Mark Naymik is breaking the story on Openers, and thoughtfully provides the video:
Kucinich will make the official announcement tomorrow at noon and says (not on the video) he will not make an endorsement. Go read Naymik's story, he deserves the clicks.
UPDATE: A couple of quick reactions. Pundits have been saying that Kucinich is in real trouble on winning re-election to Congress, but this news is the biggest proof yet. He wouldn't drop out of the presidential race if he wasn't nervous about keeping his seat.
Kucinich's national following is small but very loyal. He polled better in several states than candidates regarded as higher-profile, like Sens. Biden and Dodd. So, where will his 3% to 5% share of the voters turn? I'm thinking Edwards, as the one with the strongest populist progressive message. Will it change the dynamics of the race? Um ... no.
Does this help Kucinich keep his seat? Absolutely. Slamming Kucinich for ignoring his district while running for president has been the lynch-pin of the Palmer and Cimperman campaigns to date. They must retool. And, the fact that there are multiple challengers to divide the vote will help, along with Kucinich giving the congressional race his undivided attention.
Don't expect Kucinich to disappear from the national political arena completely. I bet he will still be making appearances on the cable news shows to talk about the presidential race. He may be out of the race, but he is still a controversial figure with lots of entertainment value (which is what the cable channels are all about), and he still has all the motivation in the world to speak out.
2nd UPDATE: Rosemary Palmer (D-Cleveland) is first out of the gate with a statement:
As the Democratic Presidential primary campaign continues, I applaud Congressman Dennis Kucinich for his decision to step aside and let the voters choose between the three remaining candidates for our party's nomination. While others cite his frequent presidential runs as their main motivation for entering the race for Congress, Mr. Kucinich's move today will not affect my decision to vigorously challenge him for the position he currently holds.
I entered this race in June because I did not feel he was focused on the job, nor able to effect the change we so desperately need. On issues of job creation, health care, the environment, and the Iraq War, Mr. Kucinich often talks a good game but seldom delivers. The 10th Congressional District, and the entire Northeast Ohio region, need someone who less interested in making points and more interested in making change. I feel I best represent that change and welcome the opportunity to debate Mr. Kucinch and make my case to the voters over the next five weeks.
What about the others? C'mon, this is the internet age, an hour of silence is like a century!
What's happening in those critical General Assembly contests:
OH Sen-24: Placeholder Identified - Recently, outgoing Ohio Senate Democratic Leader Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) remarked in an email message (reprinted on Glass City Jungle) that she is proud of having recruited a candidate in each of the 16 Ohio Senate races, but conceded that two of them are to be replaced with real candidates later. I heard from a reliable source today that attorney Emanuel Cotronakis (D-Bay Village) in the 24th District is one such placeholder. Who is the other? [UPDATE: I'm told that it is Holly Stutz in the 14th District.]
OH House-87: Brunner Will Decide Evans Protest - The
Morgan Jackson County Board of Elections deadlocked 2-2 along party lines on a protest to the declaration of candidacy filed by State Rep. Clyde Evans (R-Rio Grande) after he mistakenly filed and then withdrew nominating petitions to run as an independent. Evans and the director of the board say that they were following instructions from the Secretary of State's office and should not be penalized for the mistake. Appearing for the protester and for the Oho Democratic Party, attorney Don McTigue argued that Evans is responsible for knowing and following the law.
OH House-92: Phillips and Thompson Discuss Poverty - Nick Claussen wrote a good article in the Athens News today based on interviews with candidates Debbie Phillips (D-Athens) and Jill Thompson (R-The Plains) about statistics showing rising poverty in the area and what to do about it. Thompson said that the cause of the increase needs to be verified and talked about infrastructure projects and Third Frontier investments as part of the solution. Phillips emphasized funding for programs that assist people in poverty, and talked about supporting small businesses and promoting alternative energy as a stimulus to the economy.
OH House-97: How Not To Blog - Having a campaign blog is a great idea, but ONLY if the candidate keeps it current. I hope that Luke Brewer (D-Glenmont) figures this out. His blog has nothing since his campaign manager wrote the first post on December 16th (and his website still declares that he will be announcing his candidacy soon).
OH House-98: Dolan Resigns Committee Post - State Rep. Matt Dolan (R-Novelty), who faces no opposition for re-election, said today that he is stepping down as chair of the powerful House Finance and Appropriations Committee. He recently failed in a bid to nail down the position of House Speaker early when caucus members resisted a straw vote on favoring Dolan over State Rep. Bill Batchelder (R-Medina). Is Dolan going to devote all of his time and energy to pursuing his leadership ambitions now?
Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) may be the #1 target for the National Republican Congressional Committee, but he is a shining example of what one in that position should do about it. He has been incredibly visible all around his far-flung district, he has loudly trumpeted his legislative initiatives (including popular efforts like expanding broadband access, improving veterans care, and stimulating the economy), and he is absolutely kicking butt in the fund-raising department.
Today the Dispatch blog The Daily Briefing reports that Space has already filed his year-end FEC report, which is not due until January 31st, and he has raised $1,103,759 as of December 31st and has $755,810 cash on hand. The four GOP candidates haven't filed yet but they figure to be way behind, based on earlier FEC filings. This is a major haul for Space and sends a clear message that he will be tough to take out, particularly since none of his potential GOP opponents are what you'd call top-drawer candidates.
As a reality check, keep in mind that the NRCC and probably conservative 527's will step in with major bucks in this race, but even if Space winds up being outspent by such outside groups he is raising plenty of cash to mount an aggressive defense of his seat. Great news from the 18th District!
