We all know the math. The Ohio Democratic Party needs a net gain of four seats to take control of the Ohio House of Representatives. To be safe, the party probably needs to pick up six or more seats now held by Republicans. Where are those pickups going to occur?
Here is my current ranking of the ten best opportunities:
92nd District - City council member Debbie Phillips (D-Athens) battled incumbent Jimmy Stewart (R-Athens) to a recount last year and wound up losing by only 865 votes. Stewart is running for Ohio Senate and Phillips faces county auditor Jill Thompson (R) for the open seat. The district leans Democratic (D+2.9.) Phillips is an intelligent, articulate, and dedicated campaigner and last year's experience will help her this time around.
42nd District - City council member Mike Moran (D-Hudson) is a terrific candidate and he is ideally situated to take out John Widowfield (R-Cuyahoga Falls), who lost his bid for Cuyahoga Falls Clerk of Courts in 2005.
22nd District - Health law attorney John Carney (D-Columbus) is a smart, tough, appealing candidate who outperformed the partisan voter index in this Republican-leaning district by more than 5 points in winning 46.91% of the vote in 2006 against entrenched incumbent Jim Hughes (R-Clintonville), now running for the Ohio Senate. Carney will probably face city councilman Michael Keenan (R-Dublin).
85th District - Ray Pryor (D-Chillicothe) won 48.59% of the vote against John Schlichter (R-Washington Court House) and returns to build on his strong showing.
Marc Kovacs reports on the excellent Capital Blog that 20-year-old Ohio State University political science and economics major Luke Brewer (D-Glenmont) will announce that he is running for state representative in the open 97th Ohio House District. Brewer is the 2005 valedictorian at Holmes East High School and the son of public school teachers Tom and Julia Brewer. On his campaign site, Brewer says that his "decision to run stems both from my lifelong connection to the district as well as my desire to make the 97th district a better place for all of us who live here." He also has a campaign blog called "What's Brewin'?" where campaign manager Andrew Mackey has written the first post.
Brewer was president of the Holmes County Young Democrats for two years and did a 6-week internship with a Federal Member of the Canadian Parliament in the summer of 2007. He was wait-listed at Harvard University before enrolling at OSU. He grew up on his family’s farm in Glenmont, was active with 4-H and Catholic Heart Work Camp, and was chosen as the Holmes County Fair King while a junior in High School.
The 97th District is in Holmes, Ashland, and Medina Counties in northeast Ohio. It leans strongly Republican (PVI R+14.2). Term-limited incumbent Bob Gibbs (R-Lakeville) is running for Ohio Senate in the 22nd District. Holmes County Commissioner Dave Hall (R-Millersburg) has announced that he is running for this seat.
Here is the photograph obtained by ABC News, showing presidential candidate Mitt Romney (R-MA) and his wife Ann at a Planned Parenthood fundraiser in Cohasset in 1994, at which Ann wrote a check on their joint account for a $150 donation. Romney says he doesn't recall the circumstances of the donation, but attendees say Romney was touting his support for the Planned Parenthood agenda as he was locked in a tight Senate race with Edward Kennedy (D-MA):
"They were both there, and I remember very well chatting with both of them, and talking about his support for the pro-choice agenda," [said Nicki Nichols Gamble, then president of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts]. "We talked about the fact that he was taking a pro-choice position on the issues, and we were very pleased about that."
Romney is on record as having changed his views on abortion since 1994, but his campaign has sought to downplay and minimize his former support for abortion rights.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon) has been energetic and creative in his first year in office, travelling all over the state fighting for SCHIP and consumer safety and supporting legislation that helps the middle class. In an email message sent to supporters today, he recounts some of his achievements since taking office:
During the campaign, I promised I would put the middle class first as Ohio's U.S. Senator. I have honored that commitment.
To date, I have held 71 roundtables from Toledo to Marietta, from Ashtabula to Cincinnati. I have held legislative conference calls with Ohioans on issues ranging from agriculture to education to job creation.
