Opening Day - PLAY BALL!

It happens every spring. The first day of the baseball season comes along and far too many people waste far too much mental energy obsessing about something other than ... baseball!!!

I had my first exposure to the magic of opening day as a youngster living near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 1968. Several families in the neighborhood organized a caravan to Baltimore to see the Boston Red Sox of Carl Yastremski take on the Orioles of the Robinsons, Frank and Brooks. Yaz was coming off his MVP and Triple Crown season, but on that blustery opening day in old Memorial Stadium he never advanced beyond first and the Orioles prevailed in a low-scoring game that, frankly, provided few thrills on the field. But I was hooked by the roar of the crowd and the bawling of the vendors. The smells of popcorn and beer and hot dogs and musty old cement. The sticky traces of cotton candy on my face. The comforting feel of the glove that my father insisted I bring.

Still, I wasn't completely under the spell until major league baseball came to me, not the other way around. It was 1970. We lived in Milwaukee then, and a hapless one-year team called the Seattle Pilots moved to County Stadium to take the place of the dear departed Milwaukee Braves. The team was renamed the Brewers. I was hooked. A few years later, I snuck out of high school with friends to attend Opening Day in the bleachers. It was way too cold and the vendors wouldn't sell us beer and the team lost, but it was glorious. And I've been a loyal member of the True Blue Brew Crew for 38 years, enduring miserable losing seasons and celebrating occasional good teams. I've lived in several major league cities since 1970 but on Opening Day it's always a Brewers cap that I slap onto my head. And today my team is on national television, playing the Cubs at Wrigley at 2:30 p.m. on WGN and ESPN2, so my happiness is complete.

So go now, and celebrate Opening Day and the return of spring in whatever manner strikes your fancy. If you are in Cincinnati, you may want to join OH-01 congressional candidate State Rep. Steve Driehaus in the traditional Reds Opening Day Parade. Or maybe you will decide to just go about your regular activities, but with a special Opening Day glow. Because it's a fresh start, and every team has a chance to go all the way, and spring is here, and summer can't be far behind.

Play ball!

Screening of "MaxedOut" and Discussion with Cordray, Rokakis, and Engel in Cleveland 4/9

04/09/2008 - 4:00pm
04/09/2008 - 6:00pm

Have you ever completed a credit card application, just to qualify for a free T-shirt or book bag? If you answered yes, then you must see MaxedOut, a documentary that explores the inner-workings of the consumer credit card industry.

Come to the Levin College of Urban Affairs in Cleveland for a movie and discussion featuring three experts on predatory lending and the foreclosure crisis, Ohio Treasurer Richard Cordray, Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis, and Prof. Kathleen Engel of Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University.

Part of the Center for Civic Education Forum.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008
MaxedOut 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Maxine Levin Goodman College of Urban Affairs
at Cleveland State University
1717 Euclid Avenue, Room 330
Call for more information 216.687.6941

Special event parking available in the 17th Street garage, located directly behind the Levin College of Urban Affairs building.

News and Notes: General Assembly Races

Catching up on contests for the state legislature:

OH Sen-33 - This seat isn't up for election this year, but if State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown) wins his congressional race then the Democratic caucus will appoint a replacement. David Skolnick wrote a piece in the Youngstown Vindicator on Friday reviewing possible candidates: State Rep. Ronald Gerberry (D-Austintown), Mahoning County Commissioner John McNally IV (D-Youngstown), Township Trustee Robyn Gallitto (D-Boardman), and City Councilman Steve Okey (D-Alliance), who is the brother of State Rep. Mark Okey (D-Carollton). Skolnick figures that Gerberry has the inside track, based on his years in the legislature and being from populous Mahoning County. State Rep. Bob Hagan (D-Youngstown), who stepped down from the senate seat in 2006, is ineligible because of term limits.

OH House-15 - State Rep. Tim DeGeeter (D-Parma) will have a Kickoff Campaign Reception on Thursday, April 10th, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Blue Moose Tavern & Eatery, 5513 Pearl Road in Parma, Donation $50 - $100 - $250. Please make checks payable to Friends of Timothy J. DeGeeter.

OH House-19 - Marian Harris (D-Columbus) reports in a newsletter to supporters that she hopes to report close to $20,000 in the Post-Primary Election Campaign Report due on April 11th. (The cut-off date is Friday, April 4th.) Harris is asking for volunteers to go knocking on doors with her, and to hold house parties. Visit her campaign site to donate or volunteer.

OH House-85 - Ray Pryor (D-Chillicothe) will attend the seminar for Disabled Veteran business owners to be hosted by Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) on April 4th from 8:30 to noon at the Tuscarawas Campus of Kent State University in New Philadelphia.

OH House-87 - Shane Meldick (D-Jackson) has a campaign site up, and a related MySpace page (which plays Small Town by John Mellencamp - excellent!).

OH House-91 - State Rep. Dan Dodd (D-Hebron) will hold a town hall meeting on Wednesday, April 2nd from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Village of Buckeye Lake offices on Walnut Road (Ohio 79), and will be the guest speaker at the Fairfield County Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson Dinner on April 12th at Fairfield Union High School. One of the most consistent campaign bloggers among Ohio candidates, Dodd posted on Wednesday about working at the Smith Chapel Food Pantry and taking a tour of the Hocking-Athens-Perry Community Action Food Bank.

OH House-99 - Doris Cook reports in the Ashtabula Star-Beacon that county commissioner Deborah Newcomb (D-Conneaut) will be sworn in as the replacement for State Rep. George Distel (D-Conneaut) on Tuesday:

Newcomb’s husband, Jim, will be with her holding a family Bible. About 20 other family members and friends, including Commissioner Daniel Claypool and county Democratic Party Chairman Duane Feher, will be on hand to watch, she said. “I’ll commute to Columbus and stay at least three days during the week when in session. My office is in the Vern Riffe Office Building, but I don’t know which floor. I’m the rookie on the block and won’t get George’s old office on the 11th floor,” Newcomb said.