A few items of interest:
OH-02: Democrats Sparring on Finances and Disclosure - As I have been noting, most recently here, the campaigns of Victoria Wulsin (D-Indian Hill) and Steve Black (D-Indian Hill) have been feuding about financial disclosure data. A source has been tipping me that Black owns (or owned) stock in Halliburton and drug, insurance, and oil companies while criticizing those entities in campaign mailers (three to date). The Black campaign addressed the Halliburton stock question (he sold it at a loss when he discovered it among his assets) but replied to the other charges by criticizing the quality of Wulsin's disclosure, which was amended to restate her assets by a large amount. Josh Levin of the Wulsin campaign has now responded in turn, and with this entry I will consider the matter closed (as far as this blog is concerned):
Vic’s personal finances are an open book - we're more than willing to allow a neutral source to review them. We have filed dozens of disclosures in full compliance with the law. When we found errors in a routine review, we followed the law and immediately amended the report.
The fact is that Steve Black is running a negative campaign, and misleading the voters in his direct mail is a real issue. He said "Halliburton needs to be held accountable" as a “war profiteer,” yet he earned income from Halliburton stock. He criticized oil and drug companies, yet he owns millions in their shares. Steve Black can't just gloss over his history. He says one thing now, but he does another. And that's a real issue that Democrats need to know about.
Vic knows that we must get tough on oil and drug companies, and that our families must come first. Steve says so too, but it seems hard to believe he'll lead on these issues when he is so personally invested in them and the status quo.
Meanwhile, Bill Sloat reports that Phil Heimlich isn't giving back any of the contributions he received for his congressional bid -- he wants to save it for
"opportunities that come up in future years."
OH-05: Latta Voted Against SCHIP Expansion - Newly elected Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) joined hardliners Chabot, Schmidt, Jordan and Boehner in opposing SCHIP health insurance program for 10 million more uninsured children. The other six Republicans voted with the Democrats. This vote against kids would be an opening for a strong Democratic opponent in the general election -- if there were one.
OH-07: Mitchel on Hobson's "Porker of the Month Award" - In this editorial the Dayton Daily News defends earmarks by Rep. Dave Hobson (R-Springfield), saying it is the system that should be criticized instead, but that doesn't sit well with candidate John Mitchel (R-Beavercreek):
“Woeful are we, our ‘sugar daddy’ is leaving town”
No, the slam at Hobson reflects directly on Hobson, not the system. Voter acceptance of the “bring-home-the-bacon” mind-set is precisely what is driving Ohio and the rest of America into the abyss, and blaming it on “the system” is a cop-out. Dave Hobson swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, not bring home the bacon. Dave Hobson has a free will and he can exercise it to make moral judgments or not, so let’s not let him off the hook by allowing him to cry “the system made me do it.”
So what happens now as Hobson goes into retirement? If we trust the kingmakers, Steve Austria, another “bring-home-the-bacon” career politician, is waiting in the wings, but beware, if he gets elected it will be years before he earns the seniority to be included in the Congressional “good-old-boy network.” Even worse, to get to that point he’ll have to sell out to the lobbyists and special interests, and that leaves us exactly where we are today. So the choice is ours -- change or politics as usual. Our only hope is that when we cast our vote, it’s not for our own self-interest, but for a concern for future generations. Sooner or later our children and grandchildren will figure it out on there own, but our job is to buy them some time so all is not lost before the light comes on.
OH-12: O'Grady Endorses Goodwin - In a trade of endorsements, Franklin County Clerk of Courts John O'Grady (D) endorsed congressional candidate Russ Goodwin (D), and Goodwin returned the favor regarding O'Grady's bid for county commissioner. Said O'Grady of Goodwin: “Russ Goodwin is not only a Navy veteran and long-time Stonewall Dems leader. Russ is the kind of fresh voice we need in Washington. I urge the voters of Franklin County to support Russ on March 4th and send him to Congress on November 4th.”
OH-16: LaTourette Endorses Schuring - Blogger Justin of Right on the Right reports that Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Township) has endorsed State Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-North Canton). The post (registration required) also mentions that Schuring has been endorsed by the Stark County GOP and that Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Navarre) hosted a fund-raiser for Schuring in Washington. This report firms up the impression that Schuring is the establishment candidate and Matt Miller (R-Ashland) is the outsider/movement conservative candidate. The efforts of Regula and LaTourette will help Schuring prop up his reportedly lackluster fund-raising to date. (State Sen. Boccieri (D-New Middletown) has been working hard on fund-raising on the Democratic side.) I had been wondering if the Club For Growth would get involved in this race on Miller's behalf.
I received a press release today about Ohio House Democratic Leader Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus) testifying before an Ohio Senate committee today in support of H.B. 144, a bill she sponsored to designate May as “Nurses Month” in this state. Ohio has 198,000 practicing nurses, whose work has "evolved from traditional duties into new areas such as nurse practitioners and doctor’s assistants," as well as additional roles as administrators and educators. Beatty's bill passed the House on a 99-0 vote on May 23rd. “The nursing profession is vitally important to the health care system, yet many times, the nurses are overlooked,” Leader Beatty told members of the Senate Health, Human Services and Aging Committee.
So I called up Ohio's two prominent candidates for high public office who are also nurses and asked for their perspective. Jan Lanier (D-Westerville), running for an open seat in the 2nd Ohio House District, is a registered nurse and attorney and is the deputy executive officer for the Ohio Nurses Association. She was delighted to express support for Beatty's efforts:
Rep. Beatty has been a long-time supporter of nurses and all that we do to make health care safer for our patients. Nurses are the backbone of the health care system —- a fact that gets overlooked and discounted far too often. Through efforts such as this by Rep. Beatty, Ohio sends a message that it recognizes the true value nurses bring to the health care system, whether they practice in hospitals, long-term care facilities, homes, clinics, schools, industry, or elsewhere. I hope the Ohio Senate joins its House of Representatives counterpart and enacts HB 144 as soon as possible.
Former appellate judge Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell) is a pediatric emergency room nurse as well as a candidate for Congress in the 14th Ohio Congressional District, and his comment is characteristically blunt:
"If it were up to me, every month would be Nurses Month. I applaud the efforts of Leader Beatty, and I hope the State Senate moves forward with the proposal. We have to get serious about ending the nursing shortage in Ohio and across the country, and the way to do that is to change the way we think about the profession. For too long, nurses have been overworked and under-appreciated in our health care system. We need to start asking ourselves why we don't have mandated patient-to-nurse ratios in Ohio. These mandates have been proven to reduce the nursing shortage by reducing the burden placed upon our nurses. It is widely known that experienced nurses come back from early retirement when they know their workplace is safe for them and their patients. More importantly, these ratios have been proven to save lives.
