I will not be posting much (if at all) from now until December 30th. Anonymous commenting has been turned off due to a spate of spam comments, and the Video of the Day feature is off the sidebar for the time being.
Jessica Wehrman of the Dayton Daily News reports on an item in Roll Call (subscription required) suggesting that the Club For Growth might consider backing former state representative Ron Hood (R-Ashville) against chosen successor State Sen. Steve Austria (R-Beavercreek) in the GOP primary in the 7th Ohio Congressional District, where Rep. Dave Hobson (R-Springfield) is retiring. Austria's vote for Gov. Taft's 2003 budget is the apparent motivation for Club For Growth to jump into this race.
Hood has taken out petitions and reportedly sought the endorsement of the Franklin County Republican Party this week, but he has not yet filed the petitions or made a public announcement. Clark County GOP Chair Dan Harkins (R-Springfield) is already an announced candidate on the GOP side, so there will be a primary whether Hood runs or not. The Roll Call article excerpted by Wehrman recounts the "tense relationship" between Harkins and Austria (the former reportedly doesn't invite the latter to county GOP events). It sounds like there could be another bitter and expensive GOP primary in the works.
By the way, Wehrman only talks about the 7th District, but the Roll Call piece apparently also indicates possible Club For Growth interest in the other two open GOP-held seats, OH-15 and OH-16. It seems like a stretch for them to help political newcomer Robert Wagoner (R-Columbus) against State Sen. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington) in OH-15, but in OH-16 I can imagine them helping County Commissioner Matt Miller (R-Ashland) against State Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-North Canton).
The Columbus Dispatch blog The Daily Briefing reports today that County Commissioner Paula Brooks (D) has decided not to run for the open 16th Ohio Senate District seat being vacated by State Sen. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington) to run for Congress. Brooks will run for re-election, saying that she likes being a commissioner and really wants a second term. "When I started, the city, the county and the suburbs weren't even speaking to each other," she said. "Now, we're really congealed as a team."
"Congealed" is an unfortunate word for what she was trying to say, but good for her, and good for the county. Now, are there any other credible candidates waiting in the wings to oppose State Rep. Jim Hughes (R-Clintonville)? I have not heard or read of any. The 16th Ohio Senate District includes the 22nd Ohio House District where Hughes is term-limited and returning candidate John Carney (D) will run against city councilman Michael Keenan (R-Dublin), the 23rd House District where State Rep. Larry Wolpert (R) is term-limited and Mayor Cheryl Grossman (R-Grove City) is an announced candidate, and the 24th House District held by State Rep. Ted Celeste (D-Grandview). The 16th Senate District leans significantly Republican (PVI R+9). Stivers won 66.35% of the vote in 2004.
Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) is pandering to gun nuts with an outrageous bill that he is co-sponsoring with Rep. Stephen King (R-IA). According to the press release, H.R. 4900 would:
1. Create a "system to provide more flexibility in punishing those who violate gun sales laws."
2. Establish a "solid legal requirement for determining the willful violation" of the law.
3. Create "specific sentencing guidelines for dangerous felons convicted of a gun offense."
4. Set "limitations on the availability of electronic gun owner information."
5. Ban the federal background check "tax."
6. Allow security companies and ammunition manufacturers to purchase machine guns for certain purposes.
7. "Ease the restriction on the importation of replacement parts for military-style semiautomatic rifles."
Those first two sound like they are intended to make it harder to enforce laws on gun sales, and I don't like the sound of eliminating the fee for background checks or making gun records private. But that last one about importing gun parts is totally unacceptable.
"Military-style semi-automatic rifles" are assault weapons, like the AK-47. These are not hunting weapons, or personal security weapons, but machines designed for mass killing. Importing more repair parts means more non-functioning assault weapons will be repaired and put back into circulation. This is a very bad law. I understand that Space is in a conservative district and he has always professed to be pro-gun, but this is over the top.
UPDATE: I've checked and the language of this bill is not yet available. It's difficult to assess some of these provisions with looking at the precise terms. I will update this post when I can read the actual text of the bill.
Roll Call (subscription required) reports that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is switching its focus from protecting incumbents to targeting open Republican seats, and Ohio candidates Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus) and John Boccieri (D-New Middletown) are among the first six candidates to receive DCCC support:
At the outset of Van Hollen’s shift in strategy, the DCCC has its eye on 17 seats where the Republican incumbent is retiring — that number could grow — and in particular is focused on 12 seats where it believes it has a candidate in place who is solid at the very least. In those 12 districts, the DCCC is embarking on an immediate fundraising effort to flood six of them with campaign cash, with a similar effort focusing on the other six to follow at a later date.
