter's Guide to the Next President.

Sen. Voinovich (R) Refuses to Walk the Walk on Iraq

Sen. George Voinovich has repeatedly talked the talk on changing the Bush administration's stay the course/endless war handling of Iraq, but once again he rejected an opportunity to vote where his mouth is. Last night he joined all but six Republican members of the U.S. Senate in obstructing a proposed amendment by Sen. James Webb (D-VA) that would have required troops spend as much time at home training with their units as they spend deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Voinovich has outlined his own tepid, toothless plan for encouraging the Bush administration to change the U.S. mission from combat to the training Iraqis, and eventually withdrawing some troops, but when it has come time to actually vote on any measure intended to rein in the White House's handling of Iraq he has consistently sided with Bush. It is enough to raise the question - does this supposed "moderate Republican" have any spine at all?

It is also important to stress that last night's vote was not a straight-up vote on the amendment but yet another GOP obstruction based on the threat of a filibuster. A majority of Senators supported the amendment, but a GOP minority of 44 was able to block it. Back when the Democratic party used filibusters to block Bush's nomination of extremist ideologues to the federal bench, all we heard about was how the filibuster is anti-democratic and the Democrats were obstructionists. As detailed in a study prepared by Americans United for Change and ProgressOhio in August, this Republican minority is on a pace to triple the record for most filibusters (or obstructions based on the threat of a filibusters) in a single year. So last night's vote simply continues a pattern of GOP Senators thwarting the will of the majority on critical issues facing the nation.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Strickland Submits "Energy, Jobs and Progress" Bill

I just received an email from the office of Ohio Senate Democratic Leader Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), indicating that Gov. Ted Strickland has presented to the Senate Clerk his energy bill:
The bill will be introduced “by request” sometime in the next several days. Energy, Jobs and Progress provides much-needed transparency, accountability and consumer protections to Ohio’s system of electric utility oversight. The proposal also will stimulate job growth and protect Ohio’s air and water by generating 25% of electricity consumed by Ohioans through alternative sources, such as wind, solar and clean coal by the year 2025.

In response to the Governor presenting the Senate with his Energy, Jobs and Progress Bill, Senate Democratic Leader Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) issued the following statement:

“The Governor set forth his plan for Energy, Jobs and Progress last month, and this bill is a clear presentation of that vision. I hope that the Senate and House work together in a timely manner to debate and pass the Governor’s bill in a responsible, expedited manner. Our families, farmers and small businesses need to know they are protected from any sudden increases in their utility bills. We owe it to them to place politics on the back burner, and our Governor has done a great job involving all parties in the process thus far. We now have a bill that should be well received by members on both sides of the aisle because it is good for Ohio’s citizens, economy and future well-being.”
I'm going to try to round up the text of the bill and will have more to say about it.

Zoom Zoom! The 83rd Carnival of Ohio Politics is Up!

Jill of Writes Like She Talks has done a terrific job on the NASCAR-themed 83rd Ohio Carnival of Politics. So, start your engines and race on over!

OH-6: Iraq Trip Confirms Wilson (D) Support for Withdrawal From Iraq

Just returned from a five-day trip to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-St.Clairsville) didn't see anything to change his mind about calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq within six months. In fact, Wilson told the Youngstown Vindicator that Iraq is a "surreal situation":
While traveling in Baghdad, Wilson said there were deep craters in the roads caused by explosives. Also, he said, the number of suicide bombers is on the rise.

“There’s a real sense you have to be on guard in Iraq,” he said.

Wilson went to Iraq to see if there is any progress being made and to see if there’s a reason for a continued presence there of U.S. troops. Wilson couldn’t find a reason to continue to put U.S. soldiers in a dangerous and deadly situation.

Wilson estimates it would take at least 10 years to restore order to Iraq.

“That’s 10 years too long,” he said.
Quoted in a related article, Wilson adds:
"...We don't have the time or the resources [to remain in Iraq.] The president is calling for more money and more patience, but there's no political progress. There's no reason to do this for another 10 years."
Wilson voted for troop withdrawal in April, and will have another opportunity to do so shortly.

Polling since the Congressional testimony of Gen. Petraeus shows that most minds outside the beltway have not been changed about Iraq. A majority of Iraqis say that the "surge" has failed, a huge majority (72%) of our own troops say the U.S. should leave Iraq within a year, and the Strategic Visions poll released this morning shows that far more Ohioans want us out than want us to stay. There is plenty of public support for resisting the Bush administration's call to stay the course in Iraq, and it is encouraging that Rep. Wilson, a Blue Dog Democrat, will continue to vote for a phased withdrawal.

New Ohio Poll: Giuliani (R) and Clinton (D) Still Lead; Bush Approval at 28%

A Strategic Vision poll released today shows former mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NY) with a 13 point lead over newly announced rival and former senator Fred Thompson (R-VA):

Rudy Giuliani 34%
Fred Thompson 21%
John McCain 9%
Mitt Romney 8%
Newt Gingrich 5%
Mike Huckabee 4%
Ron Paul 3%
Tom Tancredo 2%
Sam Brownback 2%
Duncan Hunter 1%
Undecided 11%

On the Democratic side, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) continues to dominate the field, with a 20 point lead over Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL):

Hillary Clinton 43%
Barack Obama 23%
John Edwards 11%
Bill Richardson 6%
Joseph Biden 3%
Dennis Kucinich 2%
Christopher Dodd 1%
Undecided 11%

A slim majority of Republican voters (51%) said that it is "very important" (34%) or "somewhat important" (17%) for the GOP nominee to be a conservative in the mold of Ronald Reagan. Among Democratic voters, experience trumps ideology and charisma as the most important factor:

Experience 38%
Ideology 24%
Charisma 20%
Undecided 18%

The overall approval/disapproval numbers for President Bush are 28%/64%, although his approval rating on the Iraq debacle is 30% and his approval on terrorism is 52%.

A plurality of voters favors withdrawing troops from Iraq within six months:

Yes 49%
No 38%
Undecided 13%

However, only 19% say that Democrats in Congress have a better plan for resolving the Iraq conflict than Bush, and only 17% approve of the way that Congress is performing its job.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

OH-13: Sutton (D) Speaks in Favor of Increasing FHA Mortgage Assistance

Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Township) spoke on the House floor today in support of H.R. 1852, a measure that would modernize and expand the role of the Federal Housing Administration in guaranteeing mortgage loans. Under the new rules, the FHA could guarantee refinanced mortgages loans for tens of thousands of borrowers who face delinquency due to interests rates resetting to sharply higher levels under adjustable rate mortgage loans with low introductory "teaser" rates:
"The American dream is in peril for many families in this country as foreclosures rise and dreams shatter," Rep. Betty Sutton, a Democrat from Ohio, a state particularly hard-hit by the default wave, declared in House debate on the measure.

She called the legislation, which backers say could help an estimated 250,000 families, "a bold step forward on what is going to be a long road to fix this broken system."
This is the first stand-alone bill by Congress in response to the mortgage lending crisis. In addition to changing the formula for determining eligibility for FHA mortgage insurance, it would also make funds available for financial counseling and provide grants for affordable housing. It also eliminates the statutory ceiling on the number of reverse mortgages that the FHA can guarantee.

