At the Bill Clinton event on Tuesday, reporter Monica Langley of the Wall Street Journal asked me how I thought the Democratic presidential race stood in Ohio. "Clinton is ahead but the ground is shifting under her feet," I replied. "Obama is gaining fast." It's not scientific, but I feel that it is true.
Look at this graphic from yesterday's report on Gallup's three-day national tracking poll:
Clinton's national lead is down to single digits, Obama's trend is steadily upward, and the effect of Edwards dropping out has not yet registered.
Time has an interesting piece about the effect on the race of the remarkable enthusiasm and turnout among young voters:
[Y]oung people are voting in numbers rarely seen since the general election of 1972 — the first in which the voting age was lowered to 18. Obama is both catalyst and beneficiary. In state after state, he has drawn more young voters than any of his competitors. For a group of voters with no memory of a time before Bushes and Clintons, Obama is a fresh face. His opponents promise to fight, but Obama promises healing. His is the language of possibility, which is the native tongue of the young. And if he happens to be light on details — well, what are details but the dull pieces of disassembled dreams? "I had a friend tell me this was impossible, quoting all these political-science statistics at me to show that it's hopeless to try to organize students," says Michelle Stein, 20, media coordinator for Obama's youth campaign in Missouri. "Now he says, 'You were right, I was wrong. Where do I sign up?'"
The idea that young people don't vote is a bedrock of conventional political thinking. But Obama is all about transcending conventional thinking. It's unclear whether this will all work, but if Obama succeeds it may mark not only a transformation of this presidential race but of the dynamics of American politics -- the kind of seismic shift that occurred with Kennedy in 1960 and Reagan in 1980. That's the elusive but tantalizing upside to his candidacy.
I have finished plugging in candidates for county office in all 27 Ohio counties with 100,000 or more residents on my County Offices Candidates List.
If you have stories about these races or URL's for campaign webs sites, please get in touch. These races are very important, as as far as I know this is the only blog that makes an effort to cover them on a statewide basis.
Here it is:
Given up for a lost cause last summer, Sen. John McCain now seems poised to grab the Republican presidential nomination, especially after Rudy Giuliani withdraws as expected later today. It seems like a good time for Ohioans to remember exactly who McCain is, as in:
Plain Dealer (Oct. 7, 2005)
Ken Blackwell's campaign for Ohio governor picked up a major national endorsement Thursday from U.S. Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican and likely presidential contender in 2008. McCain cited Secretary of State Blackwell's independence and candor among the key reasons for his support.
"Ohioans need Ken Blackwell's clear thinking, straight talk and strong leadership at the top of the ticket," McCain said in a written statement.
McCain's support has the potential to benefit both him and Blackwell.
Blackwell stands to gain from McCain's pledge to appear at public events and fund-raisers. McCain, who appeals to moderate Republicans, could bolster his standing among the GOP's right flank by endorsing Blackwell, a high-profile social conservative. ...
About six months later McCain was featured at fundraisers for Blackwell in Ohio that raised about $250,000. The Plain Dealer's Mark Naymik wrote then that McCain dismissed the notion that he was pandering to the party's conservative base, and laughed at a suggestion that Blackwell could become his possible running mate on the 2008 ticket.
Yeah, that guy. And we saw what happened to his pick for governor.
(h/t to a reader)
Ohioans for Democratic Values invites all Democrats to attend a presentation by John Hagner, Targeting & Field Director for the Ohio Democratic Party, on 2/19 in Shaker Heights entitled "Winning 2008: Time to Get Going."
Details after the flip.
Democrats, Independents, and friends are invited to a Democratic Presidential Straw Poll. Please join us to meet other voters, learn about the campaigns and volunteer opportunities, and cast your ballot for your choice for President on Thursday, January 31st.
Details after the flip.
In a stunning reversal, former senator John Edwards will quit the presidential race, with an announcement expected in New Orleans at 1:00 p.m. today. In his speech after the South Carolina primary he had sounded determined to stay in the race for the long haul. Adding to the drama, it was Rudy Giuliani who was widely expected to be the next candidate to drop out, probably in California some time today, so this remarkable 2008 election cycle is giving political observers another case of whiplash.
