News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races UPDATED

What's going on in our U.S. House contests:

OH-01: Driehaus Assails Chabot on Iran Intelligence - Challenger State Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Price Hill), who filed his petitions the week before Christmas, recently criticized incumbent Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood) after the latter questioned the validity of the National Intelligence Estimate that indicated that Iran suspended its nuclear weapons program four years ago. "I wish he had said the same thing about U.S. intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war, but he seemed to believe the intelligence back then," Driehaus said. A group called Campaign to Defend America recently made robo-calls in the district tying Chabot to Bush and Cheney and saying that they "were wrong about having to bomb Iran, just as they were wrong about invading Iraq."

OH-02: Sinnard Drops Out - The Democratic primary narrowed to a two-way contest between repeat candidate Victoria Wulsin (D-Indian Hill) and Steve Black (D-Indian Hill) as third-time primary candidate Jeff Sinnard (D) dropped out and filed to run for the 34th Ohio House District seat of term-limited State Rep. Tom Brinkman (R-Cincinnati) instead.

OH-04: Carroll to Oppose Jordan - Mike Carroll (D-Mansfield), an Education, Training & Personal Development Coordinator for AK Steel who is a veteran of the Ohio Air National Guard and a member of the United Steelworkers, will run against freshman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana).

OH-05: Mays Files Petitions - Karaoke salesman George F. Mays (D-Norwalk) has filed petitions to run against Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green). Mays lost to three-time candidate Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon) in the 2007 Democratic Special Primary, but won 27.88% of the vote. Weirauch has pulled petitions but so far has not filed. Others have pulled petitions but we have conflicting reports as to whether they will file or not.

OH-06: Wilson Files - Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-St. Clairsville) filed petitions to run for re-election last Thursday. Hopefully he has enough valid signatures this time; his petitions were rejected for the 2006 primary, but he won as a write-in candidate. Deputy Recorder Richard Stobbs (R-Dillonvale), who lost in the 2006 GOP primary to then-House Speaker Chuck Blasdel (R-East Liverpool), is the GOP candidate.

OH-10: Kucinich Autobiography Not Selling - Presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland), who yesterday told his Iowa supporters to go with Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) as their second choice if they can't cast their ballots for him, is having a dispute with the publisher of his autobiography, which reportedly has sold only 500 copies in two months.

OH-11: Three Possible GOP Challengers - Three Republicans have pulled petitions to challenge incumbent Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland): businessman Robert E. Saffold (R-Shaker Heights), who won 19.4% of the vote in a four-way GOP primary in 1998 and ran unsuccessfully for the Republican State Central Committee in 2002; Gerald Sexton (R-Cleveland Heights), who considered running for school board in 2007; and Dan Reily (R).

OH-13: Sutton Draws Weak Opponent - This was a hotly contested district when it was an open seat in 2006, but the only opponent so far for Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Township) is Frank Chestney, owner of an Arthur Treachers chain restaurant in Parma Heights. Interestingly, Chestney seems to be running primarily as an opponent of the war in Iraq, an issue on which he and Sutton agree. He plans to run a "simple campaign" and will accept no donations.

OH-14: Blanchard May Run - Accountant Dale Virgil Blanchard (D-Solon), who was the 2002 Democratic challenger to Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Township), lost the 2004 Democratic primary to Capri Cafaro (D-Hubbard), and lost the Democratic primary to Lew Katz (D-Pepper Pike) in 2006, has pulled petitions to run this year. The announced Democratic candidate is former appellate judge and Ohio Supreme Court candidate Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell).

OH-15: Sexist Comment by Stivers - Ecch. Here's a disgusting little tidbit about GOP candidate State Sen. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington):

The state champion girls volleyball team of Mercy High School in Cincinnati was in the Senate chamber recently to receive a resolution recognizing their accomplishment. They had gathered around State Sen. Eric Kearney, D-Cincinnati, causing fellow Sen. Steve Stivers, R-Columbus, to comment that Kearney “attracts all the attractive women.”

Reminded that he had just returned from his honeymoon after marrying the former Karen Tabor two weeks earlier, Stivers backpedaled. “I’m allowed to window shop, just not buy,” he said.

Terrific. Women as commodities. And he's running against a woman, Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus).

OH-16: Attacks on Boccieri Revealed - A few weeks ago State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown) sent out a fund-raising appeal that cited unidentified "Swift Boat" attacks on his military record. Bloggers Jill Miller Zimon and Pho identify the attacker as the anonymous blogger at Stark Politics, via this opinion piece in the Canton Repository. GOP candidate State Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-North Canton) is quoted in the piece as condemning the attacks.

OH-17: Ryan (D) May Be Unopposed - Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles) filed to run for his fourth term last Friday, but lone challenger Duane Grassell (R-Mogadore) had to withdraw when the petitions he filed Wednesday were found to be defective. Grassell is reportedly undecided about whether to refile, and local GOP official Mark Munroe concedes that they have no back-up plan at this point.

