OH-14: O'Neill (D) Has Questions for Gen. Petraeus- Video

Challenger Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell), a Vietnam veteran and a supporter of the Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq, has some questions for Gen. David Petraeus when he testifies before Congress about conditions in Iraq:



I'd like to know where Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Twp) stands on Iraq now that the additional troops sent over for the surge aren't coming out on schedule and the situation on the ground is deteriorating, with the U.S. military getting drawn into the intra-Shia conflict between al-Maliki and al-Sadr. He's always tried to portray himself as a moderate, but he has consistently backed up the Bush administration on its endless war when push comes to shove.

UPDATE: A reader reminded me about LaTourette's comment last August that the Iraq war would be over by November:

“I think the war will be over [by the election],” LaTourette said. “We will see a drawdown in troops. [Bush] won’t leave office with this thing going on.”

Is that what he thinks now? If not, does he admit that the surge is NOT working?

AG Marc Dann to Speak on Predatory Lending Debacle in Cleveland 4/14

04/14/2008 - 4:00pm
04/14/2008 - 5:00pm

Attorney General Marc Dann to discuss "The Predatory
Lending Debacle, and What the State Is Doing to Stop It”
at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law

April 14; 4:00 p.m.
Cleveland-Marshall College of Law
Moot Court Room

In recent years, Cleveland has had the dubious distinction of leading the country in the foreclosure epidemic that has spared few American cities. Within Cuyahoga County, Cleveland has been especially hard hit, as families on both sides of the Cuyahoga River have been forced to walk away from their homes. In Cleveland’s poorer neighborhoods, the sites of boarded-up and vandalized houses, crime and homelessness are on the rise. Shuttered homes line the streets of the older, inner-inner-ring suburbs as well.

Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann will discuss the state’s foreclosure crisis in a free public lecture, “The Predatory Lending Debacle, and What the State Is Doing to Stop It," on April 14 at 4:00 p.m. at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law on East 18th and Euclid Avenue. There will be an opportunity for members of the audience to question the Attorney General following his presentation, and a reception will follow the event.

Attorney General Dann is appearing as a guest of the law school’s Democratic Law Organization (D-LO).

Marc Dann, a former Ohio Democratic State Senator, was elected Ohio Attorney General in November 2006. In the office of Attorney General, he serves as an advocate of the people of Ohio and its institutions.

Since his inauguration in January 2007, he has been diligent in his efforts to protect homeowners from exploitation by unscrupulous mortgage lenders. During his years in the Ohio Senate, Mr. Dann played a critical role in the investigation of Coingate, the scandal surrounding the investment of $50 million by the Bureau of Workers Compensation in rare coins peddled by Tom Noe, a long-time Republican fundraiser.

News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races

Communiques from the campaign trail:

OH-04 - Here's a photo of Mike Carroll (D-Mansfield) on the campaign trail in Hancock County:


The picture is from the Ohio AFL/CIO Flickr account with this notation:
Mike Carroll, member of USW 169 in Mansfield and a lifelong resident of Richland County, is running against Jim Jordan in Ohio's fourth Congressional District. Republican Jim Jordan has a solid record of voting against the middle class.

Mike says he's running because his district hasn't had a working class representative who would put working families' interests at heart in a very long time. "For too long we've elected professional politicians who aren't in touch with regular people's issues," he said.

OH-15 - Blogger Ohio06Win notes today that Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus) has raised 68% of her contributions from individuals, while opponent State Sen. Steve Stivers has raised only 44% from individuals. Also noted recently is former bank lobbyist Stivers' increasingly isolated position in maintaining that Ohio should remain one of only two states in the country to exempt the mortgage industry from the Consumer Sales Practices Act. *** This article in The Other Paper attributes Stivers' equivocation over S.B. 305, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, to fear of the reaction by Christian conservatives:

In any other year, supporters would be confident about winning over Columbus’s Steve Stivers, one of the few Republicans to oppose the Defense of Marriage Bill in 2003.

But Stivers is in the middle of what promises to be a bruising campaign to replace his fellow Republican Deborah Pryce in Congress. Although Stivers’s opponent, Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy, has endorsed SB 303—and Pryce has cosponsored a similar bill in the U.S. House—Stivers has no desire to anger conservative Christians in the 15th Congressional District.

OH-16 - State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown) is touring the Rolls-Royce Fuel Systems facility in North Canton with Gov. Ted Strickland (D) at 2:00 p.m. today. Lt Gov. Lee Fisher (D) recently announced that Roll-Royce, a specialist in fuel cell research and production, will get a $1 million Third Frontier grant. "Another 80,000 jobs were lost in March and the unemployment rates increased for the third straight month in a row," Boccieri commented in a statement. "For too long our area has witnessed the mass exodus of jobs firsthand. I applaud Governor Strickland's efforts to stimulate the Ohio economy by working with the business community to keep good paying jobs here. Companies like Rolls-Royce also deserve credit for seeking creative solutions to providing jobs and education for our workforce in Ohio."