Pundits had regarded Edwards' professed determination to stay in the race as an effort to rack up as many delegates as possible, perhaps giving him clout at the convention to gain attention for his campaign issues. ABC is separately reporting that Obama met with Edwards and asked for his support. There has been much talk of a deal involving some kind of cabinet position for Edwards, particularly Attorney General, in an Obama presidency. Whether that is true or not, my sense is that this decision has everything to do with Edwards choosing Obama over Clinton, and deciding that now is the time to act.
An Edwards endorsement would help Obama, but merely dropping out appears to help Obama even without an endorsement. I expect Democrats inspired by Edwards' economic populism and concern with fighting poverty to be more drawn to Obama's message of visionary change than Clinton's message of experience and competency.
Anyone can get health care in the United States. Just ask George W. Bush. Last year in Cleveland, he had this to say to the 47 million Americans without health care coverage:
I mean, people have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room.
With emergency rooms serving as the Bush administration's solution to the nation's health care crisis, so many people are cramming into them, patient care now is at risk, according to a new study by researchers at Harvard Medical School.
But let's be fair. Bush isn't the only Republican leader who doesn't get—or doesn't care—that while the United States pays the most for per person health care coverage than any similar nation, we have lower life expectancy than most other rich countries.
Here's what former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said in a recent debate:
The reason health care isn’t working like a market right now is you have 47 million people that are saying, “I’m not going to play. I’m just going to get free care paid for by everybody else.” That doesn’t work.
Bad-mouthing uninsured Americans as "slackers" is not what the union movement, the progressive community, or just about anybody with an ounce of compassion supports.
Continued after the flip.
State Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Price Hill) has filed his year-end FEC report and it reveals a continued strong showing as he gears up to take out Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood). His net contributions for the third quarter were $190,054.78, raising his total for the cycle to $476,277.09. He has spent $60,431.14, leaving him with $418,662.01 cash on hand at year end.
In the third quarter Driehaus raised $120,504.78 from individuals and $70,150.00 from political committees, with the latter including five $5,000 contributions from labor unions and one $5,000 contribution from the Human Rights Campaign PAC, along with smaller contributions from committees associated with a variety of legislators such as Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo), Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles), State Rep. Edna Brown (D-Toledo), State Rep. Barbara Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights), State Sen. Dale Miller (D-Cleveland), State Rep. Tim DeGeeter (D-Parma), and first-term State Rep. Jay Goyal (D-Mansfield).
Despite the strong showing by Driehaus, he is still far behind the entrenched incumbent, whose FEC report shows $1,105,210 raised for the cycle and $1,002,613 cash on hand at the end of last year. He raised $323,090.32 in the third quarter.
Yesterday I trekked over to the Cuyahoga Community College eastern campus in the eastern suburbs of Cleveland to hear Bill Clinton rally a large crowd to support his spouse. As expected after the negative reaction to Clinton's attacks on primary opponent Barack Obama before the South Carolina primary, he was relatively restrained and never engaged in any direct criticism. He pretty much stuck to promoting Hillary Clinton as qualified and a life-long "change maker," although toward the end he alluded to Obama indirectly by saying that being an effective president is different from being an effective campaigner. There were no questions from the audience and there was no separate encounter with the press, presumably in order to avoid more direct and ad hoc comments.
A big crowd gathers to hear the former president, including a mix of avid Clinton supporters and those merely curious.
Clinton was preceded by Warrensville Heights Mayor Marcia Fudge (D) and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland), who were much more energetic (and louder) in expressing their support for the candidate. Clinton's approach was more amiable and anecdotal, a style at which he is practiced and effective. Much of his talk was rather wonkish, criticizing Bush policies and promising that Hillary Clinton would change them, rather than grand themes in sweeping terms. It was almost as though Clinton looked under the hood of the nation's car and told you what parts are bad and need replacing. I think that Obama's style would be more like stepping back from the car and asking you to think beyond internal combustion.
