News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races

All the news that didn't fit into last night's catch-up roundup, plus a few new items:

OH-01 & 02 - Americans United for Change is blasting Reps. Steve Chabot (R-West Wood) and Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) for voting against the amendment to the Iraq/Afghanistan supplemental last week that would provide up to 13 weeks of extended unemployment benefits to workers exhausting the 26 weeks of regular unemployment benefits, legislation that would extend benefits for 118,091 Ohio workers. "Rep. Chabot and Rep. Schmidt think that more Bush tax cuts for millionaires is the only prescription for the ailing economy – tax cuts that never manage to ‘trickle-down’ to the people who really need it,” writes spokesman Jeremy Funk. “In fact, extending unemployment benefits is one of the most cost-effective and fastest-acting ways to help stimulate an economic recovery because the money is spent quickly ... How many more Ohio workers have to lose their jobs before Rep. Chabot and Schmidt realize that their ‘trickle-down,’ ‘Voo-doo’ economic policies never fail to fail?”

OH-02 - State Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Price Hill) is having a Pavilion Party with food, fun, music, and dancing on Friday, June 6th, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Donauschwaben Pavillion, 4290 Dry Ridge Road in Colerain Township. Minimum suggested contribution is $25 per person and the special musical guest is Robin Lacy & DeZydeco.

OH-04 - Last week's vote against the Farm Bill by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana) didn't sit well with Jason Dagger, organization director for the Ohio Farm Bureau for Champaign, Clark and Madison counties, who told the Urbana Citizen on Friday that the bill is long overdue (the 2002 Farm Bill expired in September of 2007). The piece has a good recap of Sen. Sherrod Brown's conference call about the bill.

OH-10 - The American Iranian Council has published a lengthy interview with Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) on U.S.-Iran relations. Among other things, Rep. Kucinich calls for normalized relations, says that he'd like to visit Iran, says the next U.S. president should do so as well, says that Iraq could be used as a pretext for Bush to attack Iran, and calls generally for direct talks with Iran without preconditions.

OH-11 - Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland) said on MSNBC yesterday that she'd like to see Obama and Clinton run together, but The Hill reports that Obama backers in Congress don't like the idea -- they see Clinton as having run a divisive campaign and not as desirable as a "fresh face" and/or someone with really strong foreign policy and national security credentials.

OH-13 - The Farm Bill incorporates provisions from the Dog Fighting Prohibition Act, H.R. 3219, that Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Twp) introduced last year, which among other things make it a crime to knowingly possess or train animals for fighting. "I am pleased that this Democratic Congress is continuing to crack down on the horrific practice of dog fighting," said Sutton. "[These provisions] will close loopholes in current animal welfare laws to enable police and prosecutors to help eliminate what has become a malicious and lucrative gambling business." *** Sutton's congressional staff will be conducting "Congress in Your Community" sessions from Tuesday through Saturday of next week in eleven locations - see below the break for details.

OH-14 - Trouble for Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Twp) with his base over his vote in favor of the Farm Bill? Conservative CWRU Law Professor Jonathon Adler wrote on The Corner at National Review Online:

My own Congressman, Rep. Steve LaTourette, joined the pork parade by supporting the farm bill... [T]his is the last straw. I'll never vote for him again. I'm sick of big government guys like him giving the rest of the party a bad name.

OH-15 - Nick D at BSB details the flip-flop by State Sen. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington) on factory farms.

OH-16 - Dispatch columnist Ann Fisher wrote a column last Friday praising the bill introduced by State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown) that would provide state-level protection to the jobs of National Guard and Reserve troops serving overseas, and suggesting that opponent State Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-North Canton) is helping to hold up the bill because of this congressional race. *** Boccieri said of the Dann mess that it's "time to close this dark chapter in Ohio's history," but the the Canton Rep fires back with the easy retort that it ain't over until the Inspector General sings. *** After a 14 year record of supporting charter schools and vouchers, State Schuring voted against the bill to create special education vouchers a few weeks ago. But Gov. Strickland has pledged to veto the bill (a stand he reaffirmed last week last Thursday). Was the flip-flop a political gambit to create a more moderate image, using a vote not likely to be remembered by his right wing base because the bill won't become law in any event? *** Although Boccieri didn't win the Pick a Progressive Patriot contest at Sen. Feingold's Progressive Patriot PAC, he nevertheless received a $1,000 contribution from the organization.

OH-17 - London-based documentary producer Journeyman Pictures uploaded its 52-minute-long video about the the election of Rep. Tim Ryan to to Congress to YouTube a couple of weeks ago. It's a terrific and often hilarious film, with lots of great footage of the campaign. Watch it here. *** Kos has Rep. Ryan taking out George Voinovich in the 2010 U.S. Senate race. *** Voinovich *** I think that the thing of preventing Alaska from returning Mt. McKinley to its former Native American name of Denali, an effort long carried out by retiring Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Navarre) and now taken up by Rep. Ryan, is ridiculous. However, Ryan does have a connection to McKinley to which he can point -- he lives just up the street from McKinley’s birthplace, which also is home to the McKinley Memorial Library.

OH-18 - The Veterans Emergency Care Fairness Act introduced by Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) is expected to pass in the U.S. House today. The law would ensure that hospitals receive compensation for the care of veterans when the VA medical system is unable to accept new patients. As things are now, the admitting hospital is stuck with the cost or bills it to the veteran, an especially large problem in rural areas where VA facilities are far apart.

Killer VoteVets Ad Targets McCain on GI Bill Vote in Senate

Here's a strong new ad from VoteVets targeting Sen. John McCain on the Webb-Hagel bill on modernizing the G.I. Bill, which is up for a vote in the Senate this week and which Bush & McCain, Inc. opposes:


Donate here to help keep it on the air.

Oregon and Kentucky

Random bits about today's primaries:

* As CQ Politics points out, the 103 pledged delegates at stake today are about evenly split between Oregon (52) and Kentucky (51). Polls point to a huge win by Clinton in Kentucky (perhaps by 30 points) and a closer but probably double-digit win for Obama in Oregon.