In August, my senior legislative aides held more than 150 meetings throughout Ohio on issues including agriculture, economic development, veterans, and improving our housing system. And every Thursday morning the Senate is in session, we hold our Ohio Coffee open to all Ohioans visiting our nation's capital.
Listening to Ohioans and learning from their experiences in all these ways helped me craft legislation and deliver results to help and expand the middle class in many ways.
Jobs - Key to Ohio's economic future is creating clean energy jobs. I have worked to support several initiatives including a solar-powered project at Bowling Green State University, a fuel cell technology project in Columbus, and support for solar and wind projects in Toledo and Cleveland.
Education - Ohio will see nearly $800 million in increases in Pell Grants over the next five years with the passage of the bipartisan Higher Education Reauthorization Act. We will work with educators to improve the No Child Left Behind Act.
This is a very powerful symbolic statement for an elected official to make.
Gov. Ted Strickland (D) is refusing to accept a $4,000 pay raise for next year to which he is legally entitled. He also plans to pay back the state for his health insurance.
In reporting this item, Mark Niquette points out that Strickland froze the pay of 3,400 nonunion state employees indefinitely, due to tough financial conditions. So Strickland is sharing the pain. And sending a message that he gets it about Ohio's hard times. Can you imagine a GOP elected official doing this?
Registered nurse and attorney Janice K. "Jan" Lanier (D-Westerville) is preparing to enter the race for the open 2nd Ohio House seat of term-limited Rep. Jon Peterson (R-Delaware).
Although Lanier has not held public office, she has worked in and around state government for 25 years as an advocate for nurses, the nursing profession, and patients. She was the associate executive director of the Ohio Board of Nursing for seven years before becoming the director of health policy for the Ohio Nurses Association, where she is currently the deputy executive officer.
There are no nurses in the Ohio House of Representatives at this time, and Lanier says that the nursing profession needs to be at the policy-making table when decisions are made about how to fix Ohio's health care system. “One of the biggest challenges facing elected officials is health care access and affordability,” she says. “We must elect people to the Ohio House of Representatives who have expertise essential to the development of creative and effective solutions to this growing problem. As a registered nurse I am uniquely qualified to do that and more."
Lanier has lived in Westerville for over 30 years and has lived in Delaware County since 1998. She formerly practiced law at Squires, Sanders & Dempsey in Columbus, focusing on health care issues. Her three grown children all graduated from Westerville South High School, and three of her seven grandchildren are currently enrolled in Westerville elementary schools.
What's new in the state whose population density of 277.26 per square mile is ninth in the nation and higher than any state not on the eastern seaboard:
Strickland Backs Brunner on Replacing Voting Machines, Critics Balk - "This country has gone through two presidential elections where there have been, I believe, legitimate concerns raised about the fairness and the integrity of those elections," he says. "I don't think we should go through a third presidential election and have those questions out there. ... Unless [the problems] can be corrected in a way that is verifiable by objective analyzers, I think [the current electronic voting machines] ought to go." Several elections officials are objecting to changing the voting systems by November, and yesterday the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections deadlocked 2-2 on replacing their touch-screen system before the March primary (both Republicans voting "no"). Brunner has the power to force them to do it.
Convicts Rarely Obtain DNA Testing - Although it is big news whenever a convict is exonerated by DNA testing, the law that allows them to request it is so restrictive (and the DNA evidence is so often disposed of by the state) that only 9 out of 315 requests in a recent study (6%) were granted.
Kruse Profiled - Mayor Tom Kruse (D-Marysville), running for the open 26th Ohio Senate seat against either former state senator Karen Gillmor (R-Dublin) or State Rep. Steve Reinhard (R-Bucyrus), gets a nice write-up in the Toledo Blade.
Only Otterman - Council member John Otterman (D-Akron) was the sole applicant for appointment to replace his father State Rep. Bob Otterman (D-Akron) in the 45th District. Seven applicants will be considered for appointment to replace Mayor-elect William Healy (D-Canton) in the 52nd.
