Last week I had a chance to talk to Carol Roe, Chairperson of the Ohio Nurses Democratic Caucus. Her organization actively supports 5th District congressional candidate Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon), a former Emergency Medical Technician whose family includes several nurses, and 14th District candidate Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell), a Registered Nurse in the pediatric emergency room at Hillcrest Hospital in Mayfield Heights.
In addition, the ONDC has sent questionnaires to the Democratic presidential candidates and has received responses from two. Former senator John Edwards (D-NC) and Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) each submitted responses that spell out their detailed visions for universal, affordable and quality driven health care, their position on federal legislation to enable states to enact comprehensive health care reform, and steps they would take to deal with the shortage of nurses and to improve working conditions for nurses. The organization is to be commended for seeking out the candidates' positions on these issues, and kudos to Edwards and Richardson for responding -- their responses are definitely worth reading.
Congressional candidate Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell) is a former appellate court judge, retired Lieutenant Colonel, and member of the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame, who was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam and whose son Shawn served in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He is incensed at the Bush Administration and Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Township) for permitting the U.S. Government to seek the return of enlistment bonuses from injured veterans sent home from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I received word yesterday from a soldier overseas that the Department of Defense has been billing wounded soldiers – asking them to refund their enlistment bonuses if their injury prevents them from completing their full term," O'Neill said. "You don't have to have served your country to be offended by a policy like this. When a soldier is injured in the line of duty we are all wounded. To me this is an insult."
H.R. 3793, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA) with 219 co-sponsors, would mandate the practice be terminated immediately. Rep. LaTourette is not among the bill's co-sponsors.
"The bottom line is we must stop abandoning our soldiers," O'Neill said. "It is an outrage to force a soldier wounded in battle to give back his enlistment bonus. Our troops have made great sacrifices for their country and we must do everything we can to honor that service. At a minimum we must keep our word.
"Why is it that Steve LaTourette will vote consistently against efforts to bring accountability to this war, but he has so far failed to cosponsor this critical bill for those serving our country?" he said. "Northeast Ohio – and the men and women serving our country – deserve better."
Ohio deserves better than Steve LaTourette. Please send Bill O'Neill a campaign donation today. O'Neill will bring dignity, principle, and common sense to the task of representing the 14th Ohio Congressional District in Congress.
I have been asked to put out the word that the campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) is looking for volunteers to circulate signature petitions. Circulators need to be registered Ohio voters who have not voted in a different party's primary within the past two years.
The petition and an instruction sheet can be downloaded here. Please keep in mind that signatures must be legible to be counted. To that end, people may print their names in the open space to the left of their signatures.
Questions can be directed to Matthew D. Besser at mdbesser-at-vorys-dot-com.
Here's a terrific opportunity for Democrats in northeast Ohio to make a difference in the special election in Ohio's 5th Congressional District. From tomorrow, Monday December 3rd, through election day, December 11th, there will be phone banking going on from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., or 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., or in the evening during the week, at the UFCW Hall, 2828 Euclid Aveue in Cleveland. Please call Andrea Miller at two-one-six, eight-eight-one, seven-two-zero-zero for more information.
This is a very tight race and any time that you can give could make the difference. There hasn't been a competitive race for Democrats in this district for nearly 70 years ... let's get in there and give it our best shot!
On Saturday I attended three campaign events in the 5th Ohio Congressional District, where Gov. Ted Strickland (D) spent the day campaigning for Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon). I plan to post a field report with photographs and audio, but in the meantime here is a video clip. The governor and the candidate marched in a parade down the main street in Tiffin, Ohio, accompanied by union workers from an American Standard manufacturing plant that is in grave danger of being closed. In this video the two of them speak briefly to supporters right after the parade ended:
First public hearing and call to action on the issue of payday lending, organized by Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann. The event will be at Antioch Baptist Church, 8869 Cedar Avenue, Cleveland, OH (on the corner of E. 89thand Cedar).