Clinton was personable and at ease, walking about the stage with the microphone in his hand.
Here is the audio of Bill Clinton's speech (47 minutes, about 5 MB):
Video highlights are now posted here.
Franklin County Clerk of Courts and county commissioner candidate John O'Grady (D) adds to his impressive list of endorsements with another biggie, this time Ohio Treasurer Rich Cordray (D-Grove City):
This is an excellent use of YouTube - other candidates should take note!
Via email: Vice Mayor David Crowley and Sherri Crowley invite you to Crowley's Pub to Watch John Edwards win yet another debate!
Details after the flip.
Via email: Attention, Catholic Democrats! Please join us for our 2nd meeting of the Catholic Democrats of Ohio and for a Celebration to mark Super and Fat Tuesday!* Details after the flip.
Listening to Bush talk about "principles of hope and decency" is like listening to Britney Spears talk about personal responsibility.
Dave of Ohio Valley Politics also live-blogged the speech using a new technology that I had not yet seen, and reprinted four good text messages sent out by the DCCC during the speech, including these:
Bush: We share a common goal- making health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans.
Reality: He vetoed healthcare for 10 million kids, twice.
Bush: 116 million American taxpayers would see their taxes rise by an avg of $1,800.
Reality: Middle income Americans will receive less than half that.
Dave also publishes reactions from Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) here and Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-St. Clairsville) here. Both Blue Dog Democrats have plenty to complain about. Space slams Bush on immigration (not doing enough about enforcement) and trade. Wilson criticizes him on Iraq, SCHIP, and making tax cuts for millionaires permanent while the country is at war and in hock. Both represent Ohio's coal country and make a point of praising "clean coal" technology, about which I am deeply skeptical.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon) sent out a statement, calling for investment in the middle class. Here are some excerpts:
“The president’s state of the union was more of the same. But we need change. ...
“In Ohio, [middle class Ohioans would tell Bush that] tax cuts helped the wealthiest people at the expense of the middle class. ... In Ohio, the president would hear that this country’s trade policy has shipped good-paying middle class jobs overseas. We need a moratorium on all trade agreements. ... I want trade – and more of it – but under different rules. In Ohio, the president would hear that it is time to pull the troops out of the civil war in Iraq. ...
OhDave of Into My Own has a brief but fascinating interview with Jane Mitakides (D) up. She comes out strong against the proposed retroactive immunity for telecom companies for allowing warrantless wiretapping on a massive scale by the Bush administration, makes a detailed case for why she can win the general election if she is the nominee, and criticizes the proposed economic stimulus package as not going far enough. Go read it.
Bill Clinton will appear at Tri-C
West East in the Cleveland area tomorrow afternoon for an event billed as “Solutions for America with President Bill Clinton & Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones." Details after the flip.
Via email: Help Elect John Boccieri to Congress! Attend a Boccieri Campaign Strategy & Planning Session.
Details after the flip.
The campaign of 12th District congressional candidate David Robinson (D-Columbus) asked me to notify readers about a campaign meeting to be held this coming Saturday, February 2nd. Details after the flip.
The Trumbull County Federated Democratic Women’s Club will hold a Meet the Candidates Night at 6 p.m. on Monday, February 4th at the Warren YMCA, 375 North Park Avenue, Warren. Ohio. Democratic candidates running in the March primary are being invited. Admission is free, and free refreshments will be served.
Some items that came up as I updated my list of candidates in county office races:
Clermont - Today the Enquirer profiles the crowded GOP primary in the race for the county commissioner seat held by Mary Walker (R), who is being investigated by the Ohio Ethics Commission because she voted on a $58,500 county contract for a water main replacement project with a company run by her son. Township Trustee Archie Wilson (R-Batavia Twp), Township Trustee Ed Humphrey (R-Miami Twp), and former City Councilman Melvin Dean (R-Bethel) are all challenging her on the GOP side. "I want people to vote for me because of my attributes, the good things that I do - not because of the bad things that my opponent says that may or may not be true," says Walker. Her GOP opponents say she is in denial about her wrongdoing and needs to move on. Theresa Conover (D) is the only Democratic candidate.
