Ohio News & Opinion Roundup

A quick look at what's going on:

* The Akron Beacon Journal criticizes Strickland for ignoring the objections of the Fraternal Order of Police, the Buckeye State Sheriff's Association, and the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police to the gun lobby's bill to roll-back firearm regulations.

* The Ohio House passed the bill authorizing the Cuyahoga County Commission to put the Hagan-Husted county government reform plan on the November ballot, but it's probably moot because such authorization requires the vote of two commissioners and the other two (Peter Lawson Jones and Jimmy Dimora) have signaled that they won't approve it because it is directed at Cuyahoga County alone.

* Joseph at Plunderbund whacks away at the anti-immigrant English-only bill that passed yesterday.

* The Blade reports on an event in Toledo yesterday, one stop on a tour of swing states, at which military veterans and representatives of the SEIU slammed John McCain for taking the side of the Veterans Administration in disputes with veterans about health care services and benefits.

* Ted Strickland endorsed the idea of a joint Obama-Clinton as "unbeatable." I'm thinking he is too close to the Clinton camp to be making that statement without a green light, signaling that the VP slot is indeed what Clinton wants.

* Jill highlights a good list of ten compelling reasons for women to support Obama.

* Listen here to the radio ads that the DCCC is running this weekend, attacking Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood) and Rep. John Boehner (West Chester) for voting against supporting our troops with education benefits like WWII vets got.

* Paul points out the hypocrisy of Angry Old Guy slamming Obama as one "who did not feel it was his responsibility to serve our country in uniform" while embracing a certain frat boy whose family connections got him a cushy Texas Air National Guard gig so he could avoid serving in Vietnam.

Service members and the new G.I. Bill

As we head into Memorial Day...

My wife's oldest is active duty Navy (E-6.) He LOVES the new GI Bill.

And it has made a HUGE impression on him that it is a Democrat and veteran (Webb) who authored this legislation. That impression has been STRONGLY re-enforced by the the fact that the GOP has officially fought the bill and that the Shrub plans to veto it.

Basically what the Republicans are doing, is to turn an entire generation of young people into lifelong Democrats. More and more of them are beginning to see that the GOP will waste billions on defense contractors and their K Street lobbyists, but will fight to their last breath to deny benefits to service people.

And this Fall, there is going to be a price to pay. We'll flip three or four U.S. House seats right here in Ohio. Just imagine how this will play for a candidate like Maj. John Boccieri?

Across the Nation, maybe TWENTY seats? I used to think that was tinfoil hat material, but now, I could see it.

So you say ya wanna "support the troops?" Well then:

VOTE DEMOCRATIC.

OH House-28: Pillich Memorial Day Message - "We Must Do More"

Air Force veteran Connie Pillich (D-Montgomery), who fell just 1,592 votes short of beating State Rep. Jim Raussen (R-Springdale) in 2006 and is off to a fast start in this year's rematch, wrote in a n op-ed piece in the Community Press that veterans need more than parades and flag-waving:

When deployed for long periods of time, [National Guard personnel] leave behind the remnants of their civilian lives. Abandoned leases, child support issues, job security - these things haunt our guard members and their families for a long time.

... We need laws that help these volunteers. We need to allow any military member to be able to terminate a lease upon receipt of military deployment orders. We need to assist the families left behind by ensuring child support is properly handled.

We need a veterans hiring preference for state jobs so our veterans have an edge up when returning to the work force. We need to extend low-cost health insurance for those veterans abandoned by the VA medical system. We need to penalize employers who fail to keep a job open for their deployed employee.

Finally, we must stop letting bills that benefit our veterans and their families languish in committee ... Partisan political behavior is the single greatest insult to the many men and women who volunteer to put it all on the line to protect us.

We need to honor our vets every day, not just on specified weekends. ... By honoring and improving the lives of vets every day, we give them the most sincere "Thank you."

Pillich will be marching in the Blue Ash Memorial Day Parade with OH-02 candidate Dr. Victoria Wulsin (D-Indian Hill) on Monday (5/26) and invites supporters to join her. (Line up is at 9:30 a.m. on Reed Hartman Highway at Malsbary; campaign tee shirts will be provided.) This year she will have a special Veterans contingent in the parade -- all veterans and their friends and family members are invited wear their military medals and commemorative ribbons as they walk.