UPDATE: I JUST made it home from the Northwood rally. A TERRIBLE ice storm has hit this area and it seems as if ODOT got caught napping. Will try to get some pics and video posted yet tonight (as soon as my hands stop shaking...)
UPDATE: The Norwalk event is wrapping up. Jeff is heading east and I'm heading for Fremont. More later. So far, so good!
UPDATE: The Governor reports that their polling data is saying that this race is "winnable."(!) We would need a GREAT GOTV effort and for the undecideds to break heavily for Wierauch.
UPDATE: There was great turnout for the parade in Tiffin (despite wind chills in the teens!). Local labor unions led by GMP Local 7A are incensed that American Standard is threatening to close a local plant and move production overseas. Robin and the Governor took the time to give an off the cuff pep talk to local workers. Robin told them "You're standing up for me, I'll stand up for you!"
UPDATE:Jeff just called me from the first campaign event in Bucyrus. And baby, it's COLD outside! Despite bone numbing cold, turnout was excellent and the Governor's speech was rousing. Ted's closing zinger; "If you REALLY want to make Bill O'Reilly cry, get out on Dec 11 and vote for Robin Weirauch!"
The DCCC is "fully engaged" in the Weirauch campaign. They have been providing staffers, money and other resources for the campaign along with the DNC, ODP, SEIU, the AFl-CIO and other labor groups. The entire staff from the midwest DCCC group has been here for some time and they're pouring everything they've got into this race. Just yesterday, another $13,300 was received from labor groups and progressive PACs. How about you?
Greg Giroux of CQ Politics sees a "sliver of uncertainty" in the 5th Ohio Congresional District special election:
The national political environment — which turned sharply against President Bush and his Republican Party in the 2006 midterm elections — remains unsettled. Additionally, the special elections held in mid-December, as most residents of the two districts are focused heavily on their holiday preparations, make the relative success of the parties’ voter turnout efforts difficult to predict. ...
Latta had $132,000 left to spend as of Nov. 21 to $68,000 for Weirauch.
Weirauch’s total fundraising for the short special election campaign already has exceeded the roughly $120,000 she raised during her entire campaign for the regularly scheduled 2006 election.
During the Oct. 18-Nov. 21 period, Latta raised $128,000 from individual donors and $118,000 from political committees, and he also loaned his campaign $50,000 from his personal resources. ...
Most of Weirauch’s contributions came from political action committees (PACs), including those associated with labor unions and campaign committees linked to House Democrats who didn’t contribute to her 2006 campaign. The fact that Democrats are giving to Weirauch is a sign that they think an upset, if unlikely, is nonetheless possible, and that an investment in her campaign is worthwhile.
I was sitting around in my basement with no windows this week...raising money for my own Congressional Race...when I thought: Whoa! ROBIN'S RACE IS THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN THIS WEEK! So I did what any out of control Democrat would do...Packed my first born daughter Katie into my BRAND NEW ELECTRIC CAR... and sent her West. Of course I stayed home to mind the store...but will join the fray on Saturday and maybe Sunday.
The question comes up: If we really believe that taking control of the Congress is our number one priority...why aren't we all up in the flatlands for the duration working for Robin...and the American way?
Robin needs us. Now. See you in Bowling Green.
And oh yes...I sent her $100 bucks...have you all?
Term-limited State Rep. Bob Otterman (D-Akron) will step down by the end of the year, the Ohio House Democratic Caucus has announced.
State Rep. George Distel (D-Conneaut) will chair a screening committee to recommend a replacement. Anyone interested in succeeding Rep. Otterman in the 45th Ohio House District should direct their resumes to Chief of Staff Andy DiPalma by the close of business on Monday, December 10th. Resumes may be e-mailed to Mr. DiPalma at andy.dipalma-at-ohr.state.oh.us.
Rep. Otterman is serving his fourth term in the House. He served for 29 years on Akron City Council before that. The 45th District is in Summit County in northeast Ohio and includes Barberton and parts of Akron. It leans very strongly Democratic (PVI D+14.6). Otterman defeated Joshua Jones (R-Akron) by 77.11% to 22.99% in 2006, and got 74.12% of the vote in 2004. City Councilman John R. Otterman (D-Akron) has been mentioned as a possible candidate to run for this seat.