She already has talked on the telephone with her legislative aide, Brian Morgan, and State Sen. Capri Cafaro, who has been a big help to her.“She’s caught me up to pending legislation and help in getting to know my way around,” Newcomb said.

Columnist Thomas Suddes wrote in The Plain Dealer today that Distel will hold a $250-a-head "farewell fund-raiser" in Columbus that will benefit the House Democratic Caucus and Newcomb.

News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races

Keeping an eye on Ohio's races for the People's House:

OH-01 - Bloggers Harry and Jack wrote Thursday about the propensity for policy flip-flops on the part of Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood), including his earmarking of $1.6 million for organizations linked to eleven of his campaign supporters after having been a critic of pork-barrel projects for years. ... State Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Price Hill) will speak at a meeting of the Wyoming Democratic Club on Tuesday, April 8th, from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. at Northern Hills Fellowship, 460 Fleming Road in Wyoming.

OH-09 - At the behest of fishing charter operators, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) is trying to get changes to new Department of Homeland rules that require passengers and crew to bring passports or two other forms of identification if a boat ventures into the Canadian waters of Lake Erie. ... On Thursday, Kaptur expressed support for developing fast-train service between Pittsburgh and Chicago via northern Ohio while introducing a speaker on the subject. The speaker, Charles Wochele of the train-building firm Alstom, said that high-speed rail is in Ohio's future, but building a project elsewhere (such as California) is probably necessary before it can happen here.

OH-13 - Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Twp), who put ethics at the forefront of her election campaign in 2006, was given the assignment (unusual for a first-termer) of managing the ethics reform bill on the House floor on March 11th. This opportunity was granted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who has labeled the freshman class “majority makers” and tries to showcase them during the high-profile debates.

OH-16 - State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown) will take part in an Underage Drinking Prevention/National Town Hall to be sponsored by the Mahoning County Family and Children First Council, the Coalition for Capable and Healthy Youth, and the federal Interagency Coordinating Committee for the Prevention of Underage Drinking from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 1st, at the Mahoning County Experimental Farm on State Route 46 across from the the Canfield Fairgrounds. For more information call Prevention Partners Plus at (330) 743-6671.

OH-18 - Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover), a superdelegate, told a Kiwanis Club in Heath on Thursday that he hasn't picked a candidate and doesn't want to. “My hope is by the time the convention rolls around, the decision has been made by the American people, not by superdelegates,” he said. “I’m going to wait to see what happens.” He also said that one of his greatest achievements in Congress so far is legislation to promote broadband internet access in rural Ohio, and he distanced himself from “partisan bickering” by saying that although he is proud to be a Democrat, he "[doesn't] look at anything when I’m in Washington through the prism of politics."

Vote for Jill for Favorite Female Blogger!

Jill of Writes Like She Talks is live-blogging up a storm at the WAM!2008 conference in Cambridge, MA. Check out her amazing coverage of this intense event.

Now you can vote for Jill as your favorite female blogger in a competition sponsored by Women's Choices, Women Vote. (Voting closes April 11th.) The competition is stiff, but if you love Jill's writing like I do you'll want to go there now and show her your support!

OH-14: Support O'Neill's Nomination for the Blue Majority Program!

Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell) has been nominated for the multi-blog Blue Majority program in the comments to this DailyKos post by Ohio blog contributors Surfing Lake Erie here and Anastasia P here.

O'Neill is a perfect nominee for this fund-raising boost, which is intended for candidates who are (1) in a competitive race but have not yet received top-tier attention, (2) proud Democrats who do not betray their progressive values under attack, and (3) involved with their local blogosphere. Candidates will be picked based on what people say about them in the comments, so please help advance Bill O'Neill's cause by posting your thoughts here.

ODB Line: Ohio Congressional Race Rankings

Here's the first in a series of monthly rankings of Ohio races for the U.S. House of Representatives. I have separated them into Republican-held and Democratic-held seats and divided each into tiers. Within each tier they are ranked in order of likelihood of changing parties.

Democrats were very successful in 2006 in winning a U.S. Senate seat, four out of five statewide offices, and a net gain of seven seats in the Ohio House of Representatives, but the U.S. House races were a relative disappointment. The party gained only one seat and watched two promising races end in narrow losses after recounts. In this cycle Ohio has three open GOP seats and perhaps four or five races altogether that already look very promising, with another two or three that could be added to that list. The DCCC has already added three races to their "Red to Blue" program and is likely to take an interest in at least two more. In other words, Ohio is once again a critical congressional battleground.

Republican-Held Seats

Tier One: Toss-Up

15th District Central Ohio (includes part of Columbus and west and northwest suburbs, Hilliard, Marysville). Cook PVI R+1.1. Bush won 50% in 2004. In 2006 retiring incumbent Deborah Pryce (R) defeated Mary Jo Kilroy (D) by just over 1,000 votes. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 62.1% Democratic. DCCC Red-to-Blue program.

County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus) is running almost like an incumbent after her photo finish in 2006 and the retirement of her opponent. She has raised an impressive amount of money and has strong support from labor, womens' groups (including Emily's List) and among students, who are very numerous in this district. She is an energetic campaigner although not the most polished of public speakers. Opponent State Sen. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington), an Iraq veteran and former bank lobbyist, is a strong adversary with big support from the business community. Independent candidate Don Elijah Eckhart (I-Galloway) figures to take a few votes away from Stivers.

16th District NE Ohio (includes Canton, Massillon, Alliance, Wadsworth, Medina, Wooster, Ashland). Cook PVI R+3.6. Bush won 54% in 2004. In 2006 incumbent Ralph Regula (R), who is retiring, fared poorly in the GOP primary (58% to 43% over conservative Matt Miller (R-Ashland)) and defeated political novice Rev. Tom Shaw (D-Wooster) by the surprisingly narrow margin of 59% to 41% in the general election. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 60.8% Democratic. DCCC Red-to-Blue program.

