In a conference call that will begin shortly, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon) will discuss a five-page study just released by his office that details the crushing impact of Bush's proposed budget cuts on Ohio's rural communities. Forty-eight out of Ohio's 88 counties are considered rural and they have much higher unemployment and lower high school graduation rates than the urban counties, some shockingly so. “With faltering infrastructure, disappearing jobs, underfunded schools, and spotty access to health care, rural communities are fighting an uphill battle without the federal support they need,” Brown says of his findings.
The Bush budget proposes to terminate 19 established rural economic development programs, slash rural health programs by $154 million, cut funding for state and local law enforcement (which hurts rural counties that are struggling to combat increased illegal drug trafficking), and freeze education discretionary spending at 1.4% less than what is needed just to keep up with inflation.
I'll update with additional info after the call. The report can be downloaded here [.pdf].
Big hat-tip to Taegan Goddard of Political Wire who just put up a helpful summary of delegate counts, with links:
Wow. From an AP's Ron Fournier:
Top Democrats, including some inside Hillary Clinton's campaign, say many party leaders - the so-called superdelegates - won't hesitate to ditch the former New York senator for Barack Obama if her political problems persist. Their loyalty to the first couple is built on shaky ground.
"If (Barack) Obama continues to win .... the whole raison d'etre for her campaign falls apart and we'll see people running from her campaign like rats on a ship," said Democratic strategist Jim Duffy, who is not aligned with either campaign.
Obama looks to be riding a 10-win streak after next Tuesday's contests in Wisconsin and Hawaii. That will make 25 out of 37. The majority of superdelegates who have indicated support one way or the other are in the Clinton column, but Fournier describes many who won't necesarily stay there:
Some are labor leaders still angry that Bill Clinton championed the North American Free Trade Agreement as part of his centrist agenda. ...
Some served in Congress when the Clintons dismissed their advice on health care reform in 1993. Some called her a bully at the time. ...
Some are senators who had to defend Clinton for lying to the country about his affair with Monica Lewinsky.
Some are allies of former Vice President Al Gore who still believe the Lewinsky scandal cost him the presidency in 2000.
Some are House members (or former House members) who still blame Clinton for Republicans seizing control of the House in 1994. ...
The Obama campaign is happy to welcome everyone to an organizational meeting on Wednesday 2/13 in Hamilton County.
Details after the flip.
Congressional candidate John Mitchel (R-Beavercreek) is distributing a scathing op-ed piece he has written that accuses former U.S. senator Mike DeWine (R-Cedarville), retiring Rep. Dave Hobson (R-Springfield), endorsed successor candidate State Sen. Steve Austria (R-Beavercreek) and his spouse, and a variety of local GOP officials of a long history of cronyism and a recent corrupt scheme that involves steering a no-bid contract to Hobson campaign contributors, which incident Mitchel equates with the corrupt activity that has landed former congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) in federal prison. He has been demanding a full investigation, which he accuses local GOP officials of resisting in order to conceal the conflicts of interests and influence peddling that have occurred.
This is fascinating reading and these allegations may form a big part of the backdrop to this congressional race.
Full text after the break.
All Clinton volunteers and supporters are invited to join young professionals as they welcome Chelsea Clinton to Sully's in Cincinnati.
Details after the flip.
There's an article in the metro section of the Plain Dealer today (can't find an online counterpart) reporting that the executive director of the Ohio Turnpike Commission, Gary Suhadolnik, is retiring this spring and the commission will select a replacement in March. George Distel (D-Conneaut), the term-limited incumbent in the 99th Ohio House District, is the front-runner to take Suhadolnik's place, and he says that he is "delighted at the opportunity."
If Distel steps down, his likely replacement is Deborah Newcomb (D-Conneaut), who replaced Distel as county commissioner and is now running to replace him as state representative. Running as an incumbent will help Newcomb against car dealer Tom Nizen (R-Jefferson), whom Newcomb defeated in her last re-election campaign for commissioner by 54% to 46%.
Rally with Hillary Clinton at OSU's French Field House on Thursday, 2/14.
Details after the flip.
Rally with Hillary Clinton at Brush High School in Lyndhurst on Friday 2/15.
