Are you hankering for impeachment proceedings against Vice President Dick Cheney (R-Undisclosed Location)? An American Research Group poll in July found that a majority of Americans (54%) want the U.S. House of Representatives to commence impeachment proceedings against Cheney. (As compared to only 45% who want them against President Bush.) That's a lot of people.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) has introduced the impeachment resolution, but to proceed the House Judiciary Committee must pass it along to the floor for a vote. Seven Democrats on the committee are in favor of the resolution, but Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Township) is not one of them.
If impeachment is your thing, contact Sutton by calling (202) 225-3401 or going to her website.
As for me, I don't think it is a good idea. Let's keep our eye on the ball: winning the White House and increasing our majorities in Congress. The Democratic leadership in Congress needs to rally voters by resisting the White House on policy, but going the impeachment route risks a major backlash. A majority of people like the idea of impeaching Cheney in the abstract, but if impeachment hearings become a protracted reality and dominate the news I expect that the public would quickly tire of the whole thing. Removing Cheney would be an accomplishment, but a negative one, not as helpful as positive accomplishments like getting a compromise SCHIP bill passed or forcing the White House to accept a timetable to begin getting out of Iraq. Let's work on those things.
Still, 54% of Americans is a lot. If you are one of them and you want to push the process along, you know what to do. For that matter, if you oppose impeachment proceedings, call and say that.
Strickland, Dann, and Zurz Vow Lender Crackdown: Ohio mortgage lenders having refused to sign Gov. Ted Strickland's proposed compact on aiding troubled mortgage borrowers, the Governor, Attorney General, and Commerce Director held a press conference yesterday to announce that they are lowering the boom. Marc Dann is issuing subpoenas to investigate civil rights, antitrust, and consumer law violations and Kimberly Zurz is seeking regulatory rule changes to help borrowers. Chief Justice Thomas Moyer called attention to a pilot program to impose mediation in foreclosure proceedings in Ohio's three largest counties. Callahan has more.
Brown Co-Sponsors Bus Safety Bill: Responding to the tragic crash in Atlanta that killed five members of the Bluffton University baseball team last year, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon) has teamed up with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) to introduce legislation that would require charter and passenger buses to require safety equipment like seat belts and ejection-resistant windows, and driver training. Unfortunately, it won't affect school buses. That business of no seat belts on buses has always bothered me. We've all gotten used to buckling up in the car, I've always wondered why you don't even have the option of buckling up as a bus passenger.
Bush Approval Still Tanking: How low can he go? Almost a quarter of Americans (23%) think he is the worst president ever, while only 34% approve of his performance.
Ohio GOP Puts Women By The Door: In a crass act of tokenism, Republican leadership in the Ohio House of Representatives have installed women in two leadership positions (Rep. Michelle Schneider (R-Maderia) as Majority Whip, Rep. Shannon Jones (R-Springboro) as Assistant Majority Whip), disguising the fact that there are only 5 female GOP members altogether. Let's see, that means that only 9.4% of Republican state representatives are women, but 40.0% of those women occupy 33.3% of GOP leadership positions. Jill is dumbfounded.
Religious Coaltion Fights Negative Campaigning: The group "We Believe Ohio" is calling for a "sleaze-free zone" in political campaigns. Sign their online petition here.
Dream Big, Win Big: A write-in candidate beat both regular candidates on the ballot to become mayor of Columbus Grove, Ohio -- 402 write-in votes vs. a total of 209 votes for the other guys. It took two days to count and verify all the write-in ballots and declare the winner. I love it.
Pakistan will not have its Tiananmen Square moment, not today. Showing all the tenacity and brute force that it has failed to display in combating the Pakistani Taliban (who have declared an Islamic Emirate in the northern tribal territories), the government of dictator Pervez Musharraf arrested 5,000 Pakistan People's Party members and prevented Bhutto from leaving her home:
Dozens of police, some in riot gear, were deployed at Bhutto's residence by barbed wire and steel and concrete barriers. Other security personnel patrolled on motorcycles, horseback and in armored vehicles. At least 12 Bhutto supporters were arrested, including a woman who showed up with flowers.
