For the first time in several cycles, I've done nothing on an election day but watch. What follows is a rundown of the races in Summit Count and some assessment of their broader implications, if any.
The two biggest races are for Mayor of City of Green and Cuyahoga Falls Clerk of Courts. In Green the race is technically non-partisan with the two contestants having been decided by a free-for-all primary that advanced the two top vote-getters to the general. As it happens the two top were Andy Padrutt, a Democratic party stalwart, and Dick Norton, a Republican businessman relatively new to politics. Padrutt is as much a stalwart as one can be at 27 -- he has been a Councilman since he was 19 and was Executive Director of the county party.
This race has always been somewhat important just because Green is the fastest-growing incorporated city in Summit. On the other hand, Green is not a strong-mayor city. Who runs council is still far more important. Ted Strickland cut an ad for Padrutt, but the party directed their GOTV heft 20 miles south in the Canton mayor's race.
The race has deeper implications on the Republican side. The Republicans are in three races and success or failure this election could make a difference in the brawl over the County Chair position. All three candidates are Alex Arshinkoff picks and if he picks up two or three, he will look a lot better. Conversely, if he gets swept, the grumbling can only grow louder.
I spoke to a volunteer for mayoral candidate Andy Padrutt (D-Green) just now who is manning a phone bank. He reports that turnout in Green appears to be strong, unlike other parts of Ohio. Even the 8th Ward in Akron, which has a contested council race, seems to be experiencing only moderate turnout today.
Padrutt, 27 years old, is an eight-year member of city council and a hearing officer for the Summit County Board of Revision. Opponent Dick Norton (R-Green), 59 years old, is a retired businessman seeking his first elected office. The candidates have spent a total of over $170,000 in the race.
The incumbent, Daniel Croghan, is term-limited. The race is officially nonpartisan so no political affiliations appear on the ballot.
Late in the afternoon, members of the Bowling Green State University College Democrats began to arrive at the Wood County Democratic Headquarters to work on get-out-the-vote efforts.
In the photograph, Sean and Lauren are calling identified Democrats who have not yet voted to encourage them to come out to the polls before they close. Sean is using the phone book to connect names with numbers and Lauren is plying her cell phone.
Sean and Lauren are mainly interested in a city council race pitting appointed incumbent Terry Dunn (D-Bowling Green) against Doug Merrill (R-Bowling Green) for an at-large seat. They said that they think the race is likely to be close.
Jacob came to the office from Precinct 120, in the northwestern part of town, and said he had good news. He had picked up a list of all the people who had voted to that point, several hundred altogether, and nearly all the people who had voted were Democrats. Jacob is an intern for Michelle Domke, Northwest Field Director for the Ohio Democratic Party. A voter came in from that same precinct a little later to ask for help because her name was not on the list of voters. She said that there are a few people waiting in line at this point.
The rain seems to have stopped and the sky cleared a bit, contrary to the forecast this morning.
Earl and I drove over to the Wayne Volunteer Fire Department so he could cast his votes in the regular election and the special primary election. It was a little after noon and things were very quiet at the polling place. The town of Wayne, Ohio was originally named Prairie Depot and it was an oil boom town. It is now a sleepy village of about 900 and variety of barking dogs. There are still working oil wells in town.
There were three or four voters in the polling place while I was there. Because there are two separate elections, it is necessary for the voter to sign in twice and operate the voting machines twice. While I was there, one voter declined to vote in the second (i.e., the Congressional) election. The poll workers reported moderate turnout and no significant problems with the voting machines.
As of 1:00 p.m., 73 out of approximately 400 active registered voters had come out to the polls. The great majority of the voters in the area are independent or non-affiliated.
UPDATE: We swung by the firehouse again at 6:35 PM which SHOULD have been "prime time" for voting and there was no evidence of anyone waiting to vote.
Earl and I arrived at the new Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon) headquarters at 116 South Main Street in Bowling Green early this afternoon. Campaign Manager Michelle Mayorga and Field Director Courtney Foley were finishing a hasty lunch while the candidate was in a back room making fund-raising telephone calls.