Iraq veteran and former collegiate baseball star State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown) is a terrific candidate and is adored in his state legislative district. This congressional district unfortunately includes only a tiny slice of his home turf, but Boccieri is working very hard to build name recognition here and he has the energy and political talent to make it work. Opponent State Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), a moderate, is strong in vote-rich Stark County but barely escaped a three-way primary against two more conservative opponents. The keys to this election are whether the Republican base turns out for Schuring and whether Boccieri can hold down Schuring's advantage in blue-trending Stark County while gaining big vote totals elsewhere.

News and Notes: General Assembly Races

Another round of newsy bits from those critical statehouse races:

OH Sen-04 - Kathryn Bridgman (D-West Chester) will appear at Lakotafest on Saturday, April 5th, starting at 9:00 a.m. The parade begins in Olde West Chester (Cincinnati-Dayton Road).

OH House-07 - State Rep. Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights), a 2007 Inductee to the National Multiple Sclerosis Hall of Fame and an all-around classy guy, sponsored the bill that designated March as Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month in Ohio. He and spouse Pam are sponsoring a team to walk in the 2008 MS Walk in Columbus on Saturday, April 12th. Here is a message from his web site:

There are over 15,000 Ohioans who are affected daily by MS. We must make finding a cure our goal. We must make finding a cure a reality! Please make your check payable to the NATIONAL MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS SOCIETY and mail to: Rep. Kenny Yuko 2008 M.S. Walk, 479 Pierson Drive, Richmond Heights, OH 44143.

As I write this letter, there is no known cure for Multiple Sclerosis. For those of us with MS, all we have is hope. With your donation, we can continue the efforts to find a cure. On behalf of the 15,000 Ohioans who have MS, as well as our families, we thank you!

If you would like to join Rep. Yuko for the MS walk, click here and search for "Team Yuko."

OH House-24 - State Rep. Ted Celeste (D-Grandview) will hold a "District Dialogue" on the economy tonight (3/27) at 7:00 p.m. at King Avenue Church, 299 King Ave. in Columbus.

OH House-39 - Adam Noe (D-Harrison) has a campaign web site that I had not previously located. The 24-year-old candidate writes on his "Why I'm Running" page that he wants to be a leader for the district and the state, not another politician:

The difference between the two is that a politician is good at getting elected, but a leader does what is needed by the people he represents.

This is a personal fight for me and my family as my father was an employee of the City of Cincinnati for thirty years and because of his hard work and my mother's dedication to raising me to understand just how fortunate we are I understand that I have been given a great advantage in life. I realize that with that advantage comes the responsibility to help others seek out their goals in life. Our government could use that kind of responsibility."

And he has a campaign kickoff video set to Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain."

OH House-33 - State Rep. Tyrone Yates (D-Cincinnati) recently stepped down as President of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, citing the time commitment involved in becoming the legal and personal caregiver to his aunt. State Sen. Shirley Smith (D-Cleveland) will replace him.

Cedarville University Student Democrats Organize

Three students at Cedarville University, an evangelical Christian college in Greene County, decided to form an officially sanctioned student Democrats club. Last night they had their first informational meeting. Wednesday is Cedarville's compulsory mission service night so the meeting had to be scheduled late, at 9 p.m., in competition with an antiwar program meeting. Nevertheless, fifty students turned out, forty of whom signed up to join. Their faculty advisor, in expressing surprise at the unexpectedly large turnout commented that he suspects the attraction is enthusiasm for Obama. [Maybe because he's Christian?]

Bush Lauds Progress in Iraq While Basra Burns

Once again George Bush has given a speech so wildly at odds with reality it defies comprehension. It is difficult to imagine anyone else reading the text of the speech today without choking, given what is in the news at this moment.

CNN is reporting that violence between Shia factions is spreading from Basra to Baghdad, threatening a melt-down of the al-Maliki government:

The violence in Basra -- which has spread to Shiite areas throughout the country, including Baghdad -- is a kind of fighting Americans are unaccustomed to seeing, said retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Donald Sheppard ...

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is trying to hold together his political alliance -- an alliance that includes the political wings of the militias he's fighting, Sheppard said.

"If this alliance breaks apart because of the fighting, you've got chaos within the Parliament," Sheppard said.

The violence is seen as increasingly likely to cause Muqtada al Sadr to end the Mehdi Army ceasefire, which accounts for much of the stability about which Bush boasted today:

If the truce ends, "the success of the surge is going to be hugely in doubt," said CNN International correspondent Michael Holmes. "I've always said, yes the surge has reduced violence in Baghdad, but you have to put it in context: Why has it reduced the violence, and what else has happened?

News and Notes: General Assembly Races

It's been a long time so I have a lot of catching up to do. Here's a start, at least:

OH Sen-20 - Morgan County Commissioner and Ohio Senate candidate Rick Shriver (D) is having his campaign kickoff event tomorrow night (March 28th) at the Stockport Mill, 1995 Broadway Avenue in Stockport, from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) and OH House-92 candidate Debbie Phillips (D-Athens) will be in attendance. Shriver is also having a fund-raiser on Sunday, April 27th from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Sugarbush Farm, 6675 Baker Road in Athens. The suggested donation is $25. RSVP to flournoy-at-ohio-dot-edu.

