The Toledo Blade has a story and Lisa Renee has some thoughts on the shuffling of seats and candidates to occur in the 2nd Ohio Senate District and the 6th and 46th Ohio House Districts due to the election of State Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) to Congress. In brief, term-limited State Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) will resign his seat and be appointed to Latta's 6th House District post so that he can run next year as an incumbent. State Rep. Mark Wagoner (R-Ottawa Hills) will step down from his 46th House District seat to be appointed as Gardner's replacement and likewise run as an incumbent. The leading contenders to replace Wagoner are City Council President Barbara Sears (R-Sylvania) and Township Trustee DeeDee Liedel (R-Sylvania), both of whom have expressed interested in running for the seat.
Gardner will be opposed by former city council member and repeat candidate Jeff Bretz (D-North Baltimore). The Blade reports that the Democrats most often named as potential candidates to run for Wagoner's current 46th House District post are Mayor Tim Wagener (D-Maumee), attorney and school board member James Nusbaum (D-Sylvania), and former county commissioners Sandy Isenberg (D) and Harry Barlos (D). Other names I've heard mentioned are 2006 candidate Mark Dansack (D-Monclova Township), Township Trustee Carol Contrada (D-Sylvania), and city council member Mark Luetke (D-Sylvania), although I don't know if any of them are still interested or not. A person named Dick Roberts filed with the Secretary of State to run in the 46th as a Democrat, but I have no other information about him. In the 2nd Ohio Senate District, attorney Daniel McGookey (D-Sandusky) is reportedly still thinking it over and will announce a decision tomorrow.
The Blade also reports that the Democratic Party regards the 46th House District as their best pick-up opportunity in northwest Ohio. "They have always viewed that [46th District] seat as somewhat safe, but Ted Strickland won that district," ODP Chair Rep. Chris Redfern (D-Catawba Island) said to the Blade. "We will take a swing at that district." The district has a PVI of R+2.8. Wagoner won 60% of the vote against underfunded and inexperienced Dansack in 2006.
Dave of NixGuy.com reports that controversial arch-conservative State Rep. Tom Brinkman (R-Cincinnati), nicknamed "Dr. No" for his opposition to taxes and public spending, has filed to run for the 2nd Ohio Congressional District seat of Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland), complicating a GOP primary that already includes former county commissioner Phil Heimlich (R-Cincinnati). The thinking is that Brinkman and Heimlich will split the anti-Schmidt vote, making Schmidt's path easier. Brinkman ran against Schmidt in the GOP special primary in 2005 and came in third with about 20% of the vote. [UPDATE: Here is the link to the AP story in the Columbus Dispatch.]
A few highlights from Brinkman's divisive career:
* Founded the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (COAST) in 1999, which opposes tax levies in southwestern Ohio.
* Campaigned against a proposed levy to build a new communications system for the Hamilton County's fire and police departments, even after a tornado revealed problems with the existing systems.
* Led a group called Equal Rights Not Special Rights (ERNSR) that tried to gather petitions in 2006 to overturn Cincinnati's Human Rights Ordinance. The petitions were challenged as invalid and Brinkman was reprimanded by a court as "the real criminal" in the matter for changing addresses on the petitions, although he was not criminally charged in the case.
* Called on GOP voters to cast their ballots for Tim Hagan (D) over Gov. Bob Taft (R) in 2002 because Taft selected
pro-lifepro-choice Jennette Bradley (R) as his running mate.
* Was rated the single worst legislator in the 132-member in a 2003 Columbus Monthly survey of legislators, lobbyists, and others working in the State House.
Mayor Tom Kruse (D-Marysville) will declare his candidacy for the open 26th Ohio Senate District seat on Friday, December 14th at 10:00 am, at the Marysville City Council Chambers, 125 East Sixth Street in Marysville, Ohio. He will be joined at the announcement by Ohio Senate Democratic Leader Theresa Fedor (D-Toledo). Kruse has served three terms as Mayor and one term as a member of Marysville City Council.