* Obama won't explicitly declare victory tonight but doesn't have to. The news coverage will focus on him getting to a majority of pledged delegates rather than Clinton getting more pledged delegates out of today's contests. Clinton has been complaining the last few days on the stump in Kentucky about Obama presumptuously declaring victory prematurely, but it is media and pundits who are doing the actual declaring.

* Poblano, who has relies more on population demographics than polling and has been very accurate, projects Obama to win Oregon by 13.8 points, with turnout at 661,470. Kentucky projections will be up shortly.

* Kentucky should be declared immediately after the polls close in the western part of the state (7 pm EST). Oregon could be declared quickly as well, but polls close much later (11 pm EST), so Clinton will get the first share of the national spotlight and the glow of victory.

Rasmussen Poll: Obama and McCain Tied in Ohio

A Rasmussen poll released yesterday shows Obama gaining ground in the general election in Ohio, now polling in a statistical tie with McCain (numbers in parens from 4/08 and 3/13):

44% (40%,40%) Obama
45% (47%,46%) McCain

Clinton outperforms Obama against McCain in this poll, now leading 50% to 43% after trailing McCain in the previous polls by margins similar to the Obama-McCain matchups.

There are a variety of issue questions that reveal support for several conservative positions in Ohio, but the bedrock concern of voters is the economy (55%) and Obama leads McCain in that group by 53% to 35%. And look at these numbers on the direction of the country and approval ratings for Strickland and Bush:

Just 13% believe that the United States is generally heading in the right direction while 81% believe the nation has gotten off on the wrong track. ...

Forty-eight percent (48%) of Ohio voters say Governor Ted Strickland is doing a good or an excellent job. That’s up three percentage points from a month ago. Just 16% say he is doing a poor job.

President Bush receives much lower grades—only 33% say he is doing a good or excellent job. That’s down seven points from a month ago. While Bush won the White House by capturing a majority of Ohio votes four years ago, most Buckeye State voters (51%) now say the President is doing a poor job.

Rasmussen ranks Ohio as a toss-up state.

Here are a trio of interesting electoral vote analyses, with the bottom line on Ohio: Karl Rove's maps, obtained by ABC News (Obama down in Ohio by 3%, Clinton up by 5%), blogger Poblano at FiveThirtyEight (Obama has a 44% chance of winning Ohio, Clinton has a 79% chance), and Democratic pollster Paul Maslin writing in Salon (Strickland as running mate "may be the only way to prevail" in Ohio). Ohio is close, Ohio is critical, and things can go either way from here. Hang on to your seats.

News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races

What's happening:

OH-01 - James Lambert did a interesting post on Swing State Project yesterday, responding to the victory by Travis Childers (D) in red but 27% African American MS-01 last week, about the possible effect of sky-high African American voter turnout (with Obama as the nominee) in various Republican-held districts. His charts shows that OH-01 is the eighth-most African American GOP-held district in the nation at 28.4%, and he describes challenger State Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Price Hill) as one of several "strong candidates waging credible campaigns" who are in a position to benefit.

OH-03 - Challenger Jane Mitakides (Washington Twp) flew to Washington DC this morning for a special two-day session sponsored by the DCCC, including meetings and strategy sessions with top consultants. Later in the week she will join Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover), Rep. John Sarbanes (MD-03) and others as honorees at an international conference of Greek-Americans and Cypriot Americans. *** DaytonOS called out Rep. Mike Turner (R-Centerville) on Saturday for flip-flopping in his haste to distance himself from Bush -- he voted in favor of the farm bill last week after voting against the house-passed version last July.

OH-04 - Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana) has released a column calling for "bold new ideas" on energy -- the central component of which is the predictable right-wing canard about attacking "radical environmentalists" over drilling for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge and "burdensome environmental regulations" that he says discourage building new oil refineries, where the unemployed could go and get new jobs. Scary. *** Challenger Mike Carroll (D-Mansfield) got a nice write-up by Managing Editor William Laney of the Wapakoneta Daily News on Friday:

“I don’t understand how we keep sending people to Congress, who wrap themselves in the U.S. flag, stand by God and say they are for families — but his voting record doesn’t support that,” Carroll said after reading a roll call of issues on which Jordan cast a “no” vote. “I am a Christian, I am an honorable discharged veteran of the Ohio Air National Guard — I can wrap myself in the flag, but I am running because the working class needs a representative in Washington."

OH-06 - The blog Buckeyenewshawk reprints an excellent letter about gas prices that Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-St. Clairsville) sent to his constituents on Friday, which reads like a point-by-point rebuttal to Rep. Jordan (see above). As to the long term solution to gas prices, Wilson refuses to oversimplify and blows apart the GOP talking point that drilling in ANWAR is the answer:

[I]t’s important we start cutting through the smoke and mirrors and not swallow the old argument that this is simply a situation where supply is not keeping up with demand.

The Energy Information Agency (EIA) says just the opposite is true. In January-March 2008, the EIA reported that gasoline supplies outpaced demand. In January and February 2008 we imported more gasoline that we did in January and February 2007. At the same time, U.S. gasoline demand was down by .8% compared to spring 2007. With higher inventories and reduced demand, how can prices still have shot up to nearly $4 a gallon?

... [A]s our truckers are hurting for diesel our refineries have been shipping 93,000 barrels a day to Western Europe and 182,000 barrels a day to Latin America. Why are we shipping it overseas when we need it here?

He also attacks the notion that government regulations have deterred the construction of new oil refineries, citing internal documents from oil comparnies that specifically advocate limiting domestic refining capacity in order to drive up prices. The bottom line for Wilson is that more oversight over the production of energy is needed.

OH-10 - Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) is holding a subcommittee hearing at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday on the effect of the foreclosure crisis on neighborhoods:

It will examine differences between strong housing markets and weaker ones, as well as local strategies to mitigate the effects of and prevent vacancies, estimates of the size of the national problem, and new federal legislation aimed at addressing the problem: HR 5818.