In the second clash in Rawalpindi, about two dozen supporters burst out of an alley, shouting, "Long Live Bhutto!" Police, some on horseback, others banging their shields, chased them away. Other supporters set a tire and garbage on fire. Police fired tear gas shells from an armored personnel carrier, and the protesters pelted the police with stones.
In this important bit of video, opposition leader Imran Khan, in hiding as he flees arrest, explains that the Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf is not really fighting terrorism but preserving his own unpopular totalitarian rule, and makes an apt comparison between U.S. support for Musharraf and our ill-fated support for the unpopular Shah of Iran before he was overthrown by religious extremists:
The announcement today by Musharraf that parliamentary elections would be held by February 15th, a month later than the scheduled date, accomplished several purposes at once. It gave the Bush administration cover to delay cutting off aid, and indeed the White House promptly took the bait ("the White House press secretary, Dana M. Perino, welcomed [Musharraf's comments], saying it was important for the Pakistani people to hear the 'clarification' about the election date"). It created favorable headlines around the world (AP: Pakistan Election Expected by February"). And it deflected attention from his brutal action to clamp down on the Pakistan People's Party to try to stop Benazir Bhutto's "long march" from Lahore to Rawalpindi tomorrow (as many as 500 key PPP personnel have been arrested).
This is important:
President Bush suffered the first veto override of his seven-year-old presidency Thursday as the Senate enacted a $23 billion water resources bill despite his protest that it was filled with unnecessary projects. The 79-14 vote included 34 Republicans who defied the president.
This vote sets the precedent for rank-and-file GOP legislators to start distancing themselves from the White House and supporting veto overrides on other bills. Having Sen. Voinovich (R-Cleveland) actually break ranks with the president by how he votes, rather than just talking the talk as usual, is huge.
The White House is calling it fiscal responsibility vs. a big-spending Congress, but sometimes spending is exactly what the country needs:
The bill funds hundreds of Army Corps of Engineers projects, such as dams, sewage plants and beach restoration, that are important to local communities and their representatives. It also includes money for the hurricane-hit Gulf Coast and for Florida Everglades restoration efforts.
The Peru trade agreement, modeled on NAFTA and CAFTA, passed today 285-132, despite opposition by Ohio Democrats including Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) and Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Cpoley Township). Fair trade zealot Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon) expressed his deep disappointment:
"I am disappointed that the House passed another job-killing trade agreement that will result in more unsafe food in our kitchens and consumer products in our children's bedrooms. We need a strategic pause from NAFTA-modeled free trade agreements. We must help workers and businesses by passing strong currency and trade enforcement legislation. We must develop a new model for negotiating trade deals. We want trade, and more of it. But we want fair trade."
ADDENDUM: According to The Daily Briefing, Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland) broke ranks and voted for the Peru trade agreement, which is extremely disappointing. She says that the trade agreement "represents a sound and critical" approach to labor and environmental standards, but that is just wrong. (Among other problems, the Peru trade agreement derails efforts to reverse the privatization of Peru's social security system [pdf].) All the other Ohio Democrats voted against. Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-St. Clairesville) had this to say:
"I was pleased to vote against another wrong-headed trade agreement put forth by this Administration. With the highest U.S. trade deficit ever, we cannot afford any more NAFTA-like trade deals. American workers deserve more. I’m disappointed the Peru Free Trade Agreement passed the U.S. House of Representatives today.”
The pollsters report that only 35% of Ohio's electorate say that they are giving "a lot" of thought to the presidential race, 45% say they are giving it "some" thought. Nevertheless, name recognition for the major candidates among registered voters of their respective parties is very high. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and former mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NY) each score 100% and all the big names are in the 90's except former senator Fred Thompson (R-TN):
99% Gore (D)
96% Obama (D)
93% Edwards (D)
98% McCain (R)
96% Gingrich (R)
91% Romney (R)
88% Thompson (R)
Thompson has gained 22 points in name recognition since the last Ohio Poll in May, and Romney has gained 13 points. Obama has gained 9 points. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) is known to only 79% of registered Democrats in his home state, which surprises me.