Incumbent Sen. Larry Mumper (R-Marion) is term-limited. The 26th Ohio Senate District stretches from north-central to northwest Ohio, in Union, Logan, Marion, Wyandot, Crawford, Seneca, Sandusky and Ottawa Counties. It leans Republican (PVI R+8) and includes the 81st, 82nd, and 83rd Ohio House Districts, all held by Republicans. Former state senator Karen Gillmor (R-Dublin), who is the widow of the late Rep. Paul Gillmor (R), and State Rep. Steve Reinhard (R-Bucyrus) are running on the GOP side.
UPDATE: A commenter asks an excellent question. Why isn't Kruse running in the open 83rd Ohio House District, of which Marysville forms a substantial part? I know of no Democratic candidate there, where David Burke (R), Logan County Commissioner Jack Reser (R-Bellefountaine), and Air Force veteran and automotive technician Carson Wasserbeck (R-Prospect) appear ready to fight it out for the chance to replace term-limited State Rep. Tony Core (R-Rushsylvania). The Democratic Party has no realistic shot at taking control of the Ohio Senate but the Ohio House is in play, so why not put the promising candidates in those races? There had better be an excellent candidate in store for the 83rd, or this recruiting move makes no sense at all.
Or, I should say, a patchwork of red and blue. And those red parts have been knit into some pretty safe Republican districts. Gerrymandering works, doesn't it. And for the working families of the 5th District, the lack of a champion in Washington continues.
It was a very good thing that the Democratic Party played offense in a very Republican district, and that the Republican Party was compelled to expend extraordinary resources to retain the seat. I am hoping that the impressive exertions by the AFL/CIO and the Weirauch campaign will have a lasting positive effect in that area, leading to future gains.
Here are some things are probably obvious but deserve mention:
* Weirauch campaigned hard and well, showing a lot of improvement over the course of her three campaigns. She did not win, but she deserves some acknowledgment of that. And big thanks to her, to Bruce Weirauch, and to all of the campaign workers and volunteers and contributors who put so much into this race.
* Gov. Ted Strickland is very popular all across the state, but his support is not a silver bullet in hostile territory. Helpful, perhaps necessary, but not sufficient by itself.
* I don't know if Bob Latta's fear-mongering about illegal aliens won the race for him, but since it didn't clearly backfire I imagine that we are in for a wave of Tancredoism from GOP candidates across the board.
* Turnout was higher than I expected or that anecdotal reports suggested, although still low compared to regular elections. The GOTV was good on both sides, and Weirauch needed for it to be much better on her side than on the other.
Wood County, the most populous in the district and the most Democratic, has counted about 70% of its precincts and the unofficial results are about 55% for Bob Latta (R) and 45% for Robin Weirauch (D).
Although the counting is not over, this looks very, very bad for Weirauch.
From the small part of Ashland County that is in the 5th District:
405 Weirauch (D)
646 Latta (R)
1 Green (WI)
From Seneca County:
1,375 Weirauch (D)
1,589 Latta (R)
15 Green (WI)
Lucas County absentee ballots:
169 Weirauch (D)
168 Latta (R)
2 Green (WI)
The polls have closed and the poll workers are on their way into Bowling Green with the results.
In my tiny village, there is a sign painted on the wall of one of the buildings which says: "Population 800 nice people and one sorehead." There are 597 registered voters and 151 voted today and there were 39 absentee ballots issued.
In the next town over, there are 757 registered voters and 175 voted today with 24 absentee ballots issued.
But I heard unofficially that late in the day today, 120 people had voted at one of the two campus polling places, which I think is GREAT. Supposedly, there are 1,845 registered voters in that precinct. Obviously, a LOT of those folks have graduated and moved on. In the 2006 election, 173 voted at that location and for the primary back in November (it seems so long ago, doesn't it?) only 11 (!) people voted. Today was a big improvement!
My guess is that over the most northwestern portion of the District (near the Ohio, Michigan and Indiana border) where the weather was the worst and there is the most Buehrer support, turnout will be in the teens. Here in Wood county it could top 25% and be the highest turnout. I would guess that turnout overall will be between somewhere over 18% but more likely closer to 22 or 23%.