These are not related to each other but all jumped out at me when I checked my RSS reader just now:
Sex Offender Residency Restrictions Voided - The Supreme Court of Georgia has struck down the restrictions as an unconstitutional violation of property rights. The Ohio Supreme Court is considering a case about whether such restrictions may be retroactively applied, a somewhat different issue, although the court could ask for additional briefing. This could all wind up in the U.S. Supreme Court before very long.
Hispanics Born in America Speak English - An important fact to keep in mind regarding the persistent hysteria about immigrants and the English language: 88% of children of Hispanic immigrants (i.e., the second generation, those born in this country) report speaking English very well, and for generations after that it's 94%. And that's without amending the constitution to make it the official language or anything drastic like that.
Kiyani Shows Independence - Already there are indications that Pervez Musharraf's hand-picked successor as military chief of Pakistan is going to act independently from the newly civilian-ized president: Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani is replacing military department chiefs with his own people, AND it turns out that Kiyani wasn't Musharraf's first choice -- but the U.S. preferred Kiyani. So, what that says to me is that Musharraf is not indispensable to U.S. interests any longer, if he ever really was, and there's no valid reason for us to continue propping him up. He sacked the judiciary and suspended the constitution -- the man shouldn't get away with remaining in office. It would be fine for the U.S. and certainly better for Pakistan if he were to step down and take the residual effects of his emergency rule with him.
Senior editor Erick Trickey of Cleveland Magazine has written a fascinating profile of Ohio "favorite son" Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) in the December issue, titled "The Missionary." Trickey provides the answer to everyone's first question ("Why is he running?"):
In summer 2006, just after the war between Israel and Hezbollah, Kucinich and his wife, Elizabeth, visited a town where an American-made Israeli bomb had killed dozens of women and children. ...
“We stopped at one grave and were absolutely transfixed at this picture of this little boy, who could have only been a year old or so, who had a red sweater and a blue shirt and had a beautiful smile," [Kucinch says.] "I began to cry.” A villager reached out to comfort Kucinich, then pointed out his wife and children’s grave. Others, gathering around, shouted: “Tell the American people we love them.” “We don’t hate Israel.” “We want to live in peace.” Moved by their forgiveness, Kucinich says, he knelt at the boy’s grave.
“I said a prayer,” he says. “I promised that little boy that I was going to work to create a world where children would not perish in wars, where all over the world, children could grow up free of fear that themselves or their parents will be annihilated.”
It takes an epic leap of selfless virtue and self-important confidence to think that creating a world without war is your calling in life. For 40 years, Clevelanders have argued: Is Kucinich noble or egotistical? The answer is, he’s both. His virtues and faults are intertwined.
Ooh, this is interesting. Washington Post political prognosticator Chris Cillizza has posted his monthly item "The Line," in which he picks the ten U.S. House seats most likely to change parties. This week he drops OH-15 from 2nd to 7th based on the entry of relatively high-profile candidate State Sen. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington), not a huge surprise.
What's intriguing is that Cillizza also hikes the OH-16 contest between State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown) and the winner of the GOP primary between State Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) and Country Commissioner Matt Miller (R-Ashland) from 5th up to OH-15's former 2nd spot, revealing that Ohio Republicans have privately expressed "concern" about Schuring:
This district, which sits due south of Cleveland and includes Canton -- home of the National Football League Hall of Fame, isn't as good on paper for Democrats as the open 15th District near Columbus. But, candidates make a difference and Democrats have one of their best recruits in the country in state Sen. John Boccieri, a conservative lawmaker who has been in the race for months. Republicans privately express concern about state Sen. Kirk Schuring who appears to be their likely standard-bearer. While President Bush carried this district with 54 percent in 2004, its population center in Stark County went strongly for Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) and Gov. Ted Strickland (D) in 2006.
