OH-02: Black (D) Suspends Campaign Due To Death in Family

Candidate Steve Black (D-Indian Hill) is going to suspend his campaign temporary due to the passing of his father this morning:

Early this morning Steve's father, Judge Robert Black, passed away at an area hospital. Steve has suspended his campaign for Congress through and including Tuesday, February 12th. The campaign will be closed and all scheduled events are cancelled.

On behalf of Ohio Daily Blog and its members I extend our sympathies and wish Steve Black and his family well in this difficult time.

Romney Is Out

Per CNN:

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will suspend his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, GOP sources tell CNN. ...

Although he outspent his rivals, Romney received just 175 delegates on Super Tuesday, compared with at least 504 for McCain and 141 for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, according to CNN estimates.

In a way this shouldn't be a surprise. Huckabee proved on Tuesday that Romney can't overcome his religion problem with evangelical Christian convervatives. It is still kind of amazing, just given the amount of his personal fortune that Romney had sunk into this thing.

Conservatives now face an unpalatable choice between ideologically-impure McCain and unelectable Huckabee. Where will they turn? Even if everyone who supported Romney switched to Huckabee, however, I don't think he'd catch up to McCain. I'm wondering if there won't be some kind of deal hammered out soon, resulting in Huckabee also dropping out and the GOP trying to unite their fractured coalition.

Do-Over for the Michigan "Primary"?

There a story in the Detroit Free Press about maybe doing the Michigan (and perhaps Florida) primary voting over again if the remaining schedule of primaries and caucuses doesn't settle the nomination:

Interest in giving Michigan Democrats a second chance to pick a presidential nominee -- one that would be counted -- increased Wednesday after the Super Tuesday primaries failed to establish a clear front-runner between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

The tight race makes Michigan's 156 delegates -- blacklisted by the Democratic National Committee because the state's Jan. 15 primary violated party rules -- potentially more important and the prospect of holding another nominating event, likely a caucus, more attractive.

The impetus for the expensive project of repeating the primaries is the prospect of a nasty and divisive fight over whether the tainted initial results should count at the convention.

The prospect of a train wreck over the bonafides of the Michigan and Florida delegations at a convention is enough to make even the Clinton campaign consider a do-over election, said East Lansing-based Democratic consultant Mark Grebner.

For Obama and DNC officials, who want to avoid conflict at the convention if at all possible, the idea is alluring, Grebner said.

I realize that this is Ohio and we are supposed to reflexively hate everything about Michigan, but I think it's an idea to consider. If the rest of the primaries don't decide this thing, re-doing Michigan is better than letting superdelegates decide it.

103th Carnival of Ohio Politics is Up

Lisa Renee did an excellent job with it, and I love the graphic.

This is the first time I've submitted links in a while, but this is a project that I support and highly recommend. Go take a gander!

"The State of the State is Resolute."

"We are challenged, but we won'’t back down.”" So says the Governor, and kudos to Dispatch reporter Jim Siegel for his excellent live blogging of the State of the State speech on The Daily Briefing. More on the speech from Mark Rollenhagen of the Plain Dealer here. [UPDATE: Full Text is here.]

The highlights of the speech are "Building Ohio Jobs," a $1.7 billion economic stimulus/investment package to be funded by issuing bonds (renewable energy, infrastructure, and high-tech industry are the investment targets), a plan for high school students to earn college credits tuition-free at nearby public colleges, and adding to the cabinet a governor-appointed director of the Department of Education and creating a new Department of Veterans Affairs. Nothing specific on fixing the unconstitutional system for public school funding, a lynch-pin of Ted Strickland's election campaign that he has yet to tackle publicly.

It sounds like the Governor managed to inject as much drama into his agenda as he could, considering that he's handicapped by the projected budget shortfall. This is an election year in which GOP leaders in the General Assembly will probably be loathe to cooperate with a Democratic administration, so whether these proposals will gain any traction remains to be seen.