UPDATE: Turnout in Wood County came in at 24.52%
The telephoning has stopped and people are streaming into headquarters from out in the field. Volunteers are rearranging the tables and generally setting up for the party.
Some random thoughts:
* Here is the link to the page at the Ohio Secretary of State's web site where results will be posted.
* Someone said that 120 people had voted at the polling place at the Bowling Green State University Student Union by about 6:00 pm. That doesn't sound like a lot, but to a local politico I consulted it is actually a pretty good number.
* The chairman of the Wood County Democratic Party told me that he checked some precincts in Democratic-leaning Rossford and turnout there was fairly high, and then he checked some precincts in Republican-leaning Perrysburg and turnout was low. Not very scientific, but he said it's making him "feel pretty good."
* Another local politico said he expects turnout to be somewhat above 20% in Wood County, right around 20% in the counties just to the east and west, and under 20% in the extreme eastern and western counties. Those western counties are "Buehrer country," referring to the defeated GOP primary opponent of Bob Latta, and the weather out there was the worst in the district.
* A local activist, Justin Zollars, tells me that the Wood County Democratic Party has never been so energized. Seeing national resources supporting the campaign of Robin Weirauch has set an example and demonstrated a level of mobilization that people will want to emulate in the future.
UPDATE: * There were robo-calls for Weirauch from Bill Clinton today. At some point during the last few days there were robo-calls for Latta from Laura Bush.
The Columbus Dispatch blog The Daily Briefing is reporting that former state representative Bill Schuck (R) has dropped out of the 22nd Ohio House District race, citing "unforseen circumstances." City councilman Michael Keenan (R-Dublin) is expected to replace him.
This race is a major pickup opportunity for the Democratic party. Health law attorney John Carney (D) ran a tremendous campaign in 2006, winning 47% of the vote against three-term incumbent Jim Hughes (R). He is back for another try now that it is an open seat and he will be hard to stop.
Several commentators have remarked on the fact that GOP U.S. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Tanning Bed) has refused to campaign for Bob "Lackluster" Latta.
Here are some likely reasons:
The AP is reporting that Boehner has decided to go against the White House over spending limits. Right now, Congress is in virtual gridlock. If they don't act quickly, the IRS is not going to be able to process early tax returns because the GOP is holding America hostage over the issue of spending limits and the AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax.)
I love his line that some emergency spending passes the "straight face test." THIS "straight face"? Who is he kidding.
I'm strongly suspect that Boehner believes that Lackluster Bob would be so obdurate over spending issues that he would make Boehner's untenable position just that much worse. Boehner realizes how bad it will be for the GOP in Ohio if they are revealed to be complete obstructionists who will only fund war spending.
And even though Boehner's DISTRICT is immediately to the south of OH-05, that doesn't mean that he spends any time there. He lives in Washington so it was a lot easier for him to campaign in VA-01.
And besides, if you were a powerful guy like Boehner, would like want to come all the way to OH on Latta's behalf only to find that NOBODY showed up? Besides, I'm certain that Boehner prefers $1,000 a plate sóirees anyway... Or think of it this way, imagine being a GOP House leader with Lackluster Latta on their side, O'Neill, Driehaus, Kilroy and Boccieri on our side. Boehner's worst nightmare.And since he can't support Robin, the best he can do? Stay home, that's what. And he did!
In the photograph above, Robin Weirauch speaks to a crew of canvassers about to hit the streets about an hour ago. The office is buzzing with activity. There are about twenty people calling voters to remind them to get to the polls.
There are quite a few people complaining to callers that they have been contacted repeatedly. A volunteer next to me just said that the voter he just called had two visitors at the door and three telephone calls today. However, there are also reports of voters admitting that being reminded more than once may be necessary for lots of people.
The weather is poor but not terrible. It's been in the 30s all day with intermittent and sometimes heavy rain. The general report is light turnout all over the district.
There are about 325,000 active voters in the 5th District, so a low turnout of 20% would mean about 65,000 votes cast. The AFL-CIO reports that there are close to 73,000 union voters, counting union members, retirees, family members, and Working America members. The goal of the AFL/CIO mobilization for this election was to contact substantially all of them. That effort plus the extraordinary ground game deployed by the Weirauch campaign directly could well carry the day.