News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races

Second installment today, because too much is never enough:

OH-02 - Challenger Dr. Victoria Wulsin (D-Indian Hill) made a strong statement the other day about Rep. "Mean Jean" Schmidt (R-Loveland) supporting warrantless wiretaps and wanting to provide retroactive immunity to the telecoms that donate to Schmidt's campaign, as quoted by blogger Howie Klein on Huffington Post:

"The Bush Administration has run roughshod over the Constitution and now they expect the American people to pay for it by granting retroactive immunity to big corporations that illegally violated their customers' privacy. Congress cannot not let itself be bullied into giving away the civil liberties that belong to every American, and I promise that as a congresswoman I will never put the interests of corporations before the rights of the people."

Dr. Wulsin will make appearances on Sunday (5/25) at 3:30 p.m. at the Aberdeen parade and at 6:30 p.m. at Taste of Cincy (meet at 5th and Vine), and will march with OH House-28 candidate Connie Pillich (D-Montgomery) on Monday (5/26) in the Blue Ash Memorial Day Parade (line up is at 9:30 a.m. on Reed Hartman Highway at Malsbary).

OH-12 - Challenger David Robinson (D-Columbus) will be at "4th Friday Westerville" tomorrow night (5/23) from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at on East College Avenue and will march in two parades over the weekend, the Utica Ice Cream Festival Parade starting 11:00 a.m. on Saturday (5/24) at Church and Jefferson Streets and the Powell Parade starting at 10:00 a.m. on Monday (5/26). *** You can also meet the candidate at a house party next Saturday (5/31) in Columbus, $25 suggested donation, email rdoersam-at-robison2008-dot-com for details. *** Emily Kreider, the Democratic candidate who ran an inspiring race for the 3rd Ohio Senate District seat in 2006, has send out an email thanking her supporters and urging them to continue to work for better representation in government by volunteering for Robinson.

OH-14 - Challenger Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell) has made a swift recovery from his heart bypass surgery two months ago. With clearance from his doctors, he is registering for the 32nd Annual Blossom Time Run, a 5.25-mile race preceding the Blossom Time Parade this Sunday (5/25) at 2:00 p.m. in Chagrin Falls. “My goal is just to finish before they take down the timer,” O’Neill joked. “I’m just so happy that I’m healthy and ready to continue this O’Neill family tradition – run the race, then march with the veterans in the parade.” He also points out that his experience is a reminder of the critical importance of health insurance and preventive care:

“As a nurse I see every day how our system needs serious reforms. Thanks to my health coverage, I pursued preventive care and, without it, I’m not sure I would have had the check-up or the surgery that may have saved my life. We need to take a long, hard look at our system and ask, ‘Why doesn’t everyone deserve this access to affordable care?’”

OH-16 - Today the Ohio Senate approved Am. Sub. S.B. 289, which incorporates legislation by State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown) to protect the jobs of National Guard and Reserve troops while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan under state law. Such protection exists under federal law but the cost and delays involved in federal litigation make it hard for veterans to enforce their rights. “Often veterans walk away from the fight,” Senator Boccieri said. “What veteran can afford to fight for years for their job in federal courts while needing to put bread on their family’s table? Enactment of this bill will provide one more layer of protection for our Ohio soldiers while they are protecting us."

OH-17 - This is the most information I have found anywhere about longshot contender Duane Grassell (R), so just for the record:

"Grassell is a self-described life-long student of the Constitution. The purpose of his candidacy is to vote against unconstitutional bills that previous Congresses have passed. Grassell is a high school math teacher who has been teaching since 1979. He taught 12 years in Youngstown on the eastern end of the 17th district, and he taught 12 years in Akron on the western end of the district. He has been married to his wife Ruth for eight years and they have a seven year old daughter."

OH-18 - Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) will give the Keynote Speech at the Chillicothe Memorial Day Service at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday (5/25) at Veterans Park on Yoctangee Blvd. (behind the YMCA) and will march in the Coshocton County Memorial Day Parade begins at 10:00 a.m. on Monday (5/26) at Main and 8th Street, followed by a ceremony at the Coshocton County Court House.

Fun Electoral Map Tool

I just tumbled across this excellent site that allows you to create your own hypothetical electoral vote map by clicking on the various states. For example, suppose you notice today's SUSA poll showing Obama ahead of McCain in Virginia by 7 points, and you wonder what the EV map would look like if Obama carried all the Kerry states except New Hampshire and also picked up Virginia and blue-trending Colorado. Click a few states and you get:

Obama wins with 270 electoral votes, without Ohio.

How cool is that?

H/t to Steven R for this diary on DailyKos.

Expanded G.I. Bill Passes Despite Voinovich "NO" Vote

The Webb-Hagel measure to strengthen the G.I. Bill for troops who serve in Iraq and Afghanistan passed 75-22 in the form of an amendment to H.R. 2642, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2008, which George Bush has promised to veto if it contains the G.I. Bill provision and other domestic spending measures. Sen. George Voinovich (R-Cleveland) was among the minority who refused to support our troops.

