News and Notes: General Assembly Races

Some developments of note:

OH House-14: Foley Endorses Wulsin in OH-02 - I noticed that State Rep. Mike Foley (D-Cleveland) is shown on the campaign site of Dr. Vic Wulsin (D-Indian Hill) as endorsing her Congressional bid -- the only public official so listed, despite the fact that his legislative district is 250 miles away. "Dr. Victoria Wulsin has spent her career fighting for health, for justice, for people," Foley is quoted as saying. "As a public health physician, she has succeeded by bringing people together and finding common ground. Her life has been dedicated to public service – and her track record is marked by her leadership in finding innovative solutions to difficult problems." Foley has has a good legislative session, having seen his bill to require prompt filing of title documents for foreclosed properties passed and having been selected for ranking minority member of the Ways and Means committee. He has also worked hard on the lead paint issue and has proposed legislation to impose tougher penalties for attacks on homeless people. Foley faces no primary opposition but will be opposed in the general election by David Morris (R).

OH House-21: Ackerman Withdraws - Paul Ackerman (D-Powell), who is a personal friend, has announced that he has withdrawn his nominating petitions, leaving Jay Perez (D) as the sole contender against first-term incumbent Kevin Bacon (R). Ackerman is to be commended for his efforts. He stepped up when it looked like no other Democrat might file in this district and he worked very hard to get his campaign going. Unfortunately, Ackerman was unfairly criticized in the blogosphere and rudely treated by local party personnel, leaving him feeling very bitter about the experience, which was complicated by the sad passing of his father just a few days ago. In a press release he nevertheless wishes Perez the best of luck in the race and urges his supporters to "continue the work that Governor Ted Strickland has begun" and "work to elect Democrats in 2008," because "Ohio needs to have a new direction."

OH House-45: Otterman Redux - City council member John Otterman (D-Akron) was sworn in yesterday to replace his term-limited father Bob Otterman (D-Akron), who retired to take a job with Summit County. “I’m proud and humbled to serve my hometown of Akron in the State Legislature,” said the younger Otterman. “My father paved a wonderful path for me, and I hope to build my own legacy fighting for better education, access to quality health care and economic development that creates good jobs for Ohioans.” Newly appointed Rep. Otterman had served on Akron City Council since 1992. He is also a community volunteer and a member of the National Semi-Pro Football Hall of Fame. “John’s 16 years of service to his community speaks volumes about his dedication to his constituents,” said Ohio House Democratic Leader Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus). “He’s a great public servant who comes from a great legislative bloodline. We’ll miss Bob, but we’re excited to welcome John into our caucus. He’ll be a strong legislator for Summit County.” Otterman faces a primary chellenge by Brian D. Bardwell (D). Joe M. Fazek (R) has also filed in this district.

OH House-93: Garrison Introduces Sex Offender Bill - State Rep. Jennifer Garrison (D-Marietta) yesterday introduced a bill that would ban the most serious Tier III sex offenders who previously victimized someone age 15 or younger from schools, pre-schools and child day-care facilities in the state of Ohio. Twelve states have similar laws. “It is important for Ohio law to represent policies that protect our children from those who wish to do them harm, and this legislation will work to accomplish that goal,” Garrison said. “There are approximately 14,000 Tier III offenders in Ohio, many of whom prey on children. This bill will protect Ohio’s children when their parents send them off to what is supposed to be a safe haven: their school.” Garrison has no primary opponent. High school student Chelsi Smith (R-New Matamoras) has filed to run against her in the fall.

ODB List of Court of Appeals Candidates

I have added candidates for the Court of Appeals to the ODB 2008 Candidates List. Please let me know if I have left anyone off the list, or any comments or questions. Court of Appeals posts are extremely important, although generally under-reported. Although these are technically nonpartisan races, parties do support candidates and it is vital to get Democratic judges elected.

I have also added a clickable table of contents to the top of the list to help with navigation, and I am working on expanding the list of county officer candidates to all 27 counties with more than 100,000 residents. Any assistance in identifying candidates would be much appreciated.

UPDATE: Nice to hear from Michele DeCresce of Monroe, Ohio, who is heading up the campaign of her husband Bruce Carter for a Court of Appeals judgeship in the 12th District. She pointed out that there are two seats up for election in the district, one newly created and the other vacant due to a retirement, and she provided the link to Carter's campaign web site. Carter is a navy veteran and personal injury attorney with a law degree from the University of Akron and undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Dayton. In his stellar career he has worked to obtain fair compensation for asbestos cancer victims and worked on cases in half a dozen states. He is part of a group of attorneys who have worked to create a compensation fund from Travelers Insurance Company worth over $400 million and has served as co-chair of the Court Appointed Official Creditors’ Committee of the Combustion Engineering bankruptcy, trying to prevent a Swiss parent company from avoiding responsibility for the injuries caused by it's U.S.-based subsidiary.