"This is not just a problem in Ohio. When I'm a congressman, I won't be just the fourth nurse walking the halls of Congress, I'll be their biggest advocate."
I didn't know that part about O'Neill becoming the fourth nurse to walk the halls of Congress. I wonder who the first three were?
Second installment of the day:
OH Sen-2: GOP Challengers Speak Up - A story last weekend in the Port Clinton News Herald has some fun facts on the two GOP challengers to newly-appointed State Sen. Mark Wagoner (R-Ottawa Hills). High school history and government teacher Mark Hollenbaugh (R-Bowling Green) is determined to fix Ohio's unconstitutional school funding system, saying that the North Baltimore school district where he teaches has to pass a levy every election just to keep funding operations. Hollenbaugh lost to Bob Latta in the special primary election in OH-05 last fall. "I don't like to toot my own horn, but I'm a fairly intelligent fellow, and I get along with people," he said. "I think I can work with people to come up with solutions for problems." The other challenger, coin business owner John Schulte (R-Luckey), ran for this seat against Betty Montgomery (R-Perrysburg) twenty years ago, before she moved up to Attorney General and Auditor. "When I saw the opening once again, I thought it was an opportunity for me to try again," said Schulte. "I think people will remember me from 20 years ago."
OH House-65: Democratic Challengers Drop Out - Rep. Sandra Stabile Harwood (D-Niles) no longer faces a primary, as personal injury attorney Mike Harshman (D) and air reservist Lt. Col. John D. Williams (D-Youngstown) have withdrawn from the race. Harshman said that he filed because he was concerned that Harwood would take a political appointment, leaving the way clear for Williams. Harshman and Williams may oppose each other for this seat again in 2010 when Harwood is term-limited. Harwood will face Lyle Waddell (R-Newton Falls) in the general election.
OH House-82: Swartz (D) Profiled - The Bucyrus Telegraph Forum published a story last week about Craig Swartz (D-Upper Sandusky), owner of the Pour House Restaurant, who is opposing former Crawford County Job and Family Services Director Wanda Sharrock (D-Bucyrus) in the Democratic primary for this open seat. Swartz previously worked for an investment bank in New York and Bahrain and did tax work in London, England and Washington, D.C. He got a political science degree from OSU in 1980 and ran for mayor of Upper Sandusky last year. He says he is running "to continue advocating for the re-industrialization of Ohio and the revamping of Ohio's education funding system" and to look out for small business owners who are suffering during this economic downturn.
OH House-92: No GOP Primary - School board member Willie Holbert (R-Little Hocking) has dropped out, citing personal family reasons, leaving county auditor Jill Thompson (R-The Plains) without a primary opponent. City council member Debbie Phillips (D-Athens) is the sole Democrat in this high-profile open-seat race.
That's right -- you must register to vote by February 4th (less than two weeks from the day this is posted) in order to cast your ballot in Ohio's primary election on March 4th.
And if you're going to vote with an absentee ballot, you can do that as early as
next Tuesday, January 26th February 8th. So get crackin'!
Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan invites you to join Cleveland-area Obama supporters, activists, young professionals and elected officials for a South Carolina Primary Watch Party. Your support on South Carolina Saturday will help Barack Obama sweep Super Tuesday!
McCarthy’s Ale House (In the Flats), 1231 Main Ave., Cleveland, OH 44113, plenty of easy parking available. Cash Bar. All welcome, but please RSVP to Matt Besser at NortheastOhioForObama-at-yahoo.com.
Came across my screen the last few days - I'll be updating this throughout the day as I endeavor to catch up on things:
OH Sen-4: Bridgman Endorsed - The Butler County Democratic Party has endorsed retired businesswoman Kathryn Bridgman (D-West Chester) over Demcratic rival Victor Rivera (D-Fairfield) in the contest to determine an opponent for State Sen. Gary Cates (R-West Chester).
OH House-22: Carney Race Profiled - In a Dispatch piece published Sunday, repeat candidate John Carney (D) says he was up by 6 points in the 2006 race until a late onslaught of TV ads pulled out a victory for now term-limited incumbent Jim Hughes (R). Carney was outspent 4-to-1 and Hughes wound up winning by 6 points. This time around, however, ODP Chair Chris Redfern calls this open-seat House race his "top priority." Carney also said in the article that House Speaker Jon Husted (R) "did a pretty good job of cutting off resources the last time by meeting with people and saying he's not going to move legislation forward if you help out John Carney or some of these other Democrats," a comment for which he has since apologized to Husted.
OH House-34: GOP Primary Previewed - The Enquirer pubished a story yesterday profiling the three GOP contenders to replace term-limited State Rep. Tom Brinkman (R-Mount Lookout), running for Congress in OH-02. Peter Stautberg (R-Anderson), Gregory Delev (R-Anderson), and Russ Jackson (R-Anderson) all describe themselves as bedrock fiscal conservatives. Jackson is the only one with experience in public office, but they otherwise seem fairly evenly matched. Former OH-02 primary candidate Jeff Sinnard (D) is the only Democrat in the race.
OH House-52: UPDATE - No Appointment Until After Primary - The Ohio House Democratic Caucus decided last night that it won't appoint anyone to replace newly elected Canton mayor William J. Healy II (D) until after the March 4th primary. “We have many quality candidates, and it seemed prudent to let the voters decide,” said Ohio House Democratic Leader Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus). “We will continue to staff the office, and it will be augmented with additional staff to serve the needs and concerns of the people.” All five current Democratic candidates for the seat applied for the appointment. They are James O. Babcock (D-Canton), John M. Rinaldi (D-Canton), Stephen Slesnick (D-Canton), 2006 Ohio Senate candidate Thomas E. West (D-Canton), and former union lobbyist Richard Hiles (D-Canton).