Quinnipiac Poll Shows McCain Slightly Ahead of Obama in Ohio

A poll released today by Quinnipiac University shows Barack Obama trailing John McCain by four points, while CLinton leads McCain by seven (numbers in parens are from May 1st and April 2nd):

40% (42%, 43%) Obama
44% (43%, 42%) McCain

48% (48%, 48%) Clinton
41% (38%, 39%) McCain

The margin of error is 2.8%.

Other numbers in the poll show a political climate that is not unfavorable to Obama. Approval for George Bush is at a dismal 26%, Obama's favorability rating (44%-38%) is about the same as McCain's (43%-36%), and 86% say they would be "entirely comfortable" or "somewhat comfortable" with an African-American president while only 59% would be "entirely comfortable" or "somewhat comfortable" with a president who is 72 at the start of his term. 56% say that the Rev. Wright controversy does not affect their likelihood of voting for Obama, while 40% say otherwise.

A bump in Obama's numbers is to be expected when the nominating process is resolved, so this poll should be interpreted as showing a close race that is likely to get closer.

N.B. - A Rasmussen Poll on Tuesday showed Obama and McCain statistically tied in Ohio (44% Obama, 45% McCain), and a SurveyUSA poll will be out shortly.

There Have Been Many Attempts to Reform Cuyahoga County Government

David Jones wrote a piece yesterday in the News Herald outlining a dozen failed attempts to reform county government in Cuyahoga County, stretching all the way back to the 1920s. Such attempts either failed in the General Assembly, failed to get onto the ballot for voter approval, or were rejected by the voters. Most recently, in 1995, a committee on reform appointed by the county commissioners recommended an elected executive and a seven-member county council, but the commission didn't put the issue before voters. Fifteen years earlier, Cuyahoga County voters rejected a county executive with veto power and a nine-member county council.

It's natural for reformers to be frustrated by this long litany of failure, but that doesn't mean that the currently proposed plan should be pushed through just for the sake of getting something passed. While it's undeniable that Cuyahoga County has suffered from poor government in a lot of respects and that consolidation and reorganization could save money and promote good governance, this hastily conceived scheme to eliminate a slew of elected positions (devised by a single commissioner and seized upon by the GOP leader of the Ohio House as a political expediency) is not the answer. It concentrates way too much power in the hands of the three county commissioners, and in any event having a single executive would be far preferable to this cumbersome system of government-by-committee.

Also, any reform action taken should be equally applicable to all counties across the state (or at least the larger ones), not specially created for one county, an approach that smacks of political manipulation.

UPDATE: Aaron Marshall reports on Openers that the House Finance and Appropriations committee has pushed through a measure to allow the Cuyahoga County Commissioners to put Tim Hagan's government restructuring plan on the ballot if two commissioners vote to do so. An amendment by ODP Chair Chris Redfern to apply to provision to other counties was rejected along party lines.

News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races

Due diligence:

OH-01 - Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood) will be targeted in ads by both Americans United for Change and the DCCC for voting against the bill to enhance G.I. benefits.

OH-04 - That's My Congress has more on H.R. 598, co-sponsored by radical reactionary Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana). The resolution calls for “supporting the goals of the Ten Commandments Commission” and also calls on the federal government to urge “obedience to the commands of God.” The Ten Commandments Commission, it turns out, has a statement of principles that includes “Remind our fellow citizens that we are One Nation Under God, not Allah" and “America is about to be destroyed by secular humanism and Radical Islam -- Together we can make a stop to this.”

OH-09 - More buzz for Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) as a running mate for Barack Obama. The blog Politizine calls her "a champion of worker's rights and an anti-NAFTA activist that Naderites and Perotistas could get excited about" and says selecting her "might just be enough to pull the election off ..." *** Meanwhile, as to her status as a superdelegate, Kaptur says that she is truly undecided and might wait until the convention.

OH-10 - The blog News Hounds gives this appearance by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) to talk about gas prices as an example of why Democrats shouldn't go on the Fox News Channel -- the report was following by a reading of viewers emails ridiculing the congressman.

OH-15 - Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus) will be marching in the Grandview Memorial Day Parade (First Avenue between Cambridge Blvd & Oxley) this Saturday, May 24th from 10:00 to about 12:00 a.m. The campaign will be giving away T-shirts and carrying Mary Jo's message of change out into the community and they'd love for you to come out for the parade. Info here. *** The ABJ reported yesterday that those candidate-specific issues ads that Ohio Right to Life wants the federal courts to permit would be used in part to promote State Sen. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington) in this race.

