I learned from the campaign of Dr. Victoria Wulsin (D-Indian Hill) yesterday that a spurious ethics complaint which adversaries had turned into a sleazy assault on her character during the 2006 congressional contest and again during the primary early this year has been closed, hopefully bringing to an end to the despicable and baseless attacks.
Right-wing bloggers had continually flogged the complaint, filed with the State Medical Board of Ohio in 2006 by a little-known Massachusetts-based group that purports to be a medical fraud watchdog. The complaint hung upon the slenderest of reeds -- Dr. Wulsin had performed a literature review in 2004 regarding controversial field testing in Africa by the Cincinnati-based Heimlich Institute of a procedure intended to boost the immune systems of HIV-positive individuals by exposing them to malaria, but did not participate in the testing and was promptly let go when she turned in a report critical of the procedure -- but the complaint was still technically pending during the primary early this year.
Dr. Wulsin's primary opponent Steve Black (D-Indian Hill), desperate at the end of an expensive but sagging campaign, turned the medical complaint into a phenomenally lurid television ad. The macabre scare tactic utterly failed, as Dr. Wulsin defeated Black by 28 points in the three-way contest and garnered over 15,000 more votes than Republican incumbent Rep. "Mean Jean" Schmidt (R-Loveland) in the three-way GOP contest in this red-leaning district.
Here is a statement from Wulsin campaign spokesman Kevin Franck, confirming that the ethics complaint is dead in the water:
"Dr. Wulsin voluntarily met with the State Medical Board of Ohio on April 24, 2008 to discuss an anonymous ethics complaint. The Board found that there was no merit whatsoever to the complaint and declined any further action on the issue. These false allegations represented the lowest form of sleazeball politics. Fortunately for the voters of the 2nd district, the truth prevailed."
"The real issue in this campaign is Jean Schmidt. In her first full term in Congress, Schmidt has voted against increasing benefits for American veterans, providing healthcare to poor children and reducing interest rates on student loans. Those are facts worthy of debate."
Dr. Wulsin has a distinguished career of service and leadership in the field of public health, so it is especially gratifying to be able to spread the word that the attacks on her medical ethics were completely groundless.
As part of a national week of “We Are Working America” canvasses, events have been organized for Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland in which elected officials and candidates will meet up with labor leaders and members of the AFL/CIO affiliate organization Working America this Saturday (6/7) to hold rallies and go canvassing door-to-door to discuss issues of concern to working families: health care, good jobs, and turning around the economy. The Cincinnati event will feature Ohio Treasurer Rich Cordray (D-Grove City) and congressional challenger State Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Price Hill), the Columbus event will include congressional challenger County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus), and in Cleveland the featured elected official is Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland).
Working America was created in 2003 to give workers who don’t have a union on the job the opportunity to engage on economic issues. Since then it has grown to more than 2 million members in every state and and U.S. Territory. In Ohio, Working America expects to reach 800,000 members by Labor Day.
Event details are after the flip, and on the events calendar (right sidebar).
Todd Beeton at MyDD has a press release from the Obama campaign saying that they are now only 12 delegates from clinching, based on the dramatic reversal by Clinton supporter Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) this afternoon.
UPDATE: Chris Bowers reported at Open Left earlier this afternoon that ten Edwards delegates came over to Obama earlier today, leaving him 15 short at that point, and in a position to clinch when the Montana polls close at 10:00 p.m.
2nd UPDATE: I like this bit from Jane Hamsher on Firedoglake, regarding Clinton's comment that she'd be "willing" to serve as the vice presidential candidate:
Ever since Bill let the cat out of the bag, it's been clear that this is what Hillary has been trying to leverage. I've read most of the past few days as Obama's attempts to sew up the nomination such that she doesn't get forced on him, since by all reports he'd rather have a root canal. The slew of "leaks" saying he already has the requisite number of superdelegates looked to be a way to pressure remaining uncommitteds to get while the getting is good. ...
There is no doubt a really aggressive day of hardball politics being played behind the scenes. Sounds like a made-for-TV movie in the making.
