Obama to Campaign in Columbus with Strickland on Friday 6/13

No details on location or time yet, but the Obama for America campaign has announced that his current “Change that Works for You” tour, focusing on the economy, will include a stop in Columbus on Friday. The event, which will involve Sen. Obama, Michelle Obama, and Gov. Ted Strickland meeting with seniors somewhere in the Columbus area, will be by invitation only but will be open to the press.

Kucinich Web Site Apparently Hacked Following Impeachment Resolution

This morning, during a 100,000 hit-per-hour crush of visitors seeking information about the articles of impeachment against President George W. Bush, the campaign web site of Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) began to suffer irregularities involving protected codes used to format information and to create links, which site administrators deemed suspicious and possibly indicative of external tampering. Within two hours the site went down completely, and it is still down now. Campaign officials say that the amount of traffic alone would not account for the breakdown.

The text of the articles of impeachment are available for download in .pdf format at alternative locations -- here and here.

The Kucinich campaign says that the response to the articles of impeachment has been "overwhelmingly positive and powerful" with emails, phone calls, and text messages "pouring in all day from supporters." A Google News search for the terms "Kucinich" and "impeachment" just now turned up over 2,250 articles. Writer Meryl Ann Butler called Kucinich's action "possibly the most exciting moments of American Democracy in action in 200 years" on OpEdNews.com. Reaction in the traditional media has been rather more muted. However, Rep Robert Wexler (D-FL) has endorsed the measure.

Cordray Will Run For Attorney General

Per the Daily Briefing:

Gov. Ted Strickland will endorse state Treasurer Richard Cordray for attorney general at a press conference Wednesday morning ... The governor’s endorsement is intended to clear the Democratic field for Cordray ...

The selection vote will occur at a meeting of the party's governing committee on June 21st, but at this point there is no suspense as to their choice.

Speaking of lack of suspense, unless one of the higher profile GOP candidates changes course and gets into the special election on the Republican side, there is little doubt that Cordray will be the overwhelming favorite to win this race.

Sen. Brown Outpaces Sen. Voinovich on Job Approval

The May job approval ratings of U.S. Senators from SurveyUSA are out were released last week and the comparison in Ohio is stark:

Brown (D)
50% Approve
39% Disapprove
12% Not sure

Voinovich (R)
46% Approve
45% Disapprove
9% Not sure

Brown has a net favorability in double digits (+11), although his approval number isn't particularly strong. However, approval four points below 50% is a bad place to be for an incumbent intending to run for re-election, and Voinvoich's approval and disapproval numbers are statistically tied (4.1 point margin of error). That is not good news for him for 2010.

Interestingly, Voinovich wins about the same approval among voters of his own party (57%) as Brown does among Democrats (55%) -- I would have expected Brown to get better same-party approval than Voinovich. I am also puzzled that Brown has a net disapproval score among Black voters (41%/47%), about the same as Voinovich.

Brown does significantly better among Republicans (43%) than Voinovich does among Democrats (37%). However, a Voinovich problem with his base is revealed more sharply in the breakdown by ideology. Brown has a huge net approval among liberals (60%/26%), while support for Voinovich among conservatives is much softer (55%/37%). Among moderates, Brown has a net favorable rating (53%/37%) while Voinovich is in a statistical tie (47%/45%).

By far, Brown's best region is rural and largely Appalachian southeast Ohio (66%/29%), where Brown benefited in the 2006 election from his populist message and from strong support from Gov. Ted Strickland, a popular native of the area. Will we see Brown on the campaign trail in southeast Ohio for Obama?

Also in SUSA numbers released today last week, Gov. Strickland's approval rating is 56%/37% (in southeast Ohio it is 63%/30%), and Bush is at a dismal 31%/68%.

Add Jones To List of Obama VP Prospects

At political gatherings lately I've noticed that the question everybody asks is who I think will be Obama's VP pick -- and what people mean by asking is that they have their own pick that they want to talk about. And, people's picks are all over the place.

Barack Obama warned the press to ignore rumors about his selection process because his advisors would be holding their cards very close to the vest. Nevertheless, reports of new names are trickling out, supposedly based on inside information. Last Thursday Chris Bowers at OpenLeft revealed that Obama's campaign had approached Sen. Pat Murray (D-WA) about the position. Today the revelation comes from Mark Murray at First Read, who says to add Gen. James L. Jones, USMC (ret.) to the list. He is a former former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, former Chairman of the Congressional Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq, and former special envoy for Middle East Security, now the CEO of the Institute for 21st Century Energy. Talk about military cred.

Just for the record, Murray's list of other names currently being discussed is: Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), former senator John Edwards (D-NC)(who says he doesn't want it), Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS), Gov. Ted Strickland (D-OH)(also rules himself out), senate candidate and former governor Mark Warner (D-VA), Gov. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), former senator Tom Daschle (D-SD), and former senator Sam Nunn (D-GA). Not many women on there. In addition to Sebelius (and Sen. Murray, if Bowers' report is correct), I was hoping that Gov. Janet Napolitano (D-AZ) might get some consideration.