I reached State Sen. Sue Morano (D-Lorain) in her office in Columbus a few minutes ago. She is the only Democratic member of the Ohio Senate whose district includes part of the 5th Congressional District. I asked her to describe what the effect would be for her constituents if Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon) is elected to Congress today.
"The effect of having Robin serve our working families in Congress would be tremendous," she said. "She is a hard-worker who cares for working class families and knows the needs of the district."
"Robin has a tremendous amount of energy and enthusiasm," she continued. "She has the ability to help us start turning the tide for 2008."
I reminded Sen. Morano that she had previously remarked about the significant number of women who have recently been elected to legislative posts across northern Ohio, including herself, Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Township), State Sen. Capri Cafaro (D-Hubbard) [correction - she was appointed, not elected], and State Rep. Jennifer Brady (D-Westlake). If Weirauch is elected it would continue that trend. I asked her to comment on the difference that it makes to elect women as legislators in Ohio.
"Women really have the ability to listen to the needs of working families," she replied. "Also, it sets a tremendous precedent for women to become more involved, at the state level and for the country."
This afternoon Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon) spoke to an ebullient crowd of AFL/CIO members phonebanking at IBEW Local 8 in Rossford, Ohio. Weirauch was introduced as "the next Congressional representative from the 5th District" to foot-stomping and boisterous cheering. "The Republican Party has spent 16% of their available resources into this race," the introducer continued. "This shows that we have a good candidate. This was supposed to be a walkaway for any Republican, just like it was for the last 70 years. But we've got the candidate, we've got the momentum, and we're going to win."
Weirauch greeted the crowd enthusiastically and thanked them for the t-shirt. A union official reported that out of various headquarters the labor organization has made 32,000 live volunteer phone calls today, and out of those calls there were 7,271 enthusiastic Weirauch supporters.
Weirauch said that she remains thoroughly convinced that she will win today, due in large part to the efforts of labor. "The ALF/CIO program is so impressive," she said, "and you guys get so fired up." Weirauch said that union members know what this election is really about -- good jobs and trade agreements that really protect workers. She said that she has been talking to people who are skeptical that trade agreements can be fixed, but she tells them that since we passed them, we can fix them -- it is just a matter of having the will to do it, and the purpose of making them protect working families in our country as well as in other countries.
This afternoon at the IBEW Local 8 phone bank in Rossford, Ohio I sat down for a few minutes with Randy, a Region 2-B member of the UAW. He is a native of Defiance, Ohio in the 5th Congressional District and works at Defiance Precision Products.
When I asked what motivates him to volunteer for Robin Weirauch in this campaign he didn't have to think about it all. "Change," he said. "We have to make a change in the 5th District. We need a working-family representative who's going to take care of the middle class."
"I've lived in the 5th District all my life," he continued. "I feel like I've never been represented."
Randy told me that he has never seen this level of mobilization in any previous political campaign. "There's no comparison to Weirauch's past two campaign's," he said. "I got called last Monday and I've been working for Robin ever since. I've worked twelve hour days." In addition to phone banking, Randy said he has been leafleting at plants and sending out letters. "It's going to be wonderful when she wins," he added. "It's really going to send a message."
This afternoon I spoke briefly to State Rep. Matthew Barrett (D-Amherst), who was driving down to Columbus on state business after spending the morning in matters relating to his law practice. Barrett is the only Democratic state representative whose district overlaps part of the 5th Congressional District. The portion that is shared is in Huron and Seneca counties.
"It would be incredibly important," he said, "not just for the residents of Huron and Seneca counties but all over the 5th District. It would mean finally having a member of Congress who puts working families first. I have watched Robin Weirauch campaign in 2004 and 2006 as well as this year, and she works very, very hard. As a Congresswoman she would put in overtime to make sure that the needs of working families are satisfied."
"There is a trend in the last few elections," Barrett continued. "From 2004 to 2006 to now, people in conservative areas are no longer just voting for Republicans because their grandfather did. People are looking at "What do we need?" and "How do we make things better?" They are beginning to see that there is a viable option here, which is to vote Democratic. After the Democratic successes in 2006, look at what we got here at the state level -- a unanimous, bipartisan state budget."