Whatever the specific "concern" is, it is the only new element in the mix since last month's ranking by Cillizza. It must be significant indeed to persuade him to rate this contest the second most likely in the nation to change parties.
The Port Clinton News-Herald reports that attorney Dennis Murray Jr (D-Sandusky), who has been a city commissioner for two years, announced Wednesday that he will run for the 80th Ohio House District seat of term-limited Ohio Democratic Party Chair Chris Redfern (D-Catawba Island). Murray says that he feels the Sandusky city commission has accomplished goals like a planned marina district and forming an energy task force "by setting differences aside and working together," and he wants to bring that approach to state government. He is endorsed by Redfern and former state representative Darrell Opfer (D-Salem Township).
Murray indicates that he will focus on school funding, health care, and alternative energy as a strategy for economic development, which are familiar themes from Democratic campaigns in 2006:
Fixing Ohio's broken system of paying for schools -- mainly through property taxes -- is a major priority for all Democrats, he said.
"That, in essence, is our seed money," he said. "If we don't continue to reinvest in our schools, we're never going to dig our way out of this."
Health care, like education, is an investment in the future, he said. Some Ohioans cannot afford medical care or have Medicaid, a plan certain doctors will not accept.
"It's outrageous that we, in this wealthy country, have so many people who are uninsured," he said. "People need preventative health care."
Murray also wants to promote and attract alternative sources of energy to the state. He recently helped form the Erie County Alternative Energy Task Force, which is looking for ways of reducing energy use and bringing alternative energy.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon) made appearances in Youngstown and Columbiana County yesterday to propose steps to help residents with heating costs, which are expected to be 18% higher than last winter (a result of expected colder weather as well as higher fuel prices). The events are reported today in the Youngstown Vindicator.
Brown called for preservation of the requested FY 2008 $2.2 billion allocation for the Low Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which is $400 million over President Bush’s request and was part of a spending bill vetoed by him. Next week Brown will join other Senators in introducing legislation to provide an additional $1 billion in emergency LIHEAP funding.
Also, Brown called for an increase in federal funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and restoration of funding for the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), which provides funds for community action agencies to alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty in communities.
In addition to the stops yesterday to talk about heating costs, Brown attended a round-table discussion yesterday with school officials and community leaders in Carrollton, reported today in the Dover-New Philadelphia Times-Reporter. The story has a good recap of concerns expressed by residents about No Child Left Behind, veterans' issues, the closing of a Farmers Service Agency office, infrastructure, foreclosures, and the financial crunch experienced by families caring for elderly relatives at home.
It's good to see Brown making a concerted effort to get out around the state and hear the concerns of residents and local leaders.
RootsCamp is a great opportunity for open dialogue between Ohio’s progressive activists, field organizers, leaders, techies, fundraisers, and bloggers.
Participants share innovations, failures, old wisdom, and new discoveries, with an eye toward developing skills and networking -- and building organization and sustainability in Ohio's progressive movement.
It's also a lot of fun!
The event will take place on Sunday, January 13th, 2008, at the Vern Riffe Center, 1st Floor, corner of State & High Streets in Columbus. It is free, and breakfast and lunch are provided. Sign up here.
What's the buzz in the state that has about 30,000 bee colonies and ranks 25th in honey production:
More Ohioans Who Enter Foreclosure Are Losing Their Home - The Akron Beacon Journal reports that 45% of all Ohio foreclosure filings during October were notices of bank repossessions, a significant increase.
Maternity Leave Rule Moves Ahead - Led by former state representative Barbara Sykes (D-Akron), the Ohio Civil Rights Commission narrowly voted to seek final approval for a rule requiring 12 weeks of maternity leave, despite the desire of Gov. Ted Strickland (D) and business groups to delay the change.
Slower Growth Expected - Gov. Strickland's economic advisors warned him of challenging economic conditions in Ohio due to rising energy costs and a struggling housing market, prompting him to consider spending cuts or other budget adjustments.