Big Meth Crack-Down - Attorney General Marc Dann (D) and local law enforcement authorities announced a major program funded by $1.8 million in federal money in Highland, Clermont, and Ashtabula Counties and the City of Akron. Details in the Ashtabula Star-Beacon, Akron Beacon Journal, and Chilicothe Gazette.
This story in the Toledo Blade confirms that attorney Daniel McGookey (D-Sandusky) has decided against running for the open 2nd Ohio Senate District seat of term-limited State Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green). Well-funded veteran State Rep. Mark Wagoner (R-Ottawa Township) is running on the GOP side. Energetic but inexperienced political activist Justin Zollars (D-Bowling Green) has expressed interest in running. The filing deadline (January 4th) is fast approaching.
Great speech on the FISA telecom immunity debate, cutting right to the fundamental issue of subverting the rule of law:
Posts of interest:
AOG: Call for Congressional Candidates - No confirmed Democratic candidates in OH-03, OH-04, OH-05, and OH-08, although there are three (Jane Mitakides, Charles Sanders, and David Estrati) who plan to file in OH-03. I suspect that Robin Weirauch will file in OH-05, or perhaps Mike Grandillo. Filing deadline (January 4th) is coming up fast.
P-Ohio: Urge Brown (D) To Filibuster Telecom Immunity - Dave Zimmerman sets an example by posting his fax to the senator. I urge everyone to follow suit by calling or writing today. Fax = (202) 228-6321, Voice = (202) 224-2315.
IMO: New Standard for School Achievement - Dave writes about the new value-added metric that the State of Ohio is implementing to demonstrate achievement in school districts. An earlier post on the topic by Dave is here.
WLST: Rationale for Charter Schools Challenged - Jill highlights a good article in the Akron Beacon Journal on mounting criticism of the justification for charter schools now that big urban school district are emerging from academic crises. Pho has a quick take.
B-Bex: Just Say No To Christmas Displays on State Property - Bonobo objects to Gov. Strickland's decision to reinstall Christmas displays at two state parks, calling it inappropriate (even if legal) and pandering to the religious right. Jerid praises him in the comments for speaking out, although disagreeing somewhat on the merits. Personally, I'm not an absolutist about this recurring issue. There is a long history of religious holiday displays on state-owned property and they simply can't all be construed as state endorsement of a particular religion. This is why the Supreme Court cases on the topic are complicated -- it's a balancing act. Also, the sentiment expressed in this mini-polemic guest post on Word of Mouth Blog on the supposed "holy war between Defenders of Christianity and nonbelievers" in this country infuriates and alarms me. There is no such a war, but there are a lot of people ready to believe that there is, and as liberals we should not play into that nonsensical situation by over-reacting to something like reasonable, appropriate Christmas displays. That's my take.
Chief Source in New Hampshire - Kyle and Bob report from the primary campaign trail.
What's going on in the state with a city named for the Father of Geometry and which for ten seasons (1920-29) was the home of an NFL team called the Dayton Triangles:
Council Recall Election - Cleveland Council member Joe Santiago (D) faces a recall election tomorrow, the first in city history, which will cost the taxpayers about $47,000. Recall backers say Santiago is ignoring quality-of-life issues in his ward and is too chummy with club owners. Other council members have joined to back Santiago adn resist the recall. Former council member Nelson Cintron Jr (D), leader of the effort against Santiago, insists he will not run for the state if Santiago is ousted and has pulled petitions to run for county auditor, challenging incumbent Pat O'Malley (D) in a primary.
Heating Aid Fund Half Gone - Ohio's Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps about 400,000 low-income, elderly, and disabled households pay their heating bills, is already tapping money set aside for cooling costs next summer, due mainly to rising energy costs.
