A note to readers - my posting will be reduced over the next few days as I prep for and attend the "Take Back America" conference in Washington, DC. I will be participating in a panel called Online Communications: Using the Internet to Recruit and Communicate with Voters, Donors and the Press with Congressional candidate Darcy Burner (D-WA), Progressive Majority's Online Director Jeff Lucas, and Progress Now's Jen Caltrider, Executive Producer of ProgressTV & ProgressRadio. And, of course, attending a lot of great sessions with candidates and bloggers from all over the country.
I expect that some of the folks with front page privileges will step into the breach while I'm otherwise occupied!
The incredible Irish band Dervish tears into the Victoria Theater in Dayton tonight. This will be, hands down, the best REAL Irish music event happening anywhere in Ohio this weekend. Highly recommended. The Vic is a cool venue and the good people from CityFolk run a great concert series. Grab a ticket and go.
These cats are a force of nature. Cathy Jordan is a powder keg of a singer. As of this moment, tickets are still available. It's a little shocking that they have any seats left. Show time is 8:00 PM. Adult beverages will be available in the lobby and the band will be around for a proper "meet and great" after the show and between sets.
Seriously, if it's about the music, this is the place to be this weekend. This is a REAL Irish band that can just properly tear it up. Here's a video clip...
As with all great Irish musicians, it is inherently, very subversive music.
Their CD "Midsummer Night" is one of my favorites of all time.
Tasty newsbits from those contests for the U.S. House of Representatives:
OH-1 - On Sunday Chris Cillizza and Shaillagh Murray of the Washington Post included OH-01 among five Republican-held Congressional districts that have large African-American populations and are expected to be hard fought this November, noting the possibility that an Obama presidential bid could have especially long coat-tails for that reason. According to the 2000 census, the district is 28.7% African-American.
OH-02 - On Tuesday Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) voted against legislation to an Office of Congressional Ethics that would introduce and review ethical complaints brought against Members and determine which cases move forward to the Ethics Committee. Schmidt was reprimanded by the Ohio Elections Commission in 2006 for making false statements about her education and endorsements, and last fall she was accused of earmarking funds that benefited a contributor to her campaign. “Jean would rather play politics than focus on ending corruption in Washington,” said opponent Dr. Victoria Wulsin (D-Indian Hill). “Our government needs to recapture the trust and confidence of the American people. We need to put their interests first and not let politics stand in the way of accomplishing what is right."
OH-03 - There is a good interview with Jane Mitakides (D) in Monday's edition of the Greek News, a Greek-American weekly newpaper. She addresses topics including NAFTA (says she is "no isolationist" but pledges to "only vote to ratify trade deals that include enforceable environmental and labor standards"), health care (favors universal coverage), Iraq ("We must refocus our efforts from a military offensive to a diplomatic one, working to bring stability to the region while bringing our American heroes home"), and veterans ("I will work to update the GI Bill of Rights so that it meets the needs of the 21st century to offer expanded education, training, housing benefits").
He said it will be important to try to find a balance in the future on trade agreements to preserve the markets of agricultural exports, while halting and reversing the drain of industrial jobs from the state. When asked what can be done to educate the public more about farming, Wilson suggested directing additional funding to programs such as 4-H; this will educate the young people of today, who will be tomorrow’s voters.
OH-10 - The U.S. House expects to go into secret session for the first time since 1983 today, purportedly so that GOP members can explain what exactly it is that the telecoms need immunity for. However, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) and three other Democrats (Miller-CA, Stark-CA, and McDermott-WA) won't be included because they refused to sign an oath of confidentiality.
OH-11 - Yesterday Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland) applauded the passage of the Second Chance Act (H.R. 1593), bipartisan legislation of which she is an original co-sponsor. It funds projects to projects to help ex-offenders with housing, education, health, employment, and mentoring services with the goal of reintegrating them into society and reducing recidivism. "The passage of this legislation has been a long time coming. I have been waiting nearly 30 years for Congress to enact meaningful reentry legislation, as I have been deeply involved in prisoner reentry issues since my days as a judge and county prosecutor in Cleveland, Ohio before serving in Congress," she said. "The facts are clear -- meaningful reentry programs significantly diminish the chances that ex-offenders will return to prison. That saves taxpayer dollars and increases public safety."
OH-13 - Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Twp) was pleased to have been graded "A+" on helping the middle class by the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy (DMI):
“I am thrilled to receive an “A+” grade on issues important to the middle class,” Sutton said. “I proudly represent hardworking families in Ohio, and I will continue to work on their behalf to increase economic opportunity, ensure our children are able to access and afford health care and a quality education, reform our trade policies and invest in our infrastructure.”