OH House-01 - Rep. Linda Bolon (D-East Palestine) tells me that the visit to Columbiana County by the C-SPAN "Campaign 2008" Bus last Monday was a big success, with about 350 students touring the high-tech vehicle and learning about the difference between political coverage on commercial networks and watching actual speeches on C-SPAN. As for her re-election campaign, Rep. Bolon said that she has her group of campaign volunteers ready to go and is setting up dates for fund-raisers. She expects the big issue in the race to be creating jobs, and in that connection she is very excited to be working with Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-St. Clairsville) and County Commissioner Peggy Traina (D-Wellsville) to bring a $6 billion coal liquefaction plant to the Wellsville area. It will be the largest such project in the nation and could bring as many as 5,000 construction jobs to the area over the next several years, as well as hundreds of jobs at the plant when it is completed. The three officials are participating in weekly telephone calls devoted to such tasks as helping to secure the necessary EPA and other permits and to coordinate with the Ohio Department of Development. In this news story, John Baardson of the Vancouver-based construction firm Baard Energy said that "financing [is] already coming into place could be ready by early summer and we'll be pushing forward on the engineering and actual site preparation." Rep. Bolon said that with spin-off jobs and other positive effects this development could transform the economy of Columbiana County.

OH House-02 - Jan Lanier (D-Westerville) will be at the Historic Downtown Delaware First Fridays event on April 4th from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at county party headquarters, 12 1/2 N. Sandusky St. in Delaware. Call 740-363-7500 for more information.

OH House-19 - Everyone's favorite activist/grandmother/fireball candidate Marian Harris (D) is participating in the Franklin County Democratic Women's Karaoke Night at the IBEW, 23 West 2nd Avenue in Columbus, on Friday, April 4th starting at 6:00 p.m. Marian Harris does karaoke ... that sounds like a great party!

OH House-31 - Denise Driehaus (D-Price Hill) has put up a campaign site for her bid to replace her brother, the congressional candidate State Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Price Hill). She is the co-owner of the Philipps Swim Club and the Front Porch Coffeehouse in Price Hill, and is President of the Cincinnati Recreation Commission. She writes on her "About" page that "bringing people together to accomplish a common goal is far more productive than the polarization of partisan politics" and she pledges to be "a team player and will be a thoughtful and informed representative."

OH House-34 - Jeff Sinnard (D) has a new website, although there is still much to be added. He was a dedicated campaign blogger during his OH-02 campaigns, but I see that his blog isn't up and running yet.

OH House-54 - State Rep. Courtney Combs (R-Fairfield) recently confirmed that he is interested in being appointed to replace Butler County Auditor Kay Rogers (R), who resigned after pleading guilty to filing a false tax return and conspiring to commit bank and mail fraud. If this becomes an open seat race it could greatly improve the chances of returning candidate Ken Keith (D-Hamilton), who ran a strong campaign against Combs in 2006. Keith lost by only 2,399 of 33,502 votes cast, campaigning as a political unknown against a 23-year elected official in this strongly GOP-leaning district (R+12.3).

OH House-57 - State Rep. Matt Lundy (D-Elyria) is holding a "Lundy Listens" town hall meeting tonight at 7:00 p.m. at the North Ridgeville Public Library, 35700 Bainbridge Road.

OH House-61 - State Rep. Mark Okey (D-Carrollton), speaking at the Stark County Farm Bureau legislative breakfast on Monday, warned farmers to prepare for a rate hike on their energy bills despite the pending energy bill: "AEP (American Electric Power) customers, they would be the ones I would be most concerned for," Okey said. "The point of the bill is not to allow them to go through the roof. We are trying to keep a lid on it. That is all we can hope to accomplish through re-regulation. What we are trying to avoid is rate-shock."

OH House-85 - Ray Pryor (D-Chillicothe) is having a Soup Dinner and Fundraiser at Buck’s Barn, 466 Schrader Road in Chillicothe, tomorrow night (March 28th) at 5 pm. Tickets are $15 each or two for $25. Call 740-663-5310 for more information.

OH House-86 - Bill Horne (D-Hillsboro) will be at the Pike County Democratic Dinner at Piketon High School, 1414 Piketon Road, on Saturday, April 5th at 5:30 p.m.

OH House-90 - I enjoyed talking with Duane Grassbaugh (D-Howard) on the phone today. He is running for the third time, but this cycle it is an open seat and he is optimistic about his chances. "The campaign is going to be all about knocking on doors and meeting the voters one-on-one," he said. He is also excited to have Mary Rugola-Dye, sister of Ohio AFL/CIO leader Joe Rugola, signing on as campaign manager. A dairy farmer, Grassbaugh is the President of the Knox/Licking County Farmers Union, established four years ago, and he attended the recent RENEW Ohio-18 agricultural summit conference conducted by Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) in Coshocton last Friday. Grassbaugh says that he has known Space for a long time because his dairy farm is only two miles from Kenyon College, where Space was an All-American football player and 1982 Athlete of the Year.

OH House-99 - With incumbent George Distel (D-Conneaut) named the new Ohio Turnpike Director last week, County Commissioner Deborah Newcomb (D-Conneaut) will be appointed to this seat and run as an incumbent. Distel's resignation is effective March 31st. Saybrook Township Trustee Peggy Carlo, running for Newcomb's commissioner seat, will be appointed to replace her in that office.

News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races

What's on the radar screen today:

OH-01 - In an article about the amazing Democratic turnout this primary season, Dan Balz noted in The Washington Post on Tuesday that Democratic turnout on March 4th in this ostensbily GOP-leaning district was 107,000, compared to 47,000 GOP primary ballots cast. The former number is more votes than either Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood) or challenger John Cranley (D-Cincinnati) attracted in the 2006 general election. As Balz notes, "when the general election arrives, Democrats will have voter lists far larger than they ever imagined and will have to spend far less money than in past years identifying these voters." *** Don't forget to join other volunteers for State Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Price Hill) for canvassing on Saturday and the Reds Opening Day Parade on Monday.

OH-09 - Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) has reportedly saved 200 Toledo jobs by securing federal funding and negotiating the sale of a building owned by the University of Toledo to become the new headquarters for the local Red Cross.