I see that I have a press release from Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) indicating that he voted for H.R. 1852 and that it passed with bipartisan support by a 348 to 72 margin. This is very good news.

Voinovich to Unveil "Compromise" Iraq Plan

Hoping to build a bipartisan consensus, Sen. George Voinovich (R) will announce this afternoon what he considers a compromise plan for Iraq. His draft resolution calls for a "responsible reduction” in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq" but states that "the withdrawal of U.S. troops cannot be “precipitous” and the U.S. will be “engaged” in Iraq for the “foreseeable future." In other words, a few soldiers come home but basically the occupation continues indefinitely. Substantively, the measure mandates only the minimal reduction of 30,000 troops by next summer that was proposed by Gen. Petraeus (which merely reverses the "surge," and does so at the pace dictated by logistical limitations anyway). Otherwise, there are only vague calls for reductions and plans: a "“responsible reduction"” within 120 days of enactment, a "plan" for redeploying troops in Iraq and the Middle East within 180 days, and a "“plan" for reducing instability in Iraq” as our forces are reduced.

On the whole, much more of a capitulation than a compromise, and certainly the kind of toothless measure that will have zero impact on a White House that is determined to stay the course and hand off the headache of Iraq to the next administration.

Senate to Vote on Restoring Habeas Corpus - Call Your Senators!

A few months before last year's election, Sherrod Brown (D) dismayed his progressive supporters by voting for the Military Commissions Act. Subsequently, and to his great credit, he has acknowledged that the vote was a mistake. This week he has a chance to help rectify the error by voting for S. 185, the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act, which will restore the right of habeas corpus to non-citizens caught up in the Bush administration's program of indefinite detention of persons declared to be enemy combatants. This move is essential to restore our moral standing in the world and to protect against the erosion of our fundamental constitutional rights.

Here is video of Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) discussing hte Habeus Corpus Restoration Act:

Sherrod Brown's vote for this measure is assured, but Sen. George Voinovich (R) still needs persuading. Call the Congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121, toll free 888-355-3588, and tell him to do the right thing. And it would be good to call Brown and thank him. Also, you can sign up to be a citizen co-sponsor of the bill here.

Monday, September 17, 2007

First Step Toward Lead Paint Referendum Taken

The Columbus Dispatch blog The Daily Briefing reports that a group has filed the necessary documentation (with 1,000 signatures) in order to begin circulating signature petitions to get a lead paint referendum on the November ballot.

The referendum would reverse a controversial law passed in the lame duck session, now scheduled to take effect on October 31st, which would prevent future lawsuits on broad public nuisance grounds against an entire industry like those filed by some Ohio cities against lead-based paint manufacturers. The law also limits non-economic damages that can be awarded in consumer protection lawsuits to just $5,000.

Gov. Strickland (D) tried to veto the measure on the day he took office, but the Ohio Supreme Court recently ruled that his attempted veto was invalid. However, responding to a request from Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (D), the high court subsequently ruled that the 90-day clock for getting a referendum on the ballot did not start until August 1. That means that referendum proponents have until October 30th to collect 241,366 valid signatures in support of the referendum.

Note to Readers: ODB Candidates List

I am currently working on a comprehensive list of 2008 Ohio candidates, from any party and with district information and campaign sites indicated. The list includes presidential, Congressional, Ohio Senate, and Ohio House races. I have posted the beginnings of that list on my server, and there is now a link on the sidebar. However, please note that I am barely started on the Ohio House portion of the list. I will be working on finishing that portion by the end of the week.

In the meantime, any reader comments or tips on canidates, potential candidates, campaign web sites, or anything else is much appreciated. Leave a comment or email me at yellowdogsammy-at-hotmail-dot-com. Thanks!

UPDATE: I have cleaned up the Ohio House part of the list as far as the 50th District. I will work on the rest of it tomorrow.

OH Hse-43: Dyer (D) To Introduce Absentee Ballot Bill

In the wake of news that over 200 absentee ballots arrived at the Summit County Board of Elections too late to be counted in last week's primary election, State Rep. Stephen Dyer (D-Green) announced today that he will introduce legislation that would require all absentee ballot postmarked before Election Day to be counted without regard to date of receipt.

“In light of what happened in Summit County last Tuesday, I felt we needed to ensure that all votes are counted,” Rep. Dyer said. “A post office mistake should not cost anyone their constitutional right to vote.”

Hat-tip to Marc Kovac at Capital Blog.

Coleman Launches Campaign Site and TV Ad for Re-election Bid

The mayoral campaign of Mike Coleman (D-Columbus) has sent out an email announcing the launch of his campaign site and the release of his first TV ad, which can be viewed at the site.

The ad begins by acknowledging that conditions in Ohio are not good, but presents a positive portrayal of Coleman's tenure:
ANNCR: It’s been a tough time for our country, especially Ohio. But we‘ve pulled together to keep Columbus strong,

Coleman: By revitalizing our neighborhoods with housing, parks, sidewalks and jobs.

Coleman voiceover: Our First Responders are ranked among the nations best… with new tools and training facilities.

Coleman voiceover: And we’ve kept the lid on spending… maintaining the highest possible financial rating.

Coleman: We’ve come a long way but we still have work to do. Together we will make Columbus the best place to live.

ANNCR: Mayor Mike Coleman. Leadership that works for Columbus.
No mention of Coleman's opponent, Bill Todd (R-Columbus).

OH-5: Brown (R) Acknowledges Sexuality, Drops Out of Race

Hat-tip to Jerid at BSB for this item:

Wood County Commissioner Tim Brown (R) has told the Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune over the weekend that he has decided to drop his plans to enter the 5th Ohio Congressional District race after anonymous commenters on various Ohio blogs (including this one) outed him as a homosexual:
Wood County Commissioner Tim Brown said Friday evening that he decided to not run for the seat previously held by Paul Gillmor after viewing comments posted on Columbus-based Web sites targeting Brown’s sexual orientation. One such blog asks if Northwest Ohioans are ready to have a gay congressman.

“Potential adversaries who look at life in a different manner have decided to attack me on a personal basis,” Brown said. “These things should have no place in the political process.”
In the article, Brown acknowledges that he is gay and makes some comments that the GOP base does not like to hear:
[L]ate Thursday night, a Republican colleague told Brown of the anonymous blog attacks. It was then that Brown realized raising adequate funds would be impossible. It was also then that he decided to publicly talk about his sexual orientation.

“This is how I was born,” he said. “This is an orientation.”

Brown realizes that some people will view him as a “gay commissioner,” instead of a “commissioner who happens to be gay.”

In some ways, the decision to openly discuss his orientation came as a relief, Brown said, since he has wondered in the past how political adversaries might use it against him.

“I am comfortable with my orientation and have the full support of my family and friends,” he said. “It is not a secret, it is a personal matter to me and I intend to keep it that way.”

Brown emphasized that his sexual orientation in no way diminishes his effectiveness as county commissioner.
It is very telling that Brown's sexual orientation was not an issue in his campaigns for county commissioner, but arrived as a preemptive strike before he could even enter the Congressional race. Something tells me that this episode may well set the tone for the contest, and if so it is going to be ugly.