OH House-18: Sen. Spada (R) Embarrassed to Run As Republican

How are Republican candidates in Ohio going to react to surging Democratic party affiliation among voters, a deeply unpopular Republican president, a Democratic governor who continues to be very popular, and polling that shows more voters continue to associate their party with corruption than Democrats despite the scandal involving Marc Dann?

Get ready for a lot more of this. The campaign site for term-limited State Sen. Bob Spada (R-North Royalton), running for the 18th Ohio House seat, doesn't include the word "Republican" anywhere on its eight pages, not even once, and the front page has a big photograph with Democratic Governor Ted Strickland right smack in the middle:

The real Democratic candidate in the 18th Ohio House district is Matt Patten (D), a Regional Labor-Management Field Coordinator, who is an energetic and hard-working candidate and has been doing good fundraising (he had $35,583.84 in cash-on-hand as of April's post-primary filing). He has been out knocking on doors in the district for months. His main mission will be educating voters that his career-politician veteran politician opponent actually belongs to the Republican party.

AG Candidates To Be Determined on June 21st

The Ohio Democratic Party has announced that its candidate for attorney general in this fall's special election will be selected at a meeting of the party's central and executive committees in Columbus on Saturday, June 21st, at 11:00 a.m. Potential candidates are to contact ODP Chair Chris Redfern no later than June 18th. The Ohio Republican Party had previously announced that its 26-member screening committee will interview candidates on June 17th and the GOP state central committee will make the selection on June 21st as well.

All indications are that Ohio Treasurer Rich Cordray (D-Grove City) is the likely choice for the ODP, and his prospects for winning keep getting brighter as the field of potential GOP opponents shrinks. Yesterday former senator Mike DeWine (R-Cedarville) reluctantly withdrew his name, citing his desire to focus on carrying Ohio for McCain in the presidential election, following former congressman Rob Portman (R) and former attorney general Betty Montgomery (R-Perrysburg) out the door. Also yesterday, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien pulled his hat out of the ring. Today Joe Hallett indicates that a spokesperson for retiring Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Upper Arlington) says that her candidacy for the post is unlikely. That leaves lesser lights Delaware County Prosecutor Dave Yost (R), 10th District Court of Appeals Judge Susan Brown (R-Columbus), Warren County Prosecutor Rachel Hutzel (R), and perhaps State Sen. Tim Grendell (R-Chesterland) as the GOP prospects still under discussion.

Why the mass exodus on the GOP side? It appears that the Democratic Party's swift and decisive steps to remove Marc Dann, and Gov. Strickland's widely praised choice of Mary Hardin Rogers as interim Attorney General, have largely deflated GOP hopes as to the impact of Danngate on the Democratic Party's prospects in the special election. In a Quinnipiac Poll released last Wednesday, 67% of Ohioans said that the Marc Dann scandal would not affect their view of the Democratic Party, and voters were more likely to associate Republicans with corruption than Democrats by 38% to 30%.

News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races

What's going on:

OH-10 - Defying party leaders, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) read 35 articles of impeachment against George Bush into the Congressional record last night. Here is the beginning of his statement on YouTube:

The first article concerns creating a secret propaganda campaign to manufacture a false cause for war against Iraq, which ties in neatly with the upcoming testimony by former Bush spokesman Scott McClellan. *** Predictable response from challenger Jim Trakas (R-Independence): "meaningless ... out of touch ... political game ... misplaced priorities," etc.

OH-12 - Yesterday challenger David Robinson (D-Columbus) issued a response to Clinton's endorsement of Obama, tying his election bid specifically to the Obama campaign:

"We have seen through this contest, which could easily have gone either way, that in America no matter your gender or your race, that with talent and hard-work there are no limits to what you may seek and achieve.

[My campaign] is fortunate to be a part of this historical moment, to be a part of this hunger for change ... I believe in the ability of Americans — through ingenuity, hard-work, finding of common cause, and with good leadership — to do the most extraordinary things and to solve our problems in the most unexpected of ways.

... [W]hat we face now is a contest for leadership, both at the presidential level and here in the 12th District. And as you know, John McCain is running for a third Bush term, but if that's not bad enough, my opponent is running for a fifth Tiberi term! And we're not going to let that happen..."

OH-13 - The Josh Miller HEARTS (Helping Everyone Access Responsive Treatment in Schools) Act, introduced by Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Twp), passed in the House yesterday. The bill creates a grant program through the U.S. Department of Education to help schools acquire lifesaving AEDs and AED/CPR training. Modeled after a successful program in Ohio that has already saved 13 lives, it is named for a high school football player in Rep. Suttons's hometown of Barberton who died after suffering a cardiac arrest during a game in 2000. “AEDs are the single most effective treatment for those suffering a sudden cardiac arrest," said Rep. Sutton. "By ensuring that schools have access to these lifesaving devices, we can prevent needless deaths in communities across the country.” *** Yesterday the Veterans for America applauded Rep. Sutton for introducing H.R. 6205, the Stop-loss Compensation Act, which requires that service members whose tours of duty are involuntarily extended receive special pay.