OH-10 - Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) has this to say about baseball parks in ESPN Magazine: "Naming rights are one of the biggest frauds on the fans, because for the most part the public is paying for these stadiums. Progressive Field (formerly Jacobs Field) ought to be called Taxpayers Stadium." Good point, except that Taxpayers Field is such a downer of a name. Might as well go all out and call it Deficit Stadium or Fiscal Drain Field.

OH-17 - State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown) will be the keynote speaker at a gala benefit on April 4th for the Andy Nowacki Endowment Fund, created to honor a Marine who died on February 25, 2005, while riding as the gunner of the lead Humvee during a mission in the Babil province of Iraq. Shannon O'Brien of WOIO-TV 19 Action News will be the master of ceremonies, and two scholarships will be awarded at the event, which is set for 6 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Express and Suites LaMalfa in Mentor. Tickets are $100 a person or $175 per couple and include dinner, music and dancing, and a silent auction. Call (440) 525-7419 or e-mail lccfoundation-at-lakelandcc-dot-edu to order tickets.

OH-18 - David notes that Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) is gearing up his grassroots campaign - his latest letter to supporters calls for volunteers and precinct coordinators: "The campaign is looking for help ranging from simply putting a sign up in your yard all the way up to volunteering in an office or coordinating a precinct. Other opportunities include making calls, working on election day, distributing literature, hosting a fundraiser, and walking in parades."

Taxpayers Pay for Half the Cost of Bush's Visit, But Can't Attend Either Event

What's up with that?!?! The Dayton Daily News reports today:

The general public is not allowed to attend either of Bush's appearances and the Air Force museum will be closed for the day.

Bush will speak at 10:15 a.m. to a group of about 1,200 community leaders and members of the military at the museum and then will attend the fundraiser. Because of the dual nature of the visit, the trip's cost will be divided between taxpayers and the Ohio Republican Party, Jones said.

There is something very wrong here. If the general public is paying for half the visit, the general public should be invited to attend the speech. Keeping the public away ought to make it just another campaign event, and the ORP ought to foot the bill.

Ohio CD Demographics

I love numbers. I love the Census Bureau's Website. I love Adobe Readers' Snapshot Tool. I'm a fan of Google Applications.

I put the following together (at Blue Bexley) to tell a story about the unique characteristics of the 12th Congressional District, but if you're interested in any part of Ohio, you might find this interesting (darker always means higher/more, range is calibrated for Ohio).

The full size slides are available here.
This data was pulled from the Geographic Comparison Data in the 2006 American Community Survey as accessed through factfinder.census.gov

OH-03: Press Conference & Rally Against a Third Bush Term in Dayton 3/27

03/27/2008 - 9:00am
03/27/2008 - 11:00am

Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern, Congressional Candidate Jane Mitakides, and Montgomery County Recorder Willis Blackshear will hold a press conference TOMORROW at 9:00 a.m. to respond to President Bush’s latest visit to Ohio. The President has decided to ignore the sagging national economy and foreclosure crisis completely on this trip, choosing instead to deliver a speech on his Iraq policy and hold a fundraiser with GOP donors on behalf of his protégé, John McCain.

Following the press conference, local Democrats will hold a RALLY AGAINST A THIRD BUSH TERM at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, March 27th. We will meet in the parking lot next to Moonlight Security, 5717 Huberville Rd. in Riverside, just off Springfield St. across from the Air Force Museum main gate.

RAIN SITE:
Comfort Suites (Conference Room)
5220 Huberville Rd.
Dayton, Ohio 45431

Bush is Coming to Ohio - Sign The Petition Against a Third Bush Term

George Bush will be in Dayton tomorrow for a speech and a private fund-raiser (co-sponsored by a convicted money launderer and the owner of a leading outsourcing company). The Ohio Democratic Party has a petition for you to sign:

John McCain admitted that he doesn't really understand the economy. Like George Bush, McCain would make permanent tax cuts to the wealthy and support failed policies that have hurt Ohio’s working families.

John McCain has no plan for the foreclosure crisis. Like George Bush, McCain has no real plan to help Ohioans save their homes. McCain downplayed the single biggest economic challenge facing the state– and even blamed the crisis on home owners.

John McCain has repeatedly been a staunch defender of Bush policies in Iraq. Like George Bush, McCain is willing to keep our troops trapped in Iraq’s civil war for 100 years or more.

John McCain opposes keeping kids healthy. Like George Bush, McCain strongly opposed expanding health coverage for millions of uninsured children.

John McCain caters to special interests. Like George Bush, McCain is closely connected to Washington lobbyists. McCain has the most lobbyists raising money for his campaign.

We cannot afford a third Bush term. Sign our petition and tell the Ohio Republican Party that Ohioans do not want another four years of the failed policies of George Bush and John McCain.

OH-03: Mitakides (D) Endorses "Responsible Plan" on Ending Iraq War

Today the campaign of Jane Mitakides (D) announced that she has officially joined the list of more than 30 Congressional challengers (now including Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell) in OH-14) who support the Responsible Plan for Ending the War in Iraq.

From the press release:

“We must refocus our efforts in Iraq from a military offensive to a diplomatic one, working to bring stability to the region while bringing our American heroes home,” said Mitakides. “While it is important that we strengthen and modernize our military in order to face the changing threats posed to our nation's security, we must also restore America’s place in the world as a diplomatic leader.”

Jane Mitakides’ opponent, Mike Turner, voted against requiring President Bush to submit a “comprehensive strategy” for Iraq to Congress. He repeatedly voted in favor of an open-ended military commitment in Iraq, yet voted against increased funding for veteran’s healthcare and rehabilitation services.