OH-16 - State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown) gave sponsor testimony on Tuesday for a bill to rename parts of Interstate 680 in Mahoning County for "America's Schoolmaster" William Holmes McGuffey (the educator, lecturer and author whose work became the standardized text for school children in the 19th Century) and IBEW worker Peter J. DeLucia, who was killed while working on construction of Interstate 76. *** As with OH-15, the candidate-specific issue ads sought by Ohio Right to Life would promote the GOP candidate in this race, State Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-North Canton).

OH-18 - Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) had to fend off Hillary Clinton to stay neutral in the presidential nominating contest yesterday. Clinton called in to the Lanigan & Malone radio show on Cleveland's WMJI while Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon) and Space were guests. According to The Hotline:

[Space] praised Clinton, saying it is clear she speaks from the heart and is passionate about the issues. "Can I assume this is your superdelegate endorsement?" Clinton joked. "Seventy percent of the people who voted for me in your district would be so happy to hear that." Space demurred, saying only that there were two great candidates.

OH House-58: YDS Chat With Tom Heydinger

Newly appointed State Rep. Tom Heydinger (D-Norwalk) has a jam-packed first day on the job but I had the opportunity to ask him a few quick questions on the telephone just now.

I asked him about the process of going from retirement to seeking this position in the General Assembly and what motivated him to step forward. "It just seemed like a good fit," he replied. "I was happy with what I was doing [i.e., sitting as a visiting judge around the state], but serving as a legislator seemed like a good challenge."

Heydinger said that retirement was slower than he wanted ("the energy level was too low") and he feels that he has a lot to contribute in the legislature. "It is interesting to see the law from the other side," he commented, after having been for so long a judge applying laws after they are passed. "I often wondered about the process of how laws come about. I have good practical experience from applying the law that I can now bring to the process of making it."

A native of Plymouth, Ohio, Heydinger says that he has lived in Huron County since April Fools Day in 1974. I asked him to describe the needs of the 58th District and he said it has "largely the same needs as other parts of Ohio -- improved education, better public services, and infrastructure like roads and bridges." He said that the economy and children's health care are issues of particular concern in the area. "If you take care of your children, you take care of your region," he said.

I noted that judges are prevented by their role from taking much public role in politics, but internet records show that Heydinger donated money to John Edwards and John Kerry in 2008 and 2004. Is he a good solid Democrat, I wondered? "Oh, yes," he said. "I was a Young Democrat for Lyndon Johnson at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City in 1964. I might be a little older than you." (Not that much, I was an avid eight-year-old Johnson supporter that year and watched the convention on television.) Edwards was Heydinger's initial favorite in the current presidential nomination contest, he said.

I wished him the best of luck in the legislature and with his campaign. He said that he isn't especially conversant with the internet but will make sure that he is kept informed about what's happening on the Ohio blogs.

Ohio News & Opinion Roundup

What's up:

* Lisa Renee has posted this week's Carnival of Ohio Politics, featuring descriptive links to political blog posts around the state and across the political spectrum.

* Brad Dicken of the Chronicle Telegram reports on newly installed State Rep. Tom Heydinger (D-Norwalk), praised in the news report by various people including disgraced predecessor Matt Barrett (who hasn't yet filed the notice to take his name off the fall ballot - get on it, please).

* The NRA's proposed legislation to gut various gun regulations, a topic of discussion on this blog yesterday, gets slammed by the editoral board of the The Dispatch today:

"[Gov. Strickland] has given far too little consideration to the ramifications of this bill and the amendments. [His spokesman said he is] not concerned about the opinion of police officers, police chiefs, prosecutors and county sheriffs [but] as the state's highest official in the executive branch of government, which is charged with law enforcement, he has a duty to put the interests of a majority of Ohioans ahead of those of a special-interest group."

New reporting by Jim Siegel on the matter here. [UPDATE: DaytonOS has a thorough (and scary) point-by-point description of the law.]

* The Enquirer reports that area gas prices have surpassed $4 per gallon, and an editorial calls conservation the answer.

* The Plain Dealer and Akron Beacon Journal are thrilled about the state's new $143 million program to attract world-class scholars along with their grants and staff to Ohio universities through coordinated economic development and higher education funding. More detail on the program here.

* The Toledo Blade echoes the Dayton Daily News in an editorial defending the California decision on gay marriage equality and the "civilized impulse to live and let live."

* Gov. Strickland (D) is cool to a proposal by Ohio Faith United Against Tobacco to continue funding Ohio anti-smoking programs through a $0.75 per-pack tax.