Among those testifying will be Daniel Kildee, Treasurer of Genesee County, Michigan, whose land bank program is a model that Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis seeks to emulate. This hearing will be webcast here.

OH-12 - David Robinson (D-Columbus) has completely overhauled his campaign site with a complete new look, two videos and a photo gallery, and a new campaign slogan: "A New Energy for Ohio, A New Voice in Congress". *** OH-12 is the 12th most African American GOP-held district in the nation at 21.6%. *** The Robinson campaign will have a kick-off fundraiser on June 5th, details to follow.

OH-18 - The office of Rep. Zack Space reported today that there are already over 100 participants signed up for the Economic Summit in Zanesville this Friday, the culmination of his RENEW Ohio-18 series. “I am really looking forward to not only this meeting, but more importantly, the promise it holds for our region,” Space said. “Ohioans have a long history of picking ourselves up by our bootstraps and solving problems on our own. I am confident that this meeting will be yet another example of that drive.” The chairs of the working groups in Broadband and Technology, Agriculture, Advanced Energy, and Health Care will present papers for discussion. Anyone interested in attending is encouraged to contact Congressman Space’s district office toll free at 866-910-7577.

Light Posting Notice & A Few Notes

Unable to do much blogging today - a few quick notes:

1. Assertions by frustrated women Clinton supporters that they will work against Obama and vote for McCain are front-paged on the New York Times, particularly highlighting such sentiments expressed by Ohioans. This revolt has been the subject of much discussion on the Ohio blogs and off. I wish I had more time to write on it today but let me say three things:

* Male Obama supporters (and bloggers are overwhelmingly male) who dismiss, ridicule, or doubt the authenticity of these protests, or act as though these women are not entitled to think and act as they choose (even to the extent of working against their party) are attempting to engage in precisely the pattern of paternalistic control and disrespect that is the essence of sexism and misogyny in this country and underpins their complaints.

* Sexism and racism are both pervasive and have influenced the nominating process, and attempts to prioritize the two or dismiss either are counterproductive.

* This conflict within the party is a huge opportunity for Barack Obama, whose greatest need is to establish credibility for his principal appeal to voters -- that he is a leader who can heal and unite. He has the ability and insight to handle this situation well and doing so will strengthen his message going forward.

Redhorse, who has called on Clinton to drop out, has a good post in which he concludes that Clinton should be given the space to seek a graceful and dignified finish.

2. The plan for replacing Dann that appears to be shaping up is Governor's legal counsel Kent Markus (or perhaps former Cleveland Law Director Subodh Chandra or former Ohio Senator Ben Espy) as interim AG and Treasurer Rich Cordray to run for the seat while remaining in office. The rationale for not appointing Cordray now is that the job of restoring order and confidence at the AG's office requires full-time attention, not someone running a statewide campaign, and that Cordray has such stature as an excellent Treasurer that he doesn't stand to gain much from running as the incumbent AG.

3. The Dann pain is far from over. The lawyer for the two sexual harassment complainants in the AG's office was quoted over the weekend as saying that two to three dozen other potential plaintiffs have come forward. Nick D on BSB alludes to rumors of possible drug use, something I had also heard and mentioned. There are a lot of rumors flying around and this one may well be untrue, but whatever is out there to be found is not likely to be missed in the ongoing investigation by the painstaking Ohio Inspector General. The political terrain for Ohio Democrats has already shifted and may shift much more, and the time to adjust our thinking and efforts is now.

4. The Plain Dealer broadened its assault on the one-party-dominated government of Cuyahoga County this weekend, with critical front page news story and an editorial pushing the hastily conceived reform plan pushed by Commissioner Tim Hagan (D) and Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted (R). I'm well aware of the problems that tend to result from single party government on either side, and I see the potential benefit of consolidating bureaucracy and reducing the number of elected posts in local government, but I have big problems with the plan being advanced, particularly as greatly empowering a three-member commission instead of a single executive, and it doesn't make sense to rush into a radical change with no study or analysis of the proposal. It also reeks of grandstanding and piling on, in my opinion.

The Real McCain 2 (More Doofus Than "Maverick")

Courtesy of Cliff Schechter, Robert Greenwald, and Brave New Films, the second YouTube video on revealing The Real McCain:


"Rocky Took a Lover"

From the Late Night Ministry of Kultural Affairs:

This was the highlight of St. Patrick's Day for me this year. Enjoy!

Sen. Brown on the Farm Bill

Yesterday the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation issued a statement hailing the passage of the Farm Bill by veto-proof margins in both houses (318-106 in the House, 81-15 in the Senate), and "encourag[ing] Congress to override a veto with the same bipartisan support the bill has already received."

On Thursday I participated in a conference call with Sen. Brown about the bill, which call was briefly interrupted while he went and cast his vote. The day before, all of Ohio's Democratic members of the House except Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) voted for the bill. Seven GOP members of the House voted "no" (Chabot, Jordan, Hobson, Boehner, Tiberi and Pryce), four voted for for it, and Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) did not vote. Sen. George Voinovich voted against it.

Sen. Brown played a huge role in moving the bill along, as the first Ohio senator on the Senate Agriculture and Nutrition Committee in four decades. In the conference call, Sen. Brown pointed out that the Farm Bill "supports Ohio farmers and invests in rural communities" by funding rural infrastructure, providing new incentives to protect natural resources, developing local markets for family farmers, helping struggling families put food on the table, and promoting healthy diets. Much of the cost of the bill is for food stamps, food banks, and nutrition programs rather than expenditure relating direcctly to farming.

Sen. Brown consulted widely with farmers and farm groups while working on the bill and he is especially proud of working with them to produce a reform called the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program, which allows farmers to switch from current safety-net programs to a forward-looking policy that better protects against volatile crop prices, natural disasters, and rising production costs. He expects ACRE to save taxpayers more than $1 billion over five years.