Counting up pledged delegates and public and private commitments from superdelegates, the AP has tallied up the numbers and declares that Barack Obama has "effectively clinched the Democratic presidential nomination."
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton backer Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) says it is over ("I think after the campaigns are wrapped up today, it is in fact a moment of truth”) and says she wants Clinton on the ticket as the vice presidential nominee, and Clinton reportedly told the New York Congressional delegation today that she would be willing to be Obama's running mate.
The invitation for tonight's fundraiser for former bank lobbyist Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington), hosted by the Ohio Bankers League at the tony residence of a former OBL officer in New Albany, states plainly:
Please join the OBL for an evening with State Senator Steve Stivers, Republican Candidate for Congress
Conducted in conjunction with the OBL CEO Symposium ...
And according to the invitation contribution checks are to be returned to the Ohio Bankers League at its Columbus office address.
The Ohio Bankers League is registered with the Ohio Secretary of State as a non-profit corporation. Under Federal Election Commission regulations 2 U.S.C. 441b(a) and 11 CFR 114.2(f), a corporation (including its officers, directors or agents) is prohibited from facilitating or acting as a conduit for contributions, which includes using corporate resources or personnel to plan and carry out fundraisers for federal candidates.
A spokesman for the Ohio Democratic Party, Alex Goepfert, said in a statement today:
"Career banking lobbyist Steve Stivers is brazenly testing the limits of campaign finance law in order to raise as much money as possible from his lobbyist friends. Trailing in the polls, career lobbyist Steve Stivers is ignoring caution, bending the rules and turning to, as George Bush would put it, his 'base.'"
Stivers tried insisting that he was "never a lobbyist per se" until confronted by the Columbus Dispatch with his signed lobbyist registration form and a list of news reports recounting his lobbying activities on behalf of banks. Now his bank lobbyist friends are so anxious to help his campaign they are bending if not breaking the rules.
Here is the statement:
Ohio House Democratic Leader Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus), an Ohio political powerhouse and a Superdelegate who serves on the Democratic National Committee, announced today she is supporting Illinois Sen. Barack Obama for the Democratic nominee as President of the United States.
"I have spoken to Sen. Obama several times about his ideas for moving our nation past the failed policies of the Bush administration," Leader Beatty said. "I like Sen. Obama's stances on issues important to all Americans, and I am proud that an African-American has the trust and the support of people across all cross-sections of our society in this historic campaign. He has brought energy and an excitement to this race that inspires people, and he is the right person for the job."
Leader Beatty represents a state that voted for Sen. Clinton, but a district that voted for Sen. Obama in the Ohio primary. Beatty is a strong and outspoken advocate who has repeatedly opposed settling this campaign on the Democratic National Convention floor.
When speaking about Sen. Clinton and her campaign, Leader Beatty said, "Especially as a female, I respect the strength she has shown the nation in her historic run for the highest office in the land.
"I vow to work now to ensure that Barack Obama wins our Democratic nomination and, in November, becomes President of the United States."
The other day I went through my list of county officer races for all 27 counties that have 100,000 or more residents and looked for Democratic candidates in county commission races whose victories might result in flipping control of the three-member body from red to blue. Except for Summit County with it's non-statutory form of government (county executive and county council), every Ohio county has three commissioner seats and two of them are up for election in presidential election years like this one.
The idea was to look for Democratic challengers to Republican incumbents, or Democratic candidates for GOP-held open seats, and then check the party affiliation of the commissioner who isn't currently running and the other one who is. I'm not completely confident in the accuracy of my information, but the resulting list is after the flip. (Asterisks indicate incumbents.) I'd appreciate any comments from readers on these races, or correcting any mistakes in my list!
Read on ...
One of my favorite scenes in literature is mid-way through "Desolation Island," the fifth book of the Aubrey/Maturin series of seafaring historical novels, in which Patrick O'Brian protrays what appear to the the final moments of the damaged and badly leaking H.M.S. Leopard: officers run this way and that bawling conflicting orders into the wind and spray, drawing their weapons while some sailors drown in their efforts to join deserters in a longboat and others break into the ship's liquor locker and yet others cower in despair, and quietly the captain retreats to his cabin and opens a bottle of port ...