OH-16 - State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown) is a co-sponsor of the Ohio Senate bill against LGBT discrimination in employment, housing, and public accomodations, sponsored by State Sen. Dale Miller (D-Cleveland).
OH-18 - Mark Jordan reports in the Mount Vernon News that Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) was speaking at the Ohio Farm Bureau in Washington yesterday when House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) walked in and announced that Congress had just voted to extend the old farm bill for 30 days to attempt one last effort to negotiate a resolution to the funding and policy impasse over the 2007 Farm Bill. Space was caught off guard like everyone else in the room, but quickly decided it was good news. Space said that Peterson was forcing a showdown, to provoke stallers into supporting the 2007 Farm Bill instead of a stripped-down bill or a complete abandonment of farm bill programs. “He basically threw a grenade onto the Senate floor,” Space said. “He’s got to resort to some kind of political pressure to stimulate some movement. I think he’s doing the right thing.” *** Space had a press conference call today to call on House leadership to advance stalled legislation that strengthens border security, increases interior enforcement, and cracks down on employers who hire illegal immigrants.
The progressive think tank Drum Major Institute for Public Policy (DMI) issues scorecards on legislation and legislators regarding their impact on current and aspiring member's of America's middle class.
The 2007 legislator rankings are out and Ohio's Democratic delegation to Congress deserves a big round of applause. Sen. Brown and Reps. Kaptur, Ryan, Space, Sutton, Wilson, all received a perfect score of "A+." Rep. Kucinich got an "A" and Rep. Tubbs Jones a "B."
On the GOP side -- not so good. Rep. Latta wasn't graded. Rep. LaTourette led the others with a "B" and retiring Rep. Regula got a "C," but Reps. Pryce and Turner got the dreaded "D" and Sen. Voinovich and Reps. Boehner, Chabot, Hobson, Jordan, Schmidt and Tiberi failed miserably with an "F."
We expect better. Grounded until further notice with no TV, and confiscate their cell phones, that's what I say.
Today we celebrate the life of a great champion of the middle class in the General Assembly and in Congress. He was a beloved figure in Ohio and is a role model for many progressive leaders.
Metzenbaum is credited with the passage of important laws to protect individual citizens, including the one that requires warning periods for large factory closures, the Brady Law which established the waiting period for purchasing handguns, and a law that prohibits federally funded adoption agencies from discriminating on the basis of race or ethnicity.
We remember him fondly and he will be a continuing inspiration to us all.
UPDATE: Here is a statement by Sen Sherrod Brown, who now occupies Metzenbaum's seat in the Senate:
“Last night, a great son of Ohio, Senator Howard Metzenbaum, passed away. Personally inspirational to so many, Senator Metzenbaum fought tirelessly – and passionately – on behalf of working families in Ohio and across the nation.
“Never afraid to challenge his Senate colleagues, he fought for people who had less privilege. And he always fought for opportunity for people of all races and both genders.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee today added thirteen challengers to it's Red to Blue program, including State Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Price Hill) in the 1st Ohio Congressional District. (The DCCC had previously announced a slate of open seat candidates for the program, which included OH-15 and OH-16.) The DCCC press release says that "these candidates earned a spot in the program by surpassing demanding fundraising goals and skillfully demonstrating to voters that they stand for change and will represent new priorities when elected to Congress."
The Spring 2008 Akron Buckeye Poll, sponsored by the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at The University of Akron, is out today and it's like a big wet kiss for the Democratic party:
Fifty-three percent of adult Ohioans said that Governor Strickland was doing an “excellent” or “good” job. ...
A large majority of Ohioans favor a generic Democrat over a Republican in the presidential election, and a large majority believes that the Democrats will win Ohio in November.
... [C]onfidence in state government increased compared to 2005.
... The public favors the Democrats over the Republicans on economic issues – 65 to 31 percent, and domestic issues – 58 to 38 percent, but is more evenly divided between the parties on foreign policy – 47 to 46 percent, and social issues – 48 to 44 percent.
Some more detailed numbers after the break.
Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher will headline a private reception for congressional candidate Steve Driehaus tomorrow night in Cincinnati.
Details after the flip.
When I was young I was convinced there was some fundamental connection between Yoga and Yogurt. And perhaps there is, but that's neither here nor there. But over there is the 108th Carnival of Ohio Politics, and Maharishi Jill did a great job with it.
It was time. I had been suffering with my old automobile for eight long years. So I went to a used car dealer.
"Can I help you?"
"Yeah, it's time for me to pick a new car," I replied.
"Oh, I see you're driving one of those GOP models."