OH-15 - The Politico profiled this race yesterday, characterizing the campaign of Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus) against bank lobbyist State Sen. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington) as "a populist fight against Big Business," noting that in 2006 Stivers "was one of only four state senators to oppose a bill making it easier for victims of predatory lending to sue" and linking Kilroy's campaign theme to broader economic conditions like $4-per-gallon gasoline and the foreclosure crisis. *** Joseph at Plunderbund pointed out on Sunday that Stivers' entry at the Wikpedia has been scrubbed clean of negative information since he got into this race, raising the suspicion that Stivers or someone allied with him has been doing the editing.

OH-16 - State Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-North Canton) dismissed his YouTube Moment (saying that residents of Canton might shoot Republicans if they held a rally there) as "meant as a joke" to the effect that Canton Democrats don't much like Republicans. City Council member Thomas West (D-Canton), who ran against Schuring in 2006, was not amused:

"The remarks by Senator Schuring were very offensive, if not demeaning. These aren't the type of jokes you make about our community especially at a time when there is violence in our community."

And Schuring's opponent in this congressional race, State Sen. John Boccieri (D-Alliance), pointedly pledged to rise above such partisan politics:

"Senator Schuring's partisan comments are the type of political ideology that is dividing our nation. At the end of the day the race for this seat, shouldn't be about Democrats, Republicans or Independents, red states or blue states, conservatives or liberals, but about America.

"As for my campaign, we will have rallies, town hall meetings, and events in every corner of this district, not only where it is politically comfortable, but in every region."

Blogging u jezicima protiv H.B. 477

U samo engleski-račun sada pred Generalna skupština je beskorisno s obzirom da je navedeno cilj i smrtonosan kao da Ohio gospodarstvo i ugled.

Tzv namjeru poticati uporabu engleski jezik, zakona accomplishes ništa od značaja da je na pročelju. To zahtijeva upotrebu određenih engleski u službenom postupku, ali takvi postupci su već provedena u engleski. To je kao da prolazi jedan zakon zahtijeva opsluživanje od hot psi i baseball stadioni - što je potrebno za takav zakon?

Što je uistinu zakona o izražavanje je neprijateljstvo prema useljenicima. To je komad mesa crvene tossed by konzervativne zakonodavcima da xenophobic Ohioans. I zbog ove političke poruke, mjenica je štetan za Ohio gospodarstvo.

Činjenica je, Ohio potrebe useljenika. Mi smo drzava iz koje je rad sila je, bježeći. Ohio bi trebala učiniti sve moguće kako bi se pozdravni home to ljudi koji govore drugim jezicima. Iskustvo pokazuje da je ta osoba će nastojati poboljšati njihove engleski jezik vještine bez poticaj za engleski samo zakone. Kada prolazimo takve zakone, koji prenijeti jedan provincijski, neprijateljski odnos prema ljudima kojima engleski nije prvi jezik, naštetiti samo sebi.

Ohio već pati od loš ugled kao provincijski backwater, koji je direktno na višak s Ohio je cilj postati blistave dio globalnog tržišta. Let's poslati signal da Ohio razumije, višejezični prirodu moderne globalne zajednice by odbili ovaj nepotreban, štetan mjera spurred by straha i neznanja.

Orignial text, before Google translation into Croatian, is here.

OH-16: Welcome to the YouTube Era, Kirk Schuring

The more I think about this remark by State Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-North Canton), caught on videotape at a McCain rally in Ashland last Thursday, the worse it seems (video embedded in an earlier post):

"So the other thing I know is that Ashland County has a rich history and tradition of rallying around Republicans, and I was telling people earlier where I come from we could never have a rally like this in the center of Canton. If we did we might be shot at, but not in Ashland and that's what makes you so great."

Not only is it gratuitously insulting to residents of Canton, the biggest city in the congressional district Schuring seeks to represent (and his home town), it also is insulting to the very residents of the Republican stronghold Ashland County to whom Schuring was speaking. What makes them so great is ... that they wouldn't shoot at Republicans holding a rally? That's it?

More Unity Bump

Following up on a post last week:


"Obama has consistently held a lead of five to seven percentage points each night since it was reported that Hillary Clinton intended to suspend her campaign. These represent Obama's strongest showing versus McCain to date in Gallup Poll Daily tracking of registered voters' presidential election preferences. For much of the time since Gallup began tracking general election preferences in mid-March, McCain and Obama have been in a statistical dead heat."


Obama 48%
McCain 40%

"Last Tuesday, just before Obama clinched the nomination, the candidates were tied at 46%. ... Obama is supported by 81% of Democrats and now holds a very modest three-point edge over McCain among unaffiliated voters. Both those figures reflect a significant improvement over the past week. ... Obama’s bounce can be seen in his favorability ratings as well. Fifty-nine percent (59%) of voters now give the Illinois Senator positive reviews. Just 40% have an unfavorable opinion. Those totals include 35% with a Very Favorable opinion and 25% with a Very Unfavorable opinion. As for McCain, he is viewed favorably by 53% and unfavorably by 44%."

News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races

Items of interest:

OH-04 - Challenger Mike Carroll (D-Mansfield) recently informed Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director of Ohio Citizens Action that if elected he will co-sponsor the Clean Water Protection Act, an effective ban on mountaintop coal removal. Fighting montaintop coal removal is one of the three current environmental action campaigns by OAC, along with combatting pollution at Eramet Marietta and the Mittal Steel Cleveland Works.