Obama Won More Delegates than Clinton Yesterday

Last night the Obama camp sent out an email claiming to have "won more states and delegates than Senator Clinton," calling it "a remarkable achievement we can all be proud of." That surprised me, but Mike Allen confirms in The Politico today that the Obama campaign is projecting a nine-delegate win over Clinton in yesterday's contests, 845 to 836. He says that NBC News is backing up the claim by projecting that Obama will wind up with 840 to 849 delegates, while Clinton will gain 829 to 838.

Clinton was ahead in delegates before yesterday and is generally regarded as being far ahead in superdelegates (party bigwigs whose voting is not controlled by primary or caucus results), so out-gaining Clinton yesterday won't put Obama ahead. What it does accomplish is tightening up an already tight race. In a sense this sets up a real nightmare scenario. If the nomination contest goes to the convention and is decided by the superdelegates, all hell may break loose, with supporters of the disappointed candidate protesting the outcome and confusion and discord marring the event. Let's hope that Ohio and Texas resolve the contest on March 4th.

Ohio Blogosphere Reacts to Super Tuesday

Checking around the Ohio blogs, I see that:

* Modernesquire at BSB thinks claims of success by both Democrats are over-inflated ("nobody comes out of this with a clear lead or a clear sense of momentum ... it was a draw");

* Pho stayed up late enough to observe that "the lead story line is the lack of a lead story line." However, on the GOP side it's "very much a three-man race again. Huckabee won't get close enough to win outright, but he could be a king-maker or he could benefit from a brokered convention," and for the Dems "the longer [Obama] stays in the race the better his chances become."

* Bill Sloat at the Bellwether argues that "outside of the two presidential candidates, arguably the nation's most important Democrat after Super Tuesday is Ohio's 66-year-old governor," Ted Strickland, who will be expected to "build an Obama-proof barrier."

* Chuck at the Chief Source has some thoughtful comments, with an update this morning, including (1) early voting was big for Clinton in holding off Obama in California and Arizona, and her 2-to-1 lead among Latino voters in California was huge, but Obama's 10% loss in California could have been much worse, (2) Connecticut was the big surprise win for Obama, (3) there are rumors that Romney will drop out on Thursday.

* Matt Hurley at the conservative WMD blog says Huckabee "isn't out of it by any means" but can't win the nomination and would be a horrible Veep pick for McCain, Obama avoided a knockout and McCain failed to score one, the Democratic contest will go to the convention, and conservatives proved liberals wrong by not behaving like "drones" and instead "thinking for themselves." [I guess he is referring to conservative voters not lining up solidly behind any one candidate.] "We're going to see some more serious discussion of conservatism and what that means for the Republican Party," he writes, and "conservatives have a LOT of work to do."

* The MCDAC Blog calls the results inconclusive and Ohio therefore "vital," with Ohio and Texas likely to receive the biggest media attention of any remaining primaries: "Ohio because no Republican has won the presidency without winning Ohio and Texas because of its large Hispanic vote. Indeed the two together will have 301 delegates being selected by the primary process. So the winner of those two primaries will have a lot to talk about with the uncommitted "super-delegates" who may end up holding the key to the Democratic nomination."

Video - Clinton and Obama Speeches

Here are video clips of the candidates on national TV last night. The Clinton piece is a snippet, the Obama one is long. [I have located a longer clip of the Clinton speech.] Both sounded like victory speeches, and indeed both had plenty to feel optimistic about. Clinton said "I know we're ready," and Obama said "Our time has come."



Huckabee Looks Like The Story of the Night

If the exit polling holds up, Mike Huckabee may take Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee and Alabama in addition to his earlier win in West Virginia. Instead of helping McCain by damaging Mitt Romney around the edges, it looks like Huckabee may wind up hurting McCain by depriving him of a clear victory -- leaving the race in a three-way muddle.

By the way, I heard Pat Robertson saying earlier tonight that he isn't sure he could bring himself to vote for John McCain either. It's like a widening fault in the Republican terrain.