OH-5: Weirauch (D) Launch Pending; Sherck (D) Decides Not to Run

I spoke to Ben Krompak, campaign manager for Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon), who indicated that her official campaign kickoff is tentatively set for 11:00 am this Wednesday in Bowling Green pending. Location and logistical details are still being worked out. He also let me know that the first portions of Weirauch's new campaign site are now up.

The Wood County Board of Elections has posted the following information about filing deadlines for the primary election on November 6th and the special election on December 11th:
Partisan candidates must file Declarations of Candidacy or Intent to be a Write-In by September 28 by 4:00 pm for the Special Congressional Primary Election. Independent candidates must file Nominating Petitions or Intent to be a Write-In by November 5 by 4:00 pm for the Special Congressional General Election. Voter registration deadlines are October 9, 2007 for the Special Congressional Primary Election and November 13, 2007 for the Special Congressional General Election.
So, we should know the official primary candidates for the two major parties no later than a week from Friday.

In our conversation, Krompak also told me that Judge James Sherck (D-Fremont) has decided not to run, leaving college administrator and councilman Mike Grandillo (D-Tiffin) as the last remaining potential primary opponent to Weirauch.

UPDATE: I just got a call indicating that the Weirauch campaign launch will not be held on Wednesday at 11:00 as I had been told. They are working on scheduling it and will let me know.

OH-10 & P2008: Kucinich (D) Protests Exclusion From Presidential Events; Hires New Campaign Manager

On Saturday the presidential campaign of Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) sent out an email to supporters, complaining bitterly that Iowa Democratic leaders are "rigging the game" by excluding him from two events: yesterday's Democratic Steak Fry in Indianola hosted by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), and the forum on health care and financial security to be hosted on Thursday in Davenport by the AARP and Iowa Public Television. Event organizers claim that Kucinich does not have a sufficiently "active organization" in Iowa, but Kucinich correctly notes that at about 3% he actually leads event participants Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) in most Iowa polls.

Meanwhile, Kucinich continues to ignore primary opponent Rosemary Palmer (D-Cleveland) and her challenge to debate Kucinich five times in a series of events devoted to substantive issues in the 10th Ohio Congressional District race. He doesn't mind forestalling debate in his own Congressional race, just being shut out of debates in the presidential contest.

In other news, Kucinich has fired campaign manager David Bright, who had declined to relocate to Kucinich's Cleveland headquarters from his organic farm in Dixmont, Maine, and replaced him with hired retired Army Capt. Mike Klein. Klein is tasked with turning around Kucinich's presidential campaign based on a platform of “strength through peace.” Klein, a veteran of the first Gulf War, worked on the 2004 campaign of Gen. Wesley Clark (D-AR) but has never managed a campaign before. Klein says he is bringing in new staffers, launching a new Web site, and working on branding and messaging. He said he was brought in for his leadership skills and not necessarily his political acumen, and described Kucinich’s bid as “a guerilla campaign, so to speak.”

CORRECTION: David Bright has contacted me to say that he was not fired from the campaign, but was in fact merely an interim campaign manager until Klein could come on board. Bright indicates that he is "still working for the Kucinich campaign full time, as paid staff, at the same salary as when I started," and that moving to Ohio was "never a condition of the job that I move to Cleveland." Apparently I misunderstood the import of the news story upon which I relied, and I apologize for any confusion caused by my error.

Friday, September 14, 2007

OH-5: Free-For-All in Special Election

The untimely demise of Rep. Paul Gillmor (R) has produced a blizzard of actual and potential candidates for his former Congressional seat. It is anticipated that primaries will be held on General Election Day (November 6th) and the special election will occur within a few weeks thereafter. The far-flung Northwest Ohio district stretches through Ashland, Crawford, Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Huron, Lucas, Mercer, Paulding, Putnam, Sandusky, Seneca, Van Wert, Williams, Wood and Wyandot Counties. Bush won 61% of the vote in this conservative district in 2004.

Two-time challenger Robin Wierauch (D-Napoleon), the assistant director of the Center for Regional Development at Bowling Green State University, is definitely in the race. Weirauch got 43% of the vote against Gillmor in 2006 and 33% in 2004. She and her advisors have been hoping that there would be no primary on the Democratic side, but I have been told that there are at least two other Democrats are seriously considering a bid. One is Appellate Judge James R. Sherck (D-Fremont), who ran unsuccessfully against Gillmor's predecessor Delbert Latta (R) four times from 1978 to 1984. The other is Mike Grandillo (D-Tiffin), a city councilman and vice president at Tiffin University.

The roster on the GOP side is much longer. A pair of term-limited long-time rivals, State Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) and State Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green), are almost certainly in the race. The Columbus Dispatch blog The Daily Briefing reports that State Sen. Steve Buehrer (R-Delta) and State Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R-Napoleon) are on the verge of jumping in, and Wood County Commissioner Tim W. Brown (R) and former State Rep. Rex Damschroder (R-Fremont) are considering running as well. The Wall Street Journal also mentions State Rep. Mark Wagner (R-Ottawa Hills) and former State Rep. Jim Hoops (R) as possible candidates. The deceased Congressman's widow, former State Senator Dr. Karen L. Gillmor (R), has indicated that she will not run, but Joe Hallett of the Dispatch seems to think that she may change her mind.

In this kind of accelerated race with a large field of candidates, name recognition is probably the factor most likely to determine the outcome. Wierauch would appear to be in a good position due to her two recent campaigns. However, Bob Latta shares in his father's name recognition and was previously a state senator and Wood County Commissioner. Lynn Wachtmann and Steve Buehrer have each served as State Senator in a district that accounts for about 40% of the 5th Congressional District. And, of course, as widow of the former Congressman Karen Gillmor has as much name recognition as anyone.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

OH-8: Boehner Says American Lives and Treasure "Small Price To Pay" in Iraq

Rep. John Boehner (R-West Chester) said on CNN today that the thousands of American soldiers killed and billions of U.S. dollars spent in the Iraq War are really a "small price to pay" and a "good investment" if the fantasy of stabilizing the Middle East and "stopping Al Qaeda here" comes true:

As if anything that happens in Iraq would "stop Al Qaeda." As if the lives of young Americans is "an investment." As if the modest (and debatable) amount of military progress produced by the surge, with no resulting political progress on the part of the Iraqis to date, was proof of anything except that Iraq is a quagmire.