Communications Director Brad Bauman, on leave from the office of Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles), soon arrived. Brad's presence in Bowling Green, along with Courtney and Michelle and the other new staffers, indicates the degree to which the Weirauch campaign is seriously ramping up. We all compared notes on the morning and concurred that the special election seemed to be going smoothly and turnout was moderate.
The new headquarters are decorated with a variety of homemade signs, including a "Team Robin" poster to which visitors and volunteers attach blue hands with their names inscribed. (Mine says "Yellow Dog Sammy.") Tonight at about 7:00 p.m. there will be a victory party with a variety of guests including Charlie Brown, brother of Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon).
When the candidate arrived in the room we sat down for a quick interview:
I spoke on the phone this morning with investment advisor Ben Nienberg (D-Glandorf), who won 39.92% of the vote against State Sen. Steve Buehrer (R-Delta) in the 1st Ohio Senate District race in 2006. I asked him to comment on the GOP primary from his perspective in the western part of the 15th Congressional District.
Between Buehrer and State Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green), he said, it is a like a tragedy, or maybe a joke. It looks like Buehrer will be spending over half a million, or have that much spent on his behalf, and Latta has over $300,000, but "they've been calling each other liars and accusing each other of stealing money for the entire campaign." It seems to all being done in TV commercials, he said, he hasn't heard anything on the radio.
"I haven't learned a thing about them as to the issues," Nienberg said. "I have noticed that while they've been state legislators the haven't really passed any laws about things that the right-to-life people have given them endorsements for. Nothing. I don't know why they continue to get their support. Also nothing about immigration, although they campaign on those things a lot. They haven't made government smaller."
"To me," Nienberg continued, "I just wonder when the people in this district are going to get the message that it all seems to be about their personal political careers. Unfortunately, we haven't learned a thing. It is a disappointment that this seems to be knock-down, drag-out struggle in the dirt. It doesn't help anyone."
This morning I drove through Norwalk, the easternmost sizable town in the 5th Congressional District. It was windy, cold and gray with a miserable drizzling rain that turned to snow while I drove from one end of town to the other.
There was frankly very little indication that an election is taking place. Election signs were probably outnumbered by signs for auctions, "Go Buckeyes," and home businesses. Also "God Bless America!" on yard signs, often accompanied by little flags on sticks planted in the garden.
To the extent that I saw election signs, the majority were for local candidates and levies. To the extent that signs relating to the Congressional election were in evidence (about a half dozen along my route from north to south), every one was for State Sen. Steve Buehrer (R-Delta), despite the fact that he hails from the western end of the far-flung district. Norwalk is the home town of Democratic candidate George F. Mays (D-Norwalk), but I saw no banners, stickers, or signs for him at all.
Driving west through Monroesville, Bellevue, and Clyde I had the same impression. Very few congressional signs, but the ones I saw were all Buehrer. I stopped at the pictured polling place in Bellevue, where there were no electioneering signs around and no volunteers handing out literature. A steady trickle of people entered and left the building, but on inquiry many were going to meetings or on church business rather than voting. The three actual voters I located declined to be interviewed.
Jeff is on the road with both Yellow Dog Sammy and Stella because if there was ever a "Two Dog Day" this would be it.
Currently, here in OH-05, temperatures are in the mid thirties with RAGING winds. Later tonight, when you would be expecting voter turnout to pick up, we will be having wind gusts of up to FORTY miles per hour with rain and (get this) SNOW showers.
Jeff is working his way across the district from Norwalk and Fremont toward the west. He hopes to stop at polling places and interview voters.
So far, he might have a hard time finding any.
Right now, you could drop a bomb on my polling place and all that you would hit are some very inexperienced poll workers. Other than the little flags WHIPPING in the wind, no evidence of any electioneering activity.
More to follow throughout the day.
Here's what we have to look forward to from now until December 11, 2007. From Bob Latta's lawyer (Scott Pullins) before the Ohio Election Commission:
"Was it misleading? Yes," he said. "Was it a cheap shot? Yes. Was it a political low blow? Yes. Did I want that statement to go out? No. Does the Latta campaign regret making that statement? Yes.