UPDATE: McCain avoided the three-way muddle by fending off Romney in California, but Huckabee's strong showing is still the big story of the night.

McCain-Huckabee Collusion in West Virginia Sickens Conservatives

Word is that McCain engineered the Huckabee win in West Virginia by encouraging his pledged delegates to switch to the former Arkansas governor in the second round of voting, thus thwarting the expected victory by Mitt Romney.

News of this bit of election-fixing is spreading around the country, and conservatives aren't happy. I just received this email from someone in California, responding to my earlier post about Huckabee's victory:

Sorry,

I don’t consider Huckabee a real winner in WV and many of us in California will try to see to it that he and his collusion buddy McCain don’t win in California. As a Christian conservative I am not really for Romney, but what happened in WV sickened many of us when we heard it over the Christian station.

Pho had a good post yesterday about Huckabee's increasingly transparent effort to position himself as McCain's running mate by attacking only Romney while trying to establish his electability across the strategically-critical South. This alliance may already run pretty deep, if the cooperation in West Virginia is any indication.

Ted Wants You To Volunteer for Hillary

Super Tuesday isn't even over yet, but Gov. Ted Strickland just sent out an email to enlist Ohio Democrats to volunteer for Hillary Clinton:

On March 4, less than one month from today, it will be Ohio's turn to vote in our primary. In order to win, Hillary and I need your help. There are thousands of Ohio voters we need to call this week and remind them to vote on March 4. We can't do it without you.

To volunteer, please click here.

This presidential election is making history, and Hillary is leading the way. The time for change is now, and Hillary is ready to lead. But she can't do it alone. Every state and every delegate will matter, which means everything you and I can do before March 4 makes a big difference.

I guess they're not counting on wrapping this thing up tonight.

The next four weeks are going to be absolutely wild here in Ohio.

Impact of Bush's Budget on Ohio = We Get Shafted

Courtesy of Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles):

Huckabee Wins WV, First Declared Results of the Day

Mike Huckabee picked up all 18 delegates awarded by about 1,000 attendees at the West Virginia GOP state convention. Mitt Romney and Ron Paul had worked hard to sway the delegates, but Huckabee takes the prize.

According to the report, Paul was knocked out in the otherwise indecisive first round of voting. Huckabee then prevailed on the strength of McCain delegates who defected to him in the second round.

Clinton Accepts Debate Invitation for Ohio 2/27

She's in, according to her web site, as reported today by The Daily Briefing. No word yet from the Obama camp.

The Dispatch quotes "sources" as saying the debate will be in Columbus, but Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) today sent a letter to CNN making a pitch for Zanesville as the site for the debate.

Zanesville.

Limbaugh Lashes Out At McCain: GOP Congress Is "Going To Be Neutered!"

I've been reading about this, but it's so much more fun to hear and see Rush Limbaugh's frothing-at-the-mouth assaults on Sen. John McCain directly:



Like Ann Coulter, Limbaugh has said quite plainly that if McCain is the GOP nominee he will prefer the Democrat for president:
"If I believe the country will suffer with either Hillary, Obama or McCain, I would just as soon the Democrats take the hit . . . rather than a Republican causing the debacle," he said. "And I would prefer not to have conservative Republicans in the Congress paralyzed by having to support, out of party loyalty, a Republican president who is not conservative."

[UPDATE: Today influential social conservative leader James Dobson released a statement saying that he will refuse to vote if McCain is nominated.]

Last night on Larry King Live, Bill Maher described conservatives as "cutting the throat" of the Republican Party by insisting on policies that the majority of Americans oppose, and that's pretty much the essence of what we're seeing.