The Responsible Plan was developed at the instigation of challenger Darcy Burner (D, WA-08) in consultation with military experts including Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, U.S. Army ret., the former Security Transition Commanding General in Iraq; Brig. Gen. John Johns, U.S. Army ret., a specialist in counterinsurgency and nation-building; Capt. Larry Seaquist, U.S. Navy ret., the former commander of the U.S.S. Iowa and former Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy Planning; and Dr. Lawrence Korb, a former Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan Administration.
Continued after the flip.

McCain Channels Hoover on Foreclosure Crisis

Ohio Treasurer Rich Cordray and Cuyahoga County Treasurer, situated at the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis and long considered national leaders on the issue, have always asserted that the mortgage foreclosure crisis is the greatest financial challenge faced by our generation, comparable only to the Great Depression. Of course, President Herbert Hoover reacted to the stock market crash of October 1929 by announcing in February 1930 that the preliminary shock had passed and employment was on the mend.

So, who is the new Hoover as this catastrophe unfolds? George Bush was the leading contender until his Federal Reserve head honcho Ben Bernanke turned conservative financial ideology on its head by bailing out subprime mortgage-crippled Bear Stearns late last week (an action that Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research calls "Socialism for the Rich"). So who else?

The honor goes to Bush wannabe John McCain, who said yesterday that he is "committed to the principle that it is not the duty of government to bail out and reward those who act irresponsibly, whether they are big banks or small borrowers," and rejected proposals by the Democratic candidates to help homeowners at risk as "sounding expensive." His proposal for dealing with the nation's greatest financial crisis in nearly a century is to convene a few panels to look into the problem, and maybe he will consider any proposals they make.

For a refreshing contrast, consider the leadership displayed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in introducing S.2636, the "Foreclosure Prevention Act," which gives bankruptcy judges the power to modify harmful mortgages marketed by subprime lenders in recent years, and would help more than 600,000 families stuck in bad loans keep their homes. It also ramps up resources available to foreclosure counseling services, and permits municipal governments to use tax-exempt bonds to help refinance subprime loans.

As for McCain's grand design, it's far too late for sitting back and convening panels to study the problem. This crisis is continuing to deepen and it's nowhere near a resolution. Economist/blogger Bonddad spells it out in an excellent post Tuesday called "Housing Nowhere Near a Bottom". The glut of foreclosed homes now flooding the market at fire-sale prices guarantees that home values will continue to decline, further cutting middle class families' primary source of credit; vacancy rates in cities are topping the highest levels ever recorded; and record-high household debt, rising commodities prices, and tight credit will continue to forestall consumer spending, a critical element of any recovery. And today he points to signs that the stock market may continue to stagnate, including another wave of adjustable mortgage resets that will occur in 2010.

McCain's blithering idiocy about the economy should be a cause of concern all across the nation but it's especially alarming here in Ohio, where the Columbus Dispatch reports today that one in ten residents are on food stamps, almost double the rate when Bush took office in 2001. And the point isn't lost on ODP Chair Chris Redfern, who reacted strongly to McCain's speech:

"It took all of five minutes for the Federal Reserve to bail out Bear Stearns, but after countless months of skyrocketing foreclosures, George Bush and John McCain still can't wrap their heads around the problem," said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern. "John McCain has displayed a frightening level of indifference toward the most fundamental economic challenge facing Ohio families."

Continued after the break.

News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races UPDATED

Items of interest for this morning:

OH-01 - State Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Price Hill) is quoted in The Hill today in an article about how congressional challengers are generally reluctant to make endorsements in the presidential race. Driehaus told the reporter that he has a preference, but he isn't making it public. “It’s not as if my viewpoints ideologically align neatly with any one candidate,” said Driehaus. “I think they all bring value to the table. We’re going to work with whomever the nominee is, but we’re focused on winning this congressional seat.” *** Bloggers Harry and Jack observe that Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood), spurred on by campaign contributions from oil and mining interests, continued his campaign against the environment by voting against the bipartisan Water Resources Act of 2007 (HR 1495).

OH-03 - George Bush, Mr. 29%, will be in Dayton on Thursday, giving a speech on the Global War on Terra and attending a private fundraiser (whose co-sponsors include a convicted money-launderer and the owner of an outsourcing company). Patrick McHugh, campaign manager for Jane Mitakides (D), tells me that the candidate will be speaking at a press conference with several other local candidates about the Bush visit on Thursday morning. *** Yesterday I got an email from Chris Kelly, the New Media/Voter Outreach Director for Mitakides. He has the candidate's campaign blog up and running, with a post yesterday about her endorsement by the executive committee of the Warren County Democratic Party. Chris also highlights this interesting article in the Dayton Daily News, describing the revival of the Warren County Dems.

OH-04 - No surprise, but Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana) is a hard-liner on Iraq, saying at an event in Lima that the troop surge is working: "“We’ve lost some great people unfortunately, but we’re making progress.” It seems like the whole GOP is lining up behind McCain as far as staking their political fortunes on the unpopular war. I wonder if Jordan agrees with Dick Cheney that the war is a bigger burden on George Bush than on the families of military casualties (who, as Cheney points out, volunteered)?

OH-09 - Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) is the highest ranking Ohio Democrat in a new power ranking of House members by Congress.org, in 58th place. She is second in the state delegation to House Speaker John Boehner (R-West Chester). Overall, the ranking of the Ohio delegation has slipped due to retirements and the changeover to Democratic control of the chamber.

OH-10 - No comment - the spoof site CAP News says that Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) is preparing to give a major speech on U.S.-alien relations:

OH-12 The excellent Bonobo pointed out yesterday that contrary to popular myth (furthered by the Columbus Dispatch in its 2006 endorsement), incumbent Rep. Pat Tiberi (R) is neither powerful nor moderate. Congress.org ranks Tiberi 281st in its power rankings, well below freshman Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) at 241st. And the National Journal liberal-conservative ratings put Tiberi far to the right at 123/429, much more conservative than fellow central Ohio incumbents Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Upper Arlington at 182/429 and Rep. Dave Hobson (R-Springfield) at 176/429.