Raise Your Hands If You Want To Hold Charter Schools Accountable

A reader alerted me to this news story from yesterday, reporting that the head of a charter school in Cincinnati, Willard Willson, has been indicted for a scheme to defraud the school of $15,000, just the latest in a long series of irregularities and outright banditry at Ohio's publicly-funded charter schools. Then he provided this list of legislation to bring more oversight to charter schools and asked if I could see the pattern:

Senate Bill 331 (Community School Evaluations)
Sponsor: Roberts (D)
Co-Sponsors: Fedor (D), Miller, D. (D), Morano (D), Sawyer (D), Miller, R. (D)

Senate Bill 332 (Public Records Law..as it pertains to charter schools)
Sponsor: Roberts (D)
Co-Sponsors: Fedor (D), Miller, D. (D), Morano (D), Sawyer (D), Miller, R. (D)

Senate Bill 333 (Sale of public school property to charter schools)
Sponsor: Roberts (D)
Co-Sponsors: Fedor (D), Miller, D. (D), Morano (D), Sawyer (D), Miller, R. (D)

House Bill 552 (The cap on start-up community schools)
Sponsor: Luckie (D)
Co-Sponsors: Yates (D), Foley (D), Williams, B. (D), Okey (D), Yuko (D), Brady (D), Szollosi (D), Koziura (D), Skindell (D), Strahorn (D)

Yeah, that would be it.

As my reader phrased it in the note, public school educators should be thankful for these legislators who are trying to get a handle on the lack of accountability currently exhibited by Ohio's charter schools. I could not agree more.

Sen. Ted Kennedy Hospitalized with Stroke

DailyKos has posted the news based on this local TV account and this local newpaper story -- now confirmed in the Boston Globe.

UPDATE: In the few minutes it took to type and publish this post the news has spread all over. Kennedy had preventive surgery for a blocked artery in his neck last October, so he has a relevant medical history for strokes.

Ted and Caroline Kennedy, JFK's brother and daughter, are the last living links to a legendary era in America and in Democratic politics. This is a frightening moment in the history of the country and for one of its leading families, already beset by far too much tragedy, and our hopes and prayers are focused on his swift recovery.

UPDATE: Just for the record, the incident is now being described as a seizure, which may or may not be the result of a stroke; Sen. Kennedy talked on the telephone hours after the incident began; and Kennedy family members are expressing guarded optimism that he will make a full recovery.

2013 = When Pigs Fly

I love this takedown of John McCain's "dreamcasting" speech in Columbus yesterday, cleverly (and successfully) devised to produce media headlines suggesting that he is some sort of moderate, and in particular that he intends to remove U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2013 (one of many wishful fantasies in his remarks). The piece is written by Matt Welch, the author of McCain: The Myth of a Maverick, and deserves to be read in its entirety. But as for the gauzy notion that McCain has any plan or intention of getting out of Iraq in four years, here's this:

[T]he 'never surrender' candidate has pledged to stay the course in Iraq until 'the establishment of a generally peaceful, stable, prosperous, democratic state' -- a perfect recipe for the 100-year occupation he's so furiously back-pedaling from -- while vowing to use force against Iran if the mullahs develop nukes. ... Will President McCain draw down combat troops from Iraq by 2013? Only if Iraq becomes the kind of [democracy] that few if any humans are predicting will happen in the foreseeable future. In other words, when cows fly. Americans who vote for McCain based on that promise will surely get the president they deserve.

As for the rest of McCain's rosy predictions, suffice it to say that McCain has voted for Bush's failed policies 95% of the time, resists helping consumers even in a crisis like the mortgage meltdown, and is generally much more of a neo-con than even George Bush.

UPDATE: Also, he says that a lot of our economic problems "are psychological":


News and Notes: General Assembly Races UPDATED

An abbreviated edition as I'm totally pressed for time:

UPDATE: OH House-14 - State Rep. Mike Foley (D-Cleveland) reports in a comment at Callahan's Cleveland Diary today that his bill H.B. 138, which would accelerate the filing of deeds following sales of homes in foreclosure, will get out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. "By having the Sheriff file the deed we end the problem of the ownership mystery which occurs all too often when the purchaser holds onto the deed and doesn’t file it," Foley writes. "Not only does it lead to the sheriff and county not being paid, but the Treasurer ends up sending tax bills to the old owners, building inspectors end up citing the wrong people, and angry neighbors have no idea who to call to board up the house or complain about yard maintenance." Rep. Foley is hopeful that the bill will become law before the summer recess.

UPDATE: OH House-19 - I see that Marian Harris (D-Columbus) will March in the New Albany Founders Day Parade tomorrow (5/17) along with Nancy Garland, as previously noted below. Harris says that the parade starts at Resurrection Roman Catholic Church, 6300 E Dublin Granville Road in New Albany, with the meeting time at 9:30 a.m. and the parade stepping off at 11:00 a.m.

OH House-20 - Bonobo reports that Nancy Garland (D-New Albany) will be walking in the New Albany Founders Day Parade tomorrow (5/17) and invites supporters to join her. You need to be at the staging area at 10:30 a.m. -- email zach-dot-roberts1-at-gmail-dot-com for more information.

OH House-43 - State Rep. Stephen Dyer (D-Green) will a town hall meeting from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. on Monday (5/19) at Edinburg Township Town Hall, 6856 Tallmadge Road in Rootstown, to discuss legislative matters including education funding, budget issues, and legislative initiatives with constituents.

OH House-59 - State Rep. Ron Gerberry (D-Austintown) doesn't have a campaign site now, but the doman "RonGerberry.com" has been reserved. *** Gerberry announced yesterday that the Mahoning County Solid Waste District’s Recycle Management, Inc. will receive $250,000 in state grant money for a recycling operation that will pay for the construction of a new Material Recovery Facility and related equipment and will also create an estimated 12 new jobs. “This is an Earth-friendly, economy-building grant, and I could not be happier that its positive impact will happen in Mahoning County,” said Rep. Gerberry.