* Your Professor smacks down the Cuyahoga County government "reform plan" over at Politic Science 216. Meanwhile, the Plain Dealer reports that County Auditor Frank Russo (D) has hired numerous people who left the "prior felony" line on their job application blank, two of whom had such.

* The Great Lakes Water Compact appears to be headed for passage in Ohio after opponent State Sen. Tim Grendell (R-Chesterland) got backing for his ballot initiative to amend the Ohio constitution to guarantee property owners "reasonable use" of water.

* Electoral map fever: I reproduced a couple yesterday, and Chuck at The Chief Source argues why everything's going Obama's way. A much less rosy picture presented here.

We Paid for the F'n Pizza!

Oh my.

Former Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann ate out on his donors' dime more than 300 times between Jan. 2, 2007, and Dec. 31, 2007 — dining out at places as disparate as McDonald's, where he once put 35 cents on his campaign's debit card, to $330.45 at an Akron eatery.

There were sushi bars in Washington, D.C., and frequent trips to Bob Evans in Ohio. More than 80 restaurant tabs were from the Youngstown area, where Dann lives and the attorney general has an office.

I don't think I would mind it so much if I felt the priviledge wasn't being abused. That Mr. Dann appreciated the hard work his campaign contributers expended to be able to give him that money. But, evidence shows Marc Dann used the money recklessly, staying out at Columbus bars till 2 in the morning and then there is the little bit about the pizza....

One debit charge — $31.23 for Domino's Pizza — was posted Sept. 13, three days after Dann aide Anthony Gutierrez brought a colleague, Cindy Stankoski, for pizza to the apartment Gutierrez shared with Dann and a third colleague. Stankoski accused Gutierrez of sexually harassing her — a scandal that ultimately cost Dann his job.

Thank goodness the Ohio Democrats forced this guy out. What a jerk.

OH House-58: Meet State Rep. Thomas Heydinger (D)

Former judge Thomas E. Heydinger (D-Norwalk) was sworn in this afternoon.

The press release indicates that Heydinger, 67, was born in Plymouth, Ohio and served as a U.S. Army helicopter pilot and military lawyer during the Vietnam War. He was a Crawford County Court judge, an Assistant Attorney General, and a Huron County Assistant Prosecutor before he was appointed to the bench in the Huron County Common Pleas Court’s Probate and Juvenile Division by Gov. Jack Gilligan, where he served for 28 years until he retired in 2003.

Both of the statements in the press release allude to the moral and ethical meltdown by Heydinger's predecessor. The statement by the new State Representative:

“I am humbled and honored to continue my service to my home state by becoming the 58th District’s Representative in the Statehouse. I have built my career on integrity and protecting people, and I am excited about the new opportunities this office will bring to serve the people of my district.”

The statement by House Democratic Leader Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus):

“Tom Heydinger is a man of unquestionable ethics and amazing accomplishment. I am happy he is joining our Caucus, and I look forward to working with him to provide quality education, affordable health care and economic opportunity to Ohioans.”

An intriguing person for this office at this time. I look forward to learning more about him and following his campaign.

Obama-McCain Electoral Vote Maps

New polling data from several states means new maps.

Bowers' new map:

Obama 242, McCain 220, Toss-up 76

Poblano's new map:

("To win [Obama needs to maintain his current lead in all Kerry states except New Hampshire and] 1) Win Ohio (while holding Michigan and Wisconsin), or
2) Win two or three of the Western 'four corner' states (NV, CO, NM) and either Ohio or Michigan.")

Strickland Yields to Gun Lobby

This is outrageous. I realize that Gov. Strickland (D) has a well-deserved reputation on supporting the right to bear firearms, but supporting the evisceration of reasonable gun restrictions in the face of objections from prosecutors and law enforcement groups like the Fraternal Order of Police is unacceptable.

The NRA is a power-mad, out-of-control special interest that will never stop pushing no matter how outrageous its demands become. That means that the Governor, whether a gun supporter or not, has to draw reasonable lines and put his foot down or we're headed for the shoot-em-up madness of the old Wild West.

At issue is the latest legislative wish-list from the NRA, about to be wrapped in a package and festooned with a bow by the House Criminal Justice Committee with little or no public testimony. Among the changes dictated to the GOP-controlled General Assembly by the all-powerful gun lobby:

* Anyone, licensed or not, can carry an unloaded gun in their car -- not in the trunk or in a locked case as now required.

* A sheriff doing a background check on an applicant for a concealed-carry license can't consider a sealed or expunged conviction.

* Landlords can't prohibit tenants from keeping handguns.