OH-07 - The strong polling for Sharen Neuhardt (D-Yellow Springs) last week caused James Lambert at Swing State Project to upgrade this race from "Races to Watch" to the more competitive category "Likely Republican."

OH-11 - Openers confirms that following Clinton's concession speech on Saturday, national campaign co-chair Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland) has officially endorsed Obama.

OH-14 - Unpaid staffer Ben Barasky posted a moving diary on DailyKos on Friday spelling out how challenger Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell) has "the moral certitude, the unique qualifications, and the will to fight" necessary to defeat Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Twp) and give this district the kind of representative who wants only "wants to help" but is a "man who genuinely can."

OH-15 - In addition to visiting Cincinnati and campaigning in OH-01 on Saturday, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) went to Columbus and visited with Mary Jo Kilory (D-Columbus). Clyburn reportedly advised her to "be yourself, run on your message as much as you possibly can, respond to people’s dreams and aspirations and be prepared to ride the wave, because I think a wave is going to develop this time and it is a wave that I believe we can ride to the top."

OH-16 - At a rally for John McCain in Ashland last Thursday, State Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-North Canton) uttered an ugly and hyper-partisan insult against the residents of Canton, his home turf and the heart of his legislative district, remarking that if he had such a rally there he "might be shot at":

OH-18 Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) announced today that the USDA has approved a $2.5 million loan guarantee that help ABC Manufacturing in Malta, Ohio, hire an additional 49 employees as well as protect 56 current jobs. Rep. Space had helped the company get state economic development funding to start up its new manufacturing facilities. “ABC Manufacturing, in its very short existence, has already proven itself to be a true Ohio success story,” Rep. Space said. “With this additional funding secured, ABC is now ready to continue its rapid expansion, creating good-paying jobs for the residents of Morgan County.”

Rumblings of War With Iran: National Call-In to Congress Tomorrow

Bill Sloat noted this morning that a surge in the price of gold last week is being interpreted by a prominent market analyst as confirmation that "the world smells war in the Middle East, specifically an attack on Iran."

Such good timing. Tomorrow is the National Call-In for Diplomacy sponsored the Campaign for a New American Policy on Iran (CNAPI), and Sloat's chilling item is a excellent reminder why it is so important to participate. CNAPI will be holding an innovative “Time to Talk with Iran” event and press conference on Capitol Hill at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow, at which members of Congress, celebrities, former officials, and other citizens will use a row of 60’s-era red “hotline” telephones to talk directly to ordinary Iranian citizens. Concurrently, CNAPI asks concerned Americans all over the country to call your U.S. Representative tomorrow at 1-800-788-9372 and urge them to work for direct, unconditional, and comprehensive talks between the U.S. and Iran, keeping in mind that the U.S. and Iran share common interests in a stable Iraq, the Middle East and Afghanistan, and there is no real reason to avoid talking to Iran since the U.S. pursued negotiations with brutal dictatorships in North Korea and Libya.

A reader wrote to me late last week to report that a group called Cleveland Peace Action has been lobbying northeast Ohio members of Congress and writing letters to the editor warning against a military attack on Iran. As part of this effort, Case Western Reserve University emeritus faculty member Norman Robbins put together a short memorandum that documents the saber-rattling activities of the Bush administration, the feeble case for concern about Iran, and why Congress should do something about it (including passing a resolution that would require formal Congressional authorization before attacking Iran). Prof. Robbins' disturbing report is reproduced in it's entirety after the break.

Contact the Conference Committee on Lifting Ban on Central Vote Counting

Today the Conference Committee, composed of legislators from the Ohio Senate and House, is meeting to resolve differences between the two chambers' versions of the state capital budget bill. This is the opportunity for the conferees to add a provision that preserves the central count vote system for Cuyahoga, Mercer, and Van Wert counties. This change, supported by Gov. Strickland, will save Cuyahoga County about $5.5 million and prevent the disruption of changing our voting system yet again between now and the presidential election, expected to be the biggest-turnout election on record. If the county is forced to rent precinct-level counting equipment at this point in time, it will be compelled to use outdated equipment that was federally certified under 2002 standards, since newer and better equipment has not yet received the seal of approval. Also, that old equipment requires the use of memory cards to transport vote totals from precincts to a downtown central location, and memory cards can malfunction or get lost, as has happened in Cuyahoga County in the past.