OH-18 - Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) got some good press in the Zanesville Times Recorder for introducing a bill to combat regional variances in disability pay for veterans by requiring the VA to collect and monitor regional data on disability ratings, conduct reviews and audits of the rating system, submit an annual report to Congress, and assign identification codes to all rating adjudications. *** Just for fun, here is a zinger of a comment left by Fleetwood85, self-described as a moderate, on a short post praising challenger Fred Dailey (R-Mt Vernon) at PoliticalBase.com:

Zack Space will do and has done more in Congress than Fred Dailey could ever even conceive. Zack Space represents the ever-changing, youthful, energetic, hard-working face of today's congress. I grew up in Mount Vernon and even had Fred's wife Rita as my English teacher. The woman was neurotic and consumed with her daughter's wedding, often ignoring the needs and concerns of the teenagers she was supposed to teach. Also, Since when did serving as the Director of the Department of Agriculture position someone for a legislative seat in the United State House of Representatives? Fred's ideas will keep the 18th district down and out, not improve it. Keep the old guys with narrow minds and antiquated ideas OUT of congress.

OH-08: YDS Interview with Nick Von Stein

Continuing with the tradition of Yellow Dog Sammy interviews with exciting progressive candidates in Ohio, here is my interview with U.S. Air Force veteran, recent America Votes organizer, and political science graduate student Nick Von Stein (D-Mason), carrying the Democratic banner in the 8th Ohio Congressional District against the flawlessly suntanned House Minority Leader, Rep. John Boehner (R-West Chester).

YDS: So, talking to Nick Von Stein, who is the Democratic candidate in the 8th Ohio Congressional District. Nice to talk to you!

NVS: Sure, nice to talk to you too.

YDS: Can you talk for a bit about how you first became interested in politics.

NVS: That goes pretty far back! Probably one of the first things I remember about politics is that my mom bought me the picture book, "Life in Camelot." It depicts John and Jacqueline Kennedy and their family and a lot of their experiences. It had a pretty big impact on me. My mom was a big Kennedy fan and she was influenced by that era.

My dad - it's pretty funny, my parents are pretty much on opposite sides of the spectrum. My mom is a moderate Democrat, my father is fairly conservative, and also very opinionated as well. I remember I used to talk to him about who might run for president, and was he "fair tax" or "flat tax." He thought that Jack Kemp should run for president.

Politics always just stood out for me, and also I always felt that I had a call to do public service. It's kind of the reason that I joined the military, and why I'm seeking to do what I do.

YDS: Have you always identified yourself as a Democrat?

NVS: Yes. It was hard because, like I said, my parents were on opposite sides of the fence. But even when they had those student votes in high school I always voted for the Democrat.

I was in the military for four years. And that is a very different culture, it is fairly conservative. So it was hard, to be one of the only people, and to be constantly arguing with your supervisors about politics, and to be ganged up on.

OH House-46: Help Darlene Dunn Kick-Start Her Campaign

Today is the cut-off for the Post-Primary Election Campaign Finance Report for Ohio House candidates, and I have written previously about the importance of making donations to Democratic challengers and open seat candidates in key targeted races before midnight tonight. These candidates need to report positive numbers in order to generate momentum and set a benchmark for fundraising and other support as their campaigns go forward. And remember, you can take a credit of $50.00 ($100.00 for married couples filing jointly) on next year's state income tax return for donations that you make now, so it basically costs you nothing.

Attorney Darlene Dunn (D-Sylvania Twp) is another promising candidates in a key swing district who deserves our support. I published an introductory interview with Ms. Dunn in January after meeting her at RootsCamp, and recently described her race against newly appointed State Rep. Barbara Sears (R-Sylvania) in my roundup of top races. She now has an online donation link and I encourage readers to join me in supporting her.

Ms. Dunn ran a competitive race for this seat previously and is committed to winning and helping to get the district's economy back on track, as she indicates in this message today:

It is imperative that we revitalize Ohio's economy. Our region traditionally had a primary concentration in manufacturing especially in automobile assembly and parts production. We have been hit hard with layoffs and plant closings. In Northwest Ohio we are attempting to reinvent our area as an emerging market for solar energy. Our area includes First Solar which is the world's largest producer of thin film solar panels and the University of Toledo's Clean and Alternative Energy Incubator. This is a start but I will work to bring jobs to our area by promoting wind power, specifically by manufacturing wind turbines in our area. The auto industry has left us a skilled workforce who with some retraining are able and wanting to work. We also have many closed plants and facilities ripe to reopen as "clean energy" plants.

Sen. Brown Tries to Salvage Some Good From Watered-Down Foreclosure Bill

All February the GOP filibustered efforts in the U.S. Senate to assist homeowners at risk. Now they've abandoned that tactic, but they've succeeded in negotiating concessions that resulted in the pending Dodd-Shelby substitute amendment. Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich derides this diluted measure as "something Herbert Hoover would have been proud of," principally because it "leaves out the most important things distressed homeowners need" – (1) changing bankruptcy law so borrowers have enough bargaining power to get refinanced, and (2) letting the Federal Housing Administration guarantee the refinanced loans if lenders reduce the amounts the borrowers owe to reflect the reduced home values.

In a press conference call yesterday, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon) conceded that the bankruptcy provision now at risk is a critical piece of the puzzle as far as providing real relief to homeowners in danger. However, he is not letting this legislation slip through without at least trying to get something good out of it.