"It's a Bush," I agreed. "Got this in 2000, but I had one before. The GOP dealer is trying to sell me on a McCain, but I thought I'd check this place out."
"Well, you're in luck, pal. Check out this Clinton! She's been around a while, but she's been places and done things. This baby is ready for the road!"
"Geez, I don't know," I said. "I had a Clinton before I got my second Bush. I was thinking of an Obama, like that one at the dealership across the street. It's newer. I'm really in the mood for change."
"That one is too new! It hasn't been tested. I think you're just getting taken in by the shiny paint and gleaming chrome. Fancy new tires. Listen, all that showy stuff looks impressive here on the car lot, but once you get out on the road you want a car that's got experience."
"I don't know," I said, looking at the rust, dents, and cracked windshield on the Clinton. "It looks like that Clinton has been taking a lot of crap for a very long time. How is it going to hold up on the road against all those GOP's out there?"
"This baby has stood the test of time! She's taken everything they could throw at her, and she's still rolling. That Obama might fall apart when you take it out against the GOP's."
"But the Clinton I had was pretty new when I got it, and it did okay."
"This Clinton has passed the threshold of being your car-in-chief. That McCain they want you to buy has, too. As for that Obama, I guess you'll just have to ask about that across the street."
"The Obama has done well on all kinds of roads," I said.
I had an unusual opportunity to actually sit and read the paper version of the Columbus Dispatch today and there was a compelling story on the front page of the second news section.
To read the story, click here
It came in a vision to Westerville artist Anita Miller: a series of paintings in the Statehouse honoring the fallen servicemen of Lima Company.
She had neither the money nor the contacts in state government she needed, but dreams can move mountains.
And so, financed with a home-equity loan, Miller's vision will become reality on Memorial Day, when eight life-size canvases depicting 22 Marines and a Navy corpsman go on display. The exhibit will run through Veterans Day in the Statehouse rotunda.
The Lima Company Memorial: A Remembrance of Spirit & Choice has become more than paint on canvas. Family members are contributing pictures and stories about their husbands, sons and brothers. Some visit Miller's studio in Westerville just to hang out as the paintings progress.
The story goes on with some hard to read details about this project, the woman behind it, and the soldiers who inspired it.
Everyone should visit the link to read about this labor of love.
And we should remember .. she took out a home-equity loan to work on this.
At the bottom of the piece, it gives two websites:
The first site has detailed infomation about Anita's project and the second is her personal website. On the first site is a page where you can donate to help pay the costs of the project. I just did so, and I hope you will as well.
Obama wins Mississippi by
14 24 points, and the trend toward racial polarization accelerates, with Obama winning the black vote 90% to 10% and Clinton winning the white vote 73% to 26%. Gender was not as divided, with Obama winning the male vote 61% to 39% and the female vote 57% to 42%.
This is very, very troubling.
Congratulations to Stephen Slesnick (D-Canton), sworn in as the replacement for Mayor of Canton William J. Healy (D-Canton) in the 52nd Ohio House District.
The House Democratic Caucus decided late last year not to appoint a replacement until after the primary. At that time the caucus members were divided between city council member and 2006 Ohio Senate candidate Thomas West (D-Canton), Canton school board member John Rinaldi (D-Canton), and Stark County auditor's employee James O. Babcock (D-Canton). However, political newcomer Slesnick emerged victorious from the five-way primary with just 29.49% of the vote.
Slesnick, age 30, is vice president of his family's scrap metal business in Canton, Slesnick Iron & Metal. The company web sites says that he focuses on sales and customer relations. “I am honored and humbled that the voters showed their trust in my abilities to serve and represent them in Columbus,” Rep. Slesnick said today. “I know I have much to learn, but I plan to hit the ground running so I can be a strong voice for my constituents’ views and a strong advocate for the issues that matter most to them.”
Like the endlessly repeated bad day in the Bill Murray classic, the Ohio Supreme Court races are headed down the same path of campaign finance futility that has dogged the Ohio Democratic Party for years. Republican incumbents Maureen O'Connor and Evelyn Lundberg Stratton have raised about $206,000 and $196,000 respectively, mostly from attorneys and insurance companies, while Democratic opponents Joseph Russo and Peter Sikora have barely started raising money. In 2002, O'Connor and Stratton each raised over $2 million and the Democrats were absolutely swamped.
This cycle has just got to stop. The uniformly pro-business, anti-consumer rulings of the all-GOP high court are hurting Ohio's working families, but until the Democratic Party and interest groups aligned with the middle class and the disadvantaged figure out how to make these races a priority nothing will change.