Well, that was interesting. On the morning program "Sound of Ideas" on Cleveland public radio station WCPN, Plain Dealer political reporter Mark Naymik and CSU law school dean Geoff Mearns had a conversation about potential candidates for Ohio Attorney General in the upcoming special election:
* Naymik reports that Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason (D) says he doesn't want it.
* Naymik wondered if AG primary candidate Subodh Chandra (D) might be more interested in a possible position with the Obama administration, having worked hard for him in Ohio, than running for Ohio Attorney General, but then host Dan Moulthrip said that Chandra has indicated he is not interested.
* Mearns pointed out how Treasurer Rich Cordray's experience as Ohio's first Solicitor General sets him up perfectly for the post, but Naymik isn't sure that Cordray will be willing to risk another stateside election loss (having fallen short in an attorney general bid in 1998 and a U.S. Senate bid in 2000).
* Naymik also keeps hearing former AG Betty Montgomery mentioned on the GOP side, but noted that she has publicly demurred and doubts she's likely to respond to a n effort to draft her. He also thinks Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien won't run becasue he'd have to give up his re-election bid.
Meanwhile, while the show was going on it was reported that temporary Attorney General Mary Hardin Rogers has demoted First Assistant Attorney General Tom Winters to Chief Deputy Attorney General and replaced him with current chief counsel Sheryl Creed Maxfield, a move designed to avoid questions about conflicts due to the fact that Rogers' spouse is a partner at the law firm Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease, Winters was formerly a partner there, and that firm has about $1 million in legal contracts with the office.
If it is true that Betty Montgomery does a switcheroo and becomes the GOP candidate for AG, I know someone who will not be happy with the choice. Reader John Curry, a retired public school educator who describes himself as a proud Auglaize County Democrat, who recalls that in 2004 an investigative reporter for the Plain Dealer, Steve Ohlemacher, did a story that disclosed that then-auditor Betty Montgomery had protested against extravagant bonuses, fringe benefits, and perks at the State Teachers retirement System, and claimed that her designee on the board had voted against such expenditures, but in fact the designee had gone along with all of them. More from Mr. Curry on Betty Montgomery and STRS after the break.
Poblano at FiveThirtyEight:
Pollster American Research Group:
Other polls, per Pollster.com:
Mason-Dixon: Obama +17
Dakota Wesleyan: Obama +12
A quick look at news and opinion in Ohio, between the first and second cup of coffee:
* Our condolences to Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Upper Arlington), grieving the passing of her father over the weekend.
* Gov. Ted Strickland signed the payday lending bill into law, severely restricting the interest rate and other aspects of the lending business. Most payday lenders indicate that they will simply shut down. The question now is whether banks, credit unions, and nonprofits will step in to fulfill the need for small short-term consumer loans.
* More economic pain for Ohio. As Joseph noted last night, GM is closing an SUV plant in Moraine, which employs 2,500 makes the GMC Envoy, Chevrolet Trailblazer, Saab 9-7X, and Isuzu Ascender. On a more positive note, GM will ramp up production of the fuel-efficient Cobalt at their Lordstown plant.
* An editorial in the Akron Beacon Journal today praises a little-noticed election law change pushed by State Rep. Stephen Dyer (D-Green) that allows absentee ballots postmarked by election day to be counted if received within the next ten days, and also expresses regret that the General Assembly didn't approve Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner's proposal to have multiple locations for voting an absentee ballot in person.
* The Dispatch has a good story on the conflicting demands on Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon) over the climate change bill being debated in the Senate - environmentalists want him to support it, but industry and unions are warning about a loss of jobs and consumers might face unacceptable increases in energy costs.
* Questionable and poorly documented campaign expenditures could land recently resigned attorney general Marc Dann (D-Liberty Twp) before the Ohio Elections Commission. (More coverage here and here.) But with the abrupt resignation of John Widowfield (R-Cuyahoga Falls) over alleged selling of OSU football tickets that had been purchased with campaign money, the Canton Rep predicts that "culture of corruption" charges will fly in both directions this fall.