Today Sen. Brown's office announced that he has joined up with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) to propose a change to the Dodd-Shelby amendment that would double the funding for mortgage counselors that assist borrowers at risk of losing their homes, from $100 million to $200 million. The need for this funding is demonstrated by the fate of $180 million for such counseling allocated by the the Omnibus Appropriations bill earlier this year:

Demand for counseling services was so high that NeighborWorks, the group charged with managing the funds, received applications for $340 million in grants to combat the foreclosure crisis in the two weeks applications were available. Of the funds approved by Congress, $130 million was awarded to counseling groups within sixty days of enactment. The remainder of the appropriation is being held by NeighborWorks as an emergency fund for the massive wave of foreclosures expected to hit this summer, which means they have no additional funds to award to communities struggling today. If Congress provides additional foreclosure prevention funding, NeighborWorks can award counselors with much needed funding now and also this summer, reaching hundreds of thousands of additional homeowners on the verge of foreclosure.

It isn't a huge improvement, but everything that can be done to deal with the avalanche of foreclosures across the country helps.

"Housing counseling can help thousands of families stuck in bad subprime loans," said Sen. Brown in the press release. "These are middle class families, and we need to help keep them in their homes. Housing counseling is proven, it works, and we need to fund it."

UPDATE: Bill Callahan has more, including a joint statement by concerned organizations objecting to the compromise bill, and linking Sen. George Voinovich's praise for the bad bill to campaign contributions he receives from banking and mortgage industry interests.

Ohio Independents Are Aligned with Democrats on the Issues

Carl Weiser wrote on Politics Extra today that Tuesday's Quinnipiac poll has interesting numbers on race (more Ohioans say that race helps Obama than say it hurts him), Bush's approval rating (only 27%), and Iraq (59% think it was the wrong thing to do).

Looking over the crosstabs in response to Weiser's post, the thing that strikes me is how consistently independents align with Democrats. Take a look at these responses:

Terrorism is the most important issue:
1% Dem
4% Ind
18% Rep

Going to war in Iraq was the wrong thing to do:
84% Dem
59% Ind
20% Rep

Want withdrawal or timetable to withdraw troops from Iraq:
90% Dem
70% Ind
35% Rep

It is government's responsibility to make sure everyone has adequate health-care:
83% Dem
60% Ind
33% Rep

Respondent's family is best described as falling behind or holding steady (i.e., not getting ahead):
89% Dem
87% Ind
72% Rep

Disapprove Bush's job performance:
92% Dem
72% Ind
27% Rep

It's like the independents are all undeclared Democrats.

This all appears to confirm that once again, if the election is about the issues then the Democrats must win. There are more independent voters than registered voters of either party, and they are strongly in agreement with Democrats. Looking at it another way, Democrats' views on vital issues like Iraq and health care are in fact mainstream views, and Republicans are the ones who are out of step.

Freedom of Choice Ohio Prevention First Lobby Day in Columbus 4/9

04/09/2008 - 9:30am
04/09/2008 - 4:30pm

On April 9, 2008 pro-choice Ohioans from around the state will gather in Columbus, Ohio for the third annual Freedom of Choice Ohio Prevention First Lobby Day. Participants will learn all about the Ohio Prevention First Act and other reproductive health legislation, and then join with others from their area to talk to their state legislators about this important legislation.
Details after the flip.

News and Notes: General Assembly Races

Items of interest in those critical state legislative races:

OH Sen-2 - Lisa Renee reports that school board member Sylvia Washburn (D-Maumee) has dropped out of this race and will be replaced on the ballot by someone yet to be determined. Washburn was recruited by then Ohio Senate Democratic Leader Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) after attorney Dan McGookey (D-Sandusky) declined to run. Paul notes that Washburn reported no campaign money in February's pre-primary campaign finance filing, while recently appointed State Sen. Mark Wagoner (R-Ottawa Hills) reported $31,700.53 cash on hand.

UPDATE: A replacement candidate would be selected by a vote of the chairpersons and secretaries of the four county Democratic Parties in the District (Lucas, Wood, Ottawa and Erie.) Since two other Ohio Senate Democratic candidates were described by Senator Fedor as being "placeholders" (her word) this might not be the last candidate to drop out.

OH House-02 - Nurse and attorney Jan Lanier (D-Westerville) reacted sharply to a recent move by the Delaware County Commission to restrict public comment at meetings. "Elected officials are supposed to serve the public, and part of that service entails listening to citizens’ concerns," she wrote on her campaign site. "Offering your attention to the emotional pleas of residents should be seen as the business of an elected official, not as an obstacle to conducting business. When officials lose sight of that fundamental principle, the result is a loss of public confidence and an erosion of trust in government." Opponent Kris Jordan (R-Dublin) is one of the county commissioners.

OH House-10 - The Statehouse visit and meeting with the Governor and other elected officials by 45 students from Cleveland's Iowa Maple Elementary School on Tuesday, organized by State Rep. Eugene Miller (D-Cleveland), was a big success. “We want to make sure that our young people have an understanding and appreciation for government and how it affects and improves their daily lives,” Rep. Miller said. “I hope that this program jumpstarts civil lessons in their classrooms so that they can be involved, well-educated citizens as they grow up.”

OH House-15 - Yesterday State Rep. Tim DeGeeter (D-Parma) and State Sen. Lance Mason (D-Cleveland) introduced a concurrent resolution urging Congress to reauthorize funding for the Federal DNA Backlog Grant program, which assists states and localities in reducing DNA case turnaround time and DNA forensic casework backlogs and increases the output of their DNA laboratories. “Developing a sustainable source of funding for existing DNA programs has been a significant concern in Ohio,” Rep. DeGeeter said. “I strongly encourage Congress to reauthorize this funding, which will go a long way to strengthen the criminal justice system.”