* Law enforcement can't seize legal guns during an emergency.

Some law enforcement officials are protesting against the changes, as you can well imagine -- those unloaded guns in cars are way too easy to load, and the guns that would be allowed include things like sawed-off shotguns and rifles. Letting people get concealed gun permits when they have prior convictions is just plain outrageous, and not letting the police seize guns when a situation is spinning out of control is unthinkable. But Strickland is not deterred. "As a gun-rights supporter, the governor believes these are reasonable and appropriate protections for gun owners," spokesman Keith Dailey said.

Perhaps the scariest part is the eerie silence of the highway patrol on this -- here is how Jim Siegel puts it in his Dispatch story:

The State Highway Patrol, which has been very vocal in the past about concerns over guns in vehicles, is now, under Strickland, declining to talk about the issue.

So is Strickland not only failing to object to these outrageous changes to the law, but strangling criticism from within the executive branch?

This is going too far.

Bush Vetoes Farm Bill

George Bush, who received his all-time low approval rating from Reuters-Zogby today (23%), has vetoed the Farm Bill, with the House set to vote on an override this afternoon. The bill passed both chambers last week by large veto-proof margins.

In his veto message the President focused on the $300 billion cost of the bill, three-quarters or which is devoted to nutrition and food program such as food stamps and assistance to food banks. The bill imposes caps farm subsidies to wealthy farmers, but does not eliminate them. This is among many flaws in the bill, but it contains long-delayed and essential provisions on conservation, food programs, and alternative fuels.

Love this quote:

"Back home in Montana, we say you shouldn't bring a knife to a gun fight," said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. "We've got the votes to override the president and make the farm bill law, and that's what this Congress will do."

The Barr Effect: Obama Leads McCain by Ten Points in 4-Way Poll

A poll just out from Zogby confirms that Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr (L-GA), a former Republican member of Congress, draws voters away from John McCain and thus tends to help Barack Obama:

37% John McCain
47% Barack Obama
4% Ralph Nader
3% Bob Barr
10% Not sure/Other

The pollster notes that Obama does well with his base (79%), a sign that support may be coalescing around Obama on the Democratic side, and also wins among independents (48% to 32%) over McCain. As to the effect of Barr on McCain:

The survey hints that Libertarian Bob Barr could do some serious damage to McCain by stealing support among the very conservative and libertarian voters. Barr wins 10% support among those self-described “very conservative” voters, and wins 22% among philosophical (not necessarily “capital L”) libertarians. As McCain continues to angle for moderate support on the campaign trail, Barr could create havoc for him among McCain’s political base.

When Clinton is substituted for Obama in the four-way poll, support for Barr and Nader are unchanged but McCain and Clinton are essentially tied at 40% to 41%.

OH House-58: Heydinger (D) To Be Sworn In Today

Thomas E. Heydinger (D-Norwalk), a former Huron County Common Pleas Court judge in the Juvenile and Probate divisions, will be sworn in today as the replacement for Matt Barrett (D-Amherst) who resigned in the wake of a scandal involving projecting a topless photograph to a high school class and then lying about the source.

UPDATE: Heydinger, 67, was a Huron County juvenile and probate judge from 1975 to 2003. Since his retirement he has been filling in for various judges around the state. He was chosen by the House Democratic Caucus this morning over three other candidates, according to Brad Dicken in the Chronicle Telegram. The others were former Huron County Democratic Party Chairman Patrick Saunders, Assistant Lorain County Prosecutor Frank Janik, and senior caretaker (?) Mary Fleure from Seneca County.

2nd UPDATE: I'm not finding a lot of information online about Heydinger. ODP Chair Chris Redfern had said that it was important to find an officeholder and someone well known in Huron County. The appointee is a former officeholder who ran in county-wide judicial races. Heydinger told the Lorain Morning Journal a month ago that he had become "accustomed to retirement" and had to weigh the considerations involved, including the impact on his family.

3rd UPDATE: For what it is worth, Blogger Buckeye RINO wrote recently that he thought Heydinger made the most sense of the available candidates, as having good name recognition and not being tied to a legislative voting record.

It appears that Thomas Heydinger has donated moderate amounts to John Edwards and John Kerry in recent presidential contests, and that he started the volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program in the Huron County Juvenile Court in 1989.

"Lapsed Democrats" in Kentucky

It's obvious that race was a big factor in the Kentucky primary, since about 20% of voters told exit pollsters that race was important to their vote and over 80% of them voted for Clinton, but I think this bit from blogger Poblano on FiveThirtyEight is important:

One thing that may be a factor is what I call the "lapsed Democrat" vote. Kentucky has about 1.6 million registered Democrats, but had just 713K votes for John Kerry in 2004 (45 percent of the registered Democrat base). By contrast, Oregon has about 800K registered Democrats, but had 943K votes for John Kerry in 2004 (118 percent of the registered Democrat base).