Please contact the conferees and tell them to keep the central count vote system for November -- and while you are at it also tell them not to put back the disastrous county government "reform" plan that the House had added to the bill:

Telephone: 614/466-8156
Email: sd17@mailr.sen.state.oh.us

Sen. Tom Niehaus 14th District:
Telephone: 614/466-8082
Email: sd14@mailr.sen.state.oh.us

Sen. Capri Cafaro 32nd District:
Telephone: 614/466-7182
Email: senatorcafaro@maild.sen.state.oh.us

Rep. Jay Hottinger 71st District
Telephone: (614) 466-1482
Email Address: district71@ohr.state.oh.us

Rep. Shannon Jones 67th District
Telephone: (614) 644-6027
Email Address: district67@ohr.state.oh.us

Rep. Michael Skindell 13th District
Telephone: (614) 466-5921
Email Address: district13@ohr.state.oh.us

OH-02: Schmidt (R) Shows Fear, Embraces Debunked "Malariotherapy" Smear

On the heels of an independent poll showing Rep. "Mean Jean" Schmidt (R-Loveland) at a dismal approval rating of 23% and trailing repeat challenger Dr. Victoria Wulsin (D-Indian Hill) by 5.6 points, the incumbent has sent out a fund-raising letter that telegraphs her panic by taking up the now-discredited smear campaign against Wulsin linked to so-called "malariotherapy" experiments conducted by the Heimlich Institute. The letters states:

Wulsin's contempt for the culture of life has even led her to participate in grotesque medical experiments. Wulsin was paid for her work in medical "studies" where victims of AIDS in Africa and China were, without their consent, injected with the malaria virus, all in the name of "scientific inquiry."

This is a patently false statement. Dr. Wulsin was paid by the Cincinnati-based Heimlich Institute as a consultant in 2004 to review the literature in studies conducted by others -- she did not "participate" in the studies and she was fired as a consultant when she turned in a draft report that found the procedure to have no basis in medical science.

Moreover, as reported on this blog last week, Dr. Wulsin met with the State Medical Board of Ohio in April and was informed that there was no merit to the medical ethics complaint filed against her in connection with the Heimlich Institute literature review -- a complaint long touted by right wing bloggers as indicating that there was substance to their allegations against Wulsin -- and no further action would be taken with respect to it.

Dr. Wulsin has been running a clean campaign focused on the issues and Rep. Schmidt's voting record. Schmidt is running from her record and resorting to a despicable smear. That's a pretty strong indicator of where this race really stands.

UPDATE: Sloat is excellent on this. He points out how Schmidt's characterization of Wulsin as a mad scientist is contradicted by the very medical ethics complaint that underpinned the whole smear campaign. And -- as icing on the cake -- Schmidt's statement that patients were "injected with the malaria virus" can't possibly be true because malaria isn't caused by a virus.

Demand Truth From WOIO-TV About Obama!

I was unavailable over the weekend when this story broke, but WOIO-TV 19 in the Cleveland area broadcast a report on Saturday in which a person interviewed at an outdoor event in Medina County says that Barack Obama "is not American or for American [sic]" and "won't put his hand over his heart and say the pledge to America" and "I see him more as an Arab." Video and more here, here, here, and here.

This triply-false smear reflects an ongoing campaign of slanderous emails and internet postings that the right wing hopes will undermine Obama's bid for president despite all the usual political indicia pointing to a landslide Democratic victory (unpopular war, awful economy, horribly unpopular incumbent president, rising Democratic party identification). That under-the-radar campaign is despicable enough by itself, but what is outrageous about this kind of news coverage is that the news outlet failed to correct the falsehoods in the broadcast. This is in no way a matter for presenting "both sides" and leaving it at that. These misconceptions are the result of deliberate and patently false slander, and journalistic standards require that the prejudicial falsehoods be corrected.

The News Director at WOIO is Dan Salamone, and the numbers at the station are 216-771-1943 or (800) 929-0132. Call him up and demand an apology and correction on the air!

Poll: Ohioans Hate Bush, Love Strickland, See Economy Tanking

A new Ohio Poll [.pdf] is out this morning, and it confirms that:

* Bush one of the most despised presidents ever, with only 29% of Ohioans approving his job performance. It is second lowest Bush approval mark for this pollster (the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati) -- Bush registered at 25% in the last poll in April, 2008;

* Strickland's approval is at 61% overall, 51% for his handling of the economy; and,

* Only 10% of Ohioans see the economy in either the state or the nation as "good" or "excellent." Only 37% are even willing to call the Ohio economy "fair," leaving an astonishing 53% calling it "poor." That's up from 41% in April. Also, 79% think economic conditions in Ohio are getting worse.

Falling Backwards

There is nothing more insufferable than an idea man. They always have opinions and can't wait to share them with you. To invite them into your life is to subject oneself to a never-ending deluge of uninvited opinions on anything from your choice in romantic partners to the best methods for cleaning one's own backside. Thanks to the miracle that is the blogosphere idea men can harangue readers around the world completely unfettered from normal constraints such as time, space or common courtesy.

I am an idea man.

News and Notes: General Assembly Races

Items of interest:

OH House-01 - Yesterday State Rep. Linda Bolon (D-East Palestine) announced her introduction of H.B. 585, a bill to prohibit selling unsafe children’s products and require commercial dealers and retailers to send out recall notices and take steps about unsafe children’s products in their stores. “Toys are meant to be fun, not dangerous,” Rep. Bolon said. “We have heard of toy recalls because of lead paint, small pieces that could choke children and other hazards that threaten their welfare. This legislation makes sure Ohio has safeguards in place to protect children and to punish those who don’t take their proper responsibility to shield kids from toys that could hurt them.”