Kerry (D) To Endorse Obama (D); Richardson (D) Out; McCain (R) Ahead in Michigan; Bloomberg (I) Polling

Some eyebrow-raising items from the presidential race:

* MSNBC reports that former presidential contender Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) will support Sen. Barack Obama (D). UPDATE: The Boston Globe reports that Kerry believes Obama "has the best potential to bring about transformational change." I hate to be cynical, but I wonder if this endorsement helps or hurts Obama's cause. I worked hard for Kerry in 2004 but I was glad that he didn't run again in 2008. The GOP attack machine and its allies did such an incredible and effective smear job on Kerry that his standing among independents is abysmal. Kerry's endorsement might help Obama among devoted Democrats, but independents and disaffected Republicans are the people that Obama is fighting to bring into the fold.

* Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM), who had the best resume in the race but couldn't grab the spotlight, reportedly will withdraw today, possibly to reappear in the race as a vice presidential candidate. Having endured past Iowa and New Hammpshire I thought he would continue through Super Tuesday. UPDATE: Robert raises the question at Chief Source: who will Richardson endorse? He was closely connected to the Clinton administration. However, he reportedly urged followers to support Obama in Iowa if there were unable to vote for Richardson at their caucuses. I'm sure that both Clinton and Obama will try to entice him, and quickly, given the compressed primary calendar. I can't guess which way he'll go, but look for an early announcement.

Women for Positive Change Meet & Greet with Frances Strickland

01/14/2008 - 5:30pm
01/14/2008 - 7:00pm

Via email:

2008 is "Opportunity Year" to Achieve Change!

Women for Positive Change will sponsor a Meet & Greet with Frances Strickland, Ohio's First Lady, the day after the Women's Organizing Convention in Columbus:

When : 5:30-7:00 p.m. - Monday, January 14, 2008. Want to help?.... Come at 4:45-5 p.m.

Where: Home of Susan D. Bernstein, D.D.S., 3681 Mohler Road, Cincinnati, OH 45241 (Blue Ash) off Cooper Road.

Who: All of You! For SOUP, SALAD & DESSERT!

Who Else? Victoria Wulsin, Connie Pillich, Denise Driehaus & Theresa Conover, our Women Candidates (Donations directly to our candidates are greatly appreciated)

Event Donation is $25.00 or more to help launch statewide support for the Ohio Democratic Party Women's Caucus. Make checks payable ODP.

Available at the Convention and at the Cincinnati Event is "THE ROAD TO BLUE", a pictorial table-top must-have book! Verbally and pictorially, it puts us on the road with our candidates as we all turned Ohio Blue.

*For an additional contribution of $40 per book, you will own one of these fantastically beautiful limited editions signed by Frances Strickland. Why ? WFPC has made a difference in our area of activity. By linking with many Dem women groups throughout Ohio under the Ohio Democratic Party Women's Caucus (ODPWC) umbrella we will be more effective. Our women will be involved in ground floor planning here and in Columbus.

To reserve for Cincinnati Meet & Greet, email:

miriambernstein-at-womenforpositivechange-dot-com

Please indicate your Name, Address, home and email and how many friends you are bringing along for this spectacular event!! And how many books to reserve for you.

OH-12: Campaign Kick-Off Event for Russ Goodwin (D)

01/23/2008 - 7:00pm

Via email:

It's time for effective and inspirational leadership in Ohio's 12th Congressional District, it's time for a change!

Please join; Joann Paradis, George and Sue Shellabarger, Short North Progressives, Mid-Town South Progressives, Franklin County Young Dems, and Stonewall Democrats of Central Ohio for a Wine and Cheese Reception benefiting Russ Goodwin, candidate for the U.S. Congress from the 12th Ohio Congressional District.

Wednesday, January 23rd, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.mm at the Brewer's Yard Club House, 100 W. Frankfort Square, in the Brewer's District in Columbus. Ample parking is available directly to the north of the building in the large parking lot.

Suggested donation is $25.00 (Young Democrats $20.00). RSVP by January 21 to RSVPforGoodwin-at-gmail-dot-com.

If you are unable to attend, please consider making a contribution to "Goodwin for Congress," 535 W. First Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43215.

Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus Votes For Leadership Change UPDATED

Jerid at BSB was the first blogger on this story, now reported on Gongwer News Service [subscription] and the Columbus Dispatch.

With an overwhelming total of 11 votes from the dozen members, and evidently to the surprise of Ohio Senate Minority Leader Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus voted to remove Fedor from her post, along with her assistant Sen. Tom Roberts (D-Dayton). Replacing Fedor is current minority whip Sen. Ray Miller (D-Columbus), with Sen. Shirley Smith (D-Cleveland) replacing Roberts as assistant minority leader, Sen. Lance Mason (D-Cleveland) moving up one rung to minority whip, and Sen. Capri Cafaro (D-Hubbard) replacing Mason as assistant minority whip.

There is apparently a procedural difficulty with the vote, but given the huge margin the move is certain to be effectuated one way or the other. (Just think, one of the votes had to come from Fedor or Roberts, presumably the latter.)