OH House-54: Keith Endorsed - The Butler County Democratic Party endorsed repeat candidate Ken Keith (D-Hamilton) over fanatical school levy opponent Arnie Engel (D-Fairfield) in the primary to choose a challenger for State Rep. Courtney Combs (R-Fairfield).
OH House-81: Damschroder's Quest - Must-read article in the Toledo Blade on Monday about the primary challenge by airport owner Gene Damschroder (R-Fremont) against State Rep. Jeff Wagner (R-Sycamore). Damschroder held the seat until 25 years ago and ran unsuccessfully in 2002 against Wagner when the latter took over the seat from son Rex Damschroder. The senior Damschroder piloted seaplanes for the U.S. Navy in WWII and is a real crusty character (he once vowed to seek sterilization of fathers of children born out of wedlock), but promises to win this time by producing a "beautiful brochure." He is making an issue of mega-farms in the district: "That puts 1,000 cows next to your house. When you're pulling something like that, I think it should be a community vote." The Democratic candidate is Andrew Kashmer (D-Oak Harbor).
OH House-87: UPDATE - Evans Filing Challenged - The Jackson County Board of Elections will hold a hearing at 4:00 p.m. today on a challenge to the nominating petitions filed by State Rep. Clyde Evans (R-Rio Grande). Evans mistakenly filed a form to run as an independent, withdrew that petition on the afternoon of the final day for filing, and promptly refiled as a Republican. Evans says he acted according to instructions from the Secretary of State on how to fix the mistake, but a challenger (represented by lawyers from the Ohio Democratic Party) contends that it is illegal to file as a Republican after previously filing as an independent for the same office. Shane Meldick (D-Jackson) is also running for the seat.
Former county commissioner Phil Heimlich (R) has withdrawn from the GOP primary, saying that victory is not possible because of the recent endorsement of Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) by the Hamilton County GOP and the entry of rival challenger State Rep. Joe Brinkman (R-Mount Lookout) into the primary. Although the GOP primary will continue to be entertaining because Schmidt and Brinkman are both
embarrassments controversial figures, Heimlich seemed to be the stronger challenger, so this development appears to wrap things up for Schmidt. I'm guessing that they are celebrating in the headquarters of the Democratic candidates, Victoria Wulsin (D-Indian Hill) and Steve Black (D-Indian Hill).
What's happening on the hustings:
OH-01: Chabot Chastised About SCHIP - David reports that Americans United for Change is running an ad slamming Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood) over his votes against expanding SCHIP. Another veto override attempt is expected today.
OH-02: Black Investments Questioned Again - On the heels of a report that Steve Black (D-Indian Hill) criticized Halliburton for war profiteering in his first mailer but recently held Halliburton stock (a charge that the Black campaign rebutted by indicating that Black had disposed of the Halliburton stock at a loss when he discovered it among his assets) comes another, similar allegation: that Black and his family own substantial holdings in pharmaceutical, insurance, and oil companies while stating in his literature that "It's wrong that drug companies and insurance companies make millions while middle-class families can't afford health care" and "Investing in clean, renewable energy and reducing global warming starts with getting tough on oil companies." I have contacted the Black campaign for a response.
UPDATE: Steve Black's campaign manager Dan Herkert has issued a a statement that does not deny that the candidate or his family holds pharmaceutical, insurance or oil company stocks, but instead calls the charge "another attempt" by Victoria Wulsin (D-Indian Hill) "to divert attention from the real issues in this campaign – creating jobs, affordable healthcare, and responsibly ending the war in Iraq." Herkert says that Black "firmly believes in full disclosure and has gone above and beyond the requirements set forth by the law," reporting "each and every stock that he owns or has sold in the past year, as well as disclosing each stock that is held by his family’s trust and within his IRA," but charges that Wulsin's financial disclosures have been deficient:
“The real question here is why Vic Wulsin had to amend her House Financial Disclosure Statement and why she failed to report all of her investments in the first place. In her first disclosure statement dated 5/13/07, Wulsin listed investment holdings valued between $505,010.00 and $1,200,000.00. In her amended filing dated 12/26/07, she listed investment holdings valued between $1,260,035.00 and $2,655,00.00. Why were these investments not reported initially? Either Wulsin does not take the concept of full disclosure seriously, or she apparently tried to hide something. She needs to explain to voters why she disregarded financial disclosure requirements and explain why she had to so dramatically amend her filing.”
Meanwhile, Howard Wilkinson reports on Politics Extra that the Clermont County Democratic Party will hold a straw poll on February 9th that will be an important sign of where things stand in the Democratic primary.
OH-07: Wyderski Online; Conner on Challengers - Dr. Richard Wyderski (D-Beavercreek) has a new campaign site, which at this point amounts to a single-page biographical sketch rendered in an eye-popping, action-comic graphic style. His slogan is "We Need s Doctor In The House" and his bio is almost entirely about his career in health care, which is very distinguished. He is also a Clinton delegate to the Democratic National Convention.
Meanwhile, repeat candidate Bill Connor (D-Beavercreek) has added a disparaging appraisal of his five Democratic adversaries to his web site. All are portrayed as insufficiently active in Democratic politics and/or insufficiently engaged with the issues, although the jury appears be out with respect to Wyderski and attorney Sharen Neuhardt (D-Yellow Springs) whose websites don't appear to be in final form. All but Jack Null (D-Fairborn) bear the heavy burden of lacking military service, and Null is said to be distributing an issues sheet that marks him as a Republican/Libertarian (make Bush tax cuts permanent, legalize drugs and prostitution). An entertaining peek at Conner's view of the primary.
OH-10: Cimperman Hits Airwaves - The campaign of Joe Cimperman (D-Cleveland) announced that he will begin airing the TV ad embedded on this blog yesterday on broadcast and cable television in the greater Cleveland area today, making him the first candidate in this race to hit the airwaves with paid media. Cimperman has raised by far the largest amount of campaign cash in this race - over $226,000 in a single month. Sabrina Eaton reports on Openers that Rep. Kucinich has a video on his web site asking for money to air TV ads in response.