OH House-19 - Marian Harris (D-Columbus) is having a canvass kickoff for volunteers and Neighborhood Leaders on Saturday, June 14th, starting at 11 a.m. at 5145 Holbrook Drive in Columbus (where volunteers will enjoy a piece of Marian's Famous Poppy Seed Cake, see walking lit for the recipe). Wear your Harris tee shirt or pick up one. *** On Monday, June 30th, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Frances Strickland will headline a fundraiser for Marian Harris, hosted by the Ohio Democratic Women's Caucus - details here.

OH House-33 - State Rep. Tyrone Yates (D-Cincinnati) announced this week that he has formed a partnership with State Rep. Shawn Webster (R-Hanover), who is a veterinarian, to work out comprehensive legislation to regulate pit bulls. Yates has introduced a bill to ban pit bulls, which are often raised in urban areas to be aggressive and pose a threat to public safety. Webster wants to protect pit bulls that are good family pets owned by responsible people, and has introduced a bill to remove pit bulls from the definition of "vicious animals" under state law. Hundreds of people have called or e-mailed both representatives about their respective legislation. “My goal has never been to seize family pets,” said Rep. Yates. “We want to address this danger to our urban areas while respecting the rights of responsible dog owners. I’m glad constituents have contacted me about their concerns as we engage in this important dialogue, which will hopefully lead to comprehensive legislation protecting gentle family pets while putting a stop to the violent training of pit bulls.”

OH House-46 - Attorney Darlene Dunn (D-Sylvania Twp), running a spirited race against recently appointed State Rep. Barbara Sears (R-Sylvania), wrote to say that she's thrilled to have been selected to a participate in the "Go Run" Political Leadership Training event sponsored by The White House Project in Columbus over the next two days. She relates a bit of history about women in legislative office in Ohio:

In 1922, six women were elected to the Ohio legislature, two years after getting the right to vote. Today in 2008, the Statehouse has 19 women representatives out of 99 house seats and 3 of those were just appointed. Lulu Thomas Gleason of Lucas county, was one of those first women elected in 1922 and she won her election with an all female campaign staff!

Ohio Go Run is all about women helping women get elected. We have the experience and desire but we need help with financial support and campaign staffing to step into leadership roles that will make a difference in our state."

OH House-85 - Ray Pryor (D-Chillicothe) got a nice write-up at the new nonpartisan political site PolitickerOH.com on Monday. Pryor commented on his rematch with State Rep. John Schlichter (R-Washington), who he nearly unseated last time out, from a barbecue benefit held in the legislator's home town. "We're going to run a good, clean race," Pryor said. "We're going to stick to the issues, and we're going to put some teeth on our campaign -- come back a little more aggressive than what we were in '06." He also said his campaign will focus on economic development, bringing in business and employers, school funding and education initiatives, and renewable resources. "There are all kinds of issues out there that don't affect everybody," he said. "But those are the issues that affect everybody. We want to work on what affects everybody."

OH House-91 - State Rep. Dann Dodd (D-Hebron) will hold a town hall meeting on Wednesday, June 11th, from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Harrison Township Hall in Licking County.

OH House-94 - Jennifer Stewart is having a fundraising party on Saturday, June 28th that involves bowling, miniature golf, and Tom's Ice Cream, all from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. at Sunrise Bowl in Zanesville.

Cuyahoga County Democratic Legislators Support Relief From Ban on Central Vote Counting

The Cuyahoga County Democratic Delegation to the Ohio General Assembly, comprised of eleven state representatives (Kenny Yuko, Armond Budish, Barbara Boyd, Eugene Miller, Sandra Williams, Michael DeBose, Michael Skindell, Mike Foley, Tim DeGeeter, and Jennifer Brady) and three state senators (Dale Miller, Shirley Smith, and Lance Mason), has issued a joint statement urging the General Assembly to support the effort to allow the Cuyahoga, Van Wert and Mercer County Boards of Elections to continue to count optical scan ballots at a central location, which measure they indicate could be offered as an amendment to the Capital Appropriations Bill (House Bill 562) during conference committee action next week.

Noting that a record turnout is anticipated in November, the legislators write that the central count system was successful in the March primary, and they believe that it "helped bring order to a Cuyahoga County elections process that had been tarnished by disorganization and allegations of tampering." If the ban isn't lifted, they continue, the three counties "will be forced to either rely on unreliable voting systems or waste more than $10.6 million to temporarily lease outdated, precinct-based machines certified under older federal standards." For some communities "this would amount to the fifth different voting system in four years."

The delegation also says that it believes the central count system "will prevent disenfranchisement of voters in these counties" by "avoiding long lines and confusion," a reference to the disruption that inevitably occurs in an election in which a new system is implemented.

News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races

What's going on:

OH-01 - House Majority Whip James Clyburn D-SC) is coming to Cincinnati on Saturday to meet with African-American ministers and political leaders about supporting challenger State Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Price Hill). *** Tuesday's Roll Call story about this race suggested that the Democratic Party didn't make a determined effort to mobilize African American voters in Cincinnati in 2006, who make up 27% of the vote in this district, but that will change in 2008. “It may have been a decision on Strickland’s part to place less emphasis on Cincinnati than elsewhere, because it’s home of Ken Blackwell,” Driehaus said. “But I can tell you that [Strickland has] been down here a lot.”