The poll doesn't include head-to-head matchups but voters were asked about whether they view the candidates favorably or unfavorably. Clinton's net favorability among Democratic voters has increased by 9 points to +50% (69% to 19%) since May. Obama's has slipped 9 points to +28% (50% to 22%). Edwards' net favorability is strong at +42% (56% to 14%) and Kucinich's is weak at +8% (27% to 19%).
On the GOP side, Giuliani's net favorability is up 12 points since May to +55% (71% to 16%), while Romney is up 9 points to +20% (28% to 8%). A lot of Ohio Republicans (55%) are still saying that they know too little about Romney to give an opinion. Thompson has gained only 5 points to +25% (32% to 7%) and McCain has slipped 7 points to +28% (51% to 23%).
Yes, the Carnival is up and Lisa Renee did a great job with it, including her tribute to I-90. Of course that's the Ohio Turnpike for much of the width of Ohio, and I blasted my way back and forth on it twice in the last six days covering the 5th Congressional District special election.
So put your pedal to the metal and motor on over -- you might want to stop at an oasis for some Starbucks, but save some scratch for the toll and don't tailgate the 18 wheelers.
I have to spend much of today on non-blogging activities, so let me just note quickly some things going on in the state with the highest density of population of any state not on the Atlantic Ocean:
Hoffman on DailyKos: ODP blogger Todd Hoffman has a good post on DailyKos today, summarizing the strength displayed by Ohio Democrats on Tuesday and discussing ODP priorities going forward. I had forgotten about how the GOP crowed over winning the Canton mayoral election in 2003, with Rove crediting his special GOTV techniques and Bush calling the new mayor to congratulate her and tell her how much the GOP needed for her to win. So much for all that!
UPDATE - Rothenberg Also Analyzes Election: Along with Hoffman's post, also go read this interesting piece by Brian Rothernberg at Progress Ohio. He sounds a note of caution amid the general celebration, noting that the ODP's ground game still needs help outside the big cities. He has an interesting analysis of GOP strategy going into 2008, with moderates largely expunged from Ohio Republican leadership and Bill Todd showing once again that running a hard-right campaign doesn't work. It shapes up as a battle for the middle, of course, and Brian has detailed thoughts on what may succeed in attracting moderate voters.
Big Losses for Ford: After reporting a sizable profit in the second quarter, Ford is reporting a $380 million loss for the third quarter, including $1 billion lost in the domestic part of their operations. Not good news.
5th District Campaign Previewed: In the Toledo Blade's report on the special primary we learn that Weirauch is proposing a clean campaign pledge and wants to discuss product-safety standards for Chinese-made products and health care for uninsured children. Latta says he will run on his own merits and not even mention his Democratic opponent. Guess we won't be seeing many debates. Buehrer's concession statement is interpreted to mean that he won't run in the March 2008 primary, but I wouldn't bank on that just yet.
New Poll Shows Clinton and Giuliani Tied: This new WSJ/NBC poll is interesting because it finds that Americans prefer a Democrat to succeed Bush by 50% to 35%, but when you plug Clinton and Giuliani into a head-to-head match-up it's 46% to 45%. Clinton has a lot of work to do to overcome reservations about her personality and sincerity, although the poll finds that people respect her experience and leadership.
Change to Ballot Referendum Procedure Proposed: State Reps. Dan Stewart (D-Columbus) and Jon Peterson (R-Delaware) want to make the deadline for submitting petitions sooner, to save the expense and confusion of having an invalid issue on the ballot. Fine by me, that was ridiculous.
Ohio's Crackdown on Charter Schools Featured in New York Times: In case you missed it, this is a great story from yesterday about how charter schools exploded due to lax oversight and lots of seed money under the Republicans, and our Democratic governor and attorney general are now cracking down on some of the many that are academically deficient. As the USA Today reports, "the once-potent school vouchers movement suffered another setback Tuesday when Utah voters killed the nation's first statewide voucher program," and charter school advocates across the country are watching Ohio's crackdown nervously.
They're Still Talking: The U.S. House Democratic leadership is still negotiating with GOP members (but not their leadership) on an SCHIP compromise that would bring over just enough votes to forestall another veto.