OH-18 Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) will be conducting the second of three seminars on government procurement on Friday morning, April 4th, at the Tuscarawas campus of Kent State University in New Philadelphia. This seminar will focus on preferences given to businesses owned at least 51% by Veterans and Service Disabled Veterans. Call Space's Zanesville office at 740-452-6338 before this Friday, March 28th, to register. Registration deadline is March 28. The final seminar will be in Athens on May 22nd, with a registration deadline of May 15th.

Elephant Wars in Summit County Enter New Phase

Ever fascinating, the death-match between GOP powerbroker Alex Arshinkoff and State Sen Kevin Coughlin (R-Cuyahoga Falls) shifted to new strategic ground yesterday with the announcement that relatively little-known city council member Carol Klinger (R-Cuyahoga Falls) is the Coughlin faction's choice to replace Arshinkoff. (I immediately thought of the installation of apparent straw man Yousuf Raza Gillani as Pakistan's new Prime Minister while principal opposition leader Ali Asif Zardari works things out behind the scenes, but knowing little of Summit County politics I'm not sure how apt the comparison may be.) Klinger apparently took several days to decide whether to accept the bid. The county GOP central committee will vote on the leadership position after the results of the March 4th primary are certified, which must take place by mid-April. The Coughlin camp says he has enough votes to oust Arshinkoff, while Arshinkoff's allies claim otherwise.

Bloggers are commenting on the choice of Klinger over more prominent possibilities, and on the decision by Coughlin to skip the ceremony. Read all about it on Psychobilly Democrat, Pho's Akron Pages, and Have I Got News For You!. I'm sure that The Chief Source will weigh in as well.

Auditor Slams Former SOS Blackwell (R) on Mess Left Behind

I'm loving this. The GOP wants to give Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (D-Columbus) less than no credit for the exemplary job she has been doing under difficult circumstances, but an item in The Daily Briefing this morning confirms that departing Ken Blackwell (R-Cincinnati) broke the law in ways that handicapped her from the outset:

State Auditor Mary Taylor this morning zapped fellow Republican J. Kenneth Blackwell for more than $80,000 in illegal bonuses to employees departing the secretary of state's office as Blackwell closed his tenure there in 2006. ...

The total represents the net of each employee’s respective additional payments, improper leave balance payouts and incorrect retirement fund contributions. Taylor found the workers did nothing other than to perform their regular jobs to get the bonuses....

Taylor also nicked Blackwell for not complying with Ohio law because he did not provide his successor, Democrat Jennifer Brunner, with a letter listing the office's inventory.

Brunner asked for the special audit in February 2007, shortly after taking office....

When Secretary Brunner took office in January 2007 she found the place in disarray, with the bulk of the two-year budget already spent, supplies mishandled, ongoing projects botched, and incomplete information from her predecessor. In short, instead of a transition Blackwell engaged in sabotage.

It was Brunner's pledge during the campaign to run the SOS office in such an efficient and impartial way that her name would be little known compared to her infamous predecessor. Constant assaults and criticism orchestrated by the GOP have made that impossible, but she has persevered and on the whole performed admirably and always consistently with her mission of overseeing free and fair elections.

News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races

The buzz from the battlefields:

OH-01 - Bill Sloat noted on The Daily Bellwether yesterday that Rep. Steve Chabot (R-West Wood) accepted $24,500 from tobacco interests over the last decade, second most in Ohio to House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-West Chester).

OH-02 - The obsession with running on the part of gaunt-looking Rep. "Mean Jean" Schmidt (R-Loveland) is mentioned in an article about federal legislators and physical fitness in The Politico today. The Body Image & Health Task Force at The Ohio State University has more on the tragedy of exercise addiction ("Withdrawal is common among exercise addicts ... They experience mood swings and depression when they must forgo their exercise routine").

OH-03 - Yesterday was the birthday of Jane Mitakides (D) - it's not too late to give her a little gift.

OH-04 - Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana) contributed a whopping $20,000 to the NRCC in February. Seems like he is looking past the election already, trying to raise his standing in the caucus. Let's all give a little love to challenger Mike Carroll (D-Mansfield) to make the incumbent pay more attention to this race!

OH-07 - This story in the Circleville Herald contrasts Sharen Neuhardt (D-Yellow Springs) with State Sen. Steve Austria (R-Beavercreek) on the debacle in Iraq. The paper is clearly rooting for Austria, whose campaign manager Steve Corbitt said "Senator Austria strongly believes the troop surge is working and believes the war is moving towards a date to bring soldiers home." Neuhardt's postition:

"I am committed to ending the war in Iraq, and bringing our troops home safely and responsibly," Neuhardt said. "I will make sure each returning soldier receives the finest medical care for their injuries sustained in fighting for our country and defending freedom overseas."

Neuhardt added that the war has been depleting the nation's treasury and the war "has made America less safe, rather than more," and has hurt the country's prestige around the world.

OH-09 - Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) will appear today at the J.R. Whiting Power Plant north of Toledo to help mark an agreement between Consumer Power Co. and the U.S. Fish and Wildlfe Service to turn over a 49-acre strip of shoreline to be maintained as part of the Detroit International River Wildlife Refuge. *** A Dispatch article on earmarks for Ohio colleges and universities in the current budget process notes that Kaptur tied for the most to an individual school by an Ohio legislator at 16 (Sen. Voinovich shares the distinction). Lawmakers defend the earmarks as making up for budget cuts and keeping Ohio's schools competitive and thus helping Ohio's economy. "Presidents play politics with the budget, cutting programs that we know the people want," Kaptur said. "We have to fight for the heartland against the president, congressional leaders from the coastal states and others who don't have Ohio's priorities and concerns at heart."