Details after the flip.
Nice to see that the Dems aren't going to sit around waiting to be attacked this time. Here is a DNC video ad targeting John McCain on his revisionism about Iraq:
SurveyUSA has released a new Ohio poll taken 2/10 and 2/11 and it shows Hillary Clinton with a big 17 point lead over Barack Obama among likely voters:
Clinton is buoyed by a strong showing among women (62% to 33%), voters over 65 (64% to 30%), Democrats (58% to 37%), whites (62% to 32%), Hispanics (87% to 8%), and those for whom the economy is the top issue (60% to 35%). Obama is statistically tied among males (47% to 46%) but does extremely well among African Americans (73% to 24%) and fairly well among independents (48% to 42%). He is not significantly ahead among voters for whom Iraq is the top issue (48% to 46%).
49% of Clinton supporters say that they could change their minds, compared to 40% for Obama supporters.
This is a very tough poll for the Obama campaign, without a doubt. SurveyUSA is a fairly reliable outfit and the primary is only three weeks away. However, Obama has shown that he can move the numbers dramatically when he comes to a state and starts making personal appearances before large crowds.
UPDATE: Good analysis by Pho, and by Redhorse in the comments. Jerid's efforts to portray this poll as good news for Obama (in comments here and at Pho's place) show that he's letting his support for Obama loosen his grip on reality. It's one thing to support Obama, as Jerid and I both do, it's another to twist the facts beyond all recognition. Obama has a lot of work to do if these numbers are going to shift before OT Tuesday, and if Clinton and her surrogates campaign hard as expected it's a long shot for him to do better than cutting into Clinton's lead.
Here it is -- short and pithy:
Called "Falling Through," it has a populist message about the Bush economy that is perfectly appropriate for Ohio, although according to The Daily Briefing it was not specially made for this state. It is airing across the state starting today.
Bev Campbell (D) and Nancy Garland (D) will address the February meeting of the Franklin County Young Democrats tonight in Columbus. This is a hotly contested primary in a critical Ohio House race.
Details after the flip - h/t DrTruth at BSB
On the heels of his Meet the Bloggers interview and yesterday's five-way debate, Joe Cimperman (D) has produced a new video that pounds Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D) on missing votes while he campaigned for president:
The Obama for America campaign invites supporters to meet the campaign staff and learn about ways to help Obama carry Ohio.
Details after the break.
The biggest prize between the three primaries today and OT Tuesday on March 4th is the Dairy State (a week from today), and a poll just out from Public Policy Polling [.pdf] shows Obama defeating Clinton there among Cheeseheads in almost every demographic:
* 50% to 39% among all likely voters;
* 46% to 36% among women and 56% to 35% among men;
* 49% to 41% among whites and 66% to 24% among African Americans;
* 57% to 37% among voters aged 18 to 29;
* 55% to 34% among those most concerned about the Iraq War; and,
* 46% to 44% among self-identified Democrats (a category that Clinton has been winning elsewhere), and a whopping 63% to 25% among independents and 63% to 28% among Republicans.
The only categories where Clinton leads Obama are voters over age 65 (52% to 39%) and voters most concerned about the economy and jobs (47% to 45%) or morality and family values (46% to 30%).
The likely voter screen reflects anticipated heavy turnout among young voters and African-American voters, contributing to Obama's 50% to 39% margin. If the results are weighted to standard turnout instead, Obama's lead is reduced to 46% to 42%.
Wisconsin was something of a question mark, with Hawaii's primary on the same day thought more likely to go Obama's way. This poll makes Obama seem a good bet to go 10-0 in nominating contests between Super Tuesday and OT Tuesday.
Barack Obama was the first to announce a major TV buy in Ohio, but there are signs all around that a major push by Hillary Clinton in Ohio is starting immediately:
* Politics Extra reports that space hero John Glenn will make his endorsement of Clinton with Gov. Ted Strickland in Columbus this afternoon, and the two of them will make appearances around the state tomorrow and Thursday;
* The Daily Briefing says that Chelsea Clinton is speaking at OSU tomorrow and Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware on Thurdsay;
* Hillary herself will be in Youngstown on Thursday and Cleveland on Friday; and,
* Clinton is also starting TV ads in Ohio today.