OH-18: Space Rejects VA Findings Against New Facility - Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) this past weekend flatly rejected the results of a VA feasibility study that he requested following a joint a House-Senate VA field hearing conducted earlier this year in conjunction with Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Avon). The study found insufficient need for a new VA hospital in southeastern Ohio. "This study is an injustice, and it misses the point," said Space. "The VA in Washington should send representatives to our region to hear what I hear time and time again from veterans as I travel my district. Veterans are fed up with the distances they must travel to receive care. Many of our nation’s heroes elect to go without services simply because they cannot afford the price or time it takes to travel to a VA facility. That's unacceptable.”

News and Notes: General Assembly Races

New developments in statehouse contests:

OH House-6: No Free Pass for Gardner - Attorney Andrew R. Schuman (R-Bowling Green) and businessman Brian P. Burns (R-Rossford) have joined State Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) in submitting applications to be appointed to replace Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) in order to run as an incumbent. Former city council member Jeff Bretz (D-North Baltimore) is the Democratic candidate.

OH House-10: Miller Introduces Bill on Abandoned Buildings - First-term State Rep. Eugene Miller (D-Cleveland) introduced legislation Monday that requires restoration or eradication of abandoned properties that sit within 1,000 feet of a school building. “These types of nuisance properties are eyesores that represent a danger to our children,” Miller said. “In some cases, tearing them down is the practical answer to creating safer environments near our schools and promoting new economic and residential development in areas that sorely need it.” The bill would allow a local board of education to file a complaint with the Court of Common Pleas about an abandoned property, alleging that the property constitutes a nuisance detrimental to the mission of a nearby school and the safety of its students. If the court finds for the district, the board may be entitled to demolish or repair the property.

OH House-11: Elkins May Run - City council member Trevor Elkins (D-Newburgh Heights) has pulled petitions to challenge State Rep. Sandra Williams in this heavily Democratic district. Elkins was briefly a candidate for Ohio Senate in 2006. Darnell Brewer (D) and Ivan Williams (D) have also pulled petitions, but so far only the incumbent has filed.

OH House-18: Patten Receives County Party Endorsement - Matt Patten (D) received the endorsement of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party in the race to succeed term-limited State Rep. Tom Patton (R-Strongsville), who is running for Ohio Senate. Petitions have also been pulled by 2006 primary foes John M. Celebrezze (D-North Royalton) and former congressman Ron Mottl (D-North Royalton). Term-limited State Sen. Bob Spada (R-North Royalton) is the GOP candidate.

OH House-19: Fundraiser for Harris - A host of elected officials including State Treasurer Richard Cordray, House Minority Leader Joyce Beatty, Rep. Ted Celeste, Rep. Dan Stewart and Rep. Tracy Heard will host a a fundraiser for Marian Harris (D-Columbus) on Wednesday, January 30th, from 5:30 to 8:00 pm at Club 185, 185 E. Livingston Avenue, in Columbus. Suggested Donation is $100. RSVP to mharris-at-marianforohio-dot-com.

OH House-21: Former Judicial Candidate May Run - Jay G. Perez, who ran unsuccessfully for judicial posts in Franklin County in 2005, 2006, and 2007, has pulled petitions to run for state representative. As reported here, Perez challenged appointed incumbent Patsy Thomas (D) in a Municipal Court race last fall and then withdrew, but his name was still on the ballot and he got 8% of the vote. That maneuver contributed to Thomas' narrow loss to David Tyack (R), who was also the beneficiary of name confusion (there are two Tyacks already on the bench). Paul Ackerman (D-Powell), who is my friend and sometime colleague, is the only Democratic candidate to file in this district to date.

OH-House-28: Pillich Files - Howard Wilkinson has a nice bit on the Politics Extra blog about attorney and U.S. Air Force veteran Connie Pillich (D-Montgomery) filing to repeat her challenge against State Rep. Jim Raussen (R-Springdale). Pillich won 48% of the vote in 2006 and as Wilkinson says, "if there is a district in southwest Ohio that is likely to draw special attention from the Democratic party, it is probably this one."

OH House-34: Sinnard In; 3-Way GOP Primary - In the contest to replace controversial term-limited State Rep. Tom Brinkman (R), civil engineer and repeat Congressional primary candidate Jeff Sinnard (D) will take on the winner of a three-way primary between lawyers Peter Stautberg (R-Anderson Township) and Gregory Delev (R-Anderson Township) and township trustee Russ Jackson (R-Anderson Township).

OH House-82: Sharrock (D) Opposes McClain (R) - The Bucyrus Telegraph Forum reports that former director of Crawford County Job and Family Services Wanda Sharrock (D-Bucyrus) will oppose Jeffrey A. McClain (R-Upper Sandusky) for the seat of term-limited State Rep. Steve Reinhard (R-Bucyrus), who is running for Ohio Senator in the 26th District.