OH-12: Fund-Raiser for Goodwin - Joann Paradis, George and Sue Shellabarger, Short North Progressives, Mid-Town South Progressives, Franklin County Young Democrats, and Stonewall Democrats of Central Ohio will host a wine and cheese reception for Russ Goodwin (D-Columbus) today from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Brewer's Yard Club House, 100 W. Frankfort Square, in the Brewery District. Suggested donation is $25.00 (Young Democrats $20.00). RSVP to RSVPforGoodwin@gmail.com.
OH-16: Race Ranked as Top Turnover Propect - I missed this at the time, but last Friday prognosticator Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post listed OH-16 as the most likely pickup in the U.S. House by either party.
OH-18: Space Calls For SCHIP Veto Override - A statement from Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) on the U.S. House vote expected to occur today: “This vital legislation will guarantee that 10 million children will have health insurance coverage no matter what happens to the economy, their parent’s employment, or the cost of care. We simply cannot allow our children to go without the health coverage they need simply to fulfill the President’s misguided political whims. Overriding this veto will send yet another clear message to the President that we need this program now more than ever. As our nation’s fiscal stability becomes increasingly tenuous, our families need to know that our government will not leave them high and dry."
Ohio Democratic challengers Steve Black (OH-02), John Boccieri (OH-16), Mike Carroll (OH-04), Steve Driehaus (OH-01), Bill Connor (OH-07), Mary Jo Kilroy (OH-15), Bill O'Neill (OH-14), and Victoria Wulsin (OH-02) are all on the list of nominees for the Democracy for America "Grass Roots All-Star 2008" prize. Visitors to the DFA site can vote for up to three nominees. Three finalists will be elected, and a second round of voting will determine the winner. Finalists and the winner each get a $2,000 direct contribution from Democracy for America. The winner also gets a national fund raising email message from DFA Chair Jim Dean asking our 675,000 members to support the campaign, and the DFA Training Academy will come to the winner's state to train DFA members and encourage members to work on the campaign.
Readers should go over to the DFA site right now and vote for your favorite challengers!
Items of interest from the People's House contests:
OH-01: Key Endorsement for Driehaus - Local-48 of the International Association of Firefighters, which has endorsed Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood) for the last several elections, gave the nod to challenger State Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Price Hill) on Friday. Chabot's recent votes on collective bargaining were the biggest reason for the switch.
OH-02: Schmidt Gets Big Endorsement; Two Televised Democratic Debates on Tap; Black (D) Campaign Manager Profiled; "Wulsin Chick" on YouTube - The endorsement of Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) by the Hamilton County GOP (by a wide margin) on Friday night is a huge blow to the hopes of challengers Phil Heimlich and Tom Brinkman. Blogger Bill Sloat reports that two televised Democratic joint appearances/debates are being discussed for next month, and writes a nice profile of Dan Herkert, campaign manager for Steve Black (D-Indian Hill). Ann Driscoll, a supporter of challenger Victoria Wulsin (D-Indian Hill), sings her praises in a YouTube video that is getting lots of play:
OH-03: Turner (R) Earmarks Benefit Campaign Donors - The blog Daytonology has an excellent post up relating earmarks by Rep. Mike Turner (R-Centerville) for the Austin Road Interchange highway project to Turner campaign donors in the real estate and development fields who stand to gain big benefits. Hat-tip to blogger/candidate David Esrati (D-Dayton).
OH-07: Key Endorsement for Hood; Neuhardt Names Campaign Manager - One of Ohio's most prominent conservative organizations, Family First Pac, has endorsed former state legislator Ron Hood (R-Ashville), who is mounting a serious grass-roots challenge to hand-picked successor State Sen. Steve Austria (R-Beavercreek). Sharen Neuhardt (D-Yellow Springs) has announced that Jim Alexee, currently the Finance Director for the Ohio Democratic Party, will be her campaign manager.
OH-08: Von Stein Online - The activist candidate Nick von Stein (D-Hamilton) has a campaign web site up. A nice biography (with photos) details the Hamilton native's U.S. Air Force service, political science education, and prior work on political campaigns and social issues. He is currently working on a Masters in Political Science at Miami University.
OH-10: New Cimperman TV Ad - Another clever attack ad by challenger Councilman Joe Cimperman (D-Cleveland) about Rep. Dennis Kucinich's presidential campaign, this time with professional actors and good production values:
OH-15: Business Leaders Flock to Stivers - State Sen. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington) was picked by a whopping 73% of Ohio CEOs and business leaders in a poll taken earlier this month, compared to 9% for County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus), who enjoys the support of labor groups.
OH-16: Miller Gains Conservative Group's Endorsement - The Family First Pac endorsed County Commissioner Matt Miller (R-Ashland) over State Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-North Canton) last Friday. Miller is running against establishment-preferred Schuring from the right.
Fred Thompson (R-VA), whose campaign probably peaked before he officially entered the race (since he never lived up to the hype after he got in), is out. The generally lackluster campaigner got 16% of the vote in South Carolina on Saturday, third behind McCain and Huckabee.
I suspect that Thompson's departure probably helps Mitt Romney the most, since Thompson was very socially conservative but did not appeal primarily to Christian evangelicals, although some of his followers may latch onto Mike Huckabee as the last Southerner in the race.