This is a move that had to be made. There have been too many intra-caucus disputes and mis-steps by the Ohio Senate Democrats during the last year, and recruiting for this election cycle has not been stellar. Fedor has made important contributions, but Miller is an outstanding individual and personally I'm thrilled to see him take the reins.

UPDATE: Based on information from a well-placed source, the issues put forward concerning Fedor's leadership were fund-raising, recruiting, and leadership on the floor. A look at Secretary of State records helps illustrate the first concern. The Senate Democratic Caucus' most recent report shows $257,460.69 cash on hand, almost all of it from members of the caucus. By way of contrast, the Ohio House Democratic Caucus has $420,340.21 on hand. (The well-funded GOP counterparts are way ahead -- the Senate Republican caucus has almost $1.4 million, the House Republican caucus has over $1.7 million.) It is easy to see how the 11-vote groundswell for leadership change occurred if Democratic senators feel they are bearing the entire burden of filling the coffers and they aren't seeing the best results for their money. Although this change may be traumatic on various levels, the need is clear.

The next question may be the future of Kevin Watts, brought in to replace Robert Dempsey as political director for the caucus last year.

2nd UPDATE: Aaron Marshall of the Plain Dealer confirms Jim Siegel's account in the Dispatch that 11 senators voted to oust Fedor, both based on Sen. Miller's description. Marshall includes the detail that it was a "unanimous" vote, meaning that Fedor did not take part.

In my prior update I overlooked an even more immediate "next question," which is whether Sen. Fedor will stay in the Ohio Senate.

3rd UPDATE: A prominent Ohio blogger is trying to make a huge issue about the vote count in the Senate Democratic Caucus and whether new Senate Democratic Leader Ray Miller was "lying" (that's the blogger's accusation) when Miller called the vote unanimous. It appears that there was a preliminary vote in the morning that showed a majority in favor of the change, followed by an official vote in the caucus meeting that was unanimous at 11-0. Miller said, right after leaving the afternoon meeting, that the caucus vote was unanimous. I don't have a problem with that statement. Also, on the merits, it's still my opinion that the change was for the best.

4th UPDATE: I've now been reliably informed that the morning "vote" (really an informal head-count) was 8-4, not 7-5, with three "no" voters coming around during discussions afterward. Sen. Fedor has given an interview to the Hannah News Service in which she said that she was disappointed with her ouster as leader of the caucus but "I'm not going away." She said she's proud of her work in the past year she and said will continue to work on issues important to Democrats. I am glad to hear that she is speaking positively and intends to stay in the Ohio Senate.

Progressive Majority Comes to Ohio

Progressive Majority is a Washington-based political action committee officially launched in 2001 to recruit, train, and elect progressives. It was founded by its president, Gloria Totten, who was formerly the political director for NARAL. The board of trustees includes Robert Borosage of the Campaign for America's Future, Tom Mattzie of MoveOn.org, and Karen Ackerman, political director of the AFL/CIO.

Since 2003 the focus of Progressive Majority has been state and local races, seeking to form the 'farm team' for the progressive movement. Starting in Washington, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania in the 2004 election cycle, and then expanding to Arizona and Colorado in 2005 and California in 2006, the organization claims to have helped elect 270 progressive local and state candidates, which in turn helped flip over a dozen city, county, and state legislative bodies (including the state senates of Washington and Wisconsin and the Pennsylvania State House) from Republican to Democratic control.

Ohio has been on the organizations agenda for a while, and toward that end Progressive Majority donated money to the campaign of Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (D) in 2006. Today, the organization has sent out a fund-raising email announcing that it has appointed David Dettman as its new Ohio State Director.

Dettman brings 25 years of political experience to the job. In 2002 he ran for the Ohio House of Representatives in the 10th District, losing a five-way primary to current state senator Shirley Smith (D-Cleveland). More biographical data from the email:

He has worked on Democratic presidential, congressional, and local campaigns and as a consultant on the application of political technology in campaign tactics. Most recently, he has worked at the National Democratic Institute (NDI) for International Affairs, where he served as the Resident Director and political party officer in the NDI Ukraine office until 2006. From 2006-2007, David was the NDI Middle East and North Africa regional political advisor with responsibility for democracy promotion in Egypt, West-Bank/Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.

OH-02: Democrats Spar Over Debate Challenge by Black (D)

Democratic candidates face at least nominal primaries in nine of Ohio's 18 districts, but only OH-10 (Rep. Kucinich) and OH-18 (Rep. Space) involve Democratic incumbents. Of the remaining seven, five involve GOP incumbents (Rep. Turner in OH-03, Rep. Boehner in OH-08, Rep. Tiberi in OH-12, and Rep. LaTourette in OH-14) and two are open seats (OH-7 and OH-16).