Muskingum County Commissioner Retiring - After 15 years in office, Dorothy Montgomery (R-Zanesville) is stepping down.
Ooops, 100 Absentee Ballots Not Counted - Human error, says the Hamilton County Board of Elections, discovered during preparations for a recount of six close races - including a school levy that passed by three votes. Seems like we keep getting more and more reasons to feel jittery about election integrity.
Redhorse on Presidential Campaign Stumbles - In fine fettle, Redhorse has a great post at Psychobilly Democrat on the YouTube/CNN GOP debate question asked by a retired general who is on Hillary Clinton's GLBT steering committee, and the bizarre evasive action undertaken to obscure public spending for a security detail relating to Rudy Giuliani's dalliances with then-mistress Judith Nathan.
The candidates filed FEC reports for the period 10/28 to 11/21 yesterday.
Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon) did very well, pulling in a remarkable $138,152.51, leaving her with $66,587.05 cash-on-hand as of 11/21. She received $38,002.51 from individuals, $1,400.00 from political party committees, and $98,750.00 from PACs. Included are $5,000 from Emily's List and $2,000 each from committees affiliated with Rep. Rahm Emmanual (D-IL), Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo), Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles), and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland). She also received funds from various Congressional leadership PACs, including $5,000 from Rep. Kaptur's PAC. Weirauch also got over $34,000 from union PACs.
Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) brought in much more than Weirauch.. He reported raising $246,173.98 in contributions, and he loaned himself $50,000, leaving him with $132,488.78 in the bank. Latta received $128,367.38 in contributions from individuals and $117,806.60 from PACs. Included are $20,000 from the National Republican Congressional Committee, $2,300 from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana), and $2,000 each from Rep. Deborah Schmidt (R-Upper Arlington) and Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland). Of course, we knew that the forces of wealth and power would flock to get in some "pay to play" action with Latta, and they did.
Yesterday I drove down to Cuyahoga Falls to attend the official campaign launch for Mike Moran (D-Hudson), a lawyer and businessman who is seeking the 42nd Ohio House District seat of Rep. John Widowfield (R-Cuyahoga Falls). Scott Piepho of Pho's Akron Pages was there and has posted a thorough report, so I will not reinvent the wheel here. Just for the record, I share Pho's impression that Moran is a top-notch candidate. Not only is he a high-energy and engaging person, with a terrific background as a lawyer, engineer, businessman, and a parent who is not only a product of public schools but has kids in public schools now, he has the strategic advantage of living in conservative Hudson. In fact, he is a member of the city council there. Since the Republican incumbent did not carry Cuyahoga Falls in the last election and failed in his bid for the Cuyahoga Falls Clerk of Courts this fall, Moran seems well positioned to do well in both areas: benefiting from the Democratic trend in Cuyahoga Falls, and capitalizing on his home field advantage in Hudson.
Here is the complete audio of the formal presentation (consisting of an introduction by House Democratic Leader Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus) and brief remarks by Moran), about 12 minutes long:
Beatty was practically giddy with excitement about introducing Moran, saying that she could not imagine a better candidate. Moran emphasized his background in law, engineering and business, and focused on solid Democratic issues of jobs, education, and health care. Here are some photos from the event:
At a rally in Columbus today, the National Abstinence Education Association called on Gov. Ted Strickland (D) to restore money for abstinence education programs in Ohio, which he deleted from the state budget in June. Strickland's spokesperson responded plainly and forcefully:
"There is significant evidence that suggests those programs don't work," said Keith Dailey, the governor's press secretary. "Governor Strickland supports an approach that includes abstinence education as well as providing Ohio's youth with vital health information."
Hurray for the governor. That's a position clearly justified by research studies, and he deserves kudos for sticking to it.