Representatives for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and OH-02 candidates Steve Black and Victoria Wulsin, will make statements and answer questions from a three-person panel.
Details after the flip.
It's morning in Ohio, the Potomac primaries are today, and OT Tuesday is only three weeks away. Ohio's progressive bloggers, the best in the nation, are pounding out must-read posts on the presidential race:
WLST: On Having a Beer With a Candidate - Jill tees off on Mark Naymik's interesting reaction to Hillary Clinton's endorsement interview with The Plain Dealer ("more comfortable with policy than people ... [n]obody likes a smarty-pants ...") with a criticism of the shallowness of the whole obsession with "who'd you like to have a beer with?" dimension in evaluating candidates. Also, last night she agreed with blogger Morra Arons that for all his newness, Barack Obama has lots of establishment ties and support.
PBD: Calling BS on Mark Penn - Great take-down by Redhorse of Clinton pollster/consultant Mark Penn for saying that Clinton "has consistently shown an electoral resiliency in difficult situations that have made her a winner." What exactly are these tough races that she has won? Also, Redhorse detailed yesterday how the stress of a rough week for Billary is starting to show.
Pho: Consensus on Magnitude of OT Tuesday - Noting reports that superdelegates regard the Ohio and Texas primaries as paramount, Pho says the task before Obama is clear: win Ohio and you should be able to wrap this up; lose here and throw the decision to the superdelegates.
Bellwether: Ghosts On The Ballot - Bill Sloat notes that six candidates now out of the race will appear on the presidential primary ballot in Ohio. Could this affect the outcome?
BSB: High Stakes for STJ and Ted - Russo foresees major embarrassment for Clinton supporters Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Gov. Ted Strickland if the former's 11th Congressional District goes for Obama by 75%-25% or better, based on the trend among African-American voters nationwide, and if that margin tips Ohio into the Obama column.
Plunderbund: Hoping Edwards Endorses Clinton - Obama supporter Eric explains why he now wants John Edwards to give the nod to Clinton.
MCDAC: Evangelicals Voting Democratic - The MCDAC Blog notes that Zogby asked Democratic voters in Missouri and Tennessee if they were Christian evangelicals, and found that they accounted for a fifth of Democratic votes in Missouri and nearly a third in Tennessee.
I just got a robocall from Hillary Clinton, telling me that my absentee ballot should be arriving soon and urging me to vote for her. I imagine that this call will go out to every Democratic voter who sent in an absentee ballot application.
It was a rather slow, measured delivery, sounding very much read-from-a-script, and emphasized "real solutions for our nation and Ohio." She mentioned health care and ending the war in Iraq.
Newsy bits from the battlegrounds, by a blogger who was out of the loop for four days:
OH-02: No Presidential Endorsement by Wulsin & Other News Items - Victoria Wulsin (D-Indian Hill) told the Enquirer editorial board today that she hasn't chosen a favorite in the presidential race. Meanwhile, Pho reports that Wulsin is one of only 18 Democratic candidates on a list at Swing State Project of those with cash advantage at year end over a Republican incumbent, $344,315 to $124,857. And blogger Bill Sloat is providing great ongoing coverage of this race. He reported yesterday that underfunded GOP challenger State Rep. Tom Brinkman (R) was endorsed by the small-circulation newspaper Christian Citizen, and on Saturday that Wulsin requested the cancellation of the Clermont County OH-02 straw poll because opponent Steve Black (D-Indian Hill) is mourning the passing of his father, retired judge Robert L. Black. The latter story contains interesting comments by Clermont County Democratic Chairman Dave Lane about Black having switched parties:
"My personal view is that any time that a Republican chooses to see the light and join us, well, he is welcome. We should take all the Republicans we can get. I don't hold that against Steve Black. A person who switches parties from Republican to Democrat to run for office, I don't question that at all. ... [Paul] Hackett, he had shadows of Republicanism in his history. There was some history of him switching back and forth."
Wulsin wil speak at a Shawnee Labor Council Meeting on Gallia Street in Portsmouth tonight [2/11] at 7:00 p.m. and at the Brown County Democrats Club Meeting at 509 North Main in Georgetown at 7:00 p.m. tomorrow [2/12].