AP Story: Dems Target Five Congressional Races in Ohio

There is an AP news story out based on an interview with Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, confirming that the Democratic party is targeting five U.S. House races in Ohio. Here are my notes on those five contests:
1st District SW Ohio (Hamilton, Butler Counties). Includes part of Cincinnati and western suburbs. Cook PVI R+1. Bush won 50% of the vote in 2004. Incumbent Steve Chabot defeated second-time challenger Councilman John Cranley by 53% to 47% in 2006.2nd District SW Ohio (Adams, Brown, Clermont, Pike, Hamilton, Warren, Scioto Counties). Includes part of Cincinnati and eastern suburbs, Lebanon,Portsmouth. Cook PVI R+13. Bush won 64% in 2004. Incumbent Jean Schmidt defeated Dr. Victoria Wulsin by less than 3,000 votes (51% to 49%) in 2006.14th District NE Ohio (Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Portage, Summit, Trumbull Counties). Includes northeast suburbs of Akron, Willoughby, Mentor, Ashtabula. Cook PVI R+2. Bush won 52% in 2004. Incumbent Steve LaTourette defeated law professor Lew Katz (D) by 58% to 39% in 2006.15th District Central Ohio (Franklin, Madison, Union Counties). Includes part of Columbus and northwestern suburbs, Hilliard, Marysville. Cook PVI R+1. Bush won 50% in 2004. Retiring incumbent Deborah Pryce defeated Mary Jo Kilroy by just over 1,000 votes (50% to 50%) in 2006.16th District NE Ohio (Ashland, Medina, Stark, Wayne Counties). Includes Canton, Massillon, Alliance, Wadsworth, Medina, Wooster, Ashland. Cook PVI R+4. Bush won 54% in 2004. Incumbent Ralph Regula, rumored to be retiring, defeated novice Rev. Tom Shaw (D) by 59% to 41% in 2006.
Regula and Schuring are in italics because it is unclear who will be running. There is no GOP candidate in the 15th because nobody has yet stepped forward, although apparently Rev. Aaron Wheeler (R-Worthington), an African-American former Democrat, is moving toward jumping in.

The only thing mildly surprising here is including the 14th. The various national prognosticators have not deemed this anything but a safe district for the GOP. However, I was at the Meet the Bloggers interview with Bill O'Neill last night (about which I will write much more in a separate post), and I can confirm that this is a serious race. Two things stand out: (1) O'Neill is taking contributions now that he is no longer a judicial candidate, he recognizes that he must raise about $2 million, and he is aggressively pursuing that goal; and (2) because of his prior judicial races (three for Appellate Judge, two for Supreme Court Justice), O'Neill's name has appeared on ballots throughout the 14th District five times. Yes, this is a race. O'Neill sees his campaign as riding the crest of the "dream team" statewide campaign wave (he was along on those bus trips with Strickland, Brown, Brunner, Dann, Cordray, Sykes, and Espy in 2006), and he is going to get support from the other members of that team. Dann has already appeared at two fund-raisers and will do another, and Strickland will be hosting on on September 29th.

Uh Oh. Is Bush's Next Move an Attack on Iran?

CQ Politics columnist Craig Crawford is convinced that with George Bush "around the corner" on keeping control of his Iraq policy, he can "move on to his other military target: Iran," which Crawford expects "he will probably do before the year is out." Crawford notes that Democrats in Congress have not moved forward on legislation that would tie Bush's hands on attacking Iran, that recent diplomatic moves by Europeans are playing into Bush's hands, and that Britain recently agreed to move troops to the Iranian border. Iranian lack of cooperation in the matter of missing former FBI agent Robert Levinson provides a convenient provocation.

Is this why the GOP seems relatively sanguine about popular opposition to their stay-the-course policy on Iraq? That is to say, because they all know that there is a fresh new military conflict on the way to shore up support? Americans always rally to the president in times of war, the conventional thinking goes. Would it happen again this time?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Dann Lowers the Boom on Failing Charter Schools

Attorney General Marc Dann (D-Liberty Township) took a tough step against failing charter schools today, and bully for him. This afternoon he filed lawsuits against two schools in Montgomery County, home turf of Ohio House Speaker and charter school champion State Rep. Jon Husted (R-Kettering), alleging that they are failed charitable trusts and should be closed. The schools in question are Colin Powell Leadership Academy in Dayton and the New Choices Community School in Englewood.

There are many struggling charter schools, but these two are among the worst. According to the Columbus Dispatch blog The Daily Briefing, Dann said:
There are lots of charter schools in this state that serve great purposes and do what charter schools were designed to do…we don't want to interfere with that. But certainly there are 30 or more that scream out for this kind of attention. Whether I can get to all of those I don't know.
Ohio Senate Minority Leader Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) was quick to praise the action, saying in a press release today:
I am very pleased that Attorney General Dann is taking decisive action to send a message that persistent failure by charter schools will no longer be tolerated. It is important for charter schools to know that failure is no longer a choice for our children.

This type of strong action has been sorely missing the past several years despite my persistent calls for stronger academic and financial accountability for charter schools. I am glad that we have a new sheriff in town who will no longer turn a blind eye when charter schools betray the public’s trust.
In addition, according to the Dispatch, Dann's action "prompted Ohio's largest teachers union to drop a lawsuit against the state that alleged education officials were failing to monitor the privately operated, tax-funded schools."

Although charter schools have as many passionate defenders as opponents, it is apparent to all that many of them are failing to deliver adequate education. This decisive stroke by Dann is timely and merited, and yet another example of his pro-active approach to the myriad problems plaguing the state.

Ohio GOP to Rank and File: No Dinner For You!

Joe Hallett reports in the Columbus Dispatch blog "The Daily Briefing" that the Ohio Republican Party has canceled its state dinner planned for Friday and will instead have an afternoon of training sessions for county chairmen and other party activists.

Yikes! Do you think the party will at least feed them lunch?

The ORP says that it had planned to bring in one of the GOP presidential candidates, but none is available due to the fact that they are busy campaigning in states that have a primary of actual consequence. The Ohio Democratic Party, of course, featured Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) at its state dinner.

Party spokesperson John McClelland points out that Republicans have not traditionally held a state dinner, and "we're probably better served by using the day to get our people ready for this time next year."

The lack of a presidential contender to grace the affair (and the lack of a tradition of such events) may fully explain the cancellation ... or they may not. Assuredly, it comes down to low ticket sales. Otherwise, the party would certainly not forego the fund-raising opportunity. Does the speaker issue alone explain low ticket sales, or can we infer a certain lack of enthusiasm at this time of low ratings for Bush, an unpopular war, and a general Democratic tide in Ohio?

OH-5: Weirauch (D) Prepares Campaign

Just received word that Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon) will have a campaign kickoff event this Saturday . . . More details to follow.

Ooops. I have just been informed that the event Saturday is not a formal campaign kickoff but merely an internal meeting to prepare for the campaign. Formal campaign activities are still on hold out of respect for the late Rep. Paul Gillmor (R).

Carnival Time!

The 82nd Carnival of Ohio Politics is up and it's terrific. Great job, Lisa Renee! Love the space station emblem.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

OH-92: Phillips (D) In, Thompson (R) Likely Opponent

This interesting article in the Athens News indicates that city council member Debbie Phillips (D-Athens) will indeed renew her bid for the 92nd Ohio House District seat, being vacated by State Rep. Jimmy Stewart (R-Albany) in order to run for the 20th Ohio Senate seat of retiring State Sen. Joy Padgett (R-Coshocton). Phillips is quoted as saying that she will make a formal announcement in the company of Gov. Ted Strickland (D) in the next few weeks.

The article also reveals that Athens County Auditor Jill Thompson (R) will probably oppose Phillips for the open House seat. Stewart indicates that he will support Thompson if she runs.

Susan Gwinn, chair of the Athens County Democratic Party, comments in the article that Stewart may not be sufficiently conservative to attract wide Republican support in the 20th Ohio Senate District. The conservative blogger Brian at "One Oar in the Water" concurs, noting that Stewart received a lifetime rating of only 40 from the United Conservatives of Ohio, compared to 80 for Padgett. As Gwinn notes, Republicans sometimes stay away from the polls when they perceive a candidate as being too liberal, thus opening the door for a Democratic opponent to carry the day.