Barrett also remarked on the effort put into this race by Gov. Ted Strickland (D) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon), who showed in 2006 that Democrats can win in the 5th Congressional District.
Writing on Real Clear Politics today, in a piece called "GOP Tries to Avoid Unpleasant Surprise in Ohio," prognosticator Stuart Rothenberg calls it a close race:
[W]hile political operatives from both parties scramble to downplay expectations, there is more than enough evidence to conclude that the race to fill the seat of the late Rep. Paul Gillmor (R) is going down to the wire.
Republican Bob Latta, who should, under normal circumstances, win the race rather easily, finds himself in an uncomfortably competitive race against Democrat Robin Weirauch, who already has lost two bids for Congress in the district.
A nasty Republican primary, during which the Club for Growth ran TV ads attacking Latta, combined with the political environment in the Buckeye State that one GOP political observer described as "very toxic," has some Republicans privately expressing the fear that their party could lose a seat that it should not be forced to worry about.
Rothenberg thinks that Latta is likely to prevail, but reports that the result is hard to predict because it is all about turnout:
A smart Democrat who is following the race closely told me recently that given the uncertainty about who will vote in the special election, it really doesn't matter whether Weirauch is ahead or behind by a few points in late polling. "It's all about turnout," the Democrat said.
And that's exactly why Republicans have pounded Weirauch as a liberal in the campaign's final days. The Democrat, who is backed by EMILY's List, is far better off if the election is about Latta, divisions in the GOP ranks, the war in Iraq or popular Gov. Ted Strickland (D), than if it is about her.
I just arrived in Bowling Green and checked in at the campaign headquarters for Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon). During the drive I called Mike Van Wagner, chairman of the Fulton County Democratic Party up in the northwestern corner of the 5th Congressional District. He said that he voted right when the polls opened and turnout was very light. The weather is cold and nasty.
I asked him about his sense about the mood of the voters in Fulton County and he said that rural voters are very turned off by the "hate thing." They are very disturbed about the trash talking and negativity in the television ads, not only those for State Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) but also the ad by the DCCC. They understand that a candidate needs to respond when attacked, but they don't like it. He says it is particularly disheartening to folks who contributed money to Latta and don't like to see what he is using their contribution for.
There are a significant number of voters in Fulton County who have changed their party affiliation because of their disenchantment with the Republican party, and there is substantial support for Gov. Ted Strickland (D). He said that voters in his area respond to the "basic goodness" of Weirauch at her campaign events. Van Wagner does not yet have any specific information about turnout but he is hopeful.
Weirauch just walked into headquarters and looks great - relaxed, energized, confident.
An email from the candidate:
Thank you for your support for my election campaign. It has meant so much to me. Now the day we have all been waiting for, Election Day, is finally here! Here's what you need to know about voting today.
Polls are open from 6:30am - 7:30pm. Please be sure to be in line by 7:30pm, and don't forget to bring ID!
As our Senator Sherrod Brown said this weekend, if you can get 5 people to vote today, it will actually matter. Please, contact your neighbors, friends and family and make sure they vote today too.
Let's go vote!
P.S. If you want to volunteer for my campaign today, please stop by the office anytime at 116 S. Main, Bowling Green or call 419-352-1583. To sign up for phonebanking from home, email firstname.lastname@example.org. You're also invited to our election night party tonight at campaign headquarters, starting at 7pm. Hope to see you there!
The weather across OH-05 is mixed but not nearly as bad as forecasts had predicted. The far western end of the District appears to be having more freezing precipitation than here in the central part of the District. Only a very scattered handful of schools are operating on a two hour delay. The temperature here is 33 degrees with moderate steady rain and fog.
WAIT -this just in!
Exit polling released by a Democratic Party supporter to ODB claims that Robin Weirauch has already picked up TWO VOTES from a "left wing extremist blogger" household in Wood County! The Latta ground campaign is swamped. Expect the GOP to try and spend another half a million on media and robocalls...(/snark)
Seriously GO ROBIN!