OH-12 - Join the Licking County Pro-Active Citizens for a breakfast meet-up with challenger David W. Robinson (D) this Saturday, March 29th, 9:30 a.m. at the Bake-n-Brew restaurant, 1821 W. Main St. in Newark, Ohio.

OH-13 - Roman at the excellent Lorain-centric Word of Mouth blog has some ideas of things to ask staffers of Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Twp) about at "Congress In Your Community" events to be held in Avon Lake at 9:00 a.m. and Sheffield at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, such as federal funding for better roads and more police officers in Lorain and grant money for a technology corridor and waterfront improvements. The rest of the schedule of such events is here. What would you like to recommend for your part of the district?

OH-14 - Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell) invites everyone to stop by the campaign office at 147 Bell Street, Chagrin Falls, OH 44022 on Friday and volunteer some time to help out with the campaign.

OH-15 - Retiring Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Upper Arlington) gave the RNCC $100,000 in February. (The DCCC outraised its counterpart for the month $6.2 million to $4.6 million, but not with notable help from any Ohio Democrats.)

OH-16 - At the Stark County Farm Bureau legislative breakfast yesterday, State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown) advocated country-of-origin labeling on agricultural food products as a means of boosting local farmers.

OH-16: Boccieri (D) Statement on Surpassing 4,000 Military Deaths in Iraq

A statement from State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown), a USAF veteran and reservist who flew C-130's in Iraq:

Four more American soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq over the weekend bringing the total number of American soldiers killed to 4,000 and number of injured to near 30,000.

In 2001, President Bush told us that our country's involvement in Iraq would be swift and inexpensive. Five years later, we're spending $12 billion a month on this war as we watch the quality of life for Americans continuously worsen.

And we've lost our focus on Afghanistan, a proven harbor of terrorism, as we have aimlessly allocated our precious resources to attend to a sectarian conflict in Iraq.

President Bush recently gave a speech noting the successes of the war. However, the human and financial toll this war has taken our country into desperate times. Our injured return home to find they don't have access to the health care they need.

The President has not offered an exit strategy or any indication that one is needed. Senator John McCain wants to stay in Iraq another 100 years. Its time for a change in Washington.

The soldiers of our country deserve better. We deserve answers, but more importantly we deserve new leadership. It is disheartening to me as I hear from people across Northeast Ohio voice their concerns for their economic security, health care for their families and providing an adequate education for their children as we devote our resources elsewhere.

There's no doubt that it will take new leadership to bring real, substantial change to our Iraq policy. We need a president and a Congress who will put America first – and put our interests ahead of special interests.

Help Take Back The Ohio House: Donate to a Targeted Race Candidate By April 4th

Now that the excitement and the distraction of the presidential primary in Ohio are well past, it's time to focus on the #1 strategic goal for the Ohio Democratic Party in 2008 -- retaking the Ohio House of Representatives. We are only down by four seats. Wherever you live in Ohio (or even outside of it), it is in your interest as a Democrat to support the candidates in key Ohio House races in order to enable Governor Strickland and the other statewide Democratic officeholders to control the agenda for Ohio government and paint Ohio a bluer shade of blue.

Between now and April 4th is a critical time to donate to these candidates. That is the cut-off for the Post Primary Election Campaign Finance Report. The candidates must make a strong showing in this report in order to attract additional donations and support later on. Early money, as they say, is like yeast.

If you do nothing else to support Ohio candidates this spring, I suggest that you give what you can to one or more key Ohio House candidates. In this post I'll identify the races that I regard as critical to the cause. First, here are nine open GOP-held seats, ranked according to my own subjective take on the Democratic candidate's likelihood of success:

OH House-92 SE Ohio (Athens, Meigs, Morgan, Washington Counties). City council member Debbie Phillips (D-Athens) fought term-limited incumbent Jimmy Stewart (R-Athens) to a recount last year and wound up losing by only 865 votes. Stewart is running for Ohio Senate and Phillips faces county auditor Jill Thompson (R-The Plains). The district leans Democratic (D+2.9.) Phillips is a smart and disciplined campaigner.

OH House-22 Central Ohio (Franklin County). This would be the top-ranked race except that the district leans strongly Republican (R+8.7). However, health law attorney John Carney (D-Columbus) outperformed the partisan voter index by more than 5 points in winning 46.91% of the vote in 2006 against term-limited incumbent Jim Hughes (R-Clintonville), now running for the Ohio Senate. Carney, an extremely articulate and personable campaigner, faces city councilman Michael Keenan (R-Dublin).

OH House-42 NE Ohio (Summit County). City council member Mike Moran (D-Hudson) is an excellent candidate with a background in law and business as well as local government. This is an open seat because State Rep. John Widowfield (R-Cuyahoga Falls), who lost his bid for Cuyahoga Falls Clerk of Municipal Courts in 2005, decided to run for the Summit County Council. Although the district leans Republican (R+4.2), I like Moran's chances very much against political novice Richard Nero (R-Hudson).
Continued after the break.

OH-14: O'Neill (D) Announces Support for the "Responsible Plan" on Iraq

As I reported on Friday, Vietnam veteran Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell) has become the first Ohio candidate to officially lend his support to the Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq, spearheaded by challenger Darcy Burner (D-WA) in consultation with military leaders and experts. The plan is now endorsed by a total of 24 U.S. House challengers and two U.S. Senate challengers.

O'Neill issued a statement today about the Responsible Plan (continues after the break):

The “Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq” was authored by former military leaders, including the former commanding general who oversaw the security transition in Iraq from 2003 to 2004, and several congressional challengers. This comes on the heels of the news that the 4,000th American soldier had been killed in Iraq this weekend.

“Our troops were sent in to get rid of Saddam Hussein, and they achieved that goal,” O’Neill said. “They were not sent there to occupy the country indefinitely. Now our leaders in Washington are failing them and us in allowing the war to carry on with little to no accountability and absolutely no end in sight.”

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