You want to talk about The Ten Commandments? Shall we start with Exodus chapter 22, verse 16:
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Maybe we should get Gov. Strickland to teach on what the New Testament says about those who demand public displays of piety while acting like this. BOTH of these candidates should have to go to their rooms and stay there until Christmas.
I said in my last telephone call with anyone from the Plain Dealer, "I'm not quitting." And I was told, "We're letting you go."
So ... I WAS FIRED. Okay? There you have it. Now, let it go.
Sadly, I didn't get to attend Rep. Peter Ujvagi's wonderful Chicken Paprikash Dinner in Toledo last night. For years, it's been a GREAT event.
But tonight the Bowling Green Democrats once again showed everyone how to do a fund raising chicken dinner the RIGHT way. It was their annual Election Eve "No Excuses" Chicken Dinner. It's called "No Excuses" because you don't have to sit through any speeches, you don't have to stuff any envelopes and since it's hosted by Sam B's Restaurant in downtown BG, the food is GREAT. It's their chicken dinner special with all the trimmings.
Beyond that, you can eat in, carryout or even get a gift certificate good through the end of the year. Such a deal. Here are our genial hosts, Dinah Vincent and former BG councilwoman Sandy Wicks. (Sandy's shirt reads "You can lead a Republican to knowledge, but ya can't make 'em think!"
As always, the turnout was great (despite the truly LOUSY weather) Here's Sandy with our next congressional representative, Robin Weirauch who has her new campaign HQ across the street at 116 S. Main.
And finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention BGSU professor emeritus (and former Fifth District congressional candidate) Dr. Roger Anderson who attended with his lovely wife Betty Jean. Genuine wonderful folks.
As they say, a great time was had by all.
Reader Representative Ted Diadiun, sounding much more like an apologist for the Plain Dealer leadership team than an ombudsman, commented on the LaTourette-Wide Open story yesterday.
I have problems with Diadiun's chronology and characterization of the facts, but as I am trying to put all this behind me I will content myself with just one important correction. Diadiun portrays the involvement of Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Township) as originating with a brief exchange during an interview with reporter Sabrina Eaton for a story about fund-raising published on October 16th, followed by a single conversation with Editorial Page Editor Brent Larkin and an appointment with Editor Susan Goldberg that LaTourette subsequently cancelled. This creates the impression that LaTourette's role was late in the game and minimal in scope (i.e., that his dissatisfaction was limited to my $100 contribution to his opponent).
No. Emphatically, no. LaTourette's complaints were apparently triggered by my posting on September 25th on this blog (not Wide Open) about an upcoming fund-raiser for Bill O-Neill (D-South Russell). LaTourette must have contacted Brent Larkin (or someone) immediately because I was cautioned on September 26th about that post, and an extended discussion about LaTourette's displeasure over my participation in Wide Open occurred on September 27th. That's just four days after Wide Open officially began, and well before O'Neill released fund-raising figures that included my $100 contribution. Sabrina Eaton didn't talk to LaTourette until after the retirement of Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Navarre) was leaked on October 11th. I was informed on October 16th that LaTourette was "still complaining" and had learned about my contribution to O'Neill.
Reporting on this afternoon's Ohio Elections Commission action, the Toledo Blade casts State Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) and his counsel in very harsh light:
The Ohio Elections Commission unanimously slapped congressional candidate Bob Latta with a reprimand after ruling today that his congressional campaign knowingly or recklessly lied about opponent Steve Buehrer’s positions in political flyers.
Even the Latta campaign’s attorney, Scott Pullins, admitted statements that Mr. Buehrer “opposed’’ prayer in public schools and “didn’t want’’ the Ten Commandments posted were “misleading,’’ a “cheap shot,’’ and a “political low blow.’’
But he argued unsuccessfully that the false statements did not rise to the level of a violation of Ohio election law.
However, it is important to note that the OEC did not refer Latta for criminal prosecution
as State Sen. Steve Buehrer (R-Delta) had sought. [CORRECTION: Buehrer sought referral for criminal prosecution in the second OEC complaint that did not get as far as today's hearing; it had not been requested as to this complaint.]