Paul Hackett campaigned with Rosemary Palmer (D-Cleveland) in the HopeMobile this weekend, enduring the freezing cold weather, talking about how we need "a little bit of adult leadership and responsibility:"
Big doings on the Congressional campaign trail:
OH-02: News Blizzard - Steve Black (D) thanked Victoria Wulsin (D) via a faxed note for engaging in an impromptu debate at the Anderson/Newtown Democratic Club meeting last evening, but renewed his demand for additional debates in all the other counties; SOTENI International, a non-profit founded and led by Wulsin that helps children with AIDS in Kenya, has issued a press release protesting an item in the Cincinnati-based web site "The Whistleblower Newswire" which portrays her as living a lavish lifestyle, and asserting that the organization is legit and Wulsin was not paid a salary by the organization, only travel expenses -- Bill Sloat has an item up explaining that Wulsin had mistakenly reported the value of her services as "salary" from SOTENI but has now revised her financial disclosure; Matt at WMD has reported on internal polling by Rep. Jean Schmidt (R) showing her with a commanding lead over challengers Phil Heimlich (R) and State Rep. Joe Brinkman (R):
OH-10: Big Endorsement for Cimperman; Kucinich Agrees to Debate; Hackett Stumps for Palmer - Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson (D) has endorsed challenger Councilman Joe Cimperman (D), a huge boost for the candidate. The same news story reports that Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D) has agreed to debate all four of his challengers in an event to be sponsored by the City Club but held at the Crowne Plaza ballroom on February 19th. Iraq veteran and former U.S. Senate candidate Paul Hackett will campaign for Rosemary Palmer (D) at the opening of her office at 15732 Lorain Avenue tonight at 7:00 p.m., and again tomorrow aboard the HopeMobile with stops at a house party and a meeting with voters at Cleveland’s West Side Market at noon.
OH-15 & OH-16: DCCC Puts Races on "Red to Blue" List - The campaigns of County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy (D) and State Sen. John Boccieri (D) are included in a short list of seven open seat races and three special elections that will receive DCCC assistance under their "Red to Blue Program." From a post at DailyKos.com by DCCC Chair Chris Van Hollen:
As you know, these are strong examples of people-powered Democrats who have performed very well in the early stages of their campaigns. Their success is due not only to their message of change but all of your hard work. The energy and resources that the local and national Netroots have devoted to these candidates has been essential in providing their campaigns this exceptional early momentum. This is the earliest the DCCC’s Red to Blue program has been implemented in an election cycle.
The Red to Blue Program will introduce them to Democratic donors to help expand the fundraising base for their campaigns. It will give them the structural and financial edge they need to be even more competitive this year. A round of candidates challenging Republican incumbents will be announced next month.
OH-18: Schedule for RENEW OHIO-18 economic conferences Rep. Zack Space (D) is sponsoring these events to "develop a new economic blueprint for Southeastern Ohio":
January 25: RENEW OHIO-18 Ohio Kickoff, Zanesville, OH
February 29: Broadband Working Group Meeting, New Philadelphia, OH
March 21: Agriculture Working Group Meeting, Coshocton, OH
April 11: Alternative Energy Working Group Meeting, Nelsonville, OH
April 25: Healthcare Working Group Meeting, Chillicothe, OH
May 23: Summit, Zanesville, OH
Last night I was contacted by a Franklin County Democrat who reports that many people involved with the party are furious about the heavy-handed role of State Rep. Ted Celeste (D-Grandview) in last night's endorsement vote by the Franklin County Democratic Party Executive Committee in favor of first-time candidate Nancy Garland (D-New Albany) over repeat candidate Bev Campbell (D-Gahanna), who nearly won the seat in 2006.
The endorsement vote came after what was reported to have been a lengthy and contentious discussion. Campbell had little party support last time around, particularly early in the race, yet came within 364 votes out of about 60,000 after an official recount. Garland, Executive Director of the Ohio Physical Therapy Association, has extensive experience as a lobbyist but has not previously run for public office. There are points to be made for each candidate, but Campbell supporters are angry both that Garland was specifically recruited at the eleventh hour by Celeste, who has ambitions to run for House Speaker if the Democrats take control of the chamber and is seen as lining up supporters through his recruitment of candidates, and that he appears to have heavily influenced the vote by getting County Party Executive Director Zach Manifold to distribute a message in support of Garland to executive committee members prior to the vote.
Ohio Daily Blog has obtained a copy of Celeste's message, as well as a message in support of Campbell that Manifold was later asked to distribute -- but apparently did not. Celeste emailed Manifold to say that he's been asked why he supports Garland over Campbell and relates his concerns that Campbell "did not file a campaign finance report [last summer] showing she had raised any money since the last campaign" and that he "was looking for someone who could raise money, had good political experience and could wage a tough door to door campaign." He attached literature to his message from the Garland campaign "that should give you a good feel for why I feel she has a grasp of what it will take to win." [I did not receive the attachments.] Celeste then goes on to point out Garland's "extensive experience on Capitol Hill and at the Statehouse," the importance of Garland's expertise in health care as being "one of our major issues," her fund-raising capability, and her contacts around the state and nation as "important ingredients to a winning effort." Celeste adds that Garland "has put together a campaign group ready to host house parties, have fundraisers and go door to door." However, he concludes by noting that Garland "feels that the endorsement of the Franklin County Democratic Party is an important first step to her victory in November and I feel she will do well in the screening process" and "I know that she is committed to running and winning with that endorsement," remarks that imply that the endorsement may be necessary to keep Garland in the race. He ends by asking Manifold to distribute the message to committee members, which Manfold did, with the comment that Celeste asked him to do so.
An area Democrat who said that she was undecided on the primary race wrote to Manifold to question the fairness of Celeste's letter being distributed by a high-ranking party official, which "seems a bit like stacking the deck." Manifold replied that Celeste's "email wasn't working," a dubious claim on the face of it since Celeste sent email to Manifold, and "I only sent it out because the screening committee unanimously endorsed Garland yesterday," which doesn't appear to address the concern at all. That individual subsequently sent a letter in support of Campbell to Manifold with the request to distribute it, "in fairness to both sides," which reportedly was not done. This letter asks the committee to refrain from making an endorsement and points out Campbell's close race in 2006 without substantial support and despite being outspent by 10 to 1; that no Democrat before Campbell had captured more than 43% of the votes in this district; that Campbell has been active in a lengthy list of community groups and charities and has "visited nearly every church, synagogue and mosque, school, firehouse, police station, and business owner" in the district; that Campbell can connect with the voters and gain their trust better than "a career lobbyist;" and that Campbell is supported or endorsed by a long list of local and national political figures (including Sen. Joe Biden, former Congressman Bob Shamansky,
Treasurer Ed Leonard [see 2nd Update], Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy, and Charleta Tavares), labor unions (including UAW, SEIU, and teachers unions), and advocacy groups (including the Sierra Club, Veterans & Military Families for Progress, and the Stonewall Democrats).