UPDATE: OH House-85 - Ray Pryor (D-Chillicothe) hosts his 3rd annual campaign golf outing at Forrest Everhart Memorial Golf Course tomorrow (5/17) and invites supporters to join him for a steak dinner at The Sunroom at The Brick, 113 E. High Street in Frankfort, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. next Saturday (5/24), $50 per person.

UPDATE: OH House-90 - Duane Grassbaugh (D-Howard) is having a Taste of Ohio fund-raising event from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday (5/18), hosted by Penny Rauzi and Pat Henderson at their home in Apple Valley (443 Crabapple Drive). The party will feature Ohio wines, cheeses, and bread. (Featured cheeses include Guggisberg Cheese, which is made in part from the milk produced at Duane’s own Grassydell Farms.) Bread will be provided by Asetta Bakery of Mount Vernon, and wines will come from all over Ohio.

OH House-92 - Debbie Phillips (D-Athens) has added the endorsements of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, International Brotherhood of Electoral Workers (Local 972), and Service Employees International Union (Local 1199) to her important endorsement from the AFL/CIO. She reports that she is knocking on doors and is encouraged to hear the people talk about their support for Gov. Strickland and their readiness to see more change in Ohio government. And there's this:

Just this weekend in Pomeroy, I met a 19-year-old mother who wasn't registered to vote, and was surprised when I asked her if she wanted to vote in the next election. She was so excited that a candidate would knock on her door and she immediately told her mom, "I'm going to VOTE!" It's stories like this that make the campaign such a rewarding experience.

OH House-94 - Jennifer Stewart (D-Zanesville) is hosting a fund-raiser breakfast tomorrow (5/17) at from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. at Jerry’s Great American Restaurant, 275 S. Whitewoman Street in Coshocton. Suggested donation is $15 per person. For information or to RSVP call 452-4558.

OH House-99 - State Rep. Deborah Newcomb (D-Conneaut) plans to introduce legislation to increase horsepower limits on Pymatuning Lake to 20 hp for all watercraft. “The aim of this legislation is to remove the confusion surrounding the Pymatuning Lake Compact, which is the agreement between Ohio and Pennsylvania to govern Pymatuning Lake,” Rep. Newcomb said. “This will welcome more boating opportunities for residents in Ohio and Pennsylvania so they can enjoy this wonderful resource.” Public comment is invited via email at district99-at-ohr-dot-state-dot-oh-dot-us or call (614) 466-1405.

Fudge Said Likely to Replace O'Malley as Cuyahoga Recorder

WKYC-TV, which has been way out ahead on the O'Malley resignation and guilty plea story, reports today that Warrensville Heights Mayor Marcia L. Fudge (D) is the leading contender for appointment to the vacant position. Fudge was a chief of staff for Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland) before being elected as mayor and is a close ally of the influential congresswoman. Fudge also has served as Deputy County Auditor, Director of the Cuyahoga County Budget Commission, and Director of Budget & Finance for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor, so she is very familiar with county government, and she has an undergraduate business degree from Ohio State University and a law degree from Cleveland State University. The vote will be made by Democratic Party committee members across the county.

I have heard a variety of local state legislators mentioned as possibilities but I don't think any of them are likely to want it or get it. The other genuine contenders appear to be city government types like recently installed Clerk of City Council Patricia Britt (D-Cleveland), 10th Congressional District primary candidate and city council member Joe Cimperman (D-Cleveland), and City Council President Martin Sweeney (D-Cleveland).

Outraged Clinton Supporters Deserve Attention and Respect

As I commented yesterday in connection with the NARAL Pro-Choice America endorsement of Obama, "[s]witching from Clinton to Obama is going to be painful for women and feminists solidly in her camp ... and for good reason, having waited so long for representation in our highest elected office and having such a powerful champion get so close to that goal." That was confirmed immediately and dramatically by the announcement in Columbus yesterday by the new group called Clinton Supporters Count Too that they are prepared to campaign against Obama in November in protest of sexism inflicted on the Clinton campaign. And that is followed by a report today that a newly formed PAC called WomenCount has raised $170,000 in jsut 48 hours to run ads in major newspapers to call on Hillary Clinton to stay in the race until all women's votes have been cast.

There are active discussion threads about Clinton Supporters Count Too around the Ohio blogosphere, including here and here. The tone of many of the comments is alarming. Sexism is real and prevalent in our society, as is racism, and both have been on display in the Democratic presidential nomination contest. [UPDATE: Thanks to Jill for alerting me to this column by Marie Cocco in the Washington Post, recounting examples of misogyny directed at Clinton from all sides.] Yet a number of commenters are responding to the anger and frustration of Clinton's disappointed supporters by minimizing or ridiculing their objections.

This is a time for healing. The message of these women must be heard and respected, because their concerns and their frustrations are real. It is true that the Democratic Party is clearly superior to the Republican Party in elevating women to positions of power, and that electing John McCain would be a disaster for women's issues. That is not the point right now. The Democratic Party isn't free of sexism and must re-commit to eradicating it, and it must take part in confronting the sexist coverage of Clinton in the media, and it must otherwise rise to the occasion by listening to and respecting what these Clinton supporters are saying. That is what is required for healing and unity among Democrats.

Sign the Petition Against GOP Vote-Suppression Legislation

Democracy for America is organizing a drive to opposed onerous voter ID laws being rushed though 19 state legislatures in the wake of the Supreme Court's ugly ruling that upheld Indiana's strict statute. Make no mistake, GOP claims of voter fraud are a total sham -- there is no evidence of any widespread voter fraud, whether by illegal immigrants or anyone else. This is all about making voting more difficult for senior citizen, low income, and newly registered Americans who are more likely to support Democrats.

The Republican brand is in disrepute and their policies are an abject failure across the board, so nefarious schemes like voter suppression have moved to the top of the GOP agenda. Help support the DFA campaign against anti-voting laws by signing the petition.