* Jill ponders the possibility that Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama will put on a powerful show of unity at the AIPAC Conference today.
* Nick D and Ohio06win sound off on the fund-raiser tonight for former bank lobbyist Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington) by the Ohio Banking League at the million-dollar home of a former OBL executive in New Albany.
* The Enquirer scorns the rapidly escalating "custody battle" between Ohio and Kentucky over an historic eight ton rock recently pulled out of the Ohio River. (Details in this AP story.) Opines the Enquirer: "Unbelievable. Do what adults do. Get in a room, work it out and move on."
Check it out - wcpn.org.
Tonight Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon) voted to commence debate on S. 3036, the Climate Security Act of 2008. Here is the statement from his office:
We have an opportunity to address the defining issue of a generation, and to do that in a way that is economically responsible. Done right, this legislation can stem the tide of destructive climate change and create new green jobs in Ohio. Done wrong, this bill could accelerate already devastating job loss in Ohio and in manufacturing states across the nation. We need an immediate, mandatory, cap-and-trade policy to solve the problem of climate change. We also need to invest in alternative energy development and manufacturing in Ohio. It is not a matter of ‘if’ a climate change bill passes, but ‘when.’ Ohio’s interest must be represented in any final climate change bill.
This is very interesting because recently Sen. Brown has stated flat-out that he cannot support the current legislation because it poses too great a threat to Ohio's coal-dependent economy. Today's statement appears to be a shift from blanket opposition toward seeking modification, and in confirmation of that the statement goes on to list amendments that Sen. Brown will seek in the coming week:
* Strengthen trade provisions in the bill to help protect American manufacturers from products made in countries with weak environmental standards;
* Assist energy-intensity manufacturers with transition costs;
* Create a government corporation to invest in alternative energy industry development and green jobs creation;
* Provide assistance to states with manufacturing-dependent economies to lower costs to middle and low-income consumers, to promote efficiency, and to encourage advances in renewable energy; and
With the U.S. Senate today beginning consideration of S. 3036, Sen. Barbara Boxer's version of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, which would cap global warming pollution and create a multi-billion-dollar marketplace for transferable pollution permits, it is significant to note that a poll published last week by a coalition of supporters of the bill shows that Ohioans support of taking steps to combat global warming:
* 82% said that confronting climate change should be a top priority, and that investing in clean, renewable energy sources will bring new jobs to Ohio.
* 75% of independents said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who says that requiring cuts in carbon emissions would create a demand for innovative technologies and create new jobs in Ohio and across the United States.
* 73% believe the U.S. should be a world leader in addressing climate change.
* 80% believe climate change is a problem we should take responsibility for and not pass on to our children and grandchildren.
The bill being debated today is far from perfect, as reflected in a report from the Center for American Progress today which calls for auctioning off 100% of the greenhouse gas emission permits from day one rather than allocating 40% of them to polluting industries for free as the bill currently does. However, it is historic and important to have a real debate about cap-and-trade legislation, even if this all turns out to be a dress rehearsal for renewed debate on the issue next year as various commentators have suggested.
Thomas Edsall has posted on Huffington Post that Hillary Clinton has summoned top donors and backers to her speech in New York tomorrow night, which is being regarded as a sign that she will drop out. He notes that Clinton staffers were being urged by the campaign's finance department "to turn in their outstanding expense receipts by the end of the week." He also writes that negotiations are underway between the two candidates' campaign staffs on post-primary activities:
In addition to seeking Obama's help in raising money to pay off some $20 million-plus in debts, Clinton is known to want Obama to assist black officials who endorsed her and who are now taking constituent heat ...
If wonder if Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland) might want Obama to help her protege State Rep. Eugene Miller (D-Cleveland), who has been a loyal Clinton supporter to his detriment in a heavily African-American district, when Obama is in town (which should happen frequently).