This item on The Politico reports that a poll taken by the campaign of State Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) last week "showed him trailing [Robin] Weirauch by four points, according to a GOP operative."
The story also reports that the campaign manager for State Sen. Steve Buehrer (R-Delta) in the GOP primary, Jim Banks, concedes that "there’s an effect from a primary that’s been carried over" and "no one can deny it was a very nasty and physical election." He also says that Weirauch "appeals more to the union and working-class voters — the people who are struggling the most and that want the most change," and that the bread-and-butter issues on which Weirauch has focused "polled at the top of voter concerns during the primary."
In contrast to Weirauch's hard-hitting populist campaign, a GOP source reports that Latta's campaign "was unprepared to handle the race’s newfound attention" and the NRCC "had to dispose resources to respond effectively." The Politico's source called the Latta’s ground game “lackluster” and said "the NRCC has become the campaign by proxy."
Swung through Weirauch campaign headquarters in Bowling Green to pick up my GOTV assignment for tomorrow. Lots of happy volunteers working the phones. Staffers doggedly working away into the night.
I have it from reliable sources that take-out Chinese food was the "cuisine du jour" for tonight.
I forgot to bring my camera but Lauren has that covered.
At this moment the fog is really building across the region. The air temp is exactly 32 degrees. Tomorrow could go either way. We might have another ice storm, it might warm up a little bit and just be a (very) cold rain event with temps in the upper thirties.
Of course, Jeff will have live coverage tomorrow.
I wanted to close with this TRUE anecdote: I know a gal who is a genuine independent, who is very representative of OH-05 voters. She told me that she's voting for Robin Weirauch. Why?
"Because those ads that Latta is running are just STUPID."
Couldn't have said it better myself.
Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon) will join with volunteer phone bankers tonight from 6:00 to 7:30 pm at IBEW Local 8, 807 Lime City Road in Rossford, Ohio.
This story in today's Lancaster Eagle Gazette, reporting on a campaign stop by Robin Weirauch and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon) in Bellevue yesterday, contains a comment indicating that absentee voting in Sandusky County is encouraging:
Sandra Wise, a member of the Sandusky County Democratic party said, "Most people [at the rally] were those who lost a job, or had a loved one who lost a job."
About 35 people gathered at the Eagles Sunday, Wise said.
"Robin was the calmest that I've ever seen her," Wise said.
According to Wise, more than 1,100 absentee ballots have been received by the Sandusky County Board of Elections thus far for Tuesday's election.
"We feel pretty good about that," Wise said. "We're seeing a lot more young people involved."
"We need to send someone to Washington to stand up for the middle class," Wise said.
Today Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon) knocked on voters' doors with two local high school seniors who are worried about the lack of jobs available to them in Northwest Ohio:
“I’ve traveled all across Northwest Ohio, from Polk to Pleasant to right here in Perrysburg. Everywhere I go, I hear the same story: ‘I used to make a good living here, had good health care and a good pension.’ But now, after years of watching career politicians put corporate interests over the interests of people like you and me, the story is very different,” said Robin Weirauch. “Too many here have seen their job move to China, their credit card payments pile up, and the cost of basic health care become too expensive for their family so they’ve been forced to move.
“Tomorrow we can reject the politics of the past by voting for change. Together, we can shake things up and ensure that jobs stay right here in Northwest Ohio. With your help, we will send a message loud and clear so no parent ever has to tell their son or daughter again they are forced to leave Northwest Ohio to look for work because politicians in Washington failed to do their job.”
Ohioans have seen 300,000 jobs sent overseas. Brandon Closson and Trent Smith both volunteered for Robin’s campaign because they are worried about the lack of jobs in the area. Closson lives with his grandparents in Kalida because his parents had to leave the community last year to find better paying jobs. Smith was born and grew up in Northwest Ohio and would like to continue to live in the area but he is concerned that he won’t be able to find a job that will allow him to stay here.
Polls are open in the 5th District tomorrow from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm. If you are in line by 7:30 pm, you will be allowed to vote. Click here to find out where your polling place is located.