UPDATE: DFA is following up yesterday's launch and petition drive with a request for a modest $20 donation at this link -- this is damned good cause that I am supporting and I urge readers to do likewise.

OH-14: O'Neill: "Soldiers Should Be Permitted to Just Be 'Present' Like Rep. LaTourette"

Promoted from the Forums. - Jeff

There was an emergency funding bill in Congress today, and if ever there was a time for members of Congress to STAND UP AND BE COUNTED with the troops in Iraq this was it. And what did Congressman Steve LaTourette do? He voted "present". This is an insult, and I take it personally.

Steve LaTourette is the man who has been all over the park on the war, and no matter what you feel about his previous support for George Bush's war...today was a day he could clear it up. Vote to continue funding this war...or vote to end it.

To vote "present" at a time when Americans should be applauding the bravery of our troops is an act of political cowardice. The troops in the field deserve far more than cowardly inaction from our congressman

This refusal to take a stand shows just how much Washington really has changed Steve LaTourette in the last 14 years. Our troops put their lives on the line for this country every day and they do not have the privilege of just being "present" Our soldiers and the people of Northeast Ohio deserve an up or down vote, sir.

I served in Vietnam, my father was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in World War II and my son served in Afghanistan and Iraq. NEVER ONCE did any of us look for political cover when the defense of our nation was on the line.

Shame on you Steve LaTourette. Support the war or oppose the war...for your salary the voters of Ohio deserve courage, leaderhip and honest answers. Today we got none.

Bill Oneill
Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army (Retired)
Democratic Nominee, Ohio 14

News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races UPDATED

A lot happening out there:

OH-01 - Columnist Dana Milbank identified Rep. Steve Chabot (R-West Wood) as one of the GOP incumbents displaying the symptoms of irritability and depression from Re-Election Anxiety Disorder when he barked a testy "I'm running late" as he left the weekly House Republican breakfast meeting Wednesday with a grim face, following the GOP's shocking loss in the Mississippi special election the day before. *** At a fundraising event Laura Bush called Chabot "champion of the men and women of the United States military," but he proved himself the exact opposite yesterday by voting against enhanced benefits for veterans.

OH-02 - Rep. "Mean Jean" Schmidt (R-Loveland), usually a reliable vote for the White House, surprised observers by not voting on the farm bill that Bush has said he'll veto, a sign of how frightened GOP members of Congress have become. *** Schmidt voted against the G.I. Bill expansion, revealing the rank hypocrisy of her statements elsewhere that she supports the troops. Here, for example, she said that "our returning troops, who have sacrificed so much for us, deserve our gratitude, respect, and the very best healthcare available." That's exactly the kind of support that she just voted against.

OH-03 - Rep. Mike Turner (R-Centerville) has abysmal 29% and 34% lifetime scores from the Disabled American Veterans and Retired Enlisted Association, respectively, and received a C grade from the Iraq and Afghanistan Vetarans of America in 2006. Sure enough, he voted against the GI Bill expansion yesterday, and challenger Jane Mitakides (D-Washington Twp) isn't about to let him get away with it unscathed:

I cannot imagine anyone in Congress voting against such crucial legislation, especially one from a district that is home to the Dayton VA Medical Center and Dayton National Cemetery and sits in the shadow of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Whatever the cost of the bill, it is a small price to pay in exchange for the sacrifices made by our brave men and women. ... Unfortunately, Mike Turner and President Bush want to play politics with a real modernization of the GI bill.

This is a significant misstep by Turner.

OH-04 - Unlike Schmidt, anti-government fanatic Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana) voted against the farm bill, despite representing a heavily agricultural district.

OH-08 Challenger Nick von Stein (D-Hamilton) got a note of encouragement from Cincinnati musician and composer Wes Finn, who ran for city council in a Cincinnati suburb in 2001, on Finn's eclectic blog : "I wish Mr. von Stein all the luck in the world. My in-laws live in the 8th District, and they deserve someone far better than John 'Day-Glo' Boehner." What a perfect moniker!

OH-09 - Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) did a great job explaining yesterday's three House bills relating to amendments constituting the military emergency supplemental bill in this "Washington Journal" appearance on C-SPAN, emphasizing that the GI benefits bill is paid for by a tax surcharge but the president has not paid for the costs of the war in his budget: "The sad fact is that this war has cost the American people over $870 billion dollars -- three quarters of a trillion dollars -- and hasn't been paid for. ... We are almost a trillion dollars more in debt. ... In terms of fiscal responsibility, what's happening is very irresponsible."

OH-14 - Vietnam veteran Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell), who earned a Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam and whose son served America in Afghanistan and Iraq, angrily denounced the "cowardly inaction" of Rep Steve LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Twp) yesterday in voting "present" on the war funding bill:

At a time when Americans should be applauding the bravery of our troops, we deserve far more than cowardly inaction from our congressman. Say what you will about all the many and varied positions Steve LaTourette has taken on this war, but at least he took a side, even if it was often the wrong one.

This refusal to take a stand shows just how much Washington really has changed him in the last 14 years. Our troops putting their lives on the line for this country and the people of Northeast Ohio deserve an up or down vote, sir.

Nick D has commentary at BSB.

OH-15 - Hat-tip to ohio06win for highlighting this report in The Other Paper, indicating that State Sen. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington) is thought by some supporters of SB 305, which would outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, to be secretly trying to kill the bill in committee in order to prevent a vote that will anger either social conservatives or the gay community. Stivers denies the allegation and says he supports the bill "in concept," but repeats his ill-considered objection that job applicants may blurt out their sexual orientation or gender identity in interview settings in a gambit to coerce employers into offering a job. Ri-i-ight, that's going to happen.

