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.
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."