OH-17: Ryan (D) on Bush's Budget

Count on Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles) to nail it in a single paragraph:

“Our values are reflected in our budget priorities and the President has shown that he doesn’t share our values. Clearly, the President doesn’t value healthcare for our grandparents because of the drastic cuts he wants to make in Medicare. Clearly, the President doesn’t value keeping home heating affordable for our working poor because of his drastic cuts to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and clearly the President doesn’t value the safety and security of our children because of his cuts to the Community Oriented Policing Services program which would be eliminated completely. I suppose the only values that this President does stand for are ensuring no bid contracts get to his friends and the richest 1% of Americans enjoy tax cuts at the expense of the middle class.”

News and Notes: General Assembly Races

I've been largely preoccupied with non-blogging life the last week or so, but here are interesting bits about General Assembly races that have come across my screen:

OH House-8: Budish's Campaign Chest Has Everyone Talking - Freshman State Rep. Armond Budish (D-Beachwood) has been all over the news with his eye-popping total of $489,000 raised in the second half of 2007. Budish, who has a laser-like focus on gaining the four seats needed to secure Democratic control of the house, is being mentioned as one of the possibilities for House leadership. Read reports in the Dispatch, Lebanon Western Star, and Plain Dealer.

OH House-9: Boyd Introduces Bill on Reporting Assaults in Schools - My state representative, Barbara Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights), was featured in a Plain Dealer article recently. Boyd's spouse, an educator, cracked his kneecap and struck his head while attempting to control unruly students at school. He didn't report the incident promptly, complicating his situation when the blow to his head later triggered a debilitating stroke. Boyd has introduced legislation that would require all school assaults to be reported to law enforcement, instead of leaving it to the policies of individual districts. The Ohio Education Association supports the concept, subject to some revisions, and the Plain Dealer has endorsed it.

OH House-19: Harris Hits The Streets - Energized by a two-day Wellstone Institute campaign training event sponsored by the Ohio Democratic Party last weekend, Marian Harris (D-Columbus) reports that she started knocking on voters' doors in Westerville on Sunday. As she says, "All it takes to win this campaign are volunteers, good walking shoes and money!" She will be going out on Saturdays, Sundays, and after work on weekdays, and invites supporters to join her.

OH House-22: Carney Reports Strong Fund-Raising - This is perhaps the #1 pickup opportunity for the Democrats, so it's encouraging to read that repeat candidate John Carney (D) reported $114,300 cash on hand. Opponent Michael Keenan (R) did not file.

OH House-53: Barrett's Bill Against Insurance Scam Passes House - State Rep. Matthew Barrett (D-Amherst) may soon have a significant new state law to his credit, not an inconsiderable feat for a first-term legislator in the minority party. Co-sponsored with Rep. Jay Hottinger (R-Newark), H.B. 404 passed the House on a unanimous 89-0 vote last week. It restricts the sale of stranger-originated life insurance (STOLI), a device used by predators to take advantage of elderly and chronically-ill consumers. Barrett and I talked about his work on this issue when I saw him in Norwalk during the 5th Congressional District special election in December. He faces a tough fight against former Huron County Commissioner Terry Boose (R-Norwalk) in November.

OH House-63: Schneider Has Strong Fund-Raising Start - Mark Schneider (D-Mentor), a 32-year-old assistant county prosecutor, reportedly has $51,000 cash on hand for his campaign to take out first-termer State Rep. Carol-Ann Schindel (R-Leroy), who reported $4,000. This is another top Democratic pickup opportunity. Schneider, who has been campaigning for a year, was spared the expense of a primary when former legislative aide Doug Nagy (D) dropped out.

OH House-83: Meldick Profiled - Shane Meldick (D-Jackson), a farmer and truck driver running against State Rep. Clyde Evans (R-Rio Grande), got a nice write-up in the Vinton County Courier last week. Meldick and his wife Melody have seven children, one of whom will be joining the Marines in July. They operate a farm and each has outside work, Shane hauling fertilizer, grain and timber and Melody as a field technician with the Jackson County Soil and Water Conservation District. Shane Meldick is a three-term president of the Jackson-Vinton Farm Bureau, a volunteer firefighter, and a three-time nominee (with his spouse) for an "excellence in agriculture" award. He has also been a delegate to the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting where he has been very actively involved in setting policy at the county, state, and national level. Meanwhile, Evans is waiting to hear from Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner on whether he can appear on the ballot as a Republican, since he erroneously filed as an independent before refiling as a partisan.