OH House-19 - State Rep. Bob Hagan will host a fundraiser for Marian Harris (D-Columbus) on Tuesday, April 15th, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Queen Bee Restaurant, 248 S. 4th Street in Columbus. Suggested contribution is $250. *** Harris has walking lit with the theme "Recipe for Ohio's Future," and it includes a favorite recipe of hers ("the best poppy seed cake ever").

OH House-25 - The State Government and Elections Committee yesterday unanimously passed a resolution co-sponsored by State Rep. Dan Stewart (D-Columbus) to require filing of petitions for ballot issues 125 days before the election instead 90 days, a measure intended to avoid a repeat of the costly fiasco involving an issue over rules governing adult businesses that was a late scratch last fall. “I’m pleased that my colleagues saw the importance of this legislation and approved it today,” said Rep. Stewart, who is the ranking Democrat on the committee. “This legislation will help create a more transparent ballot petition process, save hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars and ease voter confusion.”

OH House-50 - Yesterday I spoke briefly to Celeste DeHoff (D-Massillon), who won a crowded primary and is gearing up to run a strong campaign in this key targeted race. Her campaign manager is Denise Houston, a Canton attorney. Her campaign site is not up yet, but will be at "CelesteDeHoff.com". (In the meantime, contribution checks payable to "Friends of Celeste DeHoff" can be sent to 900 Mill Ridge Path, Massillon, OH 44646.) She has been a Tuscarawas Township Trustee for ten years and is Assistant Law Director for Jackson Township. She expects the big issues in her race to be funding and improving the schools, jobs (lots of district residents lost their jobs when the Hoover plant in North Canton closed), and the environment (there have been big problems in the district with garbage dumps that have been leaking through the liners and damaging the groundwater). DeHoff regards attracting new businesses and helping people get the education and training to give them necessary job skills as the keys to the jobs issue.

OH House-84 - Connie Crockett's campaign site is down for the present, but when it returns it will be at the same location as before. In the interim she is accepting donations by mail payable to "Crockett for Ohio," 611 Xenia Ave., Yellow Springs, OH 45387, and she can be contacted at crockett4ohio-at-sbcglobal-dot-net. She plans a vigorous campaign in this open seat race against Madison County Commissioner Bob Hackett (R-London). She notes that two of the three counties in the district (Madison, Clark, and Greene) turned blue in the primary, and the other one almost did. One of the big issues in this race will be mega-farms and the negative impact they are having on the environment and quality of life. Here is a short video clip of the candidate speaking at a candidates forum hosted by the Cedarville Chamber of Commerce in February:


OH House-99 - Here is a photo from the swearing-in of State Rep. Deborah Newcomb (D-Conneaut) on Tuesday:

Rep. Newcomb was on Conneaut City Council for a decade and was re-elected as Ashtabula County Commissioner three times after her appointment in 1999. “I know I have big shoes to fill; George Distel is a legend in this district,” Rep. Newcomb said. “But I intend to hit the ground running and provide seamless service to my neighbors in northeast Ohio.”

News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races

On the radar screen today:

OH-02 - She's at it again! In September 2006 Rep. "Mean Jean" Schmidt (R-Loveland) plagiarized an editorial by Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Upper Arlington) for a guest column in the Community Press. Now she has apparently recycled material from an IRS informational letter for a taxpayer-funded letter to constitutents explaining the economic stimulus package, something that has been widely discussed in the media as well as in the prior IRS letter. As former Cincinnati Enquirer copy editor Jack Cannon commented in a letter to the editor of his former employer, “So, why would the congresswoman waste all that taxpayer money sending out letters to the Second District to rehash it all? Could it be just to get her name out there before the voters?"

OH-03 - Patrick McHugh, campaign manager for hard-charging challenger Jane Mitakides (D-Washington Twp), confirms that she will report an amount in excess of $150,000 for the first quarter. "There is a lot of excitement about this race out there and it is growing by the day," he adds.

OH-07 - Here's a short video clip of challenger Sharen Neuhardt (D-Yellow Springs) speaking at a candidates forum hosted by the Cedarville Chamber of Commerce in February, before she won the six-candidate Democratic primary:

She presents herself well as a pragmatic, business-friendly Democrat, and she makes a good point about putting more Democrats in Congress in order for Ohio to have "more seats at the federal table." It is instructive how she makes a stronger impression during the Q and A, when she is no longer referring to notes.

OH-12 - Russ Goodwin (D-Columbus), who won 35% of the vote in the three-way Democratic primary, has sent out a note saying that he is "very happy with this result" and he is pleased that his campaign followed through on an early decision to run an "above board, clean campaign and not spend tons of money." He also lists his endorsements for November in a host of Democratic candidates up and down the ticket, and significantly he includes his former adversary, primary winner David Robinson (D-Columbus).

OH-16 - State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown) announced today that he met his goal of achieving "cruising altitude" by raising $20,000 online during March. He also asks supporters to donate or loan office supplies, desks, tables, chairs, computers, etc. for his new campaign headquarters, which will be opening soon at 601 Cleveland Avenue NW in Canton. *** Boccieri told Gerry Ricciutti of WYTV in Youngstown that he wants something more in the bipartisan economic stimulus plan announced by Gov. Strickland yesterday: "[He] says he'd like to see the plan go even further to help distressed cities like Youngstown get rid of blight, saying he may propose an amendment to the plan to allow cities to come up with funding for demolition."