As he took the oath of office for a new term as president today, Pervez Musharraf said that he would lift the state of emergency by December 16th and restore the Pakistani constitution before parliamentary elections now scheduled for January 8th. What he has not said he will do is (1) free from house arrest and restore to office the judges he removed from Pakistani courts, including Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry; (2) remove strict new regulations on independent media outlets; or (3) release the last of the lawyers, activists, and opposition party workers in detention. Public protests will continue unless and until pre-November 3rd conditions are restored. Protesting lawyers clashed with police in Lahore today.
This is priceless -- "Daily Show" writers explain the writers' strike:
An important and fascinating new study by the New York-based think tank Demos details the precarious situation of middle income Americans. Authors Jennifer Wheary, Thomas M. Shapiro, and Tamara Draut define "middle class" in terms of "having financial security, raising a family with a reasonable standard of living, building a solid future for the next generation, receiving quality healthcare, and retiring in comfort." They identify four factors critical to satisfying that definition (assets, education, income, and health care), and develop a "Middle Class Security Index" for measuring those factors.
Applying this metric, the authors come up with some very sobering observations, including these:
* Only 31% of middle-income families match their profile for being securely middle class (i.e., the rest lack one or more of the four factors that ensure middle-class security).
* 21% of white families are at high risk for slipping out of the middle class, as compared to 33% of African-American headed households and 41% of Latino families.
* More than half of middle-class families have no net financial assets whatsoever -- that is, no financial assets or debt levels that exceed their assets.
* Only 13% of middle-class families have sufficient assets to meet three-quarters of their essential living expenses for nine months, should their source of income disappear.
* 21% of middle-class families have less than $100 per week ($5,000 per year) remaining after meeting essential living expenses. These families are living from paycheck to paycheck with very little margin of security.
* In 23% of middle-class families, at least one family member lacks health insurance of any kind.
Gov. Ted Strickland (D), who carried the 5th Ohio Congressional District convincingly in 2006, will campaign with Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon) all day Saturday. Here is the schedule (plan to arrive 30 minutes early if you're going) [UPDATE: times have been changed]:
Bucyrus Central Square Rally
Sandusky Ave. and West Mansfield St.
Tiffin - Parade with Union Members and Leaders
Start at St. Joseph’s Church, follows route down Washington
Norwalk Main Street Press Event
West Main St. at Benedict Ave.
IBEW Hall, 1468 E State St.
Northwood Labor Hall Rally
Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 50 - 7650 Caple Blvd.
I will be attending as many of these events as I can manage. This will be a huge day for the campaign.
Former Democratic presidential contender Gen. Wesley Clark has a post up on his WesPAC blog, praising Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon) and calling for donations for the special election that is now only twelve days away. Clark describes Weirauch as:
the daughter of a retired Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force, [who] will do more than simply repeat slogans like "Support the Troops." She will fight to bring a responsible end to the war in Iraq and make sure our veterans receive the health care they deserve.
This is just the latest of many signs I am seeing that the Weirauch campaign is really taking off (here are a few examples):
I just went to ActBlue.com and Weirauch is second on the list of busiest recipients this week (you can add to her total here, even a small contribution helps a lot);
Gov. Ted Strickland reportedly will campaign with Weirauch in the next few days, and Sen. Sherrod Brown did so a few days ago -- these two each carried the 5th District in 2006;
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) hosted a big fund-raiser for Weirauch last night, and all the other Democratic members of Congress from Ohio are actively supporting her as well;
Even hard-core Republican voters in the 5th District were extremely turned off by the bitterly negative GOP primary and many will either stay home or vote for change -- I heard at the Weirauch fund-raiser two nights ago that the father of a well-known former GOP state legislator, himself an outspoken right-winger, is supporting Weirauch.
This is a race that will set the stage for 2008, and an upset victory is looking more and more possible. Please click here now and support the Weirauch campaign!
UPDATE: Wes Clark's posting has brought in
$8,350 $8,400 already, in one day. Her total ActBlue contributions are up to $31,400.
2nd UPDATE: I have learned that it was not merely a blog post, it also went out as an message to Wes Clark's entire email list. Clark has raised $8,900 from 229 donors so far. BTW, my cross-posting of this entry at MyDD has been front-paged.