OH House-92: Contest Profiled in Athens News - This is a nice article in the Athens News last week, analyzing this high-priority contest between city council member and repeat candidate Debbie Phillips (D-Athens) and County Auditor Jill Thompson (R-The Plains). Reporter Nick Claussen interviewed me and Republican blogger Scott Pullins extensively for the story.

OH Sen-24: Three Pull Petitions to Oppose Patton - Three possible Democratic candidates have pulled petitions to oppose State Rep. Tom Patton (R-Strongsville), who has already filed. One is Patton's 2006 challenger for state representative, retired school administrator John M. Celebrezze (D-North Royalton). Another is school board member Joanne DiCarlo (D-North Olmsted), co-founder of a non-profit called "North Olmsted League for Education of the Gifted," or NOLEDGE. The third is Maureen M. Sweeney, about whom I have been unable to dig up any information.

OH Sen-26: Reinhard Still In - I have been wondering if term-limited State Rep. Steve Reinhard (R-Bucyrus) still intends to oppose Karen Gillmor (R-Dublin) for the seat of term-limited Larry Mumper (R-Marion), since he announced his intention to run before the widow of the deceased congressman got into the race, but this story in the Bucyrus Telegraph Forum appears to confirm that he is running.

OH House-27: Beatty (D) Pulls Petitions

Otto Beatty, Jr., the Columbus attorney, former state representative, and spouse of incumbent and Ohio House Democratic Leader Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus), has pulled election petitions for the 27th Ohio House District.

Here are excerpts from Beatty's biography at the ODP web site:

Otto Beatty was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1940. Growing up in Columbus, he attended local schools and graduated from University High School. He earned a BA and an MA in business administration from Howard University and a JD from The Ohio State University College of Law. Beatty established a law practice and soon distinguished himself as an attorney. He served as president of the Franklin County Trial Lawyers Association and attorney for Black Elected Democrats of Ohio, which in 1995 became the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus. He successfully defended the first two discrimination cases filed in Ohio.

Voters elected Beatty state representative in 1979, and he served eighteen years in the legislature. He was a powerful advocate for minority business and the disadvantaged. He was a member of many committees [and] served as special counsel to the State Attorney General.

.... [Beatty] has been honored at the local, state, and national level for his contributions to tort reform, minority business development, and health care. Beatty supports strong family values, works to improve the quality of life for children and families, and is a strong consumer advocate.

He is a former chairman of the Ohio Commission on Minority Health and a former president of the Franklin County Trial Lawyers Association. He has been a member of the National Association of Defense Lawyers, the American and Columbus Bar Associations, the National Conference of Black Lawyers, the American and Ohio Trial Lawyers Associations, and the Columbus Area Black Elected Officials.

The 27th District is in Franklin County in central Ohio and is overwhelmingly Democratic (PVI D+25.7.). Others who have pulled petitions include Mayo Makinde (D-Columbus), former school board member W. Carleton Weddington (D), H. Lee Thompson (R), and George Walker (party affiliation unknown). I have also heard former state representative Mike Mitchell (D) and former school board member Stephanie Hightower (D) mentioned as possible candidates, but if they are circulating petitions they did not pull them in person. (Petitions may be pulled by someone other than the candidate, or may be downloaded from the internet.)

New Year's Poll - Who WIll Win Iowa (Republicans)?

New Year's Poll - Who Will Win Iowa (Democrats)?

Pakistan: Bhutto Assassinated; Prospects for Stable Democracy Dim

The murder of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto this morning marks a turning point in the strategic situation not only in Pakistan but across the region and the world. Iraq stands revealed as the side show that in truth it should have been from the beginning. A nuclear-armed nation of 165 million on the brink of chaos, with Osama bin Laden and a well-armed insurgency of religious fanatics already in place, casts all else in shadow. No more talk of Iraq as the "central front" or "ground zero" in the war on terror. It was a costly, deadly distraction that has hamstrung U.S. military and diplomatic options now that a true emergency has occurred.

Direct responsibility for the attack on Bhutto is yet to be determined. Although the act has the hallmarks of an Al Qaeda suicide operation, the ease with which the attacker gained proximity to Bhutto raises questions about complicity on the part of the heavily-infiltrated Pakistani security apparatus. At a minimum, there is a strong suggestion of negligence, and the Bhutto camp has revealed that her requests for specific enhanced security measures (such as radio jamming to neutralize bomb detonation devices) were ignored by the Musharraf government.

Making a list, checking it twice...

December 31, 2007 Last day to make contributions to Ohio state political campaigns in order to receive the Ohio political contributions credit on line 56 of your state income tax return.