Bellwether election, indeed. In a CQ Politics article about the just-concluded 2007 election, concluding that it provides "no clear signal" as to the parties' standing going into 2008, author Bob Benenson makes this comment about the special election in the 5th Ohio Congressional District:
The next harbinger of the parties’ state of play may come in the Dec. 11 special election to fill a vacant House seat in Ohio’s 5th District. Democrats are hoping that a brutally negative fight for the Republican nomination, won narrowly by state Rep. Robert Latta over state Sen. Steve Buehrer, will open a window of opportunity for Democratic nominee Robin Weirauch in a largely rural northwestern Ohio district that normally is a Republican stronghold. Republicans say, though, that the party’s internal wounds will quickly heal and that they will prevail with ease in the race to succeed the late Republican Rep. Paul E. Gillmor, who died in early September of injuries suffered in a fall.
This means, it is time to make a statement. It is time to pull out all the stops. It is time, in short, for the party and for office holders to put resources into the 5th District race.
There are a number of prominent Ohio Democratic incumbents who are sitting on large war chests that they don't really need for their own re-election. Now is the time to invest some of that capital. We need a strong showing going into 2008, and hopefully a victory. It won't happen without an infusion of cash and other support.
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles) and fellow "30 Something Working Group" member Kendrick Meek (D-FL) initiate a series of "vlogs" (video blogs) with this report from inside the halls of Congress:
This brief initial foray is not particularly substantive, but fun. Be sure to watch to the end to hear Meek respond to Ryan's pointed remark about Meek not being technically "30 Something."
The job picture in Ohio is still basically stagnant since the last recession ended in November 2001, despite job growth in all but two other states (Michigan and Massachusetts) during that time, according to the folks at Policy Matters Ohio:
There are 47,000 fewer jobs in Ohio than in November 2001. Though there have been some ups and downs in the past year, Ohio employment was just 700 higher in September than it was a year earlier, according to seasonally adjusted payroll numbers for nonfarm wage and salary jobs released Oct. 19 by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS).
It is a big hole we are in.
"Organize! Ohio" and Bromley & Associates will sponsor a one day conference at Trinity Cathedral, 2230 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, featuring national and regional experts presenting strategies to combat predatory lending and payday lending. Speakers will include Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann, Ohio Representative William Batchelder (R), Stephen Dane, nationally recognized attorney in fair housing and mortgage lending, and Marty Gelfand, counsel from Congressman Kucinich’s office who organized a series of public hearings related to sub prime lending and foreclosures. An overview of Governor Strickland’s Foreclosure Task Force will be also be presented.
Cost is $30 which includes lunch and continental breakfast. Students free.
Former Prime Minster Benazir Bhutto has just announced what form her opposition to the state of emergency declared by dictator Pervez Musharraf will take. She has threatened to lead a mass protest march from Lahore to Islamabad unless Musharraf quits as army chief, holds elections and restores the constitution. She has given Musharraf until Friday to respond. We saw in the bombing on October 18th the scale of the risk that she is taking, not only as to her own safety but that of her followers.
Meanwhile Barnett Rubin, just returned from Islamabad, explains why supporting General Musharraf at this juncture is not justified as a "realist" exercise in foreign diplomacy:
I agree that promoting democracy (even if it were done sincerely and intelligently, which is not the usual practice) sometimes has less priority than other goals. In any case, democracy cannot function without internal security and the rule of law.
But don't the reporters notice that the very pictures they are showing contradict the realist frame? General Musharraf has not suspended the constitution to fight terrorism. He has not even continued to fight terrorism while suspending the constitution. He sent his police to arrest lawyers, liberal politicians, and human rights activists. Meanwhile, he is doing virtually nothing against those Taliban in their scary turbans, who are taking over Swat:
The imposition of emergency in Pakistan has not put any pressure on Taliban in Swat district. Taliban have taken over police stations in Matta, Khawazkhela and Charbagh. ...