OH-03: Turner Ethics Questioned - Dave of Into My Own writes today about an important story in Sunday's Dayton Daily News, detailing a questionable $1.5 million no-bid contract awarded by a committee composed of Turner campaign supporters to a small marketing firm owned by his wife, Lori Turner. Dave lists important questions that need answers in light of today's report. The blogger Mr Liberal also wrote about the story today on DailyKos.com.
Meanwhile, David Esrati (D-Dayton) is using his campaign blog to support Barack Obama in the presidential race. I interviewed Jane Mitakides (D) last week (I hope to get that posted tomorrow) and she said she has not picked a favorite candidate yet.
OH-04: Carroll to Give Keynote Speech at Presidents Day Luncheon - Mike Carroll (D-Mansfield) will headline the Hardin County Democratic Party's annual President's Day event at Jolene's Cozy Cafe, 507 E. Columbus Street in Kenton, Ohio from noon to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 23rd.
OH-05: Radcliffe Campaigning Hard - Iraq veteran Scott Radcliffe (R-Perrysburg) is giving newly elected Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) a real run for his money if this glowing account of his visit to Van Wert last Friday is any indication. He sounds like a good candidate.
OH-07: Odds and Ends - Bill Conner (D-BEavercreek) will be at a "Meet the Candidate" party this Saturday, February 16th at 5:00 p.m. at the Greene County Democratic Headquarters, 87 E.Main Street in Xenia, Ohio. Dave Woolever (D-Stoutsville) has won his fourth labor endorsement, this time from IATSE Stage Hands Local 12. Dr. Richard Wyderski (D-Beavercreek) has upgraded his campaign site.
UPDATE: OH-10 Debate - Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) was a late addition to the Democratic debate taped for Time Warner yesterday afternoon [2/11]. Anthony Fossaceca, campaign manager for Rosemary Palmer (D-Cleveland), live-blogged the event here, and Openers has the audio. Time Warner will broadcast the debate repeatedly between now and the primary, first at 8:00 p.m. tomorrow night [2/13] on Channel 15 in Cleveland, Channel 23 in Akron, and Channel 22 elsewhere, and again at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday and 9:00 p.m. on Sunday. The candidates will debate again in a sold-out event hosted by the City Club of Cleveland at noon on February 19th, which will be broadcast on Channels 3 and 5 in Cleveland and on public radio WCPN 90.3.
UPDATE: OH-12 Events - Russ Goodwin (D) has his first big fundraising event tonight [2/12] at 5:30 p.m. at the Havana Night Club, 862 N. High Street in Columbus. Rival David Robinson (D) has announced that he will attend a meeting of the Democratic Network of Southeast Delaware County at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 16th at the Community Library, 44 Burrer Drive in Sunbury, Ohio.
UPDATE: OH-16 Candidates Profiled - The Canton Repository published a pair of stories about the candidates on both sides in this high-profile open seat race. Democrats John Boccieri and Mary Cirellia are virtually indistinguishable on the issues, but Boccieri is far ahead in fund-raising and endorsements. Cirelli bashed Boccieri on still living outside the district (he plans to move to Alliance when his daughters are out of school), and Boccieri responded: "Her whole campaign is about where I put my head on a pillow at night," Boccieri said. "My whole campaign is about where people go to work in the morning."
UPDATE: OH-18 Not So Close After All - David at Ohio Valley Politics highlights a story in the Zanesville Times Recorder, revealing that neither ODP Chair Chris Refern nor ORP Deputy Chair Kevin DeWine regard the 0H-18 race as among the most competitive in Ohio. They think that OH-1, OH-2, OH-15 and OH-14 are the competitive ones, not OH-18. This is a huge testament to the fundraising and high visibility of Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover), as well as a signal of the relatively low profile of his three GOP opponents and the financial strains on the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Roll Call reports that disgraced and convicted GOP bribe-taker Bob Ney (R) will be released from his minimum security prison later this month, and Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Alex Goepfert is looking forward to seeing him on the campaign trail:
"With John McCain promising voters nothing short of a third term for George Bush, Bob Ney will do an excellent job reminding Ohioans of exactly what the first two terms of the Bush presidency have meant for our state," said Goepfert. "Any word on Tom Noe?"