The first six Democratic candidates set to enjoy the largess of the DCCC’s fundraising effort include state Senate Majority Leader Debbie Halvorson in Illinois’ 11th district; state Sen. John Adler in New Jersey’s 3rd; state Assemblywoman and 2006 nominee Linda Stender in New Jersey’s 7th; Franklin County Commissioner and 2006 nominee Mary Jo Kilroy in Ohio’s 15th; state Sen. John Boccieri in Ohio’s 16th; and 2006 nominee Gary Trauner in Wyoming’s at-large.
Van Hollen said these six candidates made the cut for immediate fundraising assistance because they are running in open seats, have no primary challenger, and have proved their mettle as politicians and fundraisers since entering their respective races.
The Plain Dealer reports today that Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Joseph D. Russo (D-Cleveland Heights) will run for the Ohio Supreme Court seat held by Maureen O'Connor (R-Cleveland Heights). Russo graduated from Case Western Reserve University School of Law in 1991 and after a year at the law firm Landskroner & Phillips opened his own practice, Law Offices of Joseph D. Russo Co., L.P.A. He was elected to the Court of Common Pleas in 2000 and re-elected in 2006. He is not related to the three other judges named Russo on the court.
The seven-member Ohio Supreme Court is staffed entirely by Republicans, who for the last decade have received enormous campaign funding from business interests. Last year the New York Times ran a front page story on the frequency with which the Justices rule in cases involving businesses who contributed to their election, usually in a manner favorable to that party.
Russo told the paper that he aims to "restore balance" to the court. "More ideas from more points of view, I believe, make for more balanced opinions," he said. As a justice, "you're part of a committee, you have to think about it that way. All I am looking to do is bring a different perspective." The story indicates that Russo reached an understanding with Ohio Democratic Party Chair Chris Redfern (D-Catawba Island) about campaign and fund-raising resources. Redfern said that Russo has "a great record on the bench and has had the support of labor and has committed to traveling the state to campaign."
I join Jerid in expressing sympathy to Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) and his family over the untimely passing of younger bother Perry Kucinich, age 52, found dead this morning at his home in Cleveland.
From the Akron Beacon Journal:
Natural gas and electric utilities regulated by the state will not be able to disconnect service for the next 90 days to customers who are at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.
In a meeting this morning, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio approved a limited moratorium on shutoffs for nonpayment of bills, as long as customers have entered into some type of payment plan.
It's not a free pass, it's a limited measure designed to help low-income consumers. And it's a win for the governor and for struggling families in Ohio.
Hosted by Vice Mayor David Crowley at Crowley's, 958 Pavilion Street, Mount Adams, tomorrow night at 6:30 pm.
A reader sent me the link to this article in the Tiffin Advertiser-Tribune about Seneca County Engineer James Nimz (R), who pleaded no contest yesterday to three misdemeanor charges of abusing his office by using it to employ and advance his wife, Carolyn Minges. As part of a negotiated plea agreement, Nimz resigned his post, paid a fine of $1,500, reimbursed the county $48,779, and was placed on one year non-reporting probation. A 20-day jail sentence for each charge was suspended.
According to court records, Nimz married Minges in October 1996, about five years after she began working in his office. Nimz continued to employ, advance, and give annual raises to Minges until she resigned in August. The fact that Minges is now Nimz' wife was uncovered by an auditor because Nimz changed his life insurance policy to list her as beneficiary. Nimz was charged with having an unlawful interest in a public contract, a crime that includes employing the authority of a public office to secure an investment of public funds with respect to which a family member has an interest.
Some recommended posts:
HCWW: House Resolution Praises Christianity - Jeff Hess objects to a U.S. House Resolution that (among other things) "acknowledges and supports the role played by Christians and Christianity in the founding of the United States and in the formation of the western civilization" and "rejects bigotry and persecution directed against Christians." Only nine members voted against it, none from Ohio.
WLST: Not Such a New-Journalism King After All - Jill reveals that the "blogging Iowa newsman" dubbed "new-journalism king of Iowa caucuses" in the Washington Post hasn't posted anything on his blog in weeks.
MCDAC: "Get Over Being Self-Righeous" - The Medina County Democratic Action Committee tells Obama and Clinton supporters to get over it -- the topics of his drug use and her husband's shenanigans are appropriate for debate in the Democratic primary. The post on voter turnout statistics in Medina County is also important.
MWTMR: Moratorium on Utility Shut-Offs Too Late For One Boy - The Man With The Much Rake relates the moving story of an autistic child severely burned by a makeshift heating arrangement while Toledo Edison's heat shut-off dragged on.