OH-18 - David notes that Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) will attend a ceremony at ABC Manufacturing, 210 13th Street in Malta, Ohio, on Monday (April 7th) at 1:00 p.m. Space had worked with the company and local officials to secure this facility for the area. As David says, this is a "perfect chance for 18th district residents to see both their congressman and the effect he’s having on the area."

News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races

What's rocking and rolling in the House races:

OH-01 - State Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Price Hill) will speak to the Wyoming Democratic Club at Northern Hills Fellowship, 460 Fleming Road in Wyoming, Ohio next Tuesday, April 08 2008, at 7:30 p.m. *** Yesterday I wrote that Sharen Neuhardt in OH-07 leads all Ohio congressional challengers in ActBlue fundraising but I was mistaken -- Driehaus actually holds the lead at $51,246, an impressive showing. My apologies for the error.

OH-03 - Jane Mitakides (D-Washington Twp) raised $600,000 for her 2004 campaign, and she appears to be off to a very strong start this cycle. The Hellenic News of America published a story yesterday indicating that she has "raised a solid $150,000" since entering the race in mid-January. The story, which urges Greek Americans to open their pocketbooks to various candidates, also states that GreekPAC has endorsed Mitakides, that she is an active member of the American Hellenic Institute, and that she is right on "key Greek American issues" including calling for the removal of the Turkish troops, settlers, and barbed wire fence now dividing Cyprus. Mitakides' comments to the paper are very upbeat:

We were a little overwhelmed with the immediate response to the campaign. It certainly isn't a cliché here to say that people are ready for change. ...

The mood for change that hit Ohio in 2006 hasn't crested yet The voters of this district want leaders who will put our country back on track – an economy that works for all Americans, health care that is affordable and accessible to every American, and an end to our dangerous dependence on Mideast oil. We need to start investing in America for a change. Financial support is just one piece of what we're seeing in this campaign. The energy here is electric.

OH-12 - The campaign site of challenger David Robinson (D-Columbus) highlights this video clip, in which the candidate gives a thoughtful explanation of why he is running:


OH-16 - Retiring Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Navarre) was cited along with Sen. George Voinovich (R-Cleveland) in the Congressional Pig Book (compiled by Citizens Against Government Waste) for earmarking $126,000 for the First Ladies Library and Museum in Canton, founded by Regula's wife.

OH-18 - Although Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) has taken a hard (and very public) stance against illegal immigration, he was not one of the nine Democrats to sign a GOP-backed "discharge petition" before the spring recess to try to bring an enforcement-only border security bill to the floor. Over the recess, the RNCC circulated talking points in the 18th District and several other rural districts held by first-term Democrats, criticizing them for not acting to bring a harsh anti-immigration measure to a vote.

Carnival of Ohio Politics #111: Hero of Trafalgar Edition

All Hands On Deck! England Expects That Every Man Will Do His Duty!

PPP Poll Has Obama Ahead in PA

Following up on my post yesterday about a Rasmussen poll showing Barack Obama only five points behind Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania with three weeks to go . . . a Public Policy Polling poll out today shows Obama ahead by 45% to 43%, which is within the 2.8% margin of error but still an astonishing change from the 26 point Clinton lead reflected in the last poll by this outfit two and a half weeks ago.

Bipartisan Economic Stimulus Plan Announced

This morning Gov. Ted Strickland (D) announced a bipartisan economic stimulus plan as a press conference with House Speaker Jon Husted (R-Kettering) and Senate President Bill Harris (R-Ashland). Instead of borrowing $1.7 billion, to which the GOP leaders had objected, the plan is to borrow $400 million and divert the other money from the general fund and turnpike revenues. The jobs creation target got lowered from 80,000 to 57,000. The targeted investment areas (local road, bridge and water projects and advanced energy work) remain the same.

Strickland had pledged to gather signatures and get his original plan on the ballot in November. He would have faced stiff resistance and it isn't clear that the measure would have found strong support. Now the less ambitious $400 million bond issue will be on the ballot with bipartisan support, so it should go off without a hitch.

Politically it looks like both sides gained something by reaching this agreement, or at least avoid the risk of political damage down the road. Harris and Husted stared down the governor and got a big concession. But Strickland burnishes his reputation as a moderate who seeks bipartisan cooperation, which helps keep him popular, and he and the Democratic party avoided the consequences they would have endured if the original bond plan had failed to capture popular support and became instead an albatross in the fall.

With the energy bill and other hotly contested issues on the legislative agenda, it is probably a good thing to have put this initiative on a sound footing and move on to another battle.

UPDATE: Reactions are rolling in. From press releases:

“These targeted investments are what we need to break Ohio out of the national economic slump. We can revitalize our communities more quickly, and invest in the jobs of the future immediately,” says State Rep. Matt Lundy (D-Elyria). “Governor Strickland continues to demonstrate bold leadership. I will work with him on these innovative ideas designed to turn around Ohio. I’m excited about the positive impact this initiative will have on Lorain County and Ohio.”

