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