More bulletins from the battlegrounds:
OH-13: Reception for Sutton With Steny Hoyer - Rep. Betty Sutton will be joined by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) for a cocktail reception on Thursday, March 20th, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the National Inventors Hall of Fame, 221 South Broadway in Akron. Details on her campaign site or the ODB events calendar.
OH-15: Stivers the Registered Lobbyist Rejects "Lobbyist" Label - State Sen. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington) was a registered lobbyist for seven years before he became a state senator, but he's been protesting the description because his job title was "vice president of government relations" for Banc One Ohio Corp. He even lied about it outright, telling the Columbus Dispatch that he was not a registered lobbyist. When confronted with documentation of his registration as a lobbyist, he claimed that he was "not trying to dissemble" but insisted that he was "not a lobbyist per se," whatever that means, and complained that "everybody wants to talk about my past ... I want to talk about the future."
OH-16: Help Boccieri Reach "Cruising Altitude" - C-130 Pilot Lt. John Boccieri is asking supporters to get his campaign up to "cruising altitude" by raising $20,000 online in March. Also, Boccieri will hold a meeting this Saturday at 11:00 a.m. at the Stark County Democrats Headquarters in Canton to "regroup from the primary and lay out the strategy to victory in November." Topics include: house party planning; expanding constituency groups for Boccieri; and neighborhood organizing. "We have our ideas on how to get this going, but we want your input and how it can work in your neighborhood. Help us spread the word by sharing this info with your friends." Email john-at-johnforcongress-dot-com to RSVP.
UPDATE OH-17: Ryan Called "Wunderkind" of Facebook A story in The Hill today singles out Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles) for big praise on his innovative use of Facebook to connect with constituents:
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) is Congress’s unofficial Facebook wunderkind, regularly logging into the site himself to read and edit his profile’s content, record and upload videos, and respond to other users’ comments and questions.
“It’s the new generation of connecting with your constituents,” Ryan says. “We’re trying to really use this as an opportunity to tie in the personal side of what we’re doing in Washington.”
OH-18: Dailey Admits He's In An Uphill Battle - Fred Dailey (R-Mt Vernon) acknowledged that he's the underdog in his bid to unseat former #1 GOP target Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) in an interview with Jon Baker of the New Philadelphia Times-Reporter. Due to Space's advantages as the incumbent and his lead in fund-raising, Dailey called it "a very difficult race" and that he has "a lot of respect for Zack Space as an opponent." Later he put a good face on it by saying that "it will be a David and Goliath race, but I’m preparing my slingshot." In a separate opinion piece, the editors concluded that "Space is in a pretty comfortable position at the moment."
Lt. Gov. Paterson is on his way from Schenectady to Albany to be sworn in, according to The Albany Project, and Spitzer will resign
as soon as shortly after Paterson gets there. (It is about a 25 minute trip, he reportedly left at noon, so apparently he is already there. Networks aren't covering it yet as of 1:20 p.m. EST, but could break away for it at any time.)
UPDATE: Still nothing happening at 2:30 p.m. Commenters at The Albany Project indicate that Lt. Gov Paterson has now denied that a transition is underway.
2nd UPDATE: Now it looks like Spitzer is still involved in heavy behind-the-scenes negotiations and nothing will happen today. Meanwhile, talk is appearing about the role of the Patriot Act in Spitzer's downfall. Specifically, did enemies of Spitzer suspect some kind of misconduct and use the Patriot Act's warrantless investigation procedures to obtain bank records to confirm their suspicions? Much to follow, no doubt.
Former appellate judge and congressional candidate Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell) underwent cardiac bypass surgery at Hillcrest Hospital this morning after routine tests yesterday found blockages in three of his arteries.
Doctors called the surgery successful and predicted a rapid recovery:
“We have every reason to believe that Bill should be able to make a full recovery and should be back on the campaign trail very soon,” said Mark Rood, M.D., O’Neill’s physician. Rood said that catching these blockages early is a blessing. “We expect Bill to come out of this just as strong and vibrant, perhaps even more strong and vibrant, as he was before he came to see me.”
O’Neill, 60, was upbeat before surgery.
“I am fortunate to be in the hands of some of the best heart doctors in the world,” he said of his colleagues at Hillcrest. “I can’t help but be reminded of how lucky I am to have access to the care I need at such a crucial time in my life, and how there are thousands of men and women in this country who aren’t as fortunate.”
Campaign manager Toby Fallsgraff expects O’Neill to be back on the trail full time by his birthday, May 6:
"He also wanted me to let everyone know that, though he might be on the sidelines for the next few weeks, the campaign is moving forward because, as he put it, the changes we need in Washington are even more urgent than this surgery.”