The Democratic primaries that seem most likely to generate fireworks are in OH-02, OH-07, and OH-10, where there are adversaries who appear fairly evenly matched and at least potentially well-funded. (This may happen in OH-12 and OH-16 as well, but it is too early to tell.) There was an early spat in OH-07 when returning candidate William Conner (R-Beavercreek) made a snarky, disparaging comment about the profession of Circleville pizzeria owner Dave Woolever (D-Stoutsville). Also, OH-10 has seen a number of creative attacks and a debate challenge by Rosemary Palmer (D-Cleveland), but those have been ignored by the incumbent (who will declare his re-election campaign today). However, it looks like the OH-02 contest between Vic Wulsin (D-Indian Hill) and Steve Black (D-Indian Hill) is destined for the first open and sustained hostility.

OH-02: Wulsin (D) to Announce Labor Endorsements UPDATED

In a bid to seize the early momentum in her primary battle with attorney and converted Republican Steve Black (D-Indian Hill), repeat candidate Dr. Victoria Wulsin (D-Indian Hill) will trot out a string of local and national labor endorsements this morning (Wednesday, January 9th) at 11:00 am at the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers, 2721 Central Parkway, Suite B Cincinnati, 45225. As a public health doctor board certified in occupational medicine, Wulsin says that she has "long worked with organized labor on workplace health and safety issues," citing her work at the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and as a uniformed officer in the U.S. Public Health Service. Her web site says that she received the endorsement of Local 43 of the National Association of Letter Carriers in November.

Black is not conceding the support of organized labor to Wulsin by any means. His web site features a slide show of the candidate standing with members of UFCW Local 1099 during a job action outside a location of the Kroger Company. His issues page calls free trade under CAFTA and NAFTA a "disaster" and he pledges to "support trade deals only if they have aggressive labor, environmental and wage standards." He says that he has the support of the UFCW.

UPDATE: Wulsin announced the support of the American and Ohio Federation of Teachers, the Service Employees International Union, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, the United Auto Workers, and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.

Clinton (D) Wins New Hampshire

At 10:40 pm, NBC and the AP project that Clinton will pull out a narrow victory over Obama in New Hampshire, defying the polls and the pundits. With 66% of the vote counted it's 39% for Clinton, 36% for Obama, and 17% for Edwards.

Perhaps Clinton's emotional moment of yesterday caused undecided voters to take another look at her. Perhaps she simply became more likeable when she was no longer the flinty front-runner. Or maybe this brings up the issue of people behaving differently in the privacy of the polling booth than they do when talking to a pollster. Whatever the cause, it's time to recalibrate the analysis and take a critical look at the conclusions flowing from the results in Iowa. Unlike Iowa, Clinton did very well among women voters. Obama didn't pull in as many independents as he did there. Voters may have felt some hesititation about Obama's relative lack of experience once he was thrust into the role of front-runner. What is certain is that this unexpected outcome will prolong the process, sending us into a protracted battle at least through Super Tuesday on February 5th.

New Hampshire: Obama (D) Landslide Not Materializing; McCain (R) Wins Easily

At about 9:00 pm and with almost a third of the votes counted, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is leading former governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) by 37% to 29% and Romney has conceded. Former governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR) is down at 12% and former mayor Rudy Giluliani (R-NY) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) are duking it out at 9% and 8% respectively. This win puts McCain back into the first tier but I wouldn't call him the front-runner necessarily.

The huge win for Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) that everyone was expecting may not happen. Sen Hillary Clinton (D-NY) leads him by 39% to 36% of the vote. That lead has been shrinking and I expect Obama to prevail, but probably not by double digits. In the amazing realm of politics that may be considered something of a positive in light of expectations. Like beating the spread. Former senator John Edwards (D-NC) is at 17% now and figures to finish under 20%, behind by the winner by fifteen to twenty points. I don't expect him to fold up his tents, but his argument that it's a two-person race between him and Obama has been shattered.

ODB County Offices Candidates List

I have finished identifying the candidates who filed for county offices in the 12 most populous Ohio counties, found toward the bottom of the 2008 Ohio Candidates List. Although it's a lot of work to identify candidates, I feel that the county races are very important and under-reported (at least at the statewide level), so I'm considering expanding the list to another 15 counties. That would include every county above 100,000 people. I'd appreciate your thoughts about whether expanding the county offices list is sufficiently useful and interesting for me to pursue it.

Also, please email me or leave a comment with any comments, corrections, or additional information about these candidates. In particular, please let me know the URLs for any campaign web sites and I'll include them.

A few notable races:

* Cleveland City Council President Martin Sweeney (D) has dropped out of the county recorder race, apparently because incumbent Patrick O'Malley (D) decided not to retire, and spurred on by the outrage of lots of people who supported him through the recent sexual harassment scandal. However, former council member Nelson Cintron Jr. (D) is still challenging the incumbent. Cintron led the recent unsuccessful effort to recall his successor on the council, Jose Santiago.

* Former judge and city council member Cindy Lazarus (D) is running against Clerk of Courts John O'Grady (D) in a primary for Franklin County Commissioner, a race tied to long-standing intra-party feuding according to Jerid at BSB. Michael C. Troper (R) and Jeffrey Miller (R) have also filed.