UPDATE: A long-time Clinton supporter, former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack, said today that it is time for Clinton to back Obama. And Ben Pershing writes on the Washington Post blog Capitol Briefing that the seventeen uncommitted superdelegates in the U.S. Senate (which includes Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon)) are meeting this afternoon, with CNN reporting that most of them will endorse Obama tomorrow.
Ina short entry on PolitickerOH.com, Wally Edge writes that "[t]he number of Republicans talking up Betty Montgomery for Attorney General seems to be increasing exponentially in recent days" and although she has said she doesn’t want to run "some of her political allies strong suggest that she is open to a draft."
Sounds to me like the resistance to former U.S. Senator Mike DeWine (R-Cedarville) as a candidate, noted by Joe Hallet in his Dispatch column over the weekend, is very strong indeed, or perhaps DeWine has signaled that he wants to devote himself fully to McCain's presidential campaign in hopes of a possible cabinet post or ambassadorship or something.
I could be wrong, but I have a hard time imagining Montgomery choosing to run if her opponent is indeed Treasurer Rich Cordray as expected. That would be a tough race despite the Dann fallout.
Responding to this morning's story in the Plain Dealer about some members of Congress (including Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Twp)) driving around in gas-hog cars at taxpayer expense, challenger Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell) fired off a hard-hitting statement:
... LaTourette is among the few in Congress who take advantage of a perk that reimburses members of Congress for their car expenses – from oil changes to monthly payments to the cost of gas.
“How can Steve LaTourette possibly understand the pain we’re feeling at the pump these days when his fill-up is on the American taxpayers?” O’Neill said. “At a time when so many of his constituents are having trouble stretching their family budgets because gas prices are skyrocketing, it’s yet another example of our congressman being out of touch with the real needs and concerns of Northeast Ohioans.”
“Steve LaTourette should start paying for his own car like the rest of us,” he said. “Let’s end the free ride once and for all.”
... [F]ewer than one in three Members of Congress (30%) allow taxpayers to pay for their cars. Fewer still bill taxpayers for their car payments and their gas payments, as LaTourette does.
O’Neill said that, as a member of Congress, he would not bill taxpayers for his car or his gasoline. He campaigned last week at a gas station in Wickliffe, where he discounted people’s fill-ups by $1.13, the cost of gas when LaTourette first went to Congress. O’Neill also criticized LaTourette for the campaign funds he has received from oil and energy companies and his consistent votes in their favor – even as they are making record profits and consumers are paying record prices.
“What I’m hearing from voters is that they don’t care if you’re a Republican or a Democrat, as long as you’re doing something about these gas prices, and they can see pretty clearly that Steve LaTourette doesn’t have any intention of fighting for them on this,” O’Neill said. “I guess if I wasn’t paying to drive my car, it wouldn’t be the first thing on my mind either.”
I saw the biggest price at a gas pump ever for my own car last week, breaking a record set just the week before, and it's nasty to say the least (as I'm sure all my readers already know). It's a huge adjustment when gasoline suddenly becomes a much bigger-ticket item in one's personal budget, and this is an issue that is getting the non-politicized majority of the population very riled up.
Bulletins from the battlegrounds:
UPDATE: OH-02 - Dr. Victoria Wulsin (D-Indian Hill) has a new communications director, Kevin Franck. I spoke to him briefly today and learned that he has relocated from Maryland but has Ohio connections, having graduated from Antioch College in Yellow Springs.
OH-04 - Retired public school educator Duane Tron wrote a letter last week to a former student, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana), explaining why Tron wants to "boot [his] fanny out of office along with the rest of the career politicians" (reprinted by blogger Kathy Bracie):
I have been experiencing serious financial issues since 2002 when the Ohio State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) eliminated the spousal subsidy on health insurance four years after I retired. I am currently paying over $10,200.00 of my retirement check each year to maintain health insurance for my wife and myself. ... Now we're paying nearly four dollars a gallon for gas and I have seen the price increases in everything we have to purchase to live. My wife works in Cincinnati as this is the only place she could find a job at her age after being unceremoniously pink slipped when her company closed its Columbus office in 2000 after she served over 36 years of exemplary service with them. ...