Cuyahoga - Michael McIntyre writes in his "Tipoff" column in the Plain Dealer today about the fireworks that occurred at the endorsement interview involving incumbent County Recorder Pat O'Malley (D) and challenger Nelson Cintron (D), whom O'Malley fired from his county job. Cintron accused O'Malley of running a political machine out of his office. O'Malley said Cintron was just upset that O'Malley and others in his office worked to defend Cleveland City Councilman Joe Santiago in a recall election that former council member Cintron pushed. Meanwhile, O'Malley was the subject of an embarrassing news report last week, revealing that the county had foreclosed on a commercial property owned by him (the old Aragon Ballroom) because O'Malley has failed to pay more than $18,000 in property taxes, penalties and interest. "I've got financial problems like anybody else," he said. "You want to condemn me for that, I don't care." O'Malley said he fell behind on tax payments during his divorce.
Franklin - In the contentious Democratic primary between John O'Grady (D) and Cindy Lazarus (D) to replace Commissioner and congressional candidate Mary Jo Kilroy (D), former U.S., Ohio, and county treasurer Mary Ellen Withrow (D) has endorsed O'Grady. “I’ve had the good fortune of knowing John O’Grady for over twenty years," said Withrow. "John is the kind of leader that recognizes public service is a privilege. When he takes on a job, he works in the best interest of the public and he always sees the job through. I strongly endorse John for Franklin County Commissioner because he has the proven ability to work with everyone to bring new jobs and opportunity to Franklin County.” Withrow, an icon in Ohio politics who has been inducted into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame, was the first person to serve as treasurer at all three levels of government. She was named the nation's Most Valuable State Public Official by City & State Newspaper in 1990 and has served as president of the National Association of State Treasurers and the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers.
Mahoning - The Board of Elections ruled that ex-deputy sheriff David P. Aey (D) can stay on the ballot as a candidate for county sheriff, but the incumbent candidate Randall Wellington (D) has taken the matter to the Ohio Supreme Court. At issue is whether Aey has the required two years of supervisory experience as a peace officer at the rank of corporal or above, or service at the rank of sergeant or above in the five-year period before the filing deadline. Aey never rose above the rank of deputy during his 15 years with the sheriff’s department, but the board ruled that his time as a field supervisor for the U.S. Marshals Service’s Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force was equivalent to the required experience.
Medina - North Royalton Mayor Robert A. Stefanik says the city has been threatened with a lawsuit if Sgt. Dave Centner (R-Sharon Twp) continues to run as a primary challenger for Medina County Sheriff while employed in the police department. Ohio law prohibits a police officer who is in the classified service of a city from taking part in partisan political activity. The incumbent is Neil Hassinger (R). There is no Democratic candidate in the race.
Trumbull - The Trumbull Township Association, representing township trustees and fiscal officers, has endorsed Weathersfield Township police chief Joseph Consiglio (D) for county sheriff over 16-year incumbent Thomas Altiere (D). The vote was 29 to 16. Consiglio also won the Trumbull County Democratic Party endorsement over Altiere, who defeated Consiglio by 2,868 votes in 2004. Consiglio accuses Altiere of squandering county resources. In other races, the association preferred Hartford Township trustee and chief deputy county engineer Randy Smith (D) over Cafaro Co. vice president David DeChristofaro (D) for county engineer and Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk (D) over Dr. Gary Kraker for coroner.
Meanwhile, the Vindicator today calls county commissioner Paul Hetzel "a breath of fresh, fiery air" and opines that it is a good thing he reneged on his pledge to serve only one term. He is unopposed in his bid for re-election.
Two Democratic candidates for the 2nd district U.S. House of Representatives, Dr. Victoria Wulsin and Steve Black, will speak at the February meeting of the Blue Ash / North East Democratic Club. Other Democrats running in the March 4 primary will also do brief presentations.