* In Hamilton County, Clerk of Courts Greg Hartmann (R) is unopposed in his bid to replace Pat DeWine (R, now running for a judgeship, and former state senator Patricia Clancy (R) is unopposed in her bid for Clerk of Courts, despite a report that State Rep. Jim Raussen (R) might run for this post. The lack of opposition results from a controversial 11th-hour deal between the Republican and Democratic parties.

* Former state representative Wayne Coates (D) will run against Rebecca Prem Groppe (R) for Hamilton County Recorder.

* In Montgomery County Debbie Lieberman, spouse of former county party chair Dennis Lieberman, faces a primary challenge from Mark Anthony Newberry (D-Dayton). Term-limited State Rep. Arlene Setzer (R-Vandalia) filed to run agianst Willis Blackshear (D)* for Montgomery County Recorder.

* In Summit County, failed mayoral primary candidate Joe Finley (D) is challenging Summit County Executive Russell Pry (D) (Pho has more on this race) and State Rep. John Widowfield (R-Cuyahoga Falls) has decided not to run for re-election and is challenging incumbent Louise Heydorn (R) for County Council Member - 3rd District. Widowfield's 2004 opponent for state representative Paul Colavecchio (D) is also in that race.

* Term-limited State Rep. John Hagan (R-Marlboro Township) is running for Stark County Commissioner. Pat DeOrio (D-North Canton), Jim Holmes (D-Canton), and John Grant (R-Massillon) are also candidates.

* Special ed teacher Eric C. Ungaro (D-Poland), son of former Youngstown mayor Patrick Ungaro (D), has filed to challenge Mahoning County Commissioner Anthony Traficanti (D-Poland). Chris McCarty (R-Boardman) is the GOP candidate. Also in Mahoning County, county Democratic party chair and County Treasurer Lisa Antonini (D-Austintown) faces a primary challenge from an outspoken critic, defense attorney John F. Shultz (D).

* In Trumbull County a vice president of Cafaro Co., David DeChristofaro (D-Niles), will oppose chief deputy engineer Randy Smith (D) for the post of county engineer.

* Term-limited State Rep. Jim Carmichael (R-Wooster) is running for Wayne County Commissioner, and Ohio Senate candidate Mike Todd (D-Medina Twp) decided to run for Medina County Treasurer instead. These are examples of races that aren't on the current list but would be if I expanded it to all counties larger than 100,000 residents.

OH House-84: Crockett (D) Off and Running

In 2006 dynamic campaigner Connie Crockett (D-Yellow Springs) won 40% of the vote against entrenched incumbent Chris Widener (R-Springfield). Now it's an open seat and Crockett is gunning for it. From the press release:

On Sunday, December 30th, Connie Crockett announced her candidacy for State Representative in the 84th District of the Ohio House of Representatives. The announcement was made to a large crowd of supporters gathered at the historic Howard House in London, Ohio.

Crockett will run as a Strickland-style Democrat, emphasizing her priorities of strengthening our local economy, improving health care by increasing quality, lowering costs, and providing affordable access to prescription drugs, and ensuring both a high-quality education for our children and the opportunities to succeed after graduation.

“We are educating smart young people who are leaving the state for jobs elsewhere,” said Crockett. “We need to provide opportunities for their fresh ideas to thrive here at home. I want to ensure that Clark, Greene and Madison counties have a place at the table, and will work hard to build a better future for all of us.”

Crockett, a descendant of folk hero Davy Crockett, is a longtime resident and officeholder in Greene County.

Crockett will face the winner of the GOP primary between Madison County Commissioner Bob Hackett and Assistant Prosecutor Craig Saunders.

Roll Call: "GOP Facing Tough Open-Seat Primaries in Ohio"

Shira Toeplitz reports on subscription-only Roll Call that Ohio Republicans are now looking at competitive and potentially divisive primaries in all three seats that came because of retirements (Rep. Hobson in OH-07, Rep. Pryce in OH-15, and Rep. Regula in OH-16):

“We were very fortunate to have one of the most senior delegations. ... We’ve been able to have a very powerful delegation,” said Ohio Republican Party Deputy Chairman Kevin DeWine. “Unfortunately, three of them have decided to retire at the same time.”

No fewer than three Republicans have filed to run to fill Regula’s 16th district seat. Ashland County Commissioner Matt Miller, online radio host Paul Schiffer and state Sen. Kirk Schuring hope to win the Republican nod to take on state Sen. John Boccieri, who is considered a top Democratic recruit.

In Hobson’s 7th district, election filings show Republicans state Sen. Steve Austria, former state Rep. Ron Hood and Clark County Republican Chairman Dan Harkins as running for the seat. ...

The race for Pryce’s seat has proved the least contentious for Republicans, as they have recruited what they consider to be a top-tier candidate in state Sen. Steve Stivers. Yet Stivers must first defeat Ohio State University economics professor Robert Wagner in the GOP race before facing 2006 Democratic nominee Mary Jo Kilroy in November.