Some have asked why we don't move to Cincinnati or closer? Because our house in St. Paris isn't paid off and it's almost impossible to sell houses in St. Paris. ... And you want to know why I'm angry and bitter? ... I've worked for the past 50+ years only to arrive at a point in life where we're trying to figure out how we're going to pay the bills down the road!
In other words, to borrow a phrase, "it's the economy, stupid."
OH-10 - Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland), who chairs the House Domestic Policy subcommittee, sent letters to nine banks last Thursday demanding to know why they are cutting back on home equity lines of credit in parts of Ohio affected by the declining housing market. "People have had their home equity lines suspended whether their credit is good or not, and whether they have sufficient equity in their houses or not," Kucinich said in a statement. The letter sent to lenders asks what criteria are being used to determine which borrowers are having their home-equity loans suspended, and requests information on how lenders are assessing the value of the homes for borrowers receiving suspension notices. "It is possible that our investigation will conclude that a suspension of credit is legal, but it is bad for the region and for the thousands of homeowners who borrow against their home equity to pay for college, emergencies and home improvement," Kucinich said. *** Jill highlights this ABJ story about challenger Jim Trakas (R-Independence) saying that Gov. Strickland is "making a lot of the right moves and positioning himself well politically, which is "frustrating" for a Republican politician.
UPDATE: OH-12 - Bonobo has a great post about Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Westerville) and his inability to come up with productive legislation (while voting against a bipartisan bill to protect endangered cranes at minimal cost), and features this reaction by challenger David Robinson (D-Columbus) to Tiberi's new assignment of figuring out why GOP candidates are losing in special elections:
"How will Tiberi's participation in this audit solve our energy problems? How will it help the middle class or create a single job? This is another example of inside-the-beltway thinking; that the rejection of incumbents is somehow a result of tactics or mis-marketing of the Republican "brand" and that it all can somehow be solved by an audit. The real problem is the very real effect of Bush policies supported by Tiberi over 95% of the time."
*** Robinson has his official campaign kickoff on Thursday evening (6/5) in Powell. *** He is also doing the Short North Gallery Hop on Saturday (6/7) from 4:00 to 10:00 p.m. He will be at East Village Video Cafe, 630 N. High St.
OH-13 - Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Twp) made an appearance with elected leaders, family members, medical professionals, and advocacy organizations this morning at the American Red Cross in Akron to build support for H.R. 4926, the Josh Miller HEARTS Act, which would establish a federal matching grant program to ensure every elementary and secondary school in the U.S. can obtain automated external defibrillators (AEDs), a device that can jump-start a heart that has stopped beating.
UPDATE: OH-14 - A column by David W. Jones in the News Herald today makes it sound like Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell) has been "under a doctor's care" since running in a footrace on Memorial Day weekend, but that is not the case according to campaign manager Toby Fallsgraff. Fallsgraff wrote me that "Bill's fine and hasn't been in 'doctor's care' since he was released from the hospital in March."
OH-15 - PolitickerOH.com reports that the campaign manager for State Sen. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington) is dismissive of the internal polling showing Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus) with a ten-point lead, pointing out that Kilroy's percentage was under 50% (she leads 47% to 37%) and demanding that the Kilroy campaign release the entire results of the poll. As a commenter pointed out, why hasn't Stivers released his own internal polling if Kilroy's is so off-base?
OH-16 - This race was profiled on Thursday by David DeWitt on the new non-partisan Ohio politics site PolitickerOH.com. Highlights:
* Ian Walton, campaign manager for State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown), says that more than $8 million could be spent by the campaigns in this race becauase the district is tied into the pricey Cleveland media market, but he is confident about Boccieri's ability to raise money because "we've raised more money than any Democrat in the last 12 election cycles combined," much of it from small donations.
* State Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-North Canton) is getting support from his national party and will speak at an event with U.S. Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, next month.
OH-18 - A right-wing blog says that ABC 6 News (location?) has reported on a poll showing Fred Dailey (R-Mt Vernon) leading Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) by 46% to 32%, which is surprising, but they don't give a link and I haven't been able to find anything else on it. Does anyone know anything about this?