OH-17 - Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles) hailed yesterday's quick action on H.R. 6022, the bill he co-sponsored to reduce gas prices by stopping the president from diverting oil to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. “Let me be clear, this bill is intended to give short term relief to middle class and working families who are being held hostage at the pump,” said Rep. Ryan. “I know we have a long way to go to securing our energy independence and believe that this is merely the start of our efforts to bring down gas prices permanently by ending our dependence on foreign oil.” The Energy Deparmtment announced today that has canceled shipments to the SPR, effective when current contracts end in July.

OH-18 - Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) expressed outrage at George Bush's threatened veto of the G.I. Bill expansion passed yesterday, which would restore full four-year college scholarships to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to help make them part of an economic recovery like the veterans of World War II and make education benefits available to troops who served at least 3 months of active duty since September 11, 2001, including members of the National Guard and Reserve:

It is not enough to arm our young men and women for the battlefield – we must arm them for life after they return home. The President’s threatened veto is a shortsighted move that places politics above the needs of our veterans. So many of America’s heroes went to college through this vital program – including my father. If we allow this promise we make to our brave men and women to depreciate, we will be turning our back on those who protect our freedoms every day. That is unconscionable.

*** The Chillicothe Gazette reports that Space is thankful local farmers for their input at local meetings throughout the district in connection with the farm hill that Space helped steer through the House. Farmers alerted Space to the need for a provision to allow state meat inspection facilities that meet or exceed federal inspection standards to approve meat for shipment across state lines, avoiding the greater expense of travelling farther to federal inspection facilities or shipping live cattle rather than meat.

O'Malley Resignation Confirmed, And Thoughts on County Goverment "Reform"

Cuyahoga County Recorder Pat O'Malley has in fact resigned and shortly thereafter pleaded guilty to one count of obscenity in federal court in Akron today. O'Malley's attorney denies that the obscene material involved children. The charge is based on transmission of material over the internet over the period 1998 through 2004, the latter being the date of an FBI raid on O'Malley's residence.

I want to relate this story to the proposal by Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan (D-Cleveland), now endorsed by House Majority Leader Jon Husted (R-Kettering), to "reform" county government by eliminating six elected positions and consolidating power in the three commissioners, touched on today by Bill Callahan. Basically, Hagan's plan would replace the elected offices of auditor and recorder with an "assessor" apponted by the commission, and the coroner, engineer, sheriff, and treasurer would also be appointed by the commission. The only other county-wide elected officials aside from the commission would be the prosecutor and various judges.

This is a terrible, terrible plan. Yes, cost efficiency through consolidation is a laudable goal. But a government-by-committee doesn't work. If power is to be consolidated, it must rest with a single elected official, like the county executive in Summit County. The three-headed Hydra in Cuyahoga County has not done a creditable job with the power it had handled to date, much less the additional power Hagan seeks. O'Malley, aside from his addiction to pornography, is a political hack who should have been rooted out years ago. County affairs have been a parade of bumbling on many fronts. A single leader is needed to ride herd over the warring factions, or the result is weak compromises and wild reversals of course.

By far the most effective and innovative county official we have in Cuyahoga County is Treasurer Jim Rokakis (D-Cleveland), a national leader in the struggle against the mortgage foreclosure crisis. Under Hagan's system, would a person like Rokakis attain and stay in office? Much more likely a more politically connected but less skilled appointee, a result of some deal among the three commissioners, would be in his place.

It's a bad plan.

UPDATE: Don't miss Pho's annotations to the Cuyahoga County GOP press release on O'Malley.

Zippity Part Deux - Marriage Equality Prevails in California

I am absolutely ecstatic (and weep with joy as I type) to report that the California Supreme Court today struck down California's laws against gay marriage as discriminatory.

As some readers may know I was in Massachusetts in the first part of 2004 when that state's high court sounded a similar clarion call of social justice, and my dear cousin and her long-time partner (parents of a wonderful 20-something hockey star, who against his will has become something of a poster child for quality parenting in same-sex households) were the first same-sex couple in the nation to obtain a lawful marriage license.

There is a critical difference between the Massachusetts court and the California court, however, and it is not just the relative size of the state over which the two courts preside. The California court California court has "six Republican appointees and one Democrat" and scholars have described it "as cautious and moderately conservative." This is no impulsive act of liberal "judicial activism," it is a sober recognition that the legal arguments against marriage equality are basically stupid. The court wrote:

[The state's interest in banning same-sex marriage] cannot properly be considered a compelling state interest for equal protection purposes.

To begin with, the limitation clearly is not necessary to preserve the rights and benefits of marriage currently enjoyed by opposite-sex couples. Extending access to the designation of marriage to same-sex couples will not deprive any opposite-sex couple or their children of any of the rights and benefits conferred by the marriage statutes, but simply will make the benefit of the marriage designation available to same-sex couples and their children.

Well, duh. Gay marriage is not and never has been a threat to traditional marriage. The opposition to marriage equlaity is driven by fear and hysteria, no more or less, and even conservative Republican judges are capable of figuring that out.

The battle is far from over. In Massachusetts progressive activists and equality organizations had a tough political battle keeping a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage off the ballot. In California a similar effort is under way for the November ballot and looks like it will prevail. To his credit, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), who twice vetoed bills by the state legislature to lift the gay marriage ban, has said that he will not support the amendment. Whether there is enough popular support for the amendment without the Governator's backing remains to be seen, but it will be a hard -fought contest.

OH-07: Neuhardt (D) Campaign Kicks Into High Gear - w/ YDS Interview

Challenger Sharen Neuhardt (D-Yellow Springs) had a good turnout at the grand opening of her campaign headquarters in Springfield last night. The Springfield News reports that there were about 75 people there, on a rainy evening and with the distraction of Marc Dann's resignation going on. Neuhardt spoke about the importance of Springfield as a location for her headquarters:

"That's why I'm right here, where I'm going to stay," Neuhardt said. "When I win the race, this is where we're going to have our congressional office. ... I know Springfield is Dave Hobson's hometown, so Springfield has special angst about him retiring."