Gwinn says that a number of Democrats have talked to her about running for the 20th Senate District seat, but she is not revealing out any names at this point.

Ohio's Federal Legislators React to Petraeus and Crocker

Judging by the initial reactions of Ohio members of Congress to the testimony of Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, we won't be seeing many defections in either direction from the pro-war and anti-war camps. After stating in the spring that their continued support for the surge depended on a showing of success by September, Reps. John Boehner (R-West Chester), Deborah Pryce (R-Upper Arlington), and Pat Tiberi (R-Genoa Township) have all told the Columbus Dispatch that they are persuaded to support Petraeus' recommendations on the basis that there has been some military progress on the ground in Iraq. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urban) likewise expressed satisfaction with the military progress and also asserts that there has been "some progress . . . socially and politically as well," although where that wishful thinking comes from is not clear.

The same Dispatch article quotes several Ohio Democrats arguing against continuing the surge. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles) pointed out that 3,762 Americans have died in the war and said Iraq "is in shambles. ... If the president calls this progress, then he needs to look that word up in the dictionary." Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-St. Clairsville) dismissed as inadequate Petraeus' recommendation of withdrawing only five combat brigades by next summer. "A small reduction in troops may be welcome news for a few troops and their families," he says, "but it does not represent a new direction in our nation's Iraq policy. We need a new direction."

In the Senate, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) told the Dispatch that "the American people have so had it with the war that the American people don't believe anything the Bush administration says," and that Petraeus' report "isn't going to have any impact at all." Sen. George Voinovich (R), however, interprets the Petraeus report as an opportunity for a compromise position somewhere between rapid withdrawal and staying the course. In the past Voinovich has expressed reservations about the war, but has always sided with the White House when Iraq funding is put to a vote. He told the Boston Globe that moderates interested in finding some middle ground "got some good things going for us. The issue is how do you put this thing together in a way where you can come up with a compromise." However, Petraeus in his testimony objected to switching the U.S. troops from their combat role to a strictly training and advisory capacity, which is the central part of the compromise idea put forward by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).

It is clear at this point that the benchmarks set out for rating the success of the surge have not been met, and that the political progress that the surge was supposed to foster has not occurred. What Patreaus essentially argues is that a modest degree of military progress justifies a continuation of the escalation, unmet benchmarks and political stalemate notwithstanding.

The irony, of course, is that we didn't even need to do the surge to know that there would be some military progress. You put in more troops, you get somewhat better results. Where the troops are deployed, insurgent activity goes down. There really was no suspense about that. The question that needed to be answered about the surge was whether political progress would follow. It has not. Nevertheless, the Republican legislators who have supported the war in the past seem likely to continue to do so, and the Democratic legislators who have opposed it will have to carry without significant GOP support.

6th Anniversary of 9/11: Sad, Proud, Angry

On this, the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack in the United States, I am sad, proud, and angry.

Sad for the victims and their families, whose lives were changed forever on that day.

Proud of the brave first responders, and the many young men and women who entered military service in response to 9/11 with such a fervent desire to serve and protect our nation.

Angry that the efforts of our military were diverted unnecessarily from Afghanistan to Iraq, and that our country is now involved in a debate over how much more money and how many more American lives to sacrifice in that futile quagmire, while the evil men who perpetrated 9/11 have regrouped in the territory of a supposed ally and are determined to attack again. This is intolerable.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Richardson Stands Apart on Iraq

Pundits and analysts have begun treating the Democratic presidential candidates as being pretty much alike in their stance on the war, but Gov. Bill Richardson vehemently disagrees. In an op-ed to run in tomorrow's Washington Post he calls on everyone to "stop pretending that all Democratic plans are similar." Americans deserve precise answers from candidates about their Iraq plans, he says, "rather than allowing them to continue saying, 'We are against the war . . . but please don't read the small print.'" Here's how he describes his own position:
Those who think we need to keep troops in Iraq misunderstand the Middle East. I have met and negotiated successfully with many regional leaders [and am] convinced that only a complete withdrawal can sufficiently shift the politics of Iraq and its neighbors to break the deadlock . . .

Our troops have done everything they were asked to do with courage and professionalism, but they cannot win someone else's civil war. So long as American troops are in Iraq, reconciliation among Iraqi factions is postponed. Leaving forces there enables the Iraqis to delay [ending the violence and] prevents us from using diplomacy to bring in other nations to help stabilize and . . .

The presence of American forces in Iraq weakens us in the war against al-Qaeda. It endows the anti-American propaganda of those who portray us as occupiers plundering Iraq's oil and repressing Muslims. The day we leave, this myth collapses, and the Iraqis will drive foreign jihadists out of their country. . . .

Logistically, it would be possible to withdraw in six to eight months. We moved as many as 240,000 troops into and out of Iraq through Kuwait in as little as a three-month period during major troop rotations. After the Persian Gulf War, we redeployed nearly a half-million troops in a few months. . . .

As our withdrawal begins, we will gain diplomatic leverage. Iraqis will start seeing us as brokers, not occupiers. Iraq's neighbors will face the reality that if they don't help with stabilization, they will face the consequences of Iraq's collapse -- including even greater refugee flows over their borders and possible war.

The United States can facilitate Iraqi reconciliation and regional cooperation by holding a conference similar to that which brought peace to Bosnia. . . . [This cannot] happen until we remove the biggest obstacle to diplomacy: the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq.
Countering objections to his position, he writes that his plan is realistic because:
* It is less risky. Leaving forces behind leaves them vulnerable. . . .

* It gets our troops out of the quagmire and strengthens us for our real challenges. It is foolish to think that 20,000 to 75,000 troops could bring peace to Iraq when 160,000 have not. We need to get our troops out of the crossfire in Iraq so that we can defeat the terrorists who attacked us on Sept. 11.

* By hastening the peace process, the likelihood of prolonged bloodshed is reduced. President Richard Nixon withdrew U.S. forces slowly from Vietnam -- with disastrous consequences. Over the seven years it took to get our troops out, 21,000 more Americans and perhaps a million Vietnamese, most of them civilians, died. [Despite those deaths,] the communists took over as soon as we left.
Richardson's credentials and his distinctive reasoning deserve a lot more attention than they are getting, all because he is behind the front three candidates in fund-raising and the polls. Hopefully this op-ed will help him start getting more attention on the war issue.

Friday, September 7, 2007

OH-5: Karen Gillmor Won't Run; Latta (R) and Weirauch (D) Likely In

Stuart Rothenberg reports that Karen Gillmor, widow of Rep. Paul Gillmor (R), has decided not to enter the special election to fill the 5th Ohio Congressional District vacancy. Rothenberg says that State Rep. Bob Latta (R) is likely in, and State Sen. Randy Gardner (R) is also being mentioned:
Latta served in the state senate (1997-2000) and ran for the 5th District back in 1988, but lost to Paul Gillmor in the primary by 27 votes. Latta was running for the open seat vacated by his father, Delbert Latta (R), who served in Congress for three decades beginning in 1958. (Congressman Latta served briefly on the House Judiciary Committee during the Nixon impeachment.)