Holy smokes, there is a lot going on in the state that boasts three teams in the National Women's Football Association (Cleveland Fusion, Columbus Comets, and Cincinnati Sizzle):
Floor Vote on Peru Trade Agreement Today: Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) says, “I was not sent to Congress to add another nail to manufacturing’s coffin." (By the way, the Ohio Association of State and County Office Employees (OASCOE) awarded its “Legislator of the Year” award Space.) Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Township) is also standing strongly against the Peru Trade agreement as written.
Cordary Proposes Constitutional Amendment to Give Bonuses to Vets: Details here. Ohio has done it during past wars, and some other states are doing it now. A fine idea.
Redfern Press Conference - Going on right now at ODP headquarters in Columbus, to offer comments on the 2007 Election and the state of the Ohio Democratic Party entering 2008.
Palmer Blasts Kucinich Over Impeachment Resolution: Primary challenger Rosemary Palmer (D-Cleveland) lands a big punch on Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) over the latter's resolution to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney (R-Undisclosed Location), calling it "a waste of time" and "an exercise in futility" because "the Bush Administration is the lamest of ducks."
National Town Hall with John Ratzenberger: The star of Made in America and Cheers hosts this free event (with food!) tomorrow, November 8th, at the Columbus Athenaeum. Free parking at the Capital Plaza garage. Sponsored by the non-partisan Alliance for American Manufacturing.
Big races get the big attention, but the foundation of politics is local races. Last night in the 5th Ohio Congressional District I had the pleasure of meeting Gary Bretz (D-North Baltimore), pictured at right with cousin and 6th Ohio House District candidate Jeff Bretz (D-North Baltimore)(in the hat). Gary has never held public office before, but he prevailed in his campaign for a seat on the city council of North Baltimore, Ohio. Congratulations, Gary!
Final tally from the SOS:
43.73% - 32,036 - Latta (R)
40.12% - 29,387 - Buehrer (R)
6.69% -- 4,901 -- Hollenbaugh (R)
5.75% -- 4,211 -- Pieper (R)
3.71% -- 2,716 -- Smitley (R)
72.12% - 31,744 - Weirauch (D)
27.88% - 12,274 - Mays (D)
So State Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) and his legacy squeaked past State Sen. Steve Buehrer (R-Delta) and his conservative PAC support by only 2,649 votes, and as Earl noted the filing deadline for the 2008 primary is coming right up. When this race started I thought Latta was a lock. Those Club for Growth polls showed Buehrer gaining and he did, although not quite enough. Next year's primary campaign will be longer. Latta will celebrate today, but how well will he sleep tonight? Not only does he have the December 11th special election to worry about, there's another nasty primary on the horizon. Brutal.
Despite the ugliness of the GOP primary and the appearance of low voter interest, the total GOP vote count of 73,251 dwarfed the Democratic turnout of 44,018. That's 62.46% to 37.54%, greater than Gillmor's margin of victory over Weirauch in 2006. However, the independents and non-affiliated voters will be a huge factor in the general election. Also, the Democratic voters had little reason to vote in the primary, with Weirauch virtually assured of victory.
Will Club for Growth-inflamed Buehrer voters be motivated to get out and support so-called "liberal" Latta? Hmm.
As Bill Sloat notes today, this race will receive intense national attention, much like the special election in the 2nd Ohio Congressional District in 2005. Although party and PAC support for Weirauch was light in the primary and in past campaigns, look for a much greater level of participation this time due to the national spotlight. As Bill says, it's the only game in town. And, the total Republican vote total in the 2005 special primary (45,682) surpassed the total Democratic vote (13,893) by an enormous margin, which didn't prevent an incredibly close final tally in the special general vote (59,671 to 55,886).
ADDENDUM: Just for the record, in the 2006 primary in the 5th Congressional District, in which neither party's candidate was opposed, 82,541 people voted with Gillmor getting 54,168 votes (66%) and Weirauch getting 28,373 (34%). In the subsequent general election, however, the total of voters was 228,357, or 145,816 greater than in the primary, with Gillmor getting 129,813 (57%) and Weirauch getting 98,544 (43%). The addition of independents bumped up Weirauch nine points.
From the Secretary of State, with 94.34% of the precincts reporting:
42.79% (29,447) Latta (R)
40.61% (27,951) Buehrer (R)
The Putnum County results are still not included.