Meanwhile, Rep. Jean Schmidt (R) faces two former elected officials in the Republican primary as she tries to hold onto the seat she won by about 2,500 votes in 2006. ...

However, DeWine said he anticipates a greater challenge for Schmidt in the general election ...

“I just think Jean’s nature is that she’ll always have an interesting time in the general election,” he said. “Despite the makeup of the district, I don’t think Jean will ever have a free pass.”

News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races

Some items of interest while we await the New Hampshire primary with bated breath (yes, it's "bated," not "baited" - I checked):

OH-01: Third Candidate - There is a third candidate in the mix along with Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood) and opponent State Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Price Hill). His name is Rich Stevenson and he's running as a non-partisan independent, attacking career politicians and pledging to serve only two terms. If it is a close race as expected an independent could affect the outcome, although it is hard to say at this point what impact Stevenson would have.

OH-02: Debate Challenge Issued - Steve Black (D-Indian Hill) is challenging repeat candidate Victoria Wulsin (D-Indian Hill) to "a minimum of seven" debates before the March 4th primary. "Unfortunately, we now live in a world where politicians rely on 30 second sound-bites and slick slogans to communicate with voters," Black wrote to Wulsin in a letter. "Voters deserve better. The time has come for a substantive discussion about the issues that affect people's daily lives." By the way, a Democrat named Willaim R. Smith filed in this race, along with independent Nathan W. Bailey.

OH-05: Latta's Two Challengers - Scott Radcliffe (R-Perrysburg) was serving in Iraq during the special election. "“The people of northwest Ohio have always been so great while I was over there,” Radcliffe says. “I just wanted to give back to them. Service was just the best way to give back to them. I’d like to go to Washington and serve them well. That’s just a continuation of my service.” The other challenger, retiree Michael Reynolds (R-Columbus Grove), filed for the special election GOP primary but his petitions were disqualified. Better luck this time?

OH-06: Race Previewed - A piece in the Athens Messenger gives a quick preview of this race. Richard "Dick" Stobbs (R-Dillonvale) is a Viet Nam and one-term sheriff who placed fourth in the 2006 GOP primary behind then-Ohio House Speaker Chuck Blasdel, Danny Harmon, and Tim Ginter (now running for Ohio Senate against Charlie Wilson's son Jason). Wilson will campaign on his credentials as a state legislator and congressman, the latter now including sponsoring legislation to amend the National Housing Act to promote fair appraisals in connection with mortgages insured under the FHA single-family mortgage insurance program and co-sponsoring bills to increase in the federal minimum wage and reduce interest rates for education loans.

OH-07: Wide Open Primaries - This should be fun -- four Republicans, six Democrats. On the Democratic side, I see from Dr. Richard Wyderski's LinkedIn profile that he is Associate Program Director of Internal Medicine Residency and Chair of Continuing Medical Education at Miami Valley Hospital. Sharen Neuhardt is a partner at Thompson Hines and leader of the firm's Corporate Transactions and Securities practice group. These are a couple of high-power professionals.

OH-08: Two Oppose Boehner - The House Speaker draws not one but two potential Democratic opponents, Nicholas Vonstein (D) and 2006 candidate Mort Meier (D-Hamilton). I don't know anything about Vonstein yet, but Meier is a scrappy retired stock broker who was a Republican until George W. Bush was elected president.

OH-09: Familiar Names in GOP Primary - Bradley Leavitt (R-Toledo) and Ed Emery (R-Sylvania) also duked it out in 2006, with Leavitt prevailing and losing to Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) in the general election.

OH-12: What The World Needs Now - Columbus-area attorney Marc Fagin, one of four Democrats hoping to oust Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Westerville), told the Newark Advocate that if he could narrow his message down to one word, it would be "kindness." Interesting. From a lawyer, no less. I love it!

OH-13: Sutton's Opponent Thinks State Sen. Kevin Coughlin (R) is "Squirelly" - That's what Joseph reported on Plunderbund in August about Frances L. Kalapodis (R), who filed to oppose Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Twp) along with restaurant owner Frank Chestney (R-New Brunswick) and David Potter (R).

OH-17: Sen. Ryan? - The Plain Dealer has a profile of Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles) today, written by Sabrina Eaton, in which she portrays him as the future of the Democratic party and probably our next U.S. Senator. (I'm okay with that.) The funny part of the article is GOP shills trying to find ways to disparage him. A reader emailed me to point out that there are other terrific Democratic prospects for the U.S. Senate, with Treasurer Rich Cordray (D) as a case in point. Fine. I have no problem with that scenario, either!

McGovern (D) Calls For Impeachment

The first political campaign for which I volunteered (before I could even vote) was the 1972 presidential bid by then-senator George McGovern (D-SD). Today the Washington Post published his stirring call for the impeachment of George Bush and Dick Cheney. Some excerpts:

From the beginning, the Bush-Cheney team's assumption of power was the product of questionable elections that probably should have been officially challenged -- perhaps even by a congressional investigation.