Just got an email indicating that Diebold and its subsidiary Premier Elections Systems, the manufacturer of electronic voting systems, have just filed suit
in federal court in U.S. District Court in Akron against the Cuyahoga County Commission, Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, and Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, requesting a judicial declaration that their touch-screen voting system and voting services conformed to the defendants' requirements and therefore Diebold is not responsible for voting mishaps in Cuyahoga County.
This is a preemptive strike against a lawsuit that the county is considering against Diebold, for which it has hired a nationally-recognized laboratory to help prove that the systems were defective. The county wants to recoup $7 million spent on Deibold equipment. The parties were reportedly negotiating a settlement, but I take this news to mean that it isn't going well.
Brunner has been searching for a source of funding to help out the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections with getting new equipment, from the federal government and from the Ohio General Assembly, but the prospects are not bright -- especially with Republicans controlling both.
CORRECTION: I concluded that the lawsuit was filed in federal court in Akron based on flimsy clues, but now believe that it was filed in state court in Franklin County instead. Working on getting more information, sorry for the confusion.
A quick, eclectic look at news and opinion in Ohio:
* The Dispatch has an important story about the State Highway Patrol facing a fiscal crisis because it gets less funding through gasoline taxes than formerly while paying much higher costs for gas for its vehicle fleet. The problem is so severe the agency is turning to the public for ideas on how to save or raise money. Meanwhile, speaking of gas prices, Stephen Koff of the Plain Dealer wrote a story on Friday about how few of the members of Congress who opt for publicly-financed transportation have chosen to drive gas-efficient cars. In particular, Rep. Tubbs Jones (D) drives a Chrysler 300, Rep. LaTourette (R) a Lincoln MKZ, and Ralph Regula (R) a Ford Explorer, all on the taxpayer dime.
* SurveyUSA did an interesting poll in Cincinnati for WCPO - 70% said they are very or somewhat concerned about global warming, although only 44% have personally made changes in their daily routine in reaction to it. However, 64% engage in household recycling and 40% said that at least half of the lightbulbs in their house are the energy-saving campact flourescent kind.
* An Enquirer investigation finds that nearly half of the Cincinnati area's top high school seniors are committed to colleges that are out of state. That brings to mind the talk by Higher Education Chancellor Eric Fingerhut at the City Club of Cleveland on Friday, in which he said that the model for higher education will change dramatically in the next ten years with many fewer students living in dorms and online course offerings making up a substantial part of the curriculum, changes that he thinks will keep more students in Ohio.
* The Plain Dealer had a great editorial over the weekend on the "English-only" bill, noting that it would be pointless except that the point is "a slice of red meat thrown toward voters who think, for whatever reason, that Spanish-speaking Ohioans are a threat." Columnist Thomas Suddes also got in his licks, comparing the bill to a 1919 law that forbid any school from teaching German to pupils below the eighth grade (struck down by the Supreme Court). John Curry, a retired public school educator and proud Auglaize County Democrat, pointed out to me in an email that many of the sponsors of the bill are apparently of Germanic descent: State Reps. Reinhard (R), Schneider (R), Schindel (R), Setzer (R), Uecker (R), and Wachtmann (R). As Curry writes:
"Gotta' protect the new world "Motherland," don't we (tongue in cheek)? So much for the melting pot theory but, we have to remember...this is Ohio, isn't it?"
* Yesterday Jason of Rowsey Blog raised the scary question of whether Barack Obama might just write off Ohio. On Saturday the MCDAC blog (now renamed "The Kicker") published an unsettling informal survey of readers as to which of the two remaining Democratic presidential candidates their neighbors would be more likely to support. The overall results were 43.2% Hillary Clinton, 25.9% Barack Obama, 11.1% Neither, and 18.5% Don't Know. Some of the comments by respondents are very disturbing on the topic of race.