OH House-95: Krupinski has Been Waiting Eight Years For This - The challenger to State Rep. John Domenick (D-Smithfield) is former state representative Jerry Krupinski (D-Steubenville), who has been waiting impatiently to run for this seat since he was forced out by term limits eight years ago. “This is the first year I’m eligible to run, and I dearly miss it,” Krupinski told the Wheeling Intelligencer. The 66-year-old challenger detests term limits, which he says have caused current legislators to be too inexperienced to do their jobs properly. “What is happening is that we have (lawmakers) being taken advantage of by lobbyists,” he said. “You have to know the system inside and out. It took doing all I could for me to learn the job. I just know some things happening today wouldn’t have happened then without there being greater scrutiny.”

OH House-99: Deja Vu All Over Again - County Commissioner Deborah Newcomb (D-Conneaut) is all too familiar with her opponent, car dealer Tom Nizen (R-Jefferson). He opposed her for commissioner four years ago, with Newcomb winning 54% to 46%.

Summit County Watch Parties Tonight

Thanks to Redhorse for these:

* Clinton watch party -- Scorcher's in the Valley, Merriman Road, Akron, 8pm.

* Obama watch party -- The Alpha Center, 663 Wolf Ledges, Akron, 6-11pm.

* General watch party -- Student Union Ballroom C, U. of Akron, 8-11pm.

News and Notes: County Office Races

Some recent news reports regarding contests for county offices:

Ashtabula - There is only one Democratic primary for county office in Ashtabula County. Geneva-on-the-Lake Village Administrator and former Ashtabula County Emergency Management Agency director Ed Somppi (D-Conneaut) faces 16-year township trustee Peggy Carlo (D-Saybrook) for the commissioner seat being vacated by Deborah Newcomb (D-Conneaut) to run for state representative, with Thomas Cassidy (R-Rome) and Pat O'Brien (R-Rome), the spouse of 2006 Ohio Treasurer candidate and current former County Auditor Sandy O'Brien (R-Rome), facing off on the GOP side. Somppi's supporters are rankled that Carlo, who lost a poorly-run challenge to O'Brien for Auditor in 2004 (Carlo was tagged with an ethics violation by the Ohio Elections Commission), joined the primary late and without consulting the county party executive committee. All six candidates (in both commissioner races) spoke to area realtors in January about a $40 million county debt incurred in connection with the recently opened Geneva Lodge & Conference Center, a likely campaign issue in the fall. GOP candidates O'Brien and Charlie Frye (R-Dorest) call the lodge debt a "crisis" and propose closing the lodge down in an effort to compel the state to help with the financing. Somppi defends the lodge as an important element of efforts to spur jobs and development in the county, and he and Carlo both oppose the idea of shuttering it.

Cuyahoga - The Democratic primaries for sheriff, treasurer, and recorder got some coverage in the Plain Dealer on Saturday. Joe Guillen reports that Bratenahl police chief Paul Falzone (D) is calling himself a "modern day Eliot Ness" devoted to crime-busting, as compared to the claim of administrative competence by long-time incumbent Gerald McFaul (D). Well-respected Treasurer Jim Rokakis (D) says that the election petitions submitted by former Cleveland police officer Daniel Flanagan (D-Cleveland) are "very suspect" because he says the candidate didn't witness dozens of signatures collected at the county administration building the day that petitions were due to be filed. However, Rokakis is not filing a complaint against the under-qualified Flanagan, who is banking on the nationality of his surname to boost his chances: "It's never bad to have an Irish last name in Cuyahoga County if you're running." The bitterest primary is between former city council member Nelson Cintron (D) and Recorder Pat O'Malley (D), with each accusing the other of disreputable motivations. Cintron says that O'Malley tried to carry out a secret deal to replace himself with council president Martin Sweeney (who filed for the office and then withdrew); O'Malley says Cintron is only running to punish O'Malley for opposing a recall effort against Cintron's successor on the council. Interestingly, Cintron says that if elected he would like to eliminate the office of recorder altogether, merging it into the auditor's office.