Although Kentucky nominally has a closed primary, what may have happened here is that you have a lot of voters who are registered as Democrats but routinely vote Republican for national office -- sort of a relic of the old Solid South. And about 15-20 percent of supporters of each candidate said they'd vote for John McCain over their own candidate.

Bush defeated Kerry in Kentucky by 20 points. A lot of the people voting a Democratic ballot last night would have voted for McCain yesterday if his name were on the ballot, and wouldn't vote for the Democrat in November whether it is Clinton or Obama. I imagine they wanted a say in the U.S. Senate primary (party-backed Bruce Lunsford (D) defeated the much more progressive candidate Steve Fischer (D)) but their vote in the presidential primary doesn't signify much, since they're not under any circumstances likely to vote for a national Demcratic candidate who is not from the South and is regarded as liberal.

Ohio Superdelegate Reset

Hat-tip to Paul for highlighting this The Daily Briefing report that Redfern superdelegate selectee Craig Bashein, a Cleveland attorney, has committed to Hillary Clinton, bringing the Ohio superdelegate count to eight for Clinton, six for Obama, and seven undecided:

For Clinton:
Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones
Gov. Ted Strickland
Labor leader Patricia Moss
Labor leader Ron Malone
Labor leader William Burga
Rep. Betty Sutton
Rep. Tim Ryan
Attorney W. Craig Bashein [selected by Redfern]

For Obama:
Mayor Rhine McLin
Mayor Mark Mallory
Former DNC chair David Wilhelm
Labor leader Sonny Nardi
County party chair Enid Goubeaux
Former labor leader Dave Regan [selected by Redfern]

Undetermined:
Rep. Marcy Kaptur
Rep. Dennis Kucinich
Rep. Charlie Wilson
Rep. Zack Space
Sen. Sherrod Brown
State Rep. Joyce Beatty
State Rep. Chris Redfern

Note that the two superdelegates selected by ODP Chair Chris Redfern, who has steadfastly declared his neutrality, have now both made endorsements prior to Redfern and have gone different ways. Redfern has been suspected of secretly following Gov. Strickland's lead in supporting Clinton, but the way his selections have played out doesn't support that.

Oops - Clinton's Debt Not So Large

A lot of bloggers and media types picked up this morning's LA Times report that Hillary Clinton's campaign debt is about $31 million, but there was a mathematical error and the report will be revised to indicate debt of about $20 million. Still a lot, but not so much.

Obama's Speech in Iowa Last Night


Not his best soaring oratory but a good and appropriate speech. Doesn't declare victory but registers the sense of his impending victory and points all of his artillery at McCain.

Ohio News & Opinion Roundup

Something I've been wanting to try - a quick daily wrap on the day's stories and rants:

* The Blade reports on the hearing chaired by Sen. Sherrod Brown yesterday on strengthening the WARN Act, which requires advance notice of pending layoffs but is rife with loopholes and weakly drafted provisions. Brown's FOREWARN Act, supported by Obama and Clinton, would lengthen the notification period, increase penalties, broaden the businesses subject to WARN, and authorize Department of Labor investigation and enforcement.

* The Ohio Right to Life Society has filed a first amendment lawsuit in federal court to overturn the Ohio ban on issue ads that mention candidates by name within 30 days of an election. Joseph reports that this is just the latest maneuver to exploit issue ads for the purpose of influencing elections on the part of GOP lawyer and failed mayoral candidate Bill Todd.

* The feud between The Plain Dealer and Cuyahoga County Commissioner and Democratic Party Chair Jimmy Dimora (D) has escalated, with Dimora blasting the county government reform plan supported by Commissioner Tim Hagan (D) and House Speaker Jon Husted (R) and accusing the newspaper of conspiring with the local GOP, and the paper firing back in an editorial blasting Dimora for resisting reform.

* Jill and Eric debate the appropriate response to over-50 white female Clinton supporters who resist supporting Obama: what is needed, direct action by Clinton to rally her supporters to Obama or constructive listening by Obama to the concerns expressed by Clinton's militant followers? [And Pho also weighs in.]

* The Ohio House passed the final version of the payday lending law 70-24 and Gov. Strickland expects to sign it next week. Three big payday lending outfits have announced plans to shut down, another says it will stick around. Plain Dealer columnist Phillip Morris pointed out the other day that while payday lending entrapped a lot of people, it also helped people out of jams with those short-term emergency loans - where are they going to turn? There is work to be done on making sure that lawful, non-predatory options are available.