I had a feeling that SOMETHING would happen to throw this contest into litigation. Yesterday afternoon, a veteran politico predicted that the result would be very close and that whoever finished first and second will do it all over again in the GOP primary next spring.
On the Democratic side, Robin Weirauch (D) leading George Mays (D) by 72.18% (30,106) to 27.82% (11,605)
Good news: Individually Robin got more votes than the top GOP candidate. Bad news: The total number of GOP voters clobbered the total number of Democratic voters.
What will GOP supporters of the losing candidates do? Imagine the "whiplash" those voters will experience when the Republican Party tries to preach "unity." The race was more than bitter enough so that most of them will stay home next month.
Way to go CTG-- This might be the Pyrrhic victory of all time. As the internecine bloodletting on the GOP side goes on, Robin could win this seat, despite the disparity in total votes. So much for the Reagan "11th Commandment."
It's incredible that Buehrer and the CTG have found a way for the GOP to lose this gerrymandered seat. "Latta is a liberal" could wind up giving the victory to an actual liberal (which apparently has been OK with the CTG all along.) Live by mudslinging and slander, die by it, too.
The filing deadline for the 2008 Primary is January 4, 2008 and we'll have to go through this all over again.
Scott Schertzer (D) defeated Phil Reid (R) in Marion to bring another mayor's office into the Democratic column:
2,205 Schertzer (D)
1,473 Reid (R)
A statement by Ohio Democratic Party Chair Chris Redfern (D-Catawba Island), reflecting on an election in which Democrats won just about everything they wanted to win:
“Yesterday, voters overwhelmingly supported Democratic candidates across Ohio because they know that Democrats represent change, effectiveness and making government work for the middle-class.
"Democratic mayors now lead the ten largest cities in Ohio. Democrats also won in bellwether races, against Republican incumbents and defended Democratic seats and won in open races. The results show that the Ohio Democratic Party has the momentum going into 2008.”
The Democrats have seized the mayor's office in Lorain, formerly held by 13th Ohio Congressional District candidate Craig Foltin (R). Councilman Anthony Krasienko defeated Interim Mayor John Romoser and independent Paula Tobias. For more information, see the Word of Mouth Blog.
In a mayoral race marked by recriminations over a federal voting rights lawsuit, incumbent Bill Cervenik easily fended off a challenge from city council president Ed Gudenas, 5,206 to 3,003 votes.
Updated by Earl 5:22 AM
From the Secretary of State, with 94.34% of the precincts reporting:
42.79% (29,447) Latta (R)
40.61% (27,951) Buehrer (R)
The Putnum County results are still not included.
On the Democratic side, no surprise with Robin Weirauch (D) leading George Mays (D) by 72.18% (30,106) to 27.82% (11,605)
In a huge win for Ohio Democrats, the Akron Beacon Journal has declared State Rep. William J. Healy II (D-Canton) a winner over incumbent Janet Creighton Weir (R-Canton):
''I'm very excited,'' Healy said from his campaign party at the Desert Inn in Canton. ''We spent nearly a year working on this. Anytime you work this hard and get the results we got, you've got to be happy.''
Healy claimed 53.36 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results.
Republicans used Canton as a testing ground for get-out-the-vote techniques that could be repeated in the 2008 presidential election. The Democrats also identified this as one of the party's target races in Ohio.
''I think both parties thought this would be a significant race for what comes up in the congressional race, how the area is perceived and the elections next year,'' Healy said, referring to the seat held by U.S. Rep. Ralph Regula, who recently announced his retirement. ''The real effects we will find out next year. For now, it was a good day for the Democrats.''
The article also confirms that Andy Padrutt (D-Green) has lost to Dick Norton (R-Green) in that closely watched mayoral contest.
With more than half of the precincts reporting (185 of 332), it looks like all nine incumbents willl be re-elected:
7.95 John Cranley
7.8% Roxanne Qualls
7.2% David C. Crowley
6.3% Cecil Thomas
6.1% Chris Bortz
5.8% Leslie Ghiz
5.7% Laketa Cole
5.6% Jeff Berding
5.5% Chris Monzel
The next closest is still Charlie Winburn with 5.1%.