Franklin - The Columbus Dispatch reported Saturday that county commissioner candidate John O'Grady (D) is outraising opponent Cindy Lazarus (D) by a 2-to-1 margin, with cash-on-hand reported last week standing at $158,772 for O'Grady to $51,611 for Lazarus. Flexing his cash advantage, O'Grady began airing a TV ad on cable and broadcast stations last Friday:



However, Lazarus is fighting back against O'Grady's long list of official endorsements and superior campaign resources with a people-powered tactic, i.e., "endorsements" by ordinary voters and small business owners on YouTube. Here is an example:

Hamilton - On Sunday the Enquirer published a story about the tremendous windfall received by friends and campaign supporters of Sheriff Simon Leis (R) in the form of lucrative contracts to perform appraisals of foreclosed homes to be sold at auction. It isn't taxpayer money (the fees come out of the sale proceeds) but it reeks of cronyism, and realtor Ed Rothenberg (R) plans to make a big issue of it in his general election campaign against Commissioner Todd Portune (D), claiming that the commissioners should correct the problem and call the sheriff on the carpet. In other words, a Republican candidate using GOP cronyism to attack a Democrat. Oh, the irony.

YouTube Music Videos Taking Up The Obama Cause

Reflecting Barack Obama's appeal to the young and his message of generational change, a wave of YouTube-hosted amateur music videos are singing his praises. Here is a totally dance-worthy hip-hoppy effort called "Representin Obama," which explicitly reacts to the conventional thinking that young people don't vote:



This one is a smooth jazzy groove accompanied by still shots from the campaign trail:


Less original, but still fun, are a Rocky-themed effort, a scratchy DJ remix of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech, and a folky acoustic ode called "You Rock Obama." There are many others.

Yesterday the Obama campaign distributed "Yes We Can," a much more professional-looking project. It's a black and white remix of an Obama victory speech with voice-overs and sing-overs by talented and apparently accomplished performers, with slick videographic style:



The email calls it independently-produced, but arriving over the signature of Michelle Obama it has less of a feel of spontaneous authenticity. Nevertheless, an enjoyable and stirring production.

I did some searching on YouTube.com for Hillary Clinton music videos and didn't find a parallel outpouring of music videos on her behalf, although there are some music videos left over from an early campaign effort to settle on an official Clinton campaign song.

OH-12: LWV Candidates Night 2/5

02/05/2008 - 7:00pm
02/05/2008 - 9:00pm

Here's a great chance to hear the candidates in the 12th Congressional District speak and learn where they stand on the issues. I'm told that Russ Goodwin (D) and David Robinson (D) will definitely be there.
Details after the flip.

Obama Super Tuesday Watch Party in Cleveland 2/5

02/05/2008 - 7:30pm
02/05/2008 - 10:00pm

Join the fun and help get the Obama for America campaign going in Ohio! Attend a Super Tuesday-watch and Pre-Ohio-launch party for Obama supporters on February 5th at 7:30 p.m. in Cleveland.
Details after the flip.

News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races

Buzz from the battlegrounds:

OH-02: "A Nightmare of a Congressional Race" - In Roll Call today (subscription required), Stuart Rothenberg has a story that disparages candidates on both sides in this race. Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) is reviled for calling Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA) a coward in 2005, for squeaking out narrow wins every time she has run, and for polls showing her "barely cracking 50 percent among GOP voters." However challenger Tom Brinkman (R-Cincinnati) is criticized for driving a more credible challenger (Phil Heimlich) out of the race and for having a reputation as a poor fund-raiser and campaigner. And Dr. Victoria Wulsin (D-Indian Hills) is slammed for being "scattered in her thinking," based on a conversation with Rothenberg that apparently didn't go very well. Wulsin described her son as "a nice liberal, like his mother," and then tried to backtrack out of it by calling herself both a liberal and a conservative. "Party-switcher" Steve Black (D-Indian Hill) barely gets a mention.