* The Dayton Daily News opines that the air has gone out of gay marriage as a political issue -- it has lost its shock value and isn't likely to affect the November election.

* Aaron Marshall of The Plain Dealer details the committee action (spurred by legislators from northern Ohio) to cut the Ohio Turnpike's cash contribution to the new economic stimulus plan in half and ensure that the rest is spent on road projects; also reported in the Blade. Nick D at BSB likes the compromise, Lisa Renee calls it a semi-win.

Boehner's Blantant Hypocrisy on Illegal Wiretapping

If you didn't realize it already - Ohio Republican and House Minority Leader John A. Boehner is well, a self-centered hypocrite.

Like most Republicans and especially Ohio Republicans, he firmly states that he deserves privileges and protections that we, average Americans citizens, don't deserve.

Case in point - his stance on illegal wiretapping which basically boils down to "it's illegal when it is done to me, and therefore - I deserve $1 million dollars because my privacy was violated but you little guys "screw you," you deserve nothing, the telecoms have every right to spy on you and deserve immunity." Even the Politico points out his stunning display of hypocrisy:

"When a federal judge ordered Rep. Jim McDermott to pay House Minority Leader John A. Boehner and his attorneys more than $1 million in damages and legal fees for leaking an illegally taped phone call to the media, Boehner said he pursued the case because “no one — including members of Congress — is above the law.”

Why, then, is the Ohio Republican trying to squash similar lawsuits against telecommunications companies who cooperated with the government in warrantless electronic surveillance, ask the attorneys behind the class action suits.

Amazing, huh?

And what did Boehner call the people defending the American citizens right to privacy ?

When ordinary Americans were being wiretapped, Boehner's attacked them and their right to privacy, claiming "I believe (phone companies) deserve immunity" from the law. But when Boehner himself was being wiretapped, he had no hesitation to claim his own right to privacy, claiming "no one is above the law."

When ordinary Americans are victimized, Boehner's taken every opportunity to caricature their representatives at EFF and ACLU as "unscrupulous trial lawyers" who are "trying to find a way to get into the pockets of the American companies." But when Boehner himself is the victim, suddenly defense attorneys don't seem so unscrupulous to him, and he has no problem employing his own litigators to receive a $1.1 million reward.

Please some one, please - tell me who votes for these tools? What does the modern Republican party stand for? If you believe actions speak louder than words, then by now, you have to comprehend that they only stand for their own self-centered greed filled interests.

Election Night Noodling

Just a few bits from here and there:

* April fundraising numbers reported on DailyKos have Obama raising $31.9 million, Clinton about $20 million, and McCain about $18 million. As Anastasia P asks in a comment, "McCain. Ouch. Is he really a viable candidate?"

* Seriously, if McCain didn't have the RNC war chest to fall back on, you'd have to wonder. Meanwhile, Chris Cillizza calls Obama's haul "a staggering amount that suggests his vaunted fundraising machine continues to churn."

* Kentucky is at 65% Clinton, 30% Obama with 97% reporting. I guess the suspense now is whether Obama can stay out of the 20s. Even if he drops a little, he won't be losing by 41% tonight like he did in West Virginia.

* Via email: Obama isn't declaring victory tonight, he's declaring "major milestone," as in "[w]e have won an absolute majority of all the delegates chosen by the people in this Democratic primary process." But he didn't quite get there with the 14 delegates he won in Kentucky, so it isn't really official until the Oregon results come in.

* With 97% reporting, Huckabee (8%), Paul (7%), and Uncommitted (5%) are capturing 20% of the Kentucky GOP vote without having campaigned at all. See above about McCain's fundraising.

* Nursery home operator Bruce Lunsford (D) defeated the more progressive Steve Fischer (D) in the KY-Sen primary and will take on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Lunsford had party backing but has issues with allegations of Medicare fraud. Bizarre. Later tonight we'll find out who wins the close contest between party-backed Jeff Merkley (D) and the progressive alternative Steve Novick (D) in the OR-Sen primary. At least Merkley doesn't have Medicare fraud issues.

* Meanwhile, a piece in Politico today suggests that House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-West Chester) isn't out of the woods yet ... not with a GOP insider saying:

“This has all become about Boehner now, how he runs things. If Boehner isn’t seen as shifting Cole, then it will hurt Boehner’s standing with members. The story becomes ‘Boehner can’t run the House Republican Conference.’ It’s a bad spot for him to be seen in.”

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