* The Plain Dealer had a front-page story on Saturday about retiring Rep. Dave Hobson (R-Springfield) getting federal funding for projects that benefited his personal investment properties, not illegal per se but suggesting a strong conflict of interest. Hobson was also involved in a sweetheart deal in 2003 between the Dayton Development Coalition (DDC) and Greene County Commissioners Marilyn Reid, Ralph Harper and Reed Madden, in which hand-picked successor State Senator Steve Austria (R-Beavercreek) also figured. GOP primary candidate Lt. Col. William Mitchel (USAF, ret.) has been trying hard to call attention to that ethically-challenged transaction, writing most recently that "the secretive BRAC Initiative Agreement between Greene County Commissioners and the DDC serves as poster-boy for fraud, waste, abuse and corruption in government."
* The Akron Beacon Journal editorial board slams John Widowfield, the Republican state representative who abruptly resigned and dropped out of his county council race amid allegations that he bought OSU football tickets with campaign money and then sold them for personal gain. Pho had a good take on Friday.
* Yesterday Joe Hallet wrote a column in the Dispatch effusively praising Gov. Ted Strickland's handling of the Marc Dann fiasco, and calling Treasurer Rich Cordray "the obvious choice" to run on the Democratic side in the special election for attorney general. He assesses the GOP choices (Ron O'Brien, Deborah Pryce, and Mike DeWine) and deems DeWine the most likely, although the conservative base is not happy with him. And today the Plain Dealer and Akron Beacon Journal joined Hallett and other commentators in lauding temporary Attorney General Mary Hardin Rogers as an inspired choice.
The campaign of State Sen. John Boccieri has organized a major canvassing effort for tomorrow (5/31), including a district-wide conference call with canvassing instructions and an update on the campaign.
Details after the flip.
In addition to showing that Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus) has a double-digit lead over Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington), both before and after positive information about each candidate was read to the respondent, the internal polling released by the Kilroy campaign had these interesting results:
* The generic ballot question (unidentified candidate from each party) came out 45% for the Democrat, 37% for the Republican, and 18% undecided.
* A majority (51%) would like to see the Democrats with a majority in Congress after the election, compared with 39% who'd like to see a Republican majority and 10% who have no preference or don't know.
* Kilroy's favorability rating is 44%/34%, compared to 40%/43% a few days before her narrow loss to Rep. Pryce in 2006.
* Approval of the way that Kilroy is doing her job as County Commissioner is also in double-digit positive territory at 49%/37%.
* Stivers's career as a lobbyist and the fact that he has prioritized the interests of the banking industry ahead of Ohio consumers is a problem for him - after informing respondents of these facts, Kilroy's lead increased to 28% (Kilroy 57%, Stiver %29).
Add those findings to Kilroy's big lead in fund-raising and it looks like she is in a very strong position going into this campaign.
Exciting News. Kilroy up 47% to 37%.
Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy (D) holds a 10-point lead over Republican state senator Steve Stivers in the race to succeed retiring Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio), according to her campaign’s internal polling.
Kilroy is well liked and has high name recognition. Hopefully, her lead will continue to grow. Oh, did I mention - She has over 1 million in her campaign account, too!
Go Mary Jo!
ADDENDUM: From the report today in Politico:
Kilroy is benefiting from fairly high name identification (78 percent), largely from her closely contested campaign against Pryce last election cycle. She had a net favorability rating of 10 percent — 44 percent of respondents held a favorably opinion of her, while 34 percent viewed her unfavorably.
Despite Republicans' claims to fund our troops, Rep. Steve Chabot refused to vote "yes" or "no" on critical funding.
Republican Leader John Boehner even said, "we're playing politics on the backs of our troops," before refusing to vote "yes" or "no" on critical troop funding.
Our troops don't have the luxury of abandoning the battlefield. Neither should House Republicans.
Tell Republicans that our men and women deserve better than political games.
In an email message from the campaign of State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown) today we learn the happy news:
[L]ast Saturday, Stacey and I welcomed our fourth child, Leanna Elizabeth Boccieri. She and her mother are doing well. Stacey and I want to thank all of you for your warm wishes. We are truly blessed. You can meet Leanna and the rest of the Boccieri family by visiting the photo gallery on my website.
Help them celebrate with a campaign donation!