In a more fundamental sense, American democracy has been derailed throughout the Bush-Cheney regime. The dominant commitment of the administration has been a murderous, illegal, nonsensical war against Iraq. That irresponsible venture has killed almost 4,000 Americans, left many times that number mentally or physically crippled, claimed the lives of an estimated 600,000 Iraqis (according to a careful October 2006 study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) and laid waste their country. The financial cost to the United States is now $250 million a day and is expected to exceed a total of $1 trillion, most of which we have borrowed from the Chinese and others as our national debt has now climbed above $9 trillion -- by far the highest in our national history.

All of this has been done without the declaration of war from Congress that the Constitution clearly requires, in defiance of the U.N. Charter and in violation of international law. This reckless disregard for life and property, as well as constitutional law, has been accompanied by the abuse of prisoners, including systematic torture, in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions of 1949. ...

Making A List, Checking It Twice

I will not be posting very much over the next few days as I focus my efforts on gathering information about candidates who filed at boards of election across all 88 counties. Although I won't be posting here, I'll be updating the information on the ODB candidates list. Please note that this year the list will include county offices from Ohio's twelve largest counties as well as Courts of Appeals.

So far I have worked my way through lists of filings from Cuyahoga, Stark, Franklin, Summit, Lake and a few other counties. There have been a number of surprises, but I want to get the list in good shape before taking much time to comment on things here on the front page. Just a few quick examples of newsy bits:

* Reps. Boccieri (D) and Space (D) have primary challengers that I had not heard or read about, neither a familiar name: Mary Cirelli (D) and Mark Pitrone (D), respectively. [CORRECTION! Cirelli is indeed a "familiar name." She is a former state legislator and county commissioner as well as a current member of Canton City Council.]

* Mike Todd (D-Medina) didn't file for the 22nd Ohio Senate District after campaigning a long time for it. He will run for County Treasurer and 2006 Ohio House candidate James E. Riley (D) will oppose State Rep. Bob Gibbs (R) for the open seat.

* As rumored yesterday, Doug Nagy (D) did not file in the 63rd Ohio House District, leaving assistant prosecutor Mark Schneider (D) as the opponent for State Rep. Carol-Ann Schindel (R) in that key race.

* 2006 candidate Bev Campbell (D) did file in the 20th Ohio House District, setting up a primary with Nancy Garland (D) to determine who will face incumbent Jim McGregor.

OH Sen-2: Two Democrats File

As of the 4:00PM deadline, two Democratic challengers had filed nominating petitions in Ohio General Assembly Senate District 2.

Jeff had previously mentioned teacher and school board member Sylvia Washburn (D-Maumee) who was recruited by Democratic Senate caucus leader Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) after her previous choice, Sandusky attorney Daniel McGookey decided against running. Wood County Democratic Party activist Justin Zollars had considered entering this race. The good news is that Justin is working on the campaign of Gordon Heminger (D-Bowling Green) for County Clerk of Courts, (who also had decided against running for this seat.)

Today, according to the Wood County Board of Elections, Darwitt R. Garrett of Sandusky has also filed for this race. Mr. Garrett is a precinct committee representative of the Erie County Democratic Party, of which Mr. McGookey is vice -chair.

At the present time, Democrats control 12 out of 33 Senate seats in the General Assembly, as compared with 46 out of 99 members in the Ohio House.

Ohio Go Run applications now open

I've written about The White House Project for over a year now. It's a group that:
aims to advance women’s leadership in all communities and sectors, up to the U.S. presidency. By filling the leadership pipeline with a richly diverse, critical mass of women, we make American institutions, businesses and government truly representative. Through multi-platform programs, The White House Project creates a culture where America’s most valuable untapped resource—women—can succeed in all realms.

And now its signature training program, Go Run, is coming to Ohio.

What Go Run is:
Go Run is a weekend long training dedicated to equipping you, the future candidate, with the skills to run and win. The training aims to demystify the political process and inspire a richly diverse group of women in to the leadership pipeline. Go Run provides the nuts and bolts of running for political office by focusing on areas like communications, fundraising, and campaigning - skills you can use in your work and in your community up to the day you decide to run!

When: The weekend of June 6-8, 2008

Where: The Riffe Center and the Hyatt in Columbus

Link to application is here.

Have questions? E-mail me, leave a comment or contact Faith Winter at fwinter@thewhitehouseproject.org or call 303-871-6779.

But most importantly, if you're a woman, think about applying yourself, or asking or convincing other women to apply.

Enormous props to the group of Ohio women and White House Project folks whom I've gotten to know over the last few months in the effort to get this training here.

Hamilton County Parties Make Deal to Limit Contested Races

My initial reaction to this is very negative. The Enquirer reports that the county parties have made an agreement to give various county office candidates a free pass. Short version, former congressional and city council candidate Greg Harris (D) will not oppose Clerk of Courts Greg Hartmann (R) in his bid for county commissioner; County Commissioner Todd Portune (D) won't face an endorsed opponent (it would have been Green Township Trustee Tracy Winkler (R)), although he still faces unendorsed opponent Ed Rothenberg (R); and prosecutor Joe Deters (R) and ten Common Pleas Judges will also get a free pass.