The story also has more on the testimony by Buehrer over which Latta's campaign has attacked him:
Mr. Buehrer told the commission that a disclaimer with that survey specifically stated that failure to make a mark next to those statements did not necessarily indicate opposition.
He also noted that, while both were serving in the Ohio House, state Representative Latta (R., Bowling Green) had an office adjacent to his where Mr. Buehrer has had the Ten Commandments posted since 2003.
This is, I think, a remarkable little vignette about the GOP front-runners by Toledo Blade reporter Josua Boak yesterday:
Mr. Buehrer gathered a door-to-door patrol in Bucyrus yesterday afternoon. It followed a similar effort in Galion during the morning. He plans for his campaign workers to be on 1,500 doorsteps this weekend.
"Get some souls," he told his volunteers. "Convert them."
Working off a walking list of potential voters, Mr. Buehrer introduced himself by offering to do lawn work. "Can I get a rake and help you?" he asked before delving into his stock biography as a father of three and a small businessman.
Mr. Buehrer then said that while in the Ohio General Assembly he has shielded residents from new taxes. He ends the 20-second spiel by saying that jobs and the economy are the most important issues in the race.
A touch of religion is in his manner of speech. Whenever a voter said something he agreed with, Mr. Buehrer nodded, "Amen. Amen." He ended the stroll through Bucyrus happy, figuring he had at least 14 votes and Latta had none.
But Mr. Latta spent the afternoon going door-to-door in Wood County to rally his own pool of support. He began at the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club's pancake breakfast, where he manned the beverage cart as friends passed by.
Drinks have been Mr. Latta's responsibility at the pancake breakfast for more than 20 years. Children gladly took the chocolate milk. Parents usually went with the orange juice. Grandparents picked the 2 percent milk.
In his conversations, Mr. Latta tried to avoid discussing the campaign.
Any hint of the negative ads defining the congressional race was winked at. One gentleman reviewed the drink selection on the cart and asked: "Is there a liberal or a conservative side?"
Moments ago the Ohio Elections Commission (OEC) ruled unanimously that Bob Latta and his campaign distributed four false statements in campaign materials relating to the voting record of State Senator Steve Buehrer, his opponent in the 5th Congressional Republican Primary election tomorrow. The OEC determined the issues were serious enough to warrant a public letter of reprimand that will be released later today. Additionally, the Latta campaign represented by its attorney stated that their campaign material was a “cheap shot” and “a political low blow.
“I am very pleased that the Ohio Elections Commission has unanimously found the falsehoods and deceptive campaign tactics of Bob Latta’s campaign to be a violation of the Ohio elections law,” said Steve Buehrer. “Voters can go to the polls tomorrow knowing that not only do I support prayer in school and the posting of the Ten Commandments but that Bob Latta lied about it.”
I am still trying to catch up from my weekend trip out of town, but I see that State Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) filed a second Ohio Elections Commission complaint against State Sen. Steve Buehrer (R-Delta), this time challenging a mailer that calls Latta "pro-life” on the front. On the back, the mailer says that Bob Latta took money from an unspecified "liberal union" that advocates abortion, and implies that Bob Latta is pro-choice because he voted for a bill that required students to receive chicken pox vaccine. As the Latta campaign explains it, "the mailer misstates that the vaccine is made with aborted fetal tissue and it also fails to point out that the bill allows students with religious objections to opt out of the vaccine."
Latta's campaign manager says in the press release, “Steve Buehrer was found guilty of lying before, and he is doing it again.”
No word yet on rulings by the OEC relating to Buehrer's pending complaint or this new one. I am trying to find out if anything has happened yet.
UPDATE: Well, that was quick. The OEC upheld Buehrer's complaint over Latta's prayer/posting ten commandments in public school mailer and issued a reprimand. Latta's campaign will appeal the decision and ask the OEC to stay the reprimand. Meanwhile, the new Latta complaint is apparently not yet filed, based on the wording of the statement from Latta's campaign.