Contested primaries are a difficult proposition for a party under any circumstances, since they consume resources needed for the general election and (especially if negative) can generate animosity and division in the party base. However, primaries can play a positive role (as the author of the pro-Campbell note points out) by "invigorat[ing] the electorate and the party, test[ing] the candidates, and creat[ing] an opportunity to get all the information on the table." I'm very concerned about how this endorsement vote was handled, as tending to reduce the positives and increase the negatives (specifically by inflaming negative sentiments in the race), which is what we don't want. I have left telephone messages for Zach Manifold and Ted Celeste to ask for comments on this matter, and I have emailed the author of the pro-Campbell letter to get her comments as well, so I will update this story as appropriate.
UPDATES: Ted Celeste and Zach Monifold responded to my requests for comment -- continue reading after the break.
This is a key race as the Democrats seek to take control of the Ohio House of Representatives. Community activist Matt Patten is a dedicated progressive and deserves our support.
Come on out and meet the candidate at a fundraiser on January 24, 2008 from 5:00 to 8:00 pm at Tony K's, 841 W. Bagley Rd., Berea, OH 44017 - 440-234-9700.
Some items of note:
OH-02: Black (D) Blasts Wulsin (D) Over Lack of "Substance" on Web Site - In a fund-raising email, Steve Black (D-Indian Hill) takes Vic Wulsin (D-Indian Hill) to task for having relatively few and brief issue statements on her campaign site. The email sets out a side-by-side comparison of her four brief statements with the ten lengthy disquisitions available on Black's site. It's a clever attack, but is it fair? To some extent picking which issues to address and at what length is a matter of style, not substance.
OH-03: New Mitakides (D) Site? - I've been listing JaneMitakides.com as the web site for candidate Jane Mitakides (D-Dayton), but it is really just an online resume. However, she used Jane04.com as her campaign site in the 2004 race, and I see that Jane08.com has been reserved.
OH-07: Austria (R) Asserts Kids in Photo Are Real - A truly baffling comment appears on the campaign site for State Sen. Steve Austria (R-Beavercreek). Under a typical posed, smiling family portrait is a caption that identifies the candidate and his spouse and their three children - and then states that "they are not hired talent - they really are our family!"
OH-08: The Scoop on Nick von Stein (D) - I heard candidate Nick von Stein (D-Mason) introduce himself to the group at RootsCamp but did not get a chance to speak to him individually. However, I just tumbled across a mini-bio at the web site for America Votes:
Since coming to America Votes in April 2006 Nick has assisted the implementation of the southwest regional field plan, which includes mobilization of supporters, door-to-door canvassing and volunteer recruitment.
Pretty funny video clip, with challenger and city council member Joe Cimperman (D-Cleveland) visiting the office of Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) in pursuit of the well-traveled incumbent:
Of course, it isn't fair to check a legislator's office just once and use it to suggest that he's MIA. If people went to Cimperman's office while he was filming this video, they wouldn't have found the councilman in, right? Still, pretty good visual.
Meanwhile, John Kraushaar writes on The Politico today about both Kucinich and GOP longshot Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) facing stiff primary challenges at home. Kraushaar reports that after the New Hampshire primary, Cimperman showed up at Kucinich’s front door with kielbasa, Polish turnovers, a “Welcome Home” fruit basket, and a map. Here's a quote from Kucinich's political advisor, John Sweeney:
“This is the most serious challenge he’s had since he’s been running. This is going to be a tough race. Cimperman’s been in the business for a while, and he knows what he’s doing. We are not taking this lightly.”
Cimperman has reportedly raised $226,000 in the last month alone.
UPDATE: Unbelievable. Mark Naymik reports on Openers that Kucinich responded to the video by requesting a Department of Homeland Security investigation of Cimperman over his use of the video camera in a federal building.
How. Totally. Childish.
Big doings in local races:
Franklin: Redfern Endorses O'Grady - “Like the Franklin County Democratic Party, I want to announce my support for John O’Grady in the Franklin County Commissioners race," says ODP chair State Rep. Chris Redfern (D-Catawba Island). "John O’Grady has been a good and loyal friend to me and to the Ohio Democratic Party. John O’Grady will work to bring good paying jobs to central Ohio, and I am pleased to announce my support for his campaign.” O'Grady faces former judge and city council member Cindy Lazarus (D) in a hotly contested primary.
Mahoning: De Souza Writes on County Races - The Youngstown Vindicator's eminent political observer Bertram de Souza wrote a piece over the weekend about Cafaro Co. connections to some county races, and how the expected "bloodbath" in the wake of an epic county struggle over relocating the Jobs and Family Services Agency didn't materialize. Nevertheless, the struggle has echoes in the primary between County Treasurer and local Dem chair Lisa Antonini (D-Austintown) and attorney John Schultz (D). County Commissioner candidate Eric Ungaro (D-Poland), son of a former Youngstown mayor, submitted a comment to the online edition responding to the piece.
Columbiana: Sheriff Drops Out of Race - Sheriff David L. Smith (R-East Liverpool), facing trial on a drunk driving charge between now and the primary, has canceled his bid for re-election. Smith was stopped in Guernsey County last October while driving an unmarked cruiser and a urine test showed twice the legal level of alcohol. Anticipating this eventuality, there are three GOP challengers in the race (former deputy sheriff Jerry Herbert (R-New Waterford), former deputy sheriff Daniel "Skip" McLean III (R-Yellow Creek Twp), and police chief Ray Stone (R-Perry Twp)). Police chief John Soldano (D-Leetonia) will face the winner.