Foreclosure Holiday Requested in Cleveland - As Bill Callahan and Jill Miller Zimon reported over the weekend, a coalition of community groups is having a big press conference in Cleveland today, calling for a two-month foreclosure "holiday" to prevent people from being thrown out of their houses on Christmas eve and generally give some struggling homeowners a chacne to dig themselves out.
Residents Oppose Wal-Mart Proposed for Canfield - Opposition is mounting to a possible Wal-Mart in Canfield, near Youngstown, with the township zoning commission likely to deny a zoning change sought by the retail behemoth.
Kucinich Signs Petition for Edwards - Blogger and Cleveland area resident Anastasia P has a great post at DailyKos relating how she obtained the signature of Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) on a primary ballot petition for former senator and presidential nomination rival John Edwards (D-NC).
Reaction to Brunner's Call for Voting Changes Begins - The predictable Republican resistance has begun.
Dispatch Doesn't Like Schuring's Education Funding Plan - Congressional candidate State Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-North Canton) has proposed a plan that would require a percentage of tax receipts to be set aside for education, and the Columbus editorial board is already giving it the thumbs-down.
Cross Posted on Pho's Akron Pages
Marc Dann is not the guy he looks like in his publicity still. The man pictured on the Attorney General website looks happy and friendly and, well, a little pudgy. Soft. Soft in a good, nice, favorite uncle sort of way, but still soft.
Marc Dann in person is far more imposing. Broad-shouldered and barrel-chested, with a persistent set to his jaw, in person he looks hard. Hard in a good, tough, guy you want to have your back sort of way, but still hard.
Marc Dann spoke at the Akron Press Club today. With a variety of disclosures and caveats1, here are a few impressions. He is, again, an imposing presence. Yes, he carries a little of the extra padding that comes with middle age, but it’s layered atop a bruising physique. He carries himself like the former o-lineman he is.
Dann is also a forceful speaker. Whatever one thinks about his policies, he speaks with impressive passion about his accepted mission to act on behalf of consumers and citizens. Part of the rap on Dann during his first year in office, on both the left and the right, has been his lack of political acumen. In contrast to the occasional missteps of the last eleven months, the speech today was a political masterwork. In particular, Dann’s speech did two things Democrats need to do better, and did both wonderfully.
The Canton Repository reported Wednesday that nine people asked to be considered as the replacement for Canton mayor-elect State Rep. William J. Healy II (D-Canton):
* Stark County employee James O. Babcock (D-Canton), property complaints manager in the auditor’s office.
* Former union lobbyist Richard Hiles (D-Perry Township), retired employee of The Timken Co.
* Patrick F. Murphy (D-Akron), former councilman for the Village of Mingo Junction.
* Attorney Ryan Ramage (D-Lake Township), employed by Peter Hart Research Associates.
* School Board President John M. Rinaldi (D-Canton).
* Serial candidate (and mayoral primary opponent to Healy) Thomas L. Robinson (D-Canton).
* Stephen Slesnick (D-Canton), vice president of Slesnick Iron and Metal.
* Gulf War veteran and former military recruiter Rhoderick Simpson (D-Canton).
* City council member Thomas E. West (D-Canton).
Rinaldi (pictured above) is the only one to have filed petitions to run for the seat in 2008, although Babcock, Slesnick, and West have pulled petitions. Murphy and Ramage reportedly live outside the district, which doesn't technically rule them out but they won't be considered because the Ohio House Democratic Caucus is looking for someone who can run next year.
Rinaldi and West are the subject of this prior report in the Repository. West ran for the Ohio Senate in 2006 and lost to State Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-North Canton) by 55.6% to 44.4%, a respectable showing.
Business attorney Sharen Swartz Neuhardt (D-Yellow Springs), a partner in the Dayton office of Thompson Hine LLP, is seriously considering running for the open 7th Ohio Congressional District seat of retiring Rep. Dave Hobson (R) and will make her decision in the next two weeks.