The meeting is set for 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 19th at the Blue Ash Golf Course, 4040 Cooper Road. “This is a chance for area residents to meet our candidates and learn more about them before voting in the March primary,” said Carol Heideman, president of the club.
Other candidates planning to attend include Wayne Coates, Hamilton County Recorder candidate; Steve Brinker, candidate for county treasurer; Norma Holt-Davis and Jerry Metz, running for two different positions as Common Pleas Court judge; Connie Pillich, candidate for Ohio House district 28; and Daniel McCarthy, running for Ohio Senate 8th district.
Buzz from the battlegrounds:
OH-01: Driehaus Named "Political Star Rising" - The campaign site of State Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Price Hill), which can be reached either at Driehaus2008.com or SteveforCongress.com, has been upgraded, although the "Events" and "Issues" pages are yet to be filled in. The "Latest News" page led me to the 'Power 100' feature in the current issue of Cincy Magazine, which calls Driehaus a rising political star and "a smart, personable politico with a future."
OH-03: Esrati Likes Obama, Gives Good YouTube - Dayton activist/blogger/candidate David Esrati (D) continues to provide the news and entertainment in this race. Blogger OhDave of Into My Own has a great interview with the plain-spoken, iconoclastic Esrati. He says that both Jane Mitakides (D) and Charles Sanders (D) claimed to have been approached about switching parties; dismisses Mitakides by saying that voters don't want to "trade one person who talks like a politician for another;" plans to hire campaign staff after the primary and promises to have "tricks up his sleeve" for the campaign; and calls Barack Obama the best choice for president because he is "the boldest move America could make to try to say we've changed directions" and "has the potential of being a statesman, not just a president." OhDave also embeds another nice video ad from Esrati:
OH-07: Harkins (R) Loses the Popularity Contest - Jessica Wehrman has a story in the Dayton Daily News today detailing the rocky relationships between candidate Dan Harkins (R-Springfield), who is Clark County GOP Chair, and a variety of prominent Republicans: retiring Rep. Dave Hobson (R-Springfield) (who won't speak to the guy), State Rep. Ross McGregor (R-Springfield), Ohio Senate candidate State Rep. Chris Widener (R-Springfield), and former state legislator Merle Grace Kearns (R), who is running the campaign of former county commissioner Reed Madden (R) against Widener. They really, really don't like him.
OH-10: Kucinich Can't Use Presidential Cash - Ouch, that's gotta hurt. According to reporter Molly Kavanaugh of the Plain Dealer, Rep. Kucinich can't tap into the $330,000 in his presidential campaign chest for his re-election bid because he accepted federal matching funds. Kavanaugh also reveals that labor leaders, such as Harriet Applegate of the North Shore AFL/CIO, met with Kucinich a few weeks ago to tell him to pay more attention to his congressional campaign. Meanwhile, not many specifics on the new organization Integrity Now that Kucinich is starting to continue his work on national issues, but reportedly spouse Elizabeth will have a starring role.
A few weeks ago at RootsCamp I had the opportunity to meet attorney Darlene Dunn (D-Sylvania Twp), running in the 46th Ohio House District against recently appointed State Rep. Barbara Sears (R-Sylvania). (This is the seat vacated by State Rep. Mark Wagoner (R-Ottawa Hills) so he could be appointed to the Ohio Senate to replace Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green), who in turn replaced newly-elected Congressman Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) in the 6th Ohio House District.) Ohio Democratic Party Chair Chris Redfern (D-Catawba Island) has indicated that this is a high priority race, so I was very interested to get to know the candidate.
Dunn is an engaging and energetic person with an infectious smile. She was accompanied by her husband, Cary Dunne, DDS, a Toledo dentist. The first thing I learned about her is that she ran for the Ohio House in 1978, because that is how she met her spouse -- by knocking on his door to ask for his vote.