TDB: Prominent Cincinnati Businessman May Have Fabricated Degree - Bill Sloat contacted Xavier University and learned that there is no record of the bachelor of science degree claimed by Phillip R. Cox, chairman of the board of Cincinnati Bell Inc. and a trustee of the University of Cincinnati.
What's bubbling in the state that overwhelmingly refers to carbonated soft drinks as "pop" rather than "soda," "coke," or something else:
Colorado Voting Machine Rulings Affects Ohio Debate - Brunner wants to go with optical scanners, but Colorado rejected them. Bottom line is that all voting systems have flaws to one degree or another, and Brunner her counterpart disagree on which flaws can be best addressed through procedures and system patches. More coverage on the debate here, here, here, and here. Elections law expert Dan Tokaji has important comments on his blog, casting doubt on some of Brunner's recommendations.
November Foreclosure Filings - Down slightly from October but still double last year, Ohio ranked 3rd in the nation with 16,308 filings, or one for every 307 households. In related news, great coverage of Cleveland organizations calling for a 60-day foreclosure holiday by Bill Callahan and here, here, and here.
Governor Fights Utility Shut-Offs - Strickland sent a letter yesterday to the Public Utilities of Ohio yesterday asking for a moratorium on shutting off consumers' gas or electricity through the winter.
Santiago Withstands Recall - First-ever attempted recall of a Cleveland Council member fails. Support of other council members considered key.
Brown and Space Introduce Hunger Relief Bills - Increasing need and reduced supplies at food pantries have prompted Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon) and Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) to introduce emergency hunger aid bills in their respective chambers. David has more on Ohio Valley Politics.
Husted Wants to Add New Commission to Energy Bill - The Ohio House Speaker is proposing an Ohio Renewable Energy Authority to collect and invest approximately $100 million over the next 10 years in companies that develop renewable energy sources. As usual, the devil is in the details, and we don't know them yet.
Richland County Commissioner Missing Campaign Funds - Ed Olson (R) reports as much as $3,000 is gone, and although he isn't pointing his finger yet it looks like his former campaign treasurer may have done him wrong.
The Ohio Democratic Party Women's Organizing Convention will be held on Saturday, January 12th, and Sunday, January 13th, at Ohio Democratic Party Headquarters, 340 East Fulton Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215. The cost is $25 per person, which you may pay by cash or check at the door OR by cash, check or credit card in advance.
Registration and continental breakfast begin at 9 am on Saturday and the general session begins at 10 am and concludes at 5:45 pm on Saturday, followed by a Networking Reception off-site from 6 to 8 pm. General session begins at 9am and concludes at 12pm on Sunday.
To reserve a room at the Best Western Claremont Inn & Suites for $72 per night, please call 614-228-6511 and say you are with the ODP room block. RSVP to Liz Shirey at 614-221-6563, extension 100, or liz-at-ohiodems-dot-org. Please include your name, telephone number, address and county.
I absolutely HATE to get into blog vs. blog bullsh*t, but this is unacceptable. Unprovoked, baseless assaults by one progressive blog upon another are not allowed, or shouldn't be. WTF????
In the 7th Ohio Congressional District, where Rep. Dave Hobson (R-Springfield) announced his retirement on a Sunday and State Sen. Steve Austria (R-Beavercreek) had been annointed as his chosen successor by Monday, the field of Democratic candidates has exploded to at least half a dozen. Engineer and U.S. Air Force veteran William Conner (D-Beavercreek) is back for a second try after winning 39% of the vote last year. Restaurant owner Dave Woolever (D-Stoutsville) has been actively campaigning for several months. Two more candidates, Tom Scrivens (D-Xenia) and Jack D. Null (D-Fairborn), have now filed petitions to run. (Null ran for this seat as a Libertarian in 2000 and won 3,802 votes.) Dr. Richard J. Wyderski (D-Beavercreek) is currently gathering signatures on his ballot petitions, and attorney Sharen Neuhardt (D-Yellow Springs), about whom I wrote a few days ago, has reportedly all-but-decided to jump into the race.
Greene County Democratic Chair Don Hollister, who ran for this seat in 1980 against Rep. Clarence "Bud" Brown, Jr. (R), sent me an email today saying that four of the candidates were present at their holiday party last night: Conner, Woolever, Scrivens, and Wyderski. (Null was unable to attend because he had to take a relative to the hospital.) Neuhardt was represented by her daughter. Although the event was postponed due to bad weather, they had a healthy turnout of over 100 at the event, and Hollister described it as a "high point" and wrote that "in a county that is pretty thoroughly (though not solid) Republican we enjoyed seeing so many candidates." It sounds like this primary in an open seat race will be very energizing to local Democratic organizations.
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.