Neuhardt considered a run in 2006 but ultimately decided against it. She was born in Dayton, daughter of a policeman and grand-daughter of a fireman, and has been practicing business law in Dayton her entire career except for a brief period as Vice President and General Counsel of Lexis-Nexis. She and her husband David Neuhardt are both corporate partners at Thompson Hine. They purchased the farmhouse at Whitehall Farm near Yellow Springs (in Greene County) and moved there in 1994. They have been active in community development and land preservation in Greene County.
The 7th District is in Clark, Fairfield, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Perry, Pickaway and Ross Counties in south central Ohio. It includes the southwest suburbs of Columbus, Lancaster, Xenia, Circleville and Springfield. It leans Republican (PVI R+6) and Bush won 57% of the vote in 2004. Hobson defeated repeat challenger Bill Conner by 61% to 39% in 2006. The announced candidates in the race are State Sen. Steve Austria (R-Beavercreek), attorney Dan Harkins (R-Springfield), instructor and USAF veteran John Mitchel (R-Beavercreek), small business owner Dave Woolever (D-Stoutsville), and engineer and USAF veteran William R. Conner (D-Beavercreek).
Read all about it. Dave is correct, Huckabee wouldn't be an "easy kill." There are lots of ways that Huckabee could still trip and fall, and he is still woefully behind in fund-raising and organization in early states at this point, but if he gets in he will be a force.
UPDATE: The Hill reports today that Reagan's 1984 campaign manager, Ed Rollins, has joined the Huckabee campaign, lending an aura of Republican institutional support that had been missing.
Then again, as a reader reminds me, there is always that thing about Wayne Dumond.
The Dayton Daily News reports today that political consultant Jane Mitakides (D-Dayton) has pulled petitions and plans to run for the 3rd Ohio Congressional District seat of Rep. Mike Turner (R-Centerville). She ran for this seat in 2004 and won 38% of the vote.
Mitakides is a Dayton native and long-time political activist whose web site notes that she worked on the campaigns of Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996, Gov. Ann Richards of Texas in 1994, and Al Gore's presidential bids in 1988 and 2000. She was a founding member of the DSCC's Women's Council in 1992 and a founder of the DNC's Small Business Council. She has had a successful career in advertising, beginning in New York with Calderhead-Jackson Advertising and later founding Helsley Advertising.
The 3rd District is located in Southwest Ohio in Clinton, Highland, Montgomery, Warren Counties. It includes Dayton and its southern suburbs as well as Kettering, Miamisburg, Centerville, and West Carrollton City. Bush won 54% in this district in 2004. Turner defeated former federal prosecutor Richard Chema (D) by 59% to 41% in 2006, following the withdrawal of veterinarian Stephanie Studebaker (D) from the race in the wake of a domestic violence incident.
Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (D) will hold a press conference today at 11:00 am to announce the results of her $1.9 million examination of voting systems in use in the state. [UPDATE: The full report (pdf) and a summary of the report are on the Secretary of State web site.] From the Dispatch, a preview:
All of the voting systems used in Ohio have "critical security failures" that make them vulnerable to tampering and unreliable, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner concluded after a thorough review of the systems.
The findings apply both to the electronic touch-screen machines used in 58 of Ohio's 88 counties, as well as the optical-count paper ballot systems used in the others.
The $1.9 million testing found risks ranging from minor to severe and concluded that while higher levels of sophistication were needed in some cases to tamper with vote results, "fairly simple techniques" sometimes could be used. ...
Brunner made a series of recommendations to Gov. Ted Strickland and the legislature for improving the security of the voting systems but stopped short of decertifying the machines or calling for replacements.
In the end, both sides got what they wanted. Republicans scored a win they desperately needed while Democrats successfully forced the NRCC to spend down their extremely limited campaign war chest.
In other words, it was a loss for the Democratic Party as to this particular race, but strategically speaking it was a draw or a stand-off, not a definitive portent for 2008 for either side.
PS - I missed that Lisa Renee had noted this item a few hours before I did.