January 1, 2008 5:00 PM Deadline to file a declaration of candidacy to be a district level delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Denver. ODP has all of the details.

January 3, 2008 District Caucuses to select delegates

January 4, 2008 Filing Deadline to submit petitions to run for office in May 2008 Primary Elections

Ohio House 19 - GOP Candidate Fires Wife's Rival

Note: Marian Harris, the 19th district Democratic candidate, is a client of mine and a close friend as well.

In today's Dispatch there is an amazing article about Franklin County Cororner Bradley Lewis. Lewis is the endorsed GOP candidate for the open 19th state house district and is leaving his elected post to run for that seat in 2008.

Dr. Jan Gorniack, an assistant coroner hired in July of 2005, announced early this week that she will be running as a Democrat for the open coroner's seat in the 2008 election.

Lewis' reaction to this news?

He fired her.

The added complication which makes this story very interesting?

Lewis' wife, Dr. Elaine Lewis is the endorsed GOP candidate for this seat.

Coroner Bradley J. Lewis said he's merely shielding his office from the disruption of politics as the 2008 campaign gears up.

Franklin County Democrats endorsed Gorniak on Thursday.

Lewis, a Republican, is running against Democrat Marian Harris for the open seat in the 19th Ohio House District next year, so Gorniak won't run against him for coroner.

Instead, she'll run against his wife. Republicans have endorsed Dr. Elaine Lewis, an internist.

Bradley Lewis is of course only motivated by the best of intentions:

"Jan came in and told me she had decided to run for coroner," Bradley Lewis said yesterday. "I told her that was fine, but that I did not think it was compatible with the effective and efficient operation of the office to have a pathologist running for coroner and she would need to step down while running. She chose not to.

"My job is to keep politics out of my office and let people do their job."

For this reason, Lewis said, he had rejected a Republican Party suggestion that he step down early and let the party appoint his wife so she could run as an incumbent.

That, too, would have brought politics inside the office, he said.

The article goes on from there with a great quote from Franklin County Democratic Party chair Bill Anthony and something rather lame from his GOP counterpart.

Supreme Court

Yesterday, Judge Peter Sikora of the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court announced his candidacy for the Ohio Supreme Court along with Judge Joseph Russo. They'll be running for two different seats, not against one another.

I completely support what Judge Sikora had to say, as quoted by the Toledo Blade:

Judge Sikora, 56, sought the Democratic nomination for what is now Justice Robert Cupp's seat, but late in the game, the Ohio Democratic Party courted Ben Espy, a former state senator. Judge Sikora lost the primary election.

"I wasn't bitter," he said. "I was disappointed. I worked really hard and thought I was in a position to win, but the party thought otherwise. I got the short end of the stick last time, but I think that's one of the reasons I was approached this time."

To be honest, I was very disappointed when ODP intervened in 2006. I think that it was a serious mistake. Right or wrong, we elect our judges in Ohio. And it certainly seemed as if Judge Sikora was campaigning hard for this position until ODP jumped in.

In 2008, as the Blade article points out, our candidates face the VERY difficult task of defeating sitting incumbents. I hope that the state party provides tons of resources and support for Judge Sikora's campaign. For one thing, they HAVE a lot more resources (both financial and otherwise) than last time. And Judge Sikora deserves all of the help than we can muster.

Interview with Sherrod Brown

Alex Parker has a nice interview with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon) in today's Lorain Morning Journal, talking about his first year in office.

ODB On Holiday Break

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.

OH-07: Another Club For Growth-Fueled Primary Fight?

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).

OH Sen-16: Brooks (D) Will Not Run

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.

OH-18: Space (D) Making a Play for Support From Gun Activists

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.

OH-15 & OH-16: Early DCCC Support for Kilroy (D) and Boccieri (D)

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.

Sup Ct: Russo (D) To Run Against O'Connor (R)

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."

Kucinich (D) Loses Family Member

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.

Strickland (D) Request for Utility Cut-Off Moratorium Gets Results

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.

Hamilton County Young Democrats Holiday Party

12/20/2007 - 6:30pm
12/20/2007 - 9:00pm

Hosted by Vice Mayor David Crowley at Crowley's, 958 Pavilion Street, Mount Adams, tomorrow night at 6:30 pm.

Great door prizes include Donkey Chia Pet, George W. Bush Toilet Paper, and Democratic Donkey Ornament. For more information, see www.hcyd.org or email info@hcyd.org.

Republican County Official Pleads No Contest To Corruption Charges

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.

On the Ohio Blogs

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.

TCS: Doing Us Proud in New Hampshire - Bob and Kyle of The Chief Source are filing great field reports from the primary battleground state.

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.

News and Notes: Ohio

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

01/12/2008 - 9:00am
01/13/2008 - 12:00pm

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.

Cut the Crap

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????

OH-07: Dem Field Grows to Six

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.

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