In that race, when Dunn was in her twenties, she ran against three-term veteran State Rep. Irma Karmol (R). Karmol won the election but died the next April in a car accident in Perrysburg. Karmol was replaced by her son, David Karmol, who ran unsuccessfully for the Ohio Senate in 1982. The district was numbered 44 at that time and was differently configured. (It was redesigned to lean more strongly Republican.) "I gave her a pretty good run," Dunn said. "I'd have to look up the percentages, but they were very good." I told her that I could find those figures, but my check of Secretary of State data didn't reveal House results that far back.
When Dunn and Dunne went out on their very first date, he told her that if she married him she would not have to change her last name. (And she didn't - no "e"!) They raised two boys, who now live in Nevada and New York. "That's one of my issues, by the way," she told me, "We've got to figure out how to get our young people to be excited about staying here. We need to have good employment for them, which means we need good schools."
Dunn has practiced law for thirty years. For the first seven she was an assistant county prosecutor, concentrating on juvenile law and child support enforcement. She has also done workers compensation work for the state. She was at a law firm for 14 years and is now a general practice solo practictioner in Toledo. She has retained a strong interest in family law and domestic relations, but has done personal injury work and all manner of other legal representation.
In addition to stressing the importance of improving Ohio's schools, Dunn is very concerned about jobs and increasing employment opportunities. Young people will not want to stay in Ohio until their perception of it is changed, and that requires that Ohio be revitalized. "Where I live is on the Michigan border, close to Ann Arbor," she said, where companies have moved in and employed lots of people. "We're next door. We have a lot of the same resources," she continued. "Ohio has excellent resources and should be attracting those businesses."
Tonight I watched Barack Obama give his victory speech at a party filled with politicos, several of them high-profile supporters of Hillary Clinton. The watchers were unanimous in their opinion that this was a great speech. Obama spoke directly to the nation, delivering a stirring call for unity and change. He included a stinging rebuke to the Clinton campaign for its attacks in the week leading up to the South Carolina primary, without detracting from the uplifting and inspiring tone of his speech:
Tonight's 18 point rout of Clinton was a huge boost for Obama and his masterful speech will help translate the win into strong momentum going into Super Tuesday. His references to Latinos in the speech signal a big effort to reach out to Hispanic voters in the next ten days.
Clinton's 27% finish is a serious setback. She is still assured of winning a number of states on Super Tuesday, but she needs to examine carefully what went wrong. Look for her to make a visible effort to rein in her spouse on the campaign trail. As for Edwards' 18% showing, it is probably the bare minimum needed to keep his campaign alive. On life support, perhaps, but alive.
The MCDAC Blog notes that Democratic turnout today was 38% higher than Republican turnout in their primary, even though South Carolina went for Bush by a large margin. Another great portent for November.
Tonight I met City Council member Joe Cimperman (D-Cleveland) at a party on the west side of town. He indicated to me that the Plain Dealer will endorse him in the 10th Congressional District Democratic primary. [UPDATE: Here is the link, with a hat-tip to Jill at WLST. The endorsement devotes 13 paragraphs to condemning Kucinich and only 2 to praising Cimperman.]
Cimperman described the endorsement process as an arduous three-hour interview. Rep. Kucinich declined to be interviewed together with the challengers, so his interview had been conducted separately. Barbara Anne Ferris was confused about the time and arrived 35 minutes late. Thomas O'Grady suffers from pain in his leg due to an injury, so he was unable to remain seated for the duration of the interview. He stood suddenly without explanation and stood behind Brent Larkin, peering over his shoulder, to the consternation of the newspaper personnel. Rosemary Palmer was particularly friendly and engaged and made a favorable impression on Cimperman.
The councilman seems boyishly enthusiastic about running for Congress. Fund-raising is going great, he said, and his polling shows him with over 60% name recognition in the 10th Congressional District. It should not come as a great surprise that the Plain Dealer is endorsing Cimperman, since it endorsed Ferris in the primary two years ago, but the endorsement is plainly a boost for Cimperman's campaign and he is very pleased about it.