Mayoral challenger State Rep. William J. Healy II (D-Canton) today filed an OEC complaint against incumbent Janet Weir Creighton (R-Canton) alleging that she has misled voters by placing false statements on her campaign literature. The statements, which are attributed to Democratic city council members Donald E. Casar and Kelly Zachary, imply that the officials are endorsing her re-election bid for mayor. The officials have actually endorsed Healy.
Quotes from the city council members from the press release:
“Janet Creighton has consistently
misstated facts and misled voters into believing she has led this city toward success when that is anything but the case,” said Councilwoman Kelly Zachary (D-4th Ward). “For Janet to do something like this so late in the game shows that she is willing to do whatever it takes to keep Canton voters in the dark about her track record.”
At-large Councilman Donald Casar (D) joined Zachary in condemning the mayor’s tactics, saying that he was “appalled” to see his name on her literature over the weekend.
“The quote she used as my so-called endorsement was a statement that I made two years ago to promote bipartisanship between council and the administration,” Casar said. “In no way do I support her re-election campaign.”
The Healy campaign hopes that the complaint will be heard this afternoon.
In a meeting of the House Rules Committee scheduled for tomorrow at 3:00 p.m., Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Township) and other members of the House Trade Working Group will offer amendments and testimony on the controversial Peru Free Trade Agreement. The House Trade Working Group is concerned that the bill in its present form continues the disastrous U.S. trade policy exemplified by NAFTA and CAFTA, which failed to require environmental safeguards or basic standards on working conditions in participating countries.
Amendments to be offered include reinforcement of food and drug safety standards, prohibitions against foreign currency manipulation, and ensuring that the Buy American Act will not be superseded by the Peru agreement.
Trade policy is huge in the 13th Ohio Congressional District, where support for NAFTA became a stumbling block for former congressman Tom Sawyer (D-Akron) in the May 2006 primary to replace steadfast NAFTA opponent Sherrod Brown (D-Avon).
In a significant sign of big-name Democratic support for Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon) in the 5th OhioCongressional District special election, I have received a report of a robocall today featuring Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon).
Brown reportedly says that "Ted and I" support Robin Weirauch, and urges listeners to vote for her tomorrow in the special primary. He also says that "Robin Weirauch is just who we need for the 5th District," and calls her "a new voice for Ohio."
Gov. Ted Strickland (D) and Brown each carried the 5th Congressional District in last year's general election.
As reported by Joe Hallett in the Columbus Dispatch and noted on Ohio 15th and Plunderbund this morning, State Sen. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington) of the 16th Ohio Senate District has changed his mind and will jump into the contest to replace retiring Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Upper Arlington) n the 15th Ohio Congressional District. Stivers is an Iraq War vet and a relatively high-profile adversary for Franklin County Commissioner and well-funded repeat candidate Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus).
The fascinating thing about the announcement is that Stivers, a member of the incumbent's party, is portraying it as a race about change. "I've decided to run for Congress because I think we really need change in Washington," he says, and "the country is ready for change ...and I represent that change." He even goes so far as to portray Kilroy as "almost like" an incumbent in the race: "It will be a very different race than in 2006. The voters know her and they need to get to know me."
On the face of it, that is a difficult argument. Although the Republicans lost control of the House last year, they still hold the White House and the nation is still reeling from the Bush Administration and its policies. Even more telling, the 15th District has been in Republican hands since 1967, when Chalmer Wylie (R) replaced Robert Seacrest (D). Change, indeed.
Stiver's Ohio Senate district is almost entirely within the 15th Congressional District. Word is that State Rep. Jim Hughes (R) is the pick to run for Stiver's Ohio Senate seat.
Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction, Iran's nuclear weapons are merely a potentiality at this point, but Pakistan has nuclear weapons that work (yes, they have been tested). The meltdown in Pakistan is being called a "foreign policy nightmare" by the New York Times, which makes me ask "so why is the story otherwise being underplayed?":
General Musharraf’s move to seize emergency powers and abandon the Constitution left Bush administration officials close to their nightmare: an American-backed military dictator who is risking civil instability in a country with nuclear weapons and an increasingly alienated public.