Meanwhile, the campaigning between Black and Wulsin has gone decidedly negative, especially on Black's end. A sort-of blogger called "Indian.hillbillies" has posted images of recent Black and Wulsin mailers here. Among other misleading allegations, Black brings up the discredited charges against Wulsin about unethical "malariotherapy" treatments of HIV-positive patients in Africa that got right wing bloggers all excited in 2006. While it is true that Wulsin was hired in 2004 to write a report on the treatments, in which she determined that "the preponderance of evidence indicates that neither malaria nor Immunotherapy (i.e. malariotherapy) will cure HIV/AIDS," she never personally participated in the experiments. A Boston-area organization called the National Council Against Health Fraud filed a complaint with the State Medical Board of Ohio in 2006 charging that Wulsin participated in the experiments and altered her report to conceal her role in them. However, the board never acted on the spurious complaint.

OH-03: Mitakides Campaign Kickoff - Jane Mitakides (D) will have her official campaign kick-off event on Thursday, February 7th, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Montgomery County Democratic Party Headquarters, 131 South Wilkinson Street, Dayton, Ohio 45402.

OH-07: Candidate Forums Scheduled; Woolever Secures Third Labor Endorsement - The Fairfield County Democratic Party will hold a forum for the six Democrats in this race on February 26th at 7 p.m. at Independence Hall, 1776 Cedar Hill Road in Lancaster. Also, the Clark County Democratic Party will hold a forum on February 28th in Springfield, to be moderated by the publisher of the Springfield News Sun. I'm working on getting the time and location for that event. UPDATE: The Clark County event will be at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28th at the City Forum Hall, NE corner of Fountain and High Streets, Springfield, Ohio.

Meanwhile, the campaign of restaurant owner Dave Woolever (D-Stoutsville) announced last week that he has been endorsed by Teamsters Local 284, joining IBEW Locals 1466 and 575 on his endorsement list. “It is with great pleasure that I inform you that Teamsters Local 284 and the entire Executive Board takes great pride in endorsing you as the next Congressman for the Seventh District,” Teamsters Local president Allen Price wrote to Woolever. “One thing this Local doesn't do is give away our endorsement easily but after careful consideration we believe David Woolever is the man for the Seventh District.”

OH-14: Yellow Journalism at the Lake County News Herald - In Sunday's Lake County News Herald, reporter David Jones penned a story called "Campaign Trail's a Trial" (no online version available) that details a stabbing incident at Ohio University last year and a resulting civil assault-and-battery lawsuit against the adopted son of Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell), which civil claim is still pending. Jones says that the incident "affects" the race between O'Neill and Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Twp), but a reading of the article confirms that it doesn't affect the race at all, and the whole thing appears to be an effort to imply scandal where none exists. There were no criminal charges filed against the son, and Jones admits that no official reports or comments cast any negative light on Bill O'Neill.

The son and two friends tried to break up a fight near a fraternity and were assaulted by drunken students, and two students were stabbed in the ensuing brawl. "My son called me that night and told me what had happened," Bill O'Neill says of the matter. "I urged him to go to the police station immediately. Being the kind of kid he is, that's exactly what he did. I also called the Athens Police Department that night to report that my son had been in a fight." In the article, Jones mentions the party affiliations of the judge, prosecutor, and various attorneys as though they are relevant, but there is no hint of any impropriety in the proceedings. Jones admits that O'Neill's call to the police is exactly what any parent would have done. There was a police investigation and no charges were filed. "As a parent, I am saddened that this fight occurred, and further that anyone was injured. But I am proud of Brandon for being honest and for reporting to the authorities that very night."