“This package means folks will see essential economic investment a year earlier than if this issue went to the November ballot,” says State Rep. Steve Dyer (D-Green). “It accelerates investment in emerging industries, our workforce and our infrastructure to create jobs and prosperity in Ohio. It is another demonstration of Governor Strickland’s decisive leadership in these difficult economic times.”

Help Retake the Ohio House - Support a Challenger or Open Seat Candidate

Friday (April 4th) is an important campaign finance reporting cut-off for General Assembly candidates. Those who put up good fund-raising numbers in their Post Primary Election Campaign Finance Report will be in a stronger position to attract donors and support as their campaigns move forward.

Since the number one goal for Ohio Democrats in the state this year is achieving a net gain of four seats and thus retaking the Ohio House of Representatives, now is the time to pick out a challenger or open seat candidate or two and give them some support. Bear in mind, of course, that you get to claim a $50 credit ($100 if filing jointly) on your state tax return next year for contributing to a General Assembly candidate during 2008. So it basically COSTS YOU NOTHING to send $50.00 to a challenger right now. Or give $10.00 each to five of them. Just get it done. (I did, and it's a great feeling.)

I wrote about some key targeted races last week. A number of them have online donation links set up, so you can click on through and make a donation right now. Here are some contribution links for key races that I highlighted last week:

92nd - Debbie Phillips

22nd - John Carney

20th - Nancy Garland

42nd - Mike Moran

46th - Darlene Dunn

28th - Connie Pillich

19th - Marian Harris

17th - Bob Belovich

Here are some candidates who don't have online contribution links yet but you can mail them a check, it'll just take a minute to do:

50th - Celeste DeHoff: "Friends of Celeste DeHoff," 900 Mill Ridge Path, Massillon, OH 44646

18th - Matt Patten: "Friends of Matt Patten," 15311 Sassafras Dr., Strongsville, OH 44136

94th - Jennifer Stewart: "Jennifer Stewart for State Representative," PO Box 190, Zanesville, OH 43702

85th - Ray Pryor: "Ray Pryor for State Representative," c/o Lawrence Brown, Treasurer, 263 Rozelle Creek Road, Chillicothe, Ohio 45601

84th - Connie Crockett: "Crockett for Ohio," 611 Xenia Ave., Yellow Springs, OH 45387

GOP: $730,018.17 -- Democrats: $33,807.06

That's the current financial position of a potential (lets even say speculative) race for Ohio Secretary of State in 2010.

More about this here.

Wake-Up Walmart Starts 2008 Campaign

Promoted from the Forums. - Jeff

Wake Up Walmart has released its first video of 2008. Walmart is a key issue for progressives to focus on- because of their awful health care benefits, Ohio citizens are estimated to be paying $70,882,417 a year in taxes to cover poor Walmart employees and their families with health care- while Walmart is making huge profits.

Please check out this video, and let your friends know why we need to "Wake Up Walmart".


News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races UPDATED

Buzz from the battlefields:

OH-03 - As Chris Kelly asks on the Mitakides campaign blog, "What’s a Congressman to do, when the only legislation he’s passed during five years on the job renamed a Dayton park?" Answer: make stuff up. Challenger Jane Mitakides (D-Washington Twp) sharply criticized Rep. Mike Turner (R-Centerville) yesterday for claiming credit for helping Delphi workers with their eligibility for economic stimulus checks when actually he had done nothing to affect their eligibilty. The controversy arises from this March 5th newspaper column in which Turner wrote that "it seemed for a while as if Delphi workers might not be eligible for a recovery rebate" because of buyouts they received in 2007, but he had "worked to obtain a clarification of the rebate process and how Delphi workers can participate." In reality, the workers' eligibility was never in doubt, and Turner's column merely caused needless worry. Mitakides accused Turner of "creat[ing] the illusion of working for the people" of the district:

"The notion that these rebates were at risk and then somehow salvaged was absolutely misleading. It's the legislative equivalent of turning in someone else's homework and taking credit for it."

Mitakides will be at the Warren County Democratic Party Spring Fundraiser on Saturday night.

UPDATE: OH-07 - One thing that I just love about challenger Sharen Neuhardt (D-Yellow Springs) is that she really gets it about the importance of early fund-raising. She has collected a total of $45,390 through ActBlue.com to date, more than any other Ohio challenger. (Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell) is close behind at $45,044.) The biggest ActBlue haul of any Ohio congressional candidate is by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) at $141,120, the bulk of it coming through The People's Email Network. Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) is the only other incumbent ahead of Neuhardt, at $53,335 raised so far. [PS: ActBlue announced today that it broke two records -- funds raised in a quarter, and funds raised in a single day (i.e., yesterday). Also, I overlooked another challenger, Steve Driehaus in OH-01, who has raised even more on ActBlue than Neuhardt at 451,246.]

OH-09 - Yesterday Avi Zenilman of Slate.com wrote a piece categorizing the various types of undecided superdelegates, and gave Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) as an example of the "parochial" type who "need reassurances that there’s something in it for them or for the places they hail from." He quoted Kaptur as saying of herself and other Ohio congressional superdelegates that “our job is to represent our constituents and their deepest concerns. I’m hoping superdelegates [who] are uncommitted that have the economy as their major concern will gravitate to our group and use that power to gain additional attention.”