Bob Latta is term-limited and represents similar territory in the Bowling Green area with state Sen. Randy Gardner (R), who is also mentioned as a potential candidate.
Rothenberg also thinks Robin Weirauch (D) will jump into the special. She ran against Gillmor in 2004 and 2006, and the second time won a respectable 43% of the vote. Bush won 60% of the vote in this district in 2004, but both Gov. Ted Strickland (D) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) carried it in 2006.

I keep thinking about County Commissioner Ben Konop (D-Toledo). I realize that he doesn't currently live in the district, but he made an impressive showing when he ran against Rep. Mike Oxley (R) in the 4th Congressional District in 2004, coming closer than any other Democratic Congressional challenger.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

News and Notes: Ohio

I will not be posting much, if anything, until next Tuesday, September 5th, while I attend to some family matters. Meanwhile, some good things to note:

Strickland Denies Scurrilous Report of Racist Remarks - Bill Sloat has all the details at The Daily Bellwether. Long story short, right wing radio hotheads falsely accused Gov. Ted Strickland (D) of making racist remarks about Sen. Barack Obama (D), right wing blogs spread the smear far and wide, and Strickland has angrily denied the accusation and says he is looking into suing for libel. Enough said. An ugly, nasty episode perpetrated by dishonorable people.

Joy Padgett To Retire - The Columbus Dispatch reports that the State Senator from Coschocton, who was an unsuccessful Lieutenant Governor candidate and also failed in her bid to succeed disgraced Congressman Bob Ney (R), will not seek re-election. State Rep. Jimmy Stewart (R-Athens) will run for her seat. I'm hoping that City Councilperson Debbie Phillips (D-Athens) will decide to make another run for Stewart's 92nd House District seat. She lost by just a few votes last time out.

Brunner To Seek Approval For Electronic Voting Machine Tests
- As noted on the Cleveland Plain Dealer blog Openers today, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (D) will seek approval from the State Controlling Board on Monday to spend $1.2 million on scientific testing of electronic voting machines. The people involved in the testing include firms based in Columbus and Denver and academic specialists from three universities and an outfit in California. Brunner has said that she does not expect to find problems with the machines, which have been tested previously in various ways, but similar tests order by a newly elected Democratic secretary of state in California found multiple problems and resulted in restrictions against certain types of voting machines.

Police Say Nothing Suspicious About Death of Rep. Gillmor - They are still waiting for the autopsy results, but the police have announced that there is no sign of foul play.

Visit the Carnival!

The 81st Carnival of Ohio Politics is up!

A big thanks to Ben Keeler for his excellent work putting this week's installment together. There are lots of high quality posts this week, so go there and enjoy.

New Poll Shows Ohio Trending Blue in Presidential Race

Dave Harding at ProgressOhio.org calls our attention to this Quinnipiac poll out today, which registers a significant shift in Ohio regarding the presidential race. As the pollster puts it, Ohio "is turning blue in the 2008 campaign, with Democratic candidates winning 11 of 12 matchups with Republican contenders." Here are intra-party results, which show Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) consolidating her lead over Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) but Rudy Giuliani (R-NY) slipping somewhat against Fred Thompson (R-VA)(parenthetical numbers are from August 8):

44% (41%) - Clinton (D)
15% (16%) - Obama (D)
11% (11%) - Edwards (D)
8% (8%) - Gore (D)

21% (29%) - Giuliani (R)
15% (11%) - Thompson (R)
10% (11%) - McCain (R)
9% (8%) - Gingrich (R)
8% (8%) - Romney (R)

Here are the head-to-head matchups, which show Edwards as having the best overall advantage over likely Republican nominees but he and Clinton both doing well, while Obama is virtually tied with Giuliani and McCain:

47% (43%) - Clinton (D)
40% (43%) - Giuliani (R)

46% - Clinton (D)
41% - McCain (R0

49% (47%) - Clinton (D)
37% (36%) - Thompson (R)

50% - Clinton (D)
37% - Romney (R)

42% (39%) - Obama (D)
41% (42%) - Giuliani (R)

41% - Obama (D)
42% - McCain (R)

46% (44%) - Obama (D)
34% (32%) - Thompson (R)

46% - Obama (D)
32% - Romney (R)

47% - Edwards (D)
38% - Giuliani (R)

46% - Edwards (R)
38% - McCain (R)

50% - Edwards (D)
32% - Thompson (R)

50% - Edwards (D)
30% - Romney (R)

It is still early to pay too much attention to polls, and of course the late Ohio primary will have no impact on the nominations. Still, the shift of support to Democratic candidates is substantial and very significant. The overall climate in Ohio appears, at this time, to be moving in the direction of the Democratic Party.

Among the Democrats, all three major candidates have seen their favorability ratings improve since last month:

51%/43% (49%/41%) - Clinton (D)
47%/25% (44%/25%) - Obama (D)
54%/26% (46%/29%) - Edwards (D)

Clinton's margin is still less than the other two, but it is interesting that she has pulled her favorables above the critical 50% line. However, the amount of improvement is very slight. On the Republican side, Giuliani's favorability rating of 48%/30% remains essentially unchanged from his August score of 48%/29%.

Bush's approval rating is up slightly but still bad at 64%/32%. In July he was at 66%/29%.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

News and Notes: The National Scene

Big doings beyond the borders of the Buckeye State:

Oprah to Stump for Obama?
- They're talking it over. I would never, ever underestimate what Oprah can accomplish. Also, to the extent that Obama is the candidate who could conceivably bring non-political people to the polls, Oprah with her huge mass-media-market following could help with that.

Republican Malaise Goes Way Beyond Bush - An analysis of polling by the Wall Street Journal shows that the declining fortunes of the Grand Old Party are not limited to displeasure with the current occupant of the White House. The Republican Party is losing support among younger voters, Hispanics, and independents, based largely on "the Iraq war, conservatives' emphasis on social issues such as gay marriage, abortion and stem-cell research, and a party-led backlash against illegal immigrants that has left many Hispanic and Asian-American citizens feeling unwelcome." In short, "Republicans face structural problems that stem from generational, demographic and societal changes and aren't easily overcome without changing fundamental party positions."

California Electoral Vote Proposal Looks DOA - Polling shows only 38% support for a Republican bid to divide California's electoral votes according to results in each Congressional district, probably dooming the controversial proposal.

Thompson to Upstage New Hampshire GOP Debate - Erstwhile GOP presidential contender Fred Thompson (R-TN) has a plan to totally upstage tonight's GOP candidates debate in New Hampshire (which he is skipping). First, he will air a 30 second commercial on Fox News Channel during the debate that will direct viewers to go view a 15 minute web cast on his campaign site. Then he will appear on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, a venue with a vastly larger audience than the presidential debate. All of this precedes tomorrow's official announcement of Thompson's candidacy.

UPDATE: Check Out RomneyFacts.com - This terrific web site by the Massachusetts Democratic Party sets out contrasting quotes from "Massachusetts Mitt" and "Red State Romney," one the governor of liberal Massachusetts and the other the presidential contender who is now pandering to the GOP's ultra-conservative base. It's hilarious. While he was governor Romney came out strong in favor of liberal positions (like gun control and raising the minimum wage and opposing privatization of social security), but that hasn't stopped him from contradicting his prior statements now.

