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%.
CQ Politics reported today that a PAC called “OH-5 Congressional Victory Committee" has raised about $34,000 and will give it to whoever wins the GOP primary slugfest.
There are only three counties displayed on the district-wide results page at the Wood County Board of Elections, but one of them (Henry County) is in the western part of the district (and in the Ohio Senate district of Steve Buehrer (R-Delta)) and it is going for State Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) by a comfortable margin - 2,207 to 1,627 votes (58% to 42%).
Latta carried his home county (Wood) by 71% to 17%.
As of 11:45 pm, here's what we know:
* 5th Congressional District: In the GOP primary, with only 7% of the vote counted, Bob Latta (R) leads Steve Buehrer (R) by 45% to 39% - this is totally inconclusive but there it is.
* Columbus mayoral race: With 98% of the vote counted, Mike Coleman (D) stomps Bill Todd (R) 70% to 30%.
* Columbus City Council: Five Democrats sweep - Charleta Tavares, Michael Mentel, Andrew Ginther, Hearcel Craig, and Priscilla Tyson win; Jim O'Grady, Larry Thomas, Bill Brownson, Heidi Samuel, and Paul Bingle lose.
* Canton mayoral race: With 30.8% of the vote counted, Bill Healy (D) leads Janet Creighton Weir 53.36% to 46.64%.
* Akron's 8th Ward city council race: Bob Keith (D) beat Randy Cole (R) by 53.71% to 46.29%.
* Cincinnati City Council: With 77 of 332 precincts reporting, here is the leaderboard (top nine prevail):
7.4% Roxanne Qualls
6.9% David C. Crowley
6.5% Cecil Thomas
6.0% Laketa Cole
5.7% Leslie Ghiz
5.7% Jeff Berding
5.6% Chris Monzel
5.6% Chris Bortz
4.7% Minette Cooper
4.5% Sam Malone
3.5% John Eby
3.4% Melanie Bates
3.4% Wendell Young
3.2% Greg Harris
3.2% Pat Fischer
3.0% Brian Garry
2.0% Andre Harper
1.8% Joan Kaup
1.6% Justin Jeffre
1.0% Mitch Painter
0.9% Steve Pavelish
0.7% Michael Earl Patton
0.4% George Zamary
Here is the audio of a short (less than three minutes) interview with Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon) tonight at her victory party, courtesy of Dan Weist of ONN. Among other things, Weirauch frames the issues in the general election nicely as blue collar concerns like jobs and the economy:
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.