On election day, at the campaign headquarters of Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon), I had the pleasure of meeting Caleb Faux, Executive Director of the Hamilton County Democratic Party. He has passed along his thoughts on the special election in the 5th Ohio Congressional District, in historical perspective:
I've had several opportunities to speak to High School students about the difference between the Republican Party and Democratic Party recently. I found that in trying to explain it, seems to me the underlying issue goes all the way back to the 1920's and 30's.
The hard core old line Republicans have been trying to find a way to undo the things Roosevelt (and his successors in Congress and the White House) did ever since 1933. To do that, they have to get a lot of people to vote against their own economic interest. So they seized on fear, beginning way back in the late 40's and 50's. First it was communism, calling the Democrats communists (the McCarthy era). Then it was race following the Brown vs. the Board of education. Remember “Law & Order”?
Then it was national defense during the Vietnam war (the Nixon/McGovern era). Then abortion, which springs directly from the changes in society brought about by easily available birth control. Again, its about fear of change, this time the changing role of women (they're gettin out of line!).
The Schiavo case was an offshoot of that, again changes brought about by the development of medical technology. It goes on and on, gays, terrorists, guns, religion, now immigration, but the message is always the same -- "be afraid, the world is changing for the worse, we have to stop it and we're the ones to do that."
But under it all is the struggle over money. It’s about whether the benefits of our prosperous society will accrue to the few or to the many. It’s about whether the middle class will survive at all and the less fortunate among us have any reason for hope.
Yesterday in the Ohio Senate, a proposal by Congressional candidate State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown) to add background checks on legislators and candidates to a bill that imposes such checks on about four dozen types of licensed professionals was literally shouted down by Republicans, with State Sen. Jeff Jacobsen (R-Dayton) objecting to the amendment before Boccieri even finished offering it and then bellowing at the Democratic side of the aisle during the following confusion "You vote yes, we vote no!"
As often happens, the most entertaining take on the ruckus comes from Your Professor at Political Science 216:
What I care about - no, check that - what I love is Boccieri’s proposal to have state lawmakers and candidates for Ohio House and Senate to be forced to go through criminal background checks as well.
Who can argue with that?
Well, evidentially, Senate Republicans can. That shows how politically tone deaf they can be. Morons.
Frankly, as a citizen of Ohio, as a voter, and of course, as your Professor, I want to know how many drunk drivers, drug users, petty thieves and perverts there are in the Ohio General Assembly. And I want to know this about candidates as well.
If elected officials can't be forced to submit to criminal background checks yet, they should do so voluntarily. Then, we can label politicians as "Subjected Self to Criminal Backgound Check and Came Up Clean" and "Refused to Subject Self to Criminal Background Check so You Can Only Imagine What I am Trying to Hide."
May I be so bold as to offer two new ideas to the John Boccieri (D-Genius Land) plan?
1. Why stop at State Senators and Representatives? Include their staffs as well!
I am sometimes asked about my blogging nickname, Yellow Dog Sammy. I do have a dog named Sam who is sort of yellow (more golden), but the "Yellow Dog" part is a very old nickname for a loyal Democrat -- here is the story as told in the Wikipedia:
In the late 19th century and throughout the 20th century, yellow dog Democrats were voters in the U.S. Southern states who consistently voted for Democratic candidates because of lingering resentment against Republicans from the Civil War and Reconstruction periods. The term arose from the notion that a Southerner would vote for a yellow dog before voting for a Republican. ...
The first known usage to date of “yaller dog” in relation to Democrats occurred in the 1900 Kentucky gubernatorial contest which turned into quite a dogfight. ...
The term gained national prominence during the 1928 presidential campaign when many Southern voters disliked several items on Democratic candidate Al Smith's platform (as well as his Catholicism), but voted for him regardless.
Just now I noticed that you can buy a variety of union-made Yellow Dog merchandise at an outfit called DemocraticStuff.com, operated by TigerEye Design, including buttons (one is pictured), a lapel pin, and a nice looking t-shirt.