Dispatch reporter Joe Hallet talked to Gov. Ted Strickland today after the latter cast an early ballot, and Ohio's leading Clinton supporter didn't mince words:
Ohio is critical. Ohio and Texas, I think, will be the firewall that makes it possible for Sen. Clinton to win the primary election and eventually to become the president ... I think it would be very difficult for her to proceed to eventual victory without winning Ohio. I'm not saying that's not possible, but I think it would make it much more difficult.
Sen. Obama is a person with great strengths and very significant talent, [but] Ohioans are Clinton kind of voters. Thus far, working people, blue-collar people are the people who have supported her strongly."
This is essentially the same point that Redhorse has been making for a while, i.e., Ohio is Clinton's make-or-break state ("[I]f Obama wins Ohio, he'll win the nomination; if he loses, it's a toss-up").
Political Director Erin Hill of ActBlue.com, the netroots fundraising site, sent out an email today that makes an important point:
The Republicans have their nominee. Time and time again, this is where Democrats are most vulnerable: we take months to select a nominee, and we fight divided against a unified Republican voice.
We can't afford to stand idly by during the final phase of our nomination process while the GOP regroups and seizes the initiative. We need to start fighting back now.
That's why ActBlue.com has set up a special contribution account to start building a war chest, to help our nominee even before he or she is chosen.
The GOP did a good job of this in the 5th Congressional District special election last year. State Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) and State Sen. Steve Buehrer (R-Delta) wore each down in the Republican primary, but there was a substantial sum of money in a special political fund waiting to give the winner a boost.
Let's support this effort. Give what you can to make sure our nominee hits the ground running.
Just in from the campaign, Obama is on the air statewide beginning tomorrow with a health care ad called "Mother":
It's a good ad, but it isn't freshly minted for Ohio. This ad was posted to YouTube four months ago, and ran in Missouri in January.
Here's an excerpt from the email message announcing the ad buy:
Health care costs have risen sharply for Ohio families -- since 2000, the average premium has increased by 34.6% to over four thousand dollars per year. Over 1.2 million Ohioans lack health insurance, including 206,000 children. Obama’s plan mandates coverage for children while lowering costs an average of $2,500 for a typical family, making health care coverage affordable for every American to obtain.
“The health care crisis in Ohio has reached an epidemic level, but it won’t just take a plan to reform our health care system, it will take leadership that can unite Americans to take on the special interests and prevail,” said State Representative Ted Celeste. “Barack Obama worked with Democrats, independents, and Republicans to expand health care coverage to an additional 150,000 Illinois residents, and he is the candidate who will pass universal coverage as president. Obama’s plan does more to cut health care costs than any other plan – making coverage affordable for all Americans by reducing costs an average of $2,500 for families. To lower costs and put the American dream back in reach for Ohio families, Barack Obama is the candidate who will bring change we can believe in.”
It's interesting that Obama is leading off with health care as an issue in Ohio, not the foreclosure crisis or the sagging economy in general. (It's also interesting that Ted Celeste is featured in the email.) In their recent endorsement interviews with the editors of the Plain Dealer, Clinton proposed a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures to allow homeowners and banks to negotiate workouts, and also emphasized her call for a five-year freeze on interest rates. Obama objected to the five-year freeze idea on the ground that it would result in a significant increase in interest rates. Obama's comments on urban policy weren't as focused on foreclosures:
Obama proposes creating a housing trust fund that would finance affordable housing in mixed-income neighborhoods.
He would also designate 20 "promise neighborhoods" in areas with the highest levels of poverty and crime. These would be modeled after the Harlem Children's Zone, which provides a range of community services, like early-childhood education and youth violence prevention programs.
He has also proposed adding a White House urban policy director to track how federal money is spent in urban areas such as Cleveland.
Having the two candidates zero in on Ohio over the next three weeks is our opportunity to force them to address key issues in our state, including the Great Lakes Water Compact as well as the foreclosure crisis, jobs, the economy, and developing alternative energy as a growth industry here. We should all be paying close attention to what they say or don't say on these topics and demand more detail if we aren't getting it.