News and Notes: Ohio

A lot is going on today in the first state admitted to the Union under the Northwest Ordinance:

Jean Schmidt: AGAIN with the Plagiarism! - Bill Sloat at The Daily Bellwether reports that Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) appears to have lifted most of her September 4th newsletter on public safety from an Ohio Highway Patrol superintendent's column written in 2005. Schmidt was heavily criticized for copying a letter to the editor from a press release issued by Rep Deborah Pryce (R-Upper Arlington) during the 2006 campaign.

Space Gets P.O. Named for Glenn
- Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure introduced by Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover), renaming the U.S. Post Office in Cambridge, Ohio the “John Herschel Glenn, Jr. Post Office Building.” Ohio's famous astronaut and U.S. Senator was born in Cambridge. He later attended high school in New Concord and Muskingum College.

Maple Heights Featured in New York Times Story on Mortgage Crisis - A story on the front page of the SundayBusiness section of the New York Times this weekend was captioned, "Can the Mortgage Crisis Swallow a Town?" -- and the town in question is the Cleveland suburb of Maple Heights. Nearly ten percent of Maple Heights houses have been seized by banks through foreclosure in the past two years, and roughly 30 percent of Cuyahoga County subprime mortgages are either in delinquency or foreclosure. The story focused on a couple who did not take out a risky mortgage or miss a payment, but face the problems caused by having numerous vacancies on their block and are now unable to sell their home at anything near a reasonable price. Highlighted in the article are Maple Heights Mayor Michael Ciaravino, Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis, Ohio-based think tank Policy Matters Ohio, and the advocacy group East Side Organizing Project. The new Policy Matters report on Cuyahoga County foreclosures is here.

Report Finds Staggering Increase in Income Inequality in Ohio - Speaking of Policy Matters Ohio, they issued a report for Labor Day that reveals that the richest 1% of Ohio households earned more than $986,000 last year, 26 times the earnings of middle-income Ohio families. Hourly wages have not grown in the past generation despite increasing working hours, education, and hourly output. More women are working and the gender wage gap is slowly shrinking, but the wage gap between black and white workers is larger than a generation ago. The report concludes that Ohio should promote broadly-shared prosperity by investing in the future, creating more opportunity, generating "on-ramps to the middle class," protecting and building workers' assets, and retaining strong public structures.

Condolences on Death of Rep. Gillmor - Ohio Senate Democratic Leader Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) has just issued the following statement on the untimely passing of Rep. Paul Gillmor (R):
“I am saddened by the loss of U.S. Congressman Paul Gillmor. I offer my condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. Paul was a dedicated public servant, serving in the Ohio Senate for 22 years and rising to President of the Senate. The energy and hard work he contributed to serving the people of Ohio will be missed.”
UPDATE: Members of the Ohio Congressional Delegates will offer tributes to Gillmor on the floor of Congress at 4:00 pm today. I expect that C-SPAN will carry it live, although I have not been able to confirm that.It is being carried on C-SPAN.

Cleveland Crime Down in 2006, But Way Up Since 2004
- The dean of Cleveland bloggers, Bill Callahan, has a terrific post up today on crime statistics. Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Regina Brett wrote today that a police department spokesman declined to state how many additional police officers would be needed to make Cleveland safe, citing FBI statistics that show violent crimes (other than murder) declining in 2007 compared to last year. However, as Callahan explains (and displays in a nifty graph), violent crimes have risen dramatically each year from 2004 to 2006, with 2004 being the year of big layoffs in the Cleveland Police Department. The police spokesman suggests that public perception is out of step with the reality that Cleveland is not so lawless as supposed. As Callahan notes, however, "all media hype aside, Cleveland residents are reacting to a longer-term trend than just one year."

OH-10: Palmer (D) Issues Debate Challenge to Kucinich (D)

At a press conference this morning, Rosemary Palmer (D-Cleveland) challenged Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) to participate in five debates:

Palmer proposed to focus each debate on a particular issue area including jobs and the economy, Iraq, national security and VA issues, and energy policy and the environment. “I have formally submitted this challenge to Mr. Kucinich’s office. I eagerly await his response, and frankly expect him, as a democratically elected official, to accept the challenge and appreciate the opportunity to address the people he claims to represent,” Palmer said.

Palmer criticized Congressman Kucinich for being largely absent while his district continues to endure troubling economic and social difficulty. She cited the incumbent Congressman’s recent trip to Disney World that coincided with the release of a US Census Bureau report which once again ranked the City of Cleveland as among the poorest cities in America. “While he goes to Disney World and wishes upon a star to be president, the needs of his district go unattended. The poverty report is just one example,” Palmer said.

Kucinich has complained about being excluded from the limelight of the presidential campaign. Following reports that his presidential primary opponents were conspiring to limit his exposure at debate appearances, Mr. Kucinich was quoted as saying “Imperial candidates are as repugnant to the American people and to our democracy as an imperial president.” In light of her newly issued challenge, Palmer countered, “Now that this challenge has been issued, we shall soon know if we have an imperial and repugnant Congressman”.

In response to my questions after her prepared statement, Palmer said that she would take up the issue of participation by other candidates (such as Barbara Ferris (D)) at such time as Kucinich agrees to the debates, and said that her differences with Kucinich on the issues to be debated have more to do with approach than substance.

OH-5: Gillmor (R) Dead

CNN is reporting that Rep. Paul Gillmor (R) was found dead today. He was 68 years of age.

UPDATE: An aide said that Gillmor was found by staff members who went to his apartment after he failed to show up for work. No word on the cause of death.

Gillmor served in the Ohio Senate for 20 years and was elected Senate President in 1981. He ran for Governor in 1986 but lost in the GOP primary to James Rhodes (R). He was first elected to Congress in 1988.

2nd UPDATE: Taegen Goddard quotes an "interconference email" as saying that a special election will be required in the 5th Ohio Congressional District. Also, the emails states that "while Republicans are favored to retain the seat, such an election will likely be costly and an added burden to the GOP."

Rest in peace. My thoughts and prayers are with the Congressman's family.

3rd UPDATE: Members of the Ohio Congressional delegation are offering tributes to Rep. Gillmor on the floor of Congress right now. Turn on C-SPAN. [3:37 pm]

Strickland Popularity Still Very High

A new Quinnipiac Poll shows that Gov. Ted. Strickland (D) is strongly approved by a broad cross-section of Ohioans. His approval rating is 58% favorable/18 unfavorable, down slightly from his 61%/15% rating on July 11 but still very, very good. The numbers among Republicans are also good (54%/19%), and interestingly are quite similar to independents (55%/21%).

The poll also shows that 58% of Ohio voters favor policies that would make them pay higher consumer prices on imported goods in order to save American jobs, and 77% say the quality of goods from China is "not so good" or "poor." A majority of Ohioans among all three political categories favor import restrictions even if they mean higher prices (Democrats 63%/28%, Republicans 51%/37%, independents 58%/33%).

By a slim margin (49%/45%), Ohioans agree with Strickland that electronic gaming machines should be illegal in the state.

ADDENDUM: The same poll shows that approval for the Ohio Legislature is down at 38% approve, 37% disapprove. Although Republicans control both chambers, approval is actually lower among Republicans (38%) than among Democrats or independents (40%).