Jill at WLST is reporting that former state representative Jim Trakas (R-Independence) will formally announce his candidacy for the 10th Ohio Congressional District seat of Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) this Saturday at 10:00 a.m. at Independence City Hall.
The announcement sent to Jill portrays this development as an historical watershed supported at all levels of the Ohio Republican Party:
For several months, Chairman Rob Frost has worked to recruit a top tier candidate for The United States Congress in the seat abandoned by Presidential Candidate Dennis J. Kucinich, who recently denounced the United States of America on Syrian state television and voted against a memorial resolution commemorating the lives of those lost in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
We are pleased to announce that The Republican Party will vigorously contest the 10th Congressional District with a high profile, established and seasoned candidate. With the strong cooperation of Ohio Republican Party Chairman Robert T. Bennett, Vice Chairman Kevin DeWine, Chairman Rob Frost and the leadership of The Republican Party of Cuyahoga County, Former State Representative Jim Trakas of Independence will announce his candidacy for The United States Congress this Saturday.
You can practically hear the trumpets blaring in the background. I suspect that this has much more to do with avoiding a hard-fought primary in the 24th Ohio Senate seat than any real prospect of electing Trakas to Congress. I wonder what future ambition on the part of Trakas is served by a high profile but futile Congressional bid.
Just for the record, the 10th District has 35% registered Democrats to 15% registered Republicans, a partisan ratio exceeded only by the 11th District (38% to 6%) and the 17th District (42% to 11%). Kucinich has won five decisive victories since his initial relatively close win over Rep. Martin Hoke (R) in 1996. Kerry won 58.07% of the vote there in 2004 and Kucinich defeated former federal official Mike Dovilla (R-Cleveland) by 66% to 34% last year. Trakas served eight years as a state representative in the suburban
18th 17th Ohio House District, which leans Republican (R+4).
I have not written anything about the presidential race for quite a while, having been focused on the 5th Ohio Congressional District, and of course the terrain has shifted entirely during that time. Today's poll from Strategic Vision confirms that surging former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) is now unequivocally leading the GOP field:
Mike Huckabee 30%
Mitt Romney 25%
Fred Thompson 13%
Rudy Giuliani 10%
John McCain 5%
Ron Paul 4%
On the Democratic side, struggling former front-runner Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) is slipping further behind the revived Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL):
Barack Obama 33%
Hillary Clinton 25%
John Edwards 24%
Joseph Biden 4%
Bill Richardson 4%
Giuliani and Clinton are still leading in national polls, but that will not withstand poor showings in the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. At this point the two races are in turmoil with no clear favorite on either side.
For my part, I never expected that Giuliani would maintain his lead and win the nomination, and now I'm completely convinced that he will not. However, I anticipate a big backlash against Huckabee, so I don't know what to predict as between him and Romney. I don't think either Thompson or McCain will be a factor.
On the Democratic side, I expect Obama's charge to level off and Clinton to make something of a comeback. It is so close between the three leading contenders that I don't think a meaningful prediction can be made until after Iowa.
There is something else in the Strategic Vision poll worth highlighting. The GOP is ballyhooing the recent decline in U.S. military fatalities in Iraq as though it were "success," ignoring the violence that continues to occur and the lack of political progress on the ground, but here is how Iowa Republicans responded to the question of whether they favor a withdrawal of all U.S. military from Iraq within the next six months:
That's the Republicans. Iowa Democrats are 84% to 5% in favor of withdrawal. This means that the urgency of the Iraq War issue may have lessened somewhat in the public mind, but support for Bush's endless war strategy is not coming back. Democrats need to emphasize domestic issues like the tanking economy, the health care crisis, and the need to improve public education, but the Iraq War must not be allowed to drop off the political radar. It is too important, and sentiment against staying in Iraq is too strong across the political spectrum, to take it out of the political equation.
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.