Dan Saks, a one-time primary candidate in this congressional district and the President of the Clark County Truman-Kennedy Club, was on hand and pointed out that Neuhardt would be more progressive than opponent State Sen. Steve Austria on key issues like health care and the war in Iraq. Don Hollister, Greene COunty Democratic Party Chair and the Democratic candidate for this seat in 1980, sent me this recap by email:

[The event brought out an] array of local Democratic Party officials and activists ... In addition there were a dozen farmland preservation supporters who turned out. Sharen Neuhardt with her husband David bought the historic Whitehall Farm at auction in 1999 and placed an agricultural easement on the 900 acre farm adjacent to the village of Yellow Springs. (Local legend places one of the organizing meetings of the Ohio Republican Party at Whitehall.) Democrats from four of the eight OH-7th district counties were in attendance, representing Clark, Greene, southeast Franklin and Fairfield.

The storefront headquarters is located across the street from Springfield City Hall. In her remarks Neuhardt emphasized her commitment to the Springfield area and pledged that if elected she would maintain a constituent service office in the same street level location.

As the party was winding down I had a chance to interview the candidate by telephone. I asked about the current focus of her campaign and she said she's "focusing on what any good congressional campaign should be focusing on now - fundraising." She is also meeting with people in each of the eight counties wholly or partially within the 7th Congressional District to put field organizations in place, and she will have a county coordinator in each. Phonebanking and canvasing will be important but will come a little later in the campaign. Neuhardt plans to operate in conjunction with the Democratic Party's Neighborhood Leader program and piggyback off of that effort.
Continued after the flip.

Four Ohio Senators Voted Against Payday Lending Reform - Guess Which Party?

I join Bonobo in celebrating Senate passage of the payday lending bill that caps interest at 28%. Here are the four GOP Ohio Senators, beholden to their special interest backers to the end, who voted against:

Steve Buehrer (R-Delta)
Larry Mumper (R-Marion)
Robert Schuler (R-Sycamore Twp)
Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati)

Interesting that Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington) changed his stripes on this issue now that he is locked in a tight battle with Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus) for an open congressional seat. None of these others are running for office in 2006 except Seitz, who faces a political novice in attorney Dan McCarthy (D-Cincinnati). Mumper and Schuler are term-limited, and Buehrer is safe until 2010.

I wonder how much money these four anti-consumer stalwarts have received from payday lenders?

Democratic Goals in the Post-Dann Landscape

The highest-priority strategic goals of the Ohio Democratic Party in 2008 are turning out the vote in order to carry Ohio for the Democratic presidential candidate and winning a net gain of four or more seats to take control of the Ohio House of Representatives. The Marc Dann scandal and the ongoing investigation of the Office of the Attorney General put huge pressure on the Ohio Democratic Party on both counts.

This shapes up as a battle of competing narratives going forward. One narrative is that the Democrats promised in 2006 to end the culture of corruption and hold themselves to a higher standard of conduct and broke that promise by delivering a statewide official who flunked that test. The other narrative is that the Democrats fulfilled their promise by acting swiftly and decisively to clean up their own house.

There is reason to hope that the Democrats will prevail or at least hold their own in this debate, but the crude political reality is that Democrats must pour even more resources into getting out their message in order to keep their strategic goals within reach. The various Democratic efforts and fundraising already underway are impressive, but now these must be elevated to a much higher level.

For me, I can see this happening with the presidential race much more readily than with the Ohio House races, but the latter are just as much in need of increased support. As to the former, the importance of Ohio to the presidential race is well-established in the national and state consciousness and there is ample evidence of the national party, the campaigns of both nominees, and organizations aligned with Democratic interests making special exertions in our state.

Replacing Dann: Filling In the Scorecard

Get your scorecards, heah. Can't tell the players without a scorecard.

Democrats face the decision whether to appoint a caretaker now and run some other candidate in the special election (which would allow that person to continue on in their current elected office), or to appoint their candidate now so that person can build upon six month's incumbency before facing the voters. Either way, this will be an accelerated special election (parties aren't required to select their candidates until August 20th), so the key for both parties is to pick someone with good name recognition as well as unimpeachable character and credentials. (Strickland said yesterday that he is looking for someone with "maturity, experience and management ability" with "great integrity.") Here are the people under discussion:

Democrats:
Former Cleveland law Director Subodh Chandra - The popular choice of progressive activists and bloggers, Chandra warned Ohio about Dann's shortcomings while running against Dann in the 2006 primary, is widely admired for his hard-charging voting rights litigation and other support for progressive causes, and has a sort of moral claim since he was passed over for Dann by a party endorsement process that has been criticized. There is more information about Chandra at his campaign site, which is still up.
Treasurer Rich Cordray - Perhaps the finest combination of intellect, integrity, and a pro-active approach to governance to grace Ohio government in decades, and his background as Ohio's first Solicitor General gives him the gravitas to elevate the Attorney General's office. It would be an enormous risk for him to leave the safe Treasurer's post to try to keep the Attorney General's office in Democratic hands, but he may have the best chance of actually accomplishing that.

Dann to Sell Fiestaware

Let's put to rest the rumors that Democratic leadership arranged any kind of soft landing for Marc Dann. There was no cushy job awaiting him when Dann abruptly left Gov. Ted Strickland alone at the podium during yesterday's news conference. From the Vindicator:

So what’s Dann going to do now that he’s no longer attorney general?

He’s going to work for his wife, Alyssa Lenhoff Dann, who sells Fiestaware on the Internet as a side job, said Mike Harshman, Dann’s attorney and a confidant.

Harshman said Dann told that to an attorney general office staffer as he left the office Wednesday. It was a light-hearted comment, but a truthful one, Harshman said.

There were no deals.

UPDATE: Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher confirms that there were no deals. In particular, there was no arranging of a job for Dann after resigning, and although Fisher conveyed Dann's request to delay the independent investigation in return for his resignation to GOP leaders, he made clear that neither he nor the governor supported it.

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