OH-10 - Blogger Jay McDonough makes a good point about Clinton's argument that she must not be pressured to drop out of the race because voters in the remaining ten primaries must have their say: "By the same reasoning, do Bill and Hillary Clinton believe Dennis Kucinich should have stayed in the race so as not to deny those (rabid) Kucinich voters in Pennsylvania and North Carolina the opportunity to cast their vote for Kucinich?"

OH-12 - David Robinson (D-Columbus) had a very successful pair of campaign events over the weekend. Gray Hunter of the Licking County Pro-Active Citizens reports that "some 50 first-wave volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon for the campaign kick-off" and were "greeted by a large table overflowing with professional-looking literature, a huge swarm of campaign pins, stacks of candidate postcards, bumper stickers and yard signs, altogether an amazing array of get-out-the-vote tools." At Saturday's breakfast meet-up in Newark, Robinson "vowed before an audience of about 40 Licking County activists to run a "positive" campaign, one avoiding personal attacks while still going after Tiberi's record of supporting the Bush agenda." Robinson told the crowd that:

Pat Tiberi is not the moderate Republican he portrays himself as. On Iraq, for example, he says the same things Bush has been saying for five years...and he advocates extension of all the Bush tax cuts which are completely immoral in terms of the debt we're heaping on our young people.

Hunter praises Robinson for "his seemingly boundless energy and a drive to organize derived from his business and environmental background."

UPDATE: OH-14 - The campaign of Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell) hit a grand slam with its baseball-themed push to raise $2,300 online by the end of Opening Day. The program raised $3,285. Congrats!

OH-15 - County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus) expressed outrage yesterday at the enormous paychecks received by executives of mortgage companies that perpetrated the subprime mortgage meltdown in Ohio. “It’s time to change the priorities in Washington so the powerful banking lobby no longer writes the rules to benefit Wall Street at the expense of Main Street," she said in a press release, as reported on The Daily Briefing. *** As Dave Harding notes at ProgressOhio, Kilroy joined the other two Franklin County Commissioners today in adopting a resolution to protect county employees from discrimination in employment, housing or public accommodations because of sexual orientation or gender identity. This is analogous to the recently-introduced non-discrimination bill in the General Assembly over which opponent State Sen. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington) has expressed some reservations, saying that changes are needed to protect employers in job interview situations.

OH-16 - While running hard for Congress, State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown) has attained a goal he had set for himself in the Ohio Senate -- appointment to the Energy and Public Utilities Committee, where he is now the ranking Democratic member.

Rasmussen Poll: Clinton Lead in PA Down to 5 Points

Whoa. Rasmussen has a new poll out showing Hillary Clinton with only a five point lead in Pennsylvania, three weeks out from the primary:

47% Clinton
42% Obama

That is down from a ten point lead on March 25th, a thirteen point lead on March 13th, and a fifteen point lead on March 6th.

The pollster notes that Obama was recently endorsed by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), leads in recent national polling by Gallup, and is out-spending Clinton in Pennsylvania by a wide margin.

Most of the recent chatter about the presidential race has been premised on the assumption that Clinton would win Pennsylvania, Obama would win North Carolina, and later primaries like Indiana would loom large thereafter. If Obama pull Pennsylvania out, it might all be over.

Obama closed the gap in Ohio in similar fashion but still lost the primary. However, looking back at the polls in Ohio, I don't see any that showed Obama as close as 5 points until a PPP Poll on February 23-24th, a little more than one week before the election. Obama has much more time left to work with in Pennsylvania than he did in Ohio at that time.

Ct App-12: Birthday Campaign Kickoff For Carter (D) in Hamilton 4/4

04/04/2008 - 5:00pm
04/04/2008 - 7:30pm

Attorney Bruce Carter (D-Fairfield) is running a spirited campaign for the Court of Appeals in the 12th District, which hasn't had a Democratic appellate judge in far too long.

Carter is having a campaign kickoff event on Friday called "Look Who's Turning 52 and Feeling Blue!!!" The invitation says:

Come Cheer up the Candidate on His Birthday - Cake, soft drinks and coffee will be served - No Alligator Wrestling Allowed!

While there will be no alligator wrestling, additional embarrassing photographs (such as the one at above right) may appear (but no guarantees).

The party is 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 4th at Butler County Democratic Headquarters, 633 High Street, Suite 105, in Hamilton. Suggested donation is $20.00.

RSVP to Chair-at-carterforappeals-dot-com.

News and Notes: General Assembly Races

Catching up with some newsworthy items:

OH Sen-21 - State Sen. Shirley Smith (D-Cleveland), the new leader of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, sent a letter to Attorney General Marc Dann yesterday calling on him to take action against Argent Mortgage Company, which the Ohio Civil Rights Commission ruled has engaged in targeting African Americans with predatory subprime home loans. The complaint had been filed by Housing Advocates, Inc., which sought to compel Argent to put money into a reserve fund to help homeowners refinance subprime loans. "We must do what is in our power to support ethical lending regulations and give help to people in need," Smith wrote. "In many cases, this means taking decisive action against those who prey on vulnerable citizens in a malicious way. I encourage the Attorney General's office to pursue any appropriate action against Argent."

OH Sen-30 & 32 - David Skolnick reported in The Vindicator the other day that as a result of the shake-up in Democratic leadership, State Sen. Jason Wilson (D-Columbiana) and State Sen. Capri Cafaro (D-Hubbard) are now members of the Finance and Financial Institutions Committee, with Cafaro the ranking Democratic member.