The St. Patrick's Day Brunch that I wrote about yesterday will still take place on Sunday, but now it is a "Get Well Bill!" event as well as a celebration of his primary victory:
St. Patrick's Day Brunch
Sunday, March 16, 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
James Catering, 29717 Euclid Ave., Wickliffe
$25 corned beef lunch (beer and pop included)
They're voting in Mississippi, where polls show Obama up by double digits over Clinton. For good local coverage, go to the Cotton Mouth Blog. There's an "I Voted" thread for Mississipians here - so far nobody is reporting any voting problems.
Two open congressional seats and a U.S. Senate contest are also on the ballot. The Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports that turnout of 125,000 to 150,000 is expected, up from 100,000 in the 2004 presidential primary, and although Mississippi does not require a declaration of party affiliation there probably won't be a lot of cross-over voting due to the congressional primaries being on the ballot.
Taegen Goddard points out this item at First Read, noting that Mississippi is one of three southern states that an Obama nomination arguably could put into play in the general election, the others being Georgia and Alabama. A big showing by Obama today (more than 15%?) would bolster that argument.
UPDATE: Here is a detailed, district-by-district delegate analysis of Mississippi, ending with a prediction of a 20 to 13 delegate split in favor of Obama, but perhaps as big as 23 to 10.
Today at 10:30 a.m. in the Ohio Statehouse, term-limited State Rep. Jon Peterson (R-Delaware), State Rep. Dan Stewart (D-Columbus), and State Sen. Dale Miller (D-Columbus) will announce the introduction of new legislation to fight discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The protection will extend to housing, employment, and public accommodations (such as restaurants). Lynne Bowman, Equality Ohio Executive Director, and Jimmie Beall, who lost school job when discovered she was a lesbian, will also attend.
Hallelujah. It's about time we drag Ohio into the 21st century.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, twenty states and the District of Columbia prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, including California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and New York. Ohio competes with those states as a destination for businesses and for desirable employees. More than 460 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than 2,600 private companies, colleges and universities, nonprofits and unions in the United States have adopted anti-discrimination policies that cover sexual orientation, and a 2006 Gallup poll found that 85% of Americans oppose workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.
There's no defending Spitzer's conduct, but Jane Hamsher asks some excellent questions about how this case was developed, and who knew about it and when.
... who do you want answering that call?
This could become a very big story in Ohio, depending on what is revealed in the coming days.
The Secretary of State has not yet released information on the number of provisional ballots cast in last Tuesday's primary election, despite the fact that county boards of elections were legally required to report that information by last Wednesday morning. Word is leaking out that the numbers will be very large indeed. Election law expert Dan Tokaji writes on the excellent Equal Vote Blog that provisional ballots in Franklin County may top 6%:
I have learned that a large number of provisional ballots were cast in Franklin County (Columbus area) on Tuesday. The total reported turnout was 299,688, but I'm told that there are approximately 20,000 additional provisional ballots that have yet to be verified or counted. If that's correct, it means that around 6.25% of Franklin County voters cast a provisional ballot. That's a lot.
That would continue an upward trend from the 2.8% provisionals cast in 2004 and a higher proportion in 2006.
A ballot issue likely to wind up on the general election ballot would require employers with 25 or more workers to allow full-time employees to earn 7 paid sick days per year. A poll of 2,082 Republicans and 2,308 Democrats conducted February 21-29 was released by the Columbus Dispatch today, and it shows major support for the proposal.
Among Democrats a total of 76% favor the ballot issue (43% strongly), and among Republican 45% favor it (16% strongly). That compares to 15% and 44% opposed, respectively, and about 10% undecided in each group. Independents were not polled.
Gov. Strickland's proposal to issue bonds to pay for a jobs and economic stimulus package, which could also be on the ballot, fared less well, with 54% of Democrats and 25% of Republicans in favor.
The paid sick days issue could be a big deal as far as driving Democratic voters to the polls, much like the minimum wage issue passed in 2006.
The National League of Cities today launched "American Cities '08, the Road to the White House Runs Through America's Hometowns," a focused effort to raise the voice and concerns of cities in the ongoing presidential campaign. The campaign includes a web site and other resources like video, buttons, and traditional printed publications. The whole idea is to ask tough questions of the presidential candidates and identify seven core policy areas where cities will seek a two-way partnership with the federal government instead of the usual trickle-down attitude.
Here is an initial video that makes the case for a focused urban policy at the federal level and asks some very tough questions of candidates and voters:
Seven out of 10 Americans live in cities and towns in this country. Energy independence, global warming, internet access, infrastructure, affordable housing, poverty, economic opportunity, comprehensive immigration reform, public safety -- these are all areas that are critical to our cities and require support from the federal government.