It's despicable that a newspaper story would delve into this kind of incident and suggest that it affects the race when plainly it does not. Please join me in writing a letter to the editor to object to this innuendo-laden article: Tricia Ambrose, Executive Editor, The News-Herald, 7085 Mentor Avenue, Willoughby, Ohio 44094, or tambrose-at-news-herald.com.

OH-18: Space Claims Credit for Increased Veterans Mileage Reimbursement - In a press release, Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) says he fought for a 160% increase in mileage reimbursement to veterans (from 11 cents to 28.5 cents per mile) that took effect last Friday:

Responding to the requests of numerous veterans in his rural district where Veterans Administration (VA) facilities are often hours away, [Space’s] fight to increase the mileage reimbursement has started to pay off ...

“Veterans in my district are disproportionately disadvantaged due to the significant distances they must travel for care at a VA facility,” Space said. “I have been fighting to increase this reimbursement rate since the Joint Field Hearing I held with Senator Brown last year.

“There is no doubt that this will increase veterans’ access to VA services. This increase will make it a little easier on our heroes to get to a facility to receive the care they need and deserve.”

The increase was mandated by the FY2008 Omnibus Appropriations Bill.

Heading to Overtime

Today is a day to pause in wonder. It's a moment of perfect equilibrium before an epic battle, the ideal of classical asetheticians. And the confluence of last night's epic football clash with tomorrow's political contests compounds the drama.

Last night was the Superbowl, with the season-long front-running Patriots vanquished in the closing seconds by the once-lightly-regarded Giants. Tomorrow is Super Tuesday, thought to be a decisive "national primary" and long expected to lock up the nomination for front-runner Sen. Hillary Clinton. In poll results announced today, however, Sen. Barack Obama has pulled into a national tie with Clinton (CBS Poll here, Gallup here). [UPDATE: Taegen Goddard writes that a yet-to-be-released Cook Political Report/RT Strategies national poll will show Obama leading Clinton by 43% to 37%.]

Does it mean that Obama, buoyed by his momentum, will pull out a narrow but decisive victory tomorrow, like last night's 17-14 thriller? No, the analogy won't stretch that far, it will be even more dramatic than that. Whatever the official winner in the various contests, with all 22 Democratic primaries employing some form of proportional awarding of delegates we're looking at a race that will be essentially tied on Wednesday morning. In almost every race the second-place finisher will gain a substantial number of delegates, diminishing the impact of the other candidate's victory.

Overtime, baby!

OH-16: Boccieri sustains grassroots momentum

I asked Ian Walton, the campaign manager for U.S. House candidate State Senator (and U.S. Air Force Reserve Major) John Boccieri to let me know how their event went yesterday in Canton.

Hey Earl!

The event went VERY WELL - we had more than 50 volunteers show up from all corners of the 16th District. People from Ashland, Medina and Wayne Counties all showed up - John was very impressed and humbled by the support.

After the discussion, we put people to work. Volunteers helped assemble and distribute more than 1,000 yard signs, and we stuffed 2,000 walk sacks with literature for canvassing.

We've got people walking targeted precincts in all four 16th district counties now - the primary campaign is definitely well underway.

We even went through a few pots of coffee and five dozen donuts - it was a successful day!

Please give everyone this update and let the blogosphere know we are thankful to them for getting the word out. We will have more volunteer days in the coming weeks ahead --so stay tuned...

The Boccieri campaign has continued to raise more funds than their GOP opponents, with FEC reports showing that they have again raised over $100,000 for the most recent quarter. They presently enjoy a cash-on-hand advantage of $308,719.15 compared to Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) with $154,103.79; and Matt Miller (R-Ashland) with $53,099.51.

Considering that the national GOP congressional campaign committee is broke and the DCCC is flush, I would not want to be a Republican campaign operative in Ohio right now.

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