OH House-10 - State Rep. Eugene Miller (D-Cleveland) will join Gov. Ted Strickland and other elected officials in welcoming 7th-grade students from Iowa-Maple Elementary in Cleveland to the statehouse today. This is the first of four such visits, the goal of which is to educate young people about how state government works, the role it plays in their daily lives and how the state of Ohio is working to improve the quality of life for its urban citizens. They will get a Statehouse tour from 9:30 a.m. and 9:45 a.m., be recognized during the House Session at 11:00, and meet with Gov. Strickland and lawmakers at 12:00 noon.

OH House-54 - Josh Sweigart reports that Butler County Republicans are considering possible replacements for State Rep. Courtney Combs (R-Fairfield) on the ballot if Combs is appointed to take over for disgraced County Auditor Kay Rogers as expected: businessman Dan Acton, attorney and former Hamilton City Councilman David Davidson, Fairfield Mayor Ronald D’Epifanio, and County Auditor’s Office Communication Manager Joe Statzer. Right-wing blogger Matt Hurley says he is "not overwhelmed" by any of these names.

Franklin Co. Dems Special Reception w/ Max Cleland in Columbus 4/15

04/15/2008 - 6:00pm
04/15/2008 - 8:00pm

Come meet war hero and former U.S. Senator Max Cleland and hear his thoughts on the upcoming election at a Special Reception sponsored by the Franklin County Democratic Party in Columbus on April 15th. This event follows a debate between Cleland and Karl Rove hosted by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce during its annual meeting and legislative reception at the Riffe Center.
Details after the break.

OH-14: O'Neill (D) Opening Day Lunch Postponed

Since I've been publicizing the event I feel compelled to put out the word here on the front page that the Opening Day Lunch for Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell) has been postponed. It's not a matter of O'Neill's health -- he's recovering from his bypass surgery well and was looking forward to the outing -- but rather too many conflicts with other opening day events. So, as campaign manager Toby Fallsgraff told me this morning, the event will be rescheduled for the same location (Johnny Q's Steakhouse in Cleveland) and the same guest of honor (AG Marc Dann) about a month from now.

In the meantime, you can help O'Neill's campaign by doing two things. First, drop by the the campaign site and help Bill O'Neill meet his Opening Day goal of raising $2,300 online by the end of the day. The promotion is called "Let's Hit One Out of the Ballpark for Team O'Neill" and they're at $1,590, leaving only $710 to go by midnight. Even a small donation will help them get to home plate.

Second, it's not too late to add your support to O'Neill's nomination for the Blue Majority program sponsored by several national progressive blogs including DailyKos.com and OpenLeft.com. This is for candidates who are in competitive but not yet top tier races, who are staunch progressives, and who are participants in the blogosphere. O'Neill fits the requirements prefectly.

OH-01: Driehaus (D) Gets Glowing Profile from Rothenberg

Stuart Rothenberg of The Rothenberg Political Report calls State Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Price Hill) a person "receiving positive buzz" from national strategists and one who has impressed Rothenberg:

The 41-year-old hopeful calls himself a "raging moderate." He is pro-life (and has been endorsed by right-to-life groups in the past) but supports embryonic stem-cell research. He voted for Ohio's Defense of Marriage Act but opposes a federal Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, saying it's unnecessary. And he opposes "artificial timelines" on withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, but he believes those forces should be withdrawn.

Driehaus is a political animal. Since he comes from the white, Catholic, middle-class part of the district and should benefit from the district's considerable African-American population, the challenger should give Chabot a run for his money. ...

Rothenberg says not to "give this seat to the Democrats just yet" because Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood) is a "survivor," but Rothenberg doesn't dole out praise easily (just ask OH-02 candidate Victoria Wulsin (D-Indian Hill)), and his opinion carries weight with politicos and party insiders. This positive mention should be a boost for Driehaus on fund-raising and institutional support.

OH-04: Jordan (R) Blasted Over Iraq Remarks

As I noted last Thursday, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana) confirmed that he is an all-out drinker of the "Troop Surge Is Working" Kool-Aid by telling a crowd in Lima that “We’ve lost some great people unfortunately, but we’re making progress.” It turns out that the Bush/McCain 100-year-war doctrine is a hard sell, even in the conservative 4th Congressional District, if the the letters page of The Lima News is any indication.

Of course, energetic challenger Mike Carroll (D-Mansfield) wasn't about to let that comment slip by unchallenged. His biting response was published by the newspaper on Saturday:

I would like to ask why is it that no one is talking about that, when the Iraq War started, we were told it would be paid for with oil profits? Instead it’s costing us $150 billion a year?

Doesn’t anyone remember President Bush landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003 and stating “mission accomplished”? He also said then that major combat operations have ended. Doesn’t that mean we have been in an occupation of Iraq since that time?

I want to tell the residents of the 4th Congressional District that, when elected, I will support legislation to end this occupation.

But Carroll is not a lonely voice in the wilderness. Columnist Thomas J. Lucente Jr. blasted Jordan for his flippant remark in a column published Sunday:

Not one member of the administration can articulate with any kind of specificity why we are in Iraq and what needs to happen to trigger our withdrawal. When asked, the best answer any war supporter can give is that we cannot withdraw until we have achieved “victory.”

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