OH-02 - Challenger Dr. Victoria Wulsin (D-Indian Hill) has endorsed Barack Obama in a statement that praises both Obama and Clinton but declares that "now that Senator Obama has enough delegates to secure the nomination, I pledge to support him in any way I can” and "when it comes to the issues that matter most to Ohio’s families, it is clear that we cannot afford to spend four more years in a George Bush economy." *** Independent candidate David Krikorian, a small businessman and former Republican who did surprisingly well in that OH-02 poll released yesterday, has a campaign site. He has been endorsed by former primary candidate Thor Jacobs (D). Apparently Krikorian's business involves selling political novelties, including decks of playing cards bearing photos of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. *** Rep Schmidt (R-Loveland) voted against the the 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act, which passed with bipartisan support.

OH-03 - Gov. Ted Strickland praises challenger Jane Mitakides (D-Washington TWP) in a mailing sent out by her campaign today. "Jane has been my friend for many years as we have campaigned throughout Ohio," the popular governor writes. "Over those years, I have come to know her as an incredibly hard worker who I believe has the ability to transcend politics in order to finally get results on the serious issues facing our nation and the state of Ohio." He goes on to note that as a local businesswoman Mitakides "understands what it takes to bring good jobs to our community and strengthen the middle class" and in Congress "will bring people together to get the job done for our families on issues such as healthcare, the environment, and education" because she "shares our values of hard work, faith, and good governance."

OH-04 - Challenger Mike Caroll (D-Mansfield) is really annoyed. Less than a week after his radio ad began running on Mansfield radio station WMAN (during Indians games), radio DJ Rusty Cates had Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana) on his show so the incumbent could disagree with Carroll's statement in the ad that Jordan is a professional politician. "Here I am paying for a radio ad," Carroll grumbled in an email, "and one of the DJ's starts picking at my ad with Jordan!"

OH-07 - The strong polling for Sharen Neuhardt (D-Yellow Springs) that came out yesterday generated an attention-getting entry at RealClearPolitics.com, a high-profile nonpartisan site, titled "Is OH 07 A Race?"

OH-10 - Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland) criticized the New York congressional delegation yesterday for calling on Clinton to drop out before she gets to address her supporters on Saturday. Rep. Tubbs Jones says she is excited about Saturday's event, and cautions that both Obama and Clinton must reach out to each other to unify the party. "I mean, you don't turn a campaign on and off like a light switch," she told The Hill. "There are going to be things that the Obama campaign is going to have to do to invite members of the Hillary Clinton campaign in, and to say, 'You're welcome and we'll be glad to have you' for a victory. And there will be things that the Hillary Clinton campaign will have to do to send out a message that they want to be part of the campaign for a Democratic victory." *** The Plain Dealer has posted an interview with Rep. Tubbs Jones, in which she says much the same thing. She also says that she expects a majority of Clinton supporters to support Obama although others won't, and she will work for the Democratic nominee but doesn't know if she will be directly involved in Obama's campaign ("I have not been asked ... I don't presuppose it. I don't know. Ask him."). Ohioian Anastasia P has a reaction on DailyKos.

OH-13 - The Humane Society Legislative Fund blog "Animals & Politics" today praised the opposition by Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Twp) to an NRA-sought rules change that would allow loaded weapons in national parks.

OH-17 - Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles) has switched his endorsement from Clinton to Obama. *** In a blog post yesterday, Rep. Ryan writes about participating in a new “Green the Capitol” program intended to make Congress the world's first carbon-neutral legislative body. He also describes trying out the new Chevrolet Equinox fuel-cell vehicle.

Mobilizing for Obama in Cleveland

The Obama for America campaign has been doing voter registration drives in Cleveland for the last couple of weeks. However, the campaign has now moved into general election mode and it is time to ramp up the grassroots activity accordingly.

This is critical work if Democrats are to win Ohio and take back the White House. Ohio was decided by a relatively small number of votes in 2004 and efforts to get new voters registered could well be the single most important factor in getting Obama over the top in 2008.

The campaign is calling on Clevelanders to get involved in voter registration activites. This weekend, they will be doing voter registration drives in two locations:

East Side:
Obama Headquarters
15555 Lakeshore Blvd.
Cleveland, OH 44110
Saturday, June 7th from 11AM-5PM

Shaker Heights:
Matthews and Son Carpet and Tile
4125 Lee Rd.
Cleveland, OH 44128
Saturday, June 7th from 11AM-5PM

For more information contact the Cleveland campaign headquarters at cuyahogaforobama-at-gmail.com.

In addition, the campaign is looking for housing for summer interns. People in from all across the country will be staying in the Cleveland area for six weeks between June 15th and July 26th. If you're available to house them, please contact cuyahogaforobama-at-gmail.com.

Cuyahoga County Commission Asks for Relief From Ban on Central Vote Counting

For the March primary election the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections leased equipment for counting paper ballots at a central location for about $1.5 million, and the approach of central counting worked well in an election that went off relatively smoothly, despite objections that counting paper ballots at the precinct level is better because it gives voters the opportunity to recast their vote if the ballot counting machine detects an overvote or other error.