Clermont: GOP Commissioner Candidate Injured in Ski Accident - The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Miami Township Trustee and county commissioner candidate Ed Humphrey (R) fell while skiing in Michigan on Tuesday. He broke three ribs and injured the tips of seven vertebrae in his back. However, although incapacitated and lying in the hospital now, he is determined to continue his primary battle against incumbent Mary Walker (R) and Batavia Township Trustee Archie Wilson (R). There is no Democrat in this race.
Summit: Pry Online - County executive Russell Pry (D) has announced his new campaign web site. He faces recent mayoral contender Joe Finley (D) in a primary, and the winner will be opposed by Municipal Court Clerk Jim Laria (R).
Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. John Mitchel (R-Beavercreek), now running for the seat of retiring Rep. Dave Hobson (R-Springfield) and a veteran of past campaigns for Governor and Congress, charges that opponent State Sen. Steve Austria (R-Beavercreek) and his spouse Eileen are co-conspirators in a scheme to steer no-bid contracts to campaign contributors of Hobson, who supports Steve Austria in the race and has paid Eileen Austria large consulting fees. Mitchel compares the scheme to the steering of federal contracts by Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) that resulted in his resignation from Congress in November 2005 and guilty plea to federal conspiracy charges. Cunningham is serving an eight year prison sentence.
In an email to Greene County officials, following up on his request for a meeting to discuss requests for information on the matter, Mitchel describes his allegations this way:
Former California Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham is in federal prison for steering no-bid contracts toward his campaign contributors. Based on remarks spoken to me by Ms. [Marilyn] Reid, [the Greene County GOP chair who is running for county commissioner,] I am alleging that is exactly what occurred with the BRAC Initiative Agreement. There is compelling evidence that Dave Hobson and other elected officials, including Steve Austria as well as Mrs. Austria, who both sit on the Dayton Development Coalition Wright-Patt 2010 Advisory Committee, intervened to influence the award of no-bid contracts to The PMA and Greentree Groups. Please note that documents disclosed on the FEC website show that employees from PMA and Greentree donated over $50,000 to "Hobson for Congress" prior to, during and since the period of performance (PoP) of the BRAC Initiative Agreement. Don't hesitate to call if you have any questions prior to our meeting on the 24th.
On the telephone yesterday, Mitchel further explained his accusation. Steve and Eileen Austria sit on the referenced advisory committee along with Sam Greenwood of the Greentree Group. They were instrumental in causing money transferred by Greene County to the Dayton Development Corporation to be used to award a large no-bid contract to Greentree Group, purportedly to assist in an effort to keep Wright Patterson Air Force Base open during the BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) process. Mitchel contends, however, that the base was in no real danger of closing, so the transactions in reality amounted to no more than an enormous transfer of public wealth to private hands, and in any event the purpose of the contract was lobbying and that is not the business of Greentree, an IT firm. Greentree in turn awarded a $660,000 contract to PMA, which is in fact a lobbying firm. During the period for performance under these contracts, principals or employees of Greentree and PMA gave $50,000 in campaign contributions to Hobson. Eileen Austria was a district director for Hobson, and while so employed Hobson paid her $50,000 as a political consultant. Linking the transfers together, Mitchel sees an orchestrated chain of transactions that acted as a pipeline for public money that ultimately wound up in the hands of Eileen Austria.
Latest reported in the Akron Beacon Journal: State Sen. Kevin Coughlin (R-Cuyahoga Falls) is challenging the nominating petitions of 64 Republican central committee candidates, presumably ones aligned with foe Alex Arshinkoff. 600 people filed for 475 seats, and Coughlin claims that 315 filings represent supporters of his bid to oust Arshinkoff, including 170 petitions filed directly by Coughlin. However, as many as 18 of his supporters have already been tossed off the ballot and hearings are pending for as many more. He is now trying to improve his odds by getting Arshinkoff supporters bounced, claiming (credibly, it appears) that BOE employees examined the petitions of Coughlin supporters more closely than those of Arshinkoff supporters.
Coughlin requested hearings on a number of his challenges and also for a challenge regarding GOP elections board director Bryan Williams, running for the GOP State Central Committee, who Coughlin claims got signatures for his petition from elections board employees during business hours. In a related controversy, Williams is standing by his decision to transfer a BOE employee, Scott Sigel, who says that he learned of "a few problems" in his position as GOP finance examiner. Williams accuses Sigel of publicizing his "personal political crusade" to have his boss fired or replaced. Sigel calls William's move "punishment" and an "abuse of power." The matter will go to the entire board for review.
The fight between Coughlin and his camp and Arshinkoff and his allies will presumably escalate over the next two months as we move toward the vote by the GOP central committee on county party leadership, which will occur during the first week of May.
More tidbits from working on the candidates list:
OH-07: Web Sites Up; Fun Facts - New campaign sites are up for attorney Sharen Neuhardt (D-Yellow Springs) and former state legislator Ron Hood (R-Ashville). This article from the Lancaster Eagle Gazette has some fun factoids about the crowded field, such as that former county health inspector Tom Scrivens (D-Xenia) was deputy campaign manager during John Glenn's 1984 bid for president, former Libertarian candidate Jack Null (D-Fairborn) served 20 years in the U.S. Army, and Dr. Richard Wyderski (D-Beavercreek) is firmly committed to single-payer health care: "A single-payer system is the most (practical) way to make sure that everyone has health care coverage," he said. "Everyone is in, and no one is out."
OH-08: Meier Drops Out - 2006 candidate Morton Meier (D) has dropped out of the race, leaving political activist and USAF veteran Nick von Stein (D-Mason) as the only opponent to Rep. John Boehner (R-West Chester).
OH-12: New Dagres Site - Aaron Dagres (D) had been using his Facebook page as a campaign site, but now he has his own domain.
First-term State Rep. Eugene Miller (D-Cleveland) faces a primary challenge from Freddie Moore (D-Cleveland), but it appears from Cuyahoga County Board of Elections records that the only GOP candidate Susan Capello (R-Cleveland) has withdrawn her nominating petitions.