This kind of deal-making is part of the asserted basis for the bid by State Sen. Kevin Coughlin (R-Cuyahoga Falls) to unseat Summit County GOP boss Alex Arshinkoff. I'm not very comfortable about aligning myself with Coughlin, and one can recite economies and efficiencies that could be gained by such arrangements, but frankly it strikes me as a dangerous abuse of power. The point of democratic government is for voters to have the opportunity to decide who represents them, and such incursions into that right should ring lots of alarm bells. It's true that individuals can step outside the party system and run as independents, but as a practical matter political parties have a lot of clout - in many cases they can effectively stifle electoral challenges. Let's hope they are not doing too much damage to democracy ideals in this instance. That depends, I suppose, on whether the deal prevents close races that otherwise would have occurred, which is hard to assess.

OH House-54: School Levy Critic Files as Democrat

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that school board member and ardent school levy opponent Arnie Engel of Fairfield has filed nominating petitions to run for the 54th Ohio House District seat of State Rep. Eric Combs (R-Fairfield) as a Democrat. However, he will not be seeking the endorsement of the Demcratic Party, because he has disagreed in the past with party leaders about school tax levies. Engel says that "schools will be my No. 1 issue."

Combs' 2006 opponent Ken Keith (D-Hamilton) is also going to run.

OH-14: Does LaTourette (R) Agree About Staying in Iraq For 100 Years?

Last night Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said it would be just fine with him if the U.S. keeps troops in Iraq for another 100 years:



Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Twp) has endorsed McCain for president. Is LaTourette on board with McCain's century-long military presence in Iraq position? I'm just wondering. Because I'm pretty sure that Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell) wants us to get our troops out. Like the two-thirds of voters who want us out within a year.

PS: I believe that this is the first time that I have had occasion to write about Rep. LaTourette since he complained to the Plain Dealer about my participation in the group blog "Wide Open," resulting in my termination. If he wants to complain to my boss again ... well, that would be me. He can call any time. And then maybe he can tell me his position on U.S. troops still being in Iraq when the two of us are both long dead.

OH-07: Hood (R) Announces Run

The path of anointed successor State Sen. Steve Austria (R-Beavercreek) to succeed his mentor, retiring Rep. Dave Hobson (R-Springfield), just got a LOT rockier, with former state representative Ron Hood (R-Asheville) announcing last night that he is running. Hood's entry brings to four the number of confirmed GOP candidates, the others being attorney and county GOP chair Dan Harkins (R-Springfield) and retired USAF pilot John Mitchel (R-Beavercreek).

The story in today's Dayton Business Journal makes it clear that Hood will run an agressive primary challenge from the right:

"I'm running for Congress because I believe we need to restore the core conservative values of the Republican Party to our state and our country," Hood said in the announcement. "I have always defended life, traditional marriage and the Constitution -- including the Second Amendment." ...

Until mid-October, Hood worked for the National Right To Work Committee, a nonprofit that "combats compulsory unionism" and enlists public support for Right to Work legislation, according to its mission statement.

Ohio Sen. John Carey, R-Wellston, who has endorsed Austria for the U.S. Congress, said Hood is known for running an extremely aggressive campaign, with strong grassroots support from the National Right To Work Committee.

OH Sen-20: Waiting for Shriver (D) and/or Richards (D) to File

ODP Chair Chris Redfern (D-Catawba Island) has indicated that the 20th Ohio Senate District represents one of the Democrats' best pickup opportunities in that chamber, with bankruptcy-plagued incumbent State Sen. Joy Padgett (R-Coshocton) retiring and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) and Gov. Ted Strickland (D) having done well here in 2006. State Rep. Jimmy Stewart (R-Athens) is the GOP candidate, but nobody has yet filed on the Democratic side.

Today, with the 4:00 p.m. filing deadline fast approaching, the suspense is whether it will be Morgan County Commissioner Rick Shriver (D) or 2004 congressional primary contender Paul E. Richards (D-Glouster), or perhaps both. The two have been circulating nominating petitions.

Jim Phillips reports in the Athens News today that Shriver has been heavily recruited by party leaders in Columbus and Washington, including Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) and Gov. Strickland (D). Shriver is president of the county commission and teaches communications at Ohio University in Zanesville. He is also a former Fulbright fellow.

Richards is a union carpenter who won over 22,000 votes in 2004 in the 18th Congressional District, losing the primary to Brian Thomas. He told Phillips that he might not stay in the race if there is to be a primary.

Classy Biden (D) Exit Speech

New front-runner Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) isn't the only one to make a great speech last night. The nine minute farewell address by Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) really was one of the classiest I have ever heard. Poised, sincere, grateful, but proud and inspiring at the same time - truly worth watching. As Biden said, it was a great night to be a Democrat:


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