The Bush Administration tried to head off Musharraf's declaration of an emergency by threatening Musharraf with cutting off military aid ($10 billion since 9/11) and Musharraf essentially has called Bush's bluff. The U.S. appears to have everything to lose and very little ability to influence the course of events.
The best way to get past the media filter on this story is to watch Musharraf's speech (and read an English translation of the Urdu parts) at the blog Chapati Mystery. As commenter Akbar trenchantly summarizes the speech:
1) It is difficult to fight extremism with enlightened moderation so I am escalating to Enlightened extremism, meaning decapitating the supreme court and other institutions of civil society including press
2) Judiciary has become an arm of terrorist and is responsible for bomb blasts after releasing 61 terrorists (a compelling point but now that judiciary is neutralized we shall see what happens to bomb blasts).
3) Press by siding with courts and terrorists has invited this treatment on itself.
This quote is attributed to an aide to Secretary of State Condi Rice. To say that the situation in Pakistan is unstable fails to convey anything like the fragmentation taking place. Experts on the region have no idea what will happen within the next few hours, much less days.
I read about the crisis with a kind of prickly, obsessive dread because I've been there. In 1976, as a skinny impressionable college student majoring in Asian Studies, I spent several months in Pakistan, mostly in Lahore but also in Peshawar and Karachi. At that time Benazir Bhutto's father and the Pakistan People's Party were in power, but Islamic fundamentalists were openly advocating change and the relationship between the government and the real powers in the country (the military and a small coterie of wealthy families) was strained. Unless you have been in Pakistan it is difficult to grasp how tenuous are the structures of government and the rule of law. There is no sense of momentum or continuity to any of the societal institutions that we take for granted, except perhaps for the military.
There are 26 candidates for city council in Cincinnati, which is very intimidating to the outside observer, but the names are all in this hilarious satirical song and you can even dance to it (sort of):
Yesterday evening I drove to Bowling Green to have dinner with my friend and ODB front-pager Earl, and to attend a meeting of the Wood County Democratic Party Central Committee at the Bowling Green Simpson Park Building. Earl and I ate in a friendly and busy restaurant on Main Street, Sam B's (short for Samuel Beckett's, and known in its former location as Samuel Beckett's Sandwich of the Absurd). While Earl was Waiting for Yellow Dogot, he ordered me a juicy Reuben sandwich (which was Happy Days for me), but then it was Endgame because the meeting was about to start.
Earl's directions to the restaurant included the comment that it's in the only three-story building on downtown Main Street, so I confirmed this by looking to the left and to the right and whack me with a stick if he isn't right. We hustled over to the park building where committee members were gathering. I was pleased to meet such Democratic luminaries as long-time Wood County Commissioner Alvie Perkins, former county party chair Al Baldwin, and current chair Mike Zickar. Also on hand were Dr. Earl Campbell, briefly a Congressional primary candidate; Ohio House candidate Jeff Bretz; and Judge Dwight Osterud, among many others. Bretz and Perkins were circulating signature petitions. Zickar observed of Perkins' snazzy yellow sweater vest, "I see you've got that nice outfit, Alvie, you must be running for something."
The Columbus Dispatch has reported that Dr. Karen Gillmor (R-Dublin), widow of deceased Congressman Paul Gillmor (R), will announce next Wednesday that she is running for the open 26th Ohio Senate District seat of term-limited State Sen. Larry Mumper (R-Marion). A former two-term state senator, she says that she opted to run for the Ohio Senate instead of her husband's Congressional seat so that she can fulfill a pledge to raise their three sons in Ohio.
This district leans strongly Republican (PVI R+8) and all three house districts in it are Republican-held. A variety of potential candidates for this seat have been mentioned, including State Rep. Steve Reinhard (R-Bucyrus), City Councilman & former state rep. Rex Damschroeder (R-Fremont), Sandusky County Commissioner Brad Smith (R-Fremont), Sandusky County GOP Chair Adam Greenslade (R-Green Springs), and Mayor Terry Overmyer (R-Fremont), but Gilmorr is such a strong contender that I suspect few of them will actually enter the race.
Hat-tip to Dave at ProgressOhio.com.