The Trouble With Larry

Like the body that refuses to quietly disappear in the Hitchcock classic, the scandal involving Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) and what he did or did not solicit in a men's room at the Minneapolis airport simply will not go away. Roll Call has the audio of a voicemail message that Craig inadvertently left at a wrong number on his way to the Saturday news conference to announce his resignation. In the call, Craig implores Billy (whoever that is) to make "as bold a statement as you are comfortable with" to show that Craig is "willing to fight and [has] quality people out there fighting in [his] defense." Craig states that Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) is "now willing to come out in [Craig's] defense" and acknowledge that based on everything Specter knows, Craig "has been railroaded." Craig asks Billy to call Mike (presumably defense attorney Mike Jackson) (?) or Craig about the matter.

Craig reveals in the call that his team reshaped the Saturday press conference to announce only Craig's "intent to resign," not his actual resignation, apparently in order to leave room to maneuver in the event that Jackson is successful in having Craig's guilty plea to disorderly conduct withdrawn. If that effort is successful, then Craig can fight the charge and argue that his situation is no different from Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), who has not been pressured to resign from the Senate because he is actively resisting the charges of ethics violations that hang over him.

UPDATE: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) clarified today that Craig will not resign if he is able to get the charges in Minnesota dismissed within the next 25 days. If not, he will resign on September 30th as previously indicated. If he stays, he must deal with the proceeding in the Senate ethics committee.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Lunch With Hillary?

If you make a contribution between now and midnight on Friday, you just might win lunch with the candidate, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY). Love or or hate her, either way ... wouldn't you just love to do lunch? I would. I think it's well worth the $10 minimum donation just to have the chance. However, I won't be holding my breath. Only a single contributor gets lunch!

(Just for the record, if other candidates want to offer me a chance at an exclusive lunch interview for only $10, I'm open to persuasion.)

Here's hoping ...

News and Notes: Ohio

Some items of interest from the state that's round on the ends and "hi" in the middle:

Proposed Medicare Change Would Curtail Benefits for 21,500 Ohioans Who Use Home Oxygen
- Citing an article in the Chillicothe Gazette, the excellent Ohio Health Policy Review notes that a change in Medicare legislation that has been passed by the House of Representatives would affect an estimated 21,500 Ohioans by reducing the coverage for home oxygen therapy from 36 months to 18 months. The provision is contained in the Children's Health and Medicare Protection Act of 2007 (CHAMP), which is currently under consideration by the Senate.

Huttlinger Out as Campaign Manager? - Blogger Chris Baker of Ohio 2nd says word on the street is that 2nd Congressional District candidate Steve Black (D-Indian Hill) is looking for a new campaign manager to replace Mary Huttlinger, who was formerly campaign manager for Dr. Victoria Wulsin (D-Indian Hill).

Daily Left Has Video Interview with OH-16 Challenger Boccieri - The enterprising blogger at Daily Left ran into State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown) at the Stark County Fair and the result was this impromptu video interview.

Brunner Challenged on Ideas for Expanding Role of Secretary of State - Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (D-Columbus) has paid attention to the innovative things that other secretaries of state around the country are doing, and she's interested in doing some of those things here in Ohio. One such project is a "social-health index" which would collect and report quality-of-life data about Ohio. Employers and local governments could use the information to attract employees and businesses to the state. Other ideas include trade missions and taking control of the state library. As reported in the Columbus Dispatch over the weekend, however, State Rep. Kevin DeWine (R) isn't at all pleased that Brunner wants to expand beyond overseeing elections and processing business filings. The deputy chairman of the state GOP, a frequent critic of Brunner, charges that she should not undertake any such additional responsibilities "until such time that she can stand on the Statehouse steps and tell us that the election system in Ohio is without fault." Brunner isn't backing down. "Basically, their criticism comes from their unimaginative view of what government should be doing for the people," Brunner said. "If they want to criticize me for trying to make my state better, have at it."

Sen. Craig (R) Wavers on Resignation

Amazing. Sen. Craig (R-ID) is indicating through a spokesperson that perhaps he isn't really going to resign after all.

Critics have been asking why Sens. David Vitter (R-LA) and Ted Stevens (R-AK) aren't being pressured to resign in light of their respective sexual and ethics scandals, given the brusque manner in which Craig was rushed to the exit. But Craig, apparently, is beginning to wonder if the whole thing wasn't a tiny bit unfair. He only pled guilty to a misdemeanor, after all ... and even to the extent that the taint of homosexuality underlies the allegations, right wing commentators keep bringing up the fact that Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) remains in Congress seventeen years after it was revealed that a male prostitute conducted an escort service from Frank's apartment. Craig's spokeman said:
"We're still preparing as if Senator Craig will resign September 30, but the outcome of the legal case in Minnesota and the ethics investigation will have an impact on whether we're able to stay in the fight -- and stay in the Senate."
Does this mean that Craig will actually remain in the Senate?

No. Nah, nope, nyet, no way. But it does mean that the GOP will have to deal with the specter of Craig rising from the political coffin, like some bizarre remake of "The Trouble With Harry," as he tests the water for a possible retreat from his resignation decision. This can't be good news for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who just got finished declaring that the Craig episode is over. Oh no, not quite, not yet.

Kanye West Stars in Video Promoting "ED in 08"

ED in 08 is a campaign to raise public awareness of education as an issue in the 2008 election cycle. It is run by the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and is funded by grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Eli & Edythe Broad Foundation. Rapper and record producer Kanye West, whose hit albums include The College Dropout and Late Registration, stars in this catchy video to help promote their campaign:

OH-7: Businessman Dave Woolever (D) to Challenge Hobson (R)

Dave Woolever (D-Stoutsville), owner and operator of Peppy's Pizza in Circleville, Ohio, has announced that he will challenge Rep Dave Hobson (R-Springfield) in the 7th Ohio Congressional District. Pledging to focus his campaign on the war in Iraq, the economy, and constituent services, Woolever says that "as a small business owner and a life long resident of this district, I know the challenges faced by those who are the life blood of this country. This campaign will be all about a change in direction for the seventh district, the State of Ohio and the nation." Calling Hobson a "rubberstamp for lobbyists," Woolever points out on his web site that Hobson has received $136,7220 from the oil and gas industry and $171, 815 from the drug companies and asks, "What have they gotten for their money?"

Woolever is a graduate of Logan Elm schools and has studied at Bliss College and Ohio University. He worked for Ranco Controls in Plain City, Ohio, until his job was outsourced to Mexico, and then at Thompson Consumer Electronics in Circleville. He purchased Peppy's Pizza in 1995. He belongs to the National Rifle Association, the American Motorcyclist Assocation, and the National Hot Rod Association. As a former union member Woolever says he is "a proud supporter of organized labor."

It has been rumored that Hobson may retire, and that State Sen. Steve Austria (R-Beavercreek) would be the GOP-endorsed candidate for the seat. However, Hobson has recently stated that he will in fact run for re-election. Frequent candidate John Mitchel (R-Beavercreek) has announced that he will challenge Hobson in the GOP primary, and Hobson's 2006 Democratic opponent, engineer and USAF veteran William R. Conner (D-Beavercreek), has confirmed that he is running again.