However, the GOP-controlled General Assembly passed a law in February that prohibits central counting of paper ballots in the general election. This will have the effect of requiring Cuyahoga County to spend $7.3 million to rent ballot counting equipment for every precinct-level voting location. The General Assembly isn't paying for the change, and no other avenue for assisting for the cash-strapped county with the expenditure has materialized.

Yesterday the Cuyahoga County Commission passed a resolution that calls for lifting the ban on Cuyahoga County using a central count optical scan system in November. The resolution notes that the central counting system was a success in March, it is supported by the Board of Elections, that more reliable voting systems aren't available for purchase yet because of delays in federal certification and because the General Assembly declined to waive the requirement that new systems be federally certified, and that all 88 counties currently use central counting for mail-in early vote ballots anyway.

The county commission has forwarded the resolution to Governor Strickland with a letter urging him to support lifting the ban, pointing out that the central count system has been proven to work satisfactorily and that allowing the county to proceed with it in November will mean a very real saving in taxpayer dollars.

This is an enormous issue, and the underpinnings here are frankly all about partisan politics. Ohio Republicans have their sights set on the Secretary of State's office because it is part of the apportionment board for redrawing legislative districts. [And Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted (R-Kettering) is the Republican most likely to run for that office.] Jennifer Brunner (D) has succeeded in supervising relatively problem-free elections so far, but the general election in this presidential year will be her biggest test. Requiring Ohio's largest county to change equipment and procedures once again, and to expend enormous amounts of money without reimbursement from the state, is a classic case of sand-bagging a political foe. In short, they are trying to make the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections' job as difficult as possible, hoping to thereby embarrass the Secretary of State, when what they should be doing is helping in any way they can to ensure a fair and efficient election in the fall.

ADDENDUM: I should point out that I understand the arguments for precinct-level counting of paper ballots -- yes, it would be great to have a system where certain kinds of voting errors can be corrected on the spot, and hopefully precinct-level counting will become the norm in Cuyahoga County and elsewhere. However, central counting is adequate as along as enough effort is made regarding educating voters and training staff to minimize voting errors, and given the hurdles involved in changing to a central count system by November (the delays that have occurred in certifying new vote counting equipment that the board would prefer to ultimately acquire, the short time frame between now and November for changing procedures and retraining personnel, and the enormous unfunded expenditure) and the relative success of the primary election under a central-count system, I strongly believe that the current set-up the better alternative for November.

UPDATE: Just for the record, Mercer and Van Wert counties asked to be relieved from the ban on central counting last month, based on the expense of changing and the success of central counting in the primary, and the bipartisan Cuyahoga County Board of Elections (as distinguished from the county commission) asked the Secretary of State to approach the General Assembly about lifting the ban last month as well.

Climate Change Bill Kaput

The Climate Security Act of 2008 died (for this session, anyway) on a procedural vote this morning. It looks like Senate Majority Leader scheduled the bill for a cloture vote knowing full well that it would likely stop the debate, because Reid had learned that the GOP intended to use the floor time to score political points rather than working on practical compromises in the legislation.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon), who has been on the hot seat regarding this legislation and had sought amendments to ameliorate it's effect on Ohio businesses and consumers, was one of only four Democratic senators to vote against invoking cloture, joining Sen. George Voinvovich (R-Cleveland) and 31 other GOP senators. Spokesperson Joanna Kuebler has issued a brief statement expressing regret and pledging to take up the issue in the future:

“Global climate change is one of the greatest challenges of this generation. We must establish a cap-and-trade system to regulate carbon emissions just as we have done to combat acid rain. If done right, a strong climate change policy can build Ohio’s economy, not undermine it. I deeply regret that it was not possible to consider amendments that could have improved this bill. But I am confident that Congress can and will write a climate change law that achieves our environmental goals and protects consumers, jobs, and Ohio. In my mind, there is no other choice.”

The demise of this bill isn't surprising given that environmentalists and progressives weren't uniformly behind it and special interests were mounting an all-out campaign to weaken it, but looking at the big picture it is still an important precedent that serious climate change legislation was debated on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

UPDATE: Brown will take heat from some in the environmental movement for voting against continuing debate on the bill.

Election Map of the Day

Here's an interesting map provided by Nate at FiveThirtyEight:

On this map, the blue states are where current polling shows Obama outperforming how Kerry did against Bush. Except for Nevada and Oklahoma, the pink and red states are summarized by Nate as:
1. John McCain's home state (Arizona).
2. John Kerry's home state (Massachusetts), and its immediate neighbors.
3. Hillary Clinton's home states (Arkansas and New York).
4. The states where Obama didn't campaign (Florida and Michigan).
5. Appalachia.

This got me to thinking about the fact that Ohio is partly an Appalachian state and partly not. I went back to the Quinnipiac University poll that found McCain leading Obama by 44% to 40% in Ohio on May 22nd, and sure enough McCain's margin was bigger in the southeast part of the state (20 points - 49% to 29%), which includes the Appalachian region, than anywhere else. The conservative southeast and west central regions also favored McCain, but by lesser margins (14 points and 11 points, respectively).

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