If true, this means State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown) is running for an open seat. Presumably State Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) will now officially join County Commissioner Matt Miller (R-Ashland) in the GOP primary.
UPDATE: It is also being reported in The Guardian:
Rep. Ralph Regula, an Ohio Republican who has served in the House for 35 years, is expected to announce tomorrow that he will retire at the end of his term, GOP operatives said Thursday.
Regula, 82, is the dean of Ohio's congressional delegation and the No. 3 Republican on the powerful Appropriations Committee. He has held his seat since 1973.
Regula's retirement has been long anticipated and he has begun informing congressional colleagues of his decision, said a senior Republican in the state and aides to GOP colleagues. They requested anonymity in order to speak candidly about the matter.
Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-St. Clairsville) underwent emergency surgery this morning to repair a colonic perforation suffered during a colonoscopy. Reportedly the surgery was a success and Wilson says he is looking forward to getting back to work after he gets out of the hospital in about five to seven days. Dave Potts at Left of Ohio is following the story.
Prognosticator Stuart Rothenberg has included Ohio's 2nd and 10th Congressional Districts in a list of seven Republican and five Democratic seats where incumbents face serious primary opposition:
Ohio’s 2nd: Rep. Jean Schmidt has turned her reliably safe Republican Congressional district into a marginal seat, and that has encouraged ex-Hamilton County Commissioner Phil Heimlich, a former Cincinnati city councilman, to take her on in the GOP primary.
Ohio’s 10th: While Rep. Dennis Kucinich basks in the notoriety of his presidential campaign, teacher (and former reporter) Rosemary Palmer is trying to take his seat. Palmer, whose son was killed in Iraq in 2005, has blasted Kucinich for voting against the State Children’s Health Insurance Program bill. She has been endorsed by Paul Hackett, the Iraq War veteran who has become a celebrity to liberal bloggers.
Jerid of BSB reported yesterday that he has heard rumors that Kucinich may retire from the House, so that one could turn into contest between Palmer and opportunistic late-comers, with Mayor Dean DePiero (D-Parma) on the short list.
Marc Kovac at the excellent Capital Blog notes that the advocacy group Environment Ohio has issued a report finding that "more than 74% percent of Ohio’s major facilities exceeded the allowable pollution limits established in their Clean Water Act permits in 2005." Add that to this factoid mentioned in a Columbus Dispatch story today: "Ohio ranks No. 1 among states for toxic air pollution today, largely because of power-plant emissions." It's a double helping of depressing news for Ohioans who breath air and drink water.
The point of the Dispatch story, however, is to ask a question that demands an answer: why did Ohio sit out the EPA lawsuit against AEP, settled a few days ago for many millions of dollars, when other states joined the federal agency in the litigation?
When Gov. Bob Taft presented American Electric Power's Muskingum River Plant an award for outstanding pollution-prevention efforts on Oct. 27, 1999, he praised the company for voluntarily cutting waste and emissions.
Exactly a week later, the plant was a target of lawsuits filed by eight eastern states, environmental groups and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Muskingum River was among the nation's oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants violating the Clean Air Act, the lawsuit said.
For eight years, while the lawsuit proceeded to the record multibillion-dollar settlement announced this week, the Ohio EPA sat on the sidelines. The state had no voice in an agreement that will make Ohio's air cleaner and affect jobs and electricity rates.
Courtesy of the Columbus Dispatch blog The Daily Briefing, here is Rep. Dave Hobson (R-Springfield) on the SCHIP veto:
"I don't know who's advising him up there, but the president is really out of touch," Hobson said in the morning edition of Congress Daily last week. "It's too little, too late for him to be a fiscal conservative. He should have vetoed the (2002) farm bill ... now he's against the SCHIP bill, he wants $190 billion more for the war, but he's picking a fight over $23 billion?"
The Ohio Health Care Policy Review notes today that the average annual health care cost for a typical family of four is about $14,500, an increase of 8.4% over last year. (That is a lower increase than for the several preceding years, but still outstrips inflation and average wage growth.)
Opponents of SCHIP expansion keep asserting that the proposed eligibility limit of 300% of the federal poverty limit (which translates to about $60,000 for a family of four) means that program would cover middle-class people who can afford to buy their own health insurance. Putting aside the fact that the SCHIP expansion is needed for families whose children have pre-existing conditions, which means that their health care costs could be above average, let's see if that family of four living on $60,000 has enough money to buy health insurance.
Middle-income Americans pay about 40% of their income in federal, state, and local taxes, so after taxes our family has $36,000 left. Average Americans pay about 20% of their income for housing, so that leaves $24,000. Food? Well, a few years ago the average household spent 13.5% of its income on food, so that leaves about $16,000. The average expenditure for transportation is about 6% of income, so that leaves ...
$12,400! Less than the average cost of health care! And we haven't even considered clothing, saving for college, school supplies, non-health insurance, and everything else!
Mr. Vice President, there are times for politicians and times for heroes. America and the Earth need a hero right now -- someone who will transcend politics as usual and bring real hope to our country and to the world.
CBS News has just posted this story, speculating about whether Gore might jump in if he wins the Nobel Peace Prize to be announced tomorrow in Oslo, Norway:
"Winning a Nobel Peace Prize is a life changing event," said Dylan Malone, who runs a Web site called AlGore.org, which advocates a Gore presidential run. "If he wins (the Nobel), he will undoubtedly reassess the situation and think, 'Where do I go next?' He's done the slideshow, made the movie, won every accolade that our society has to give. There's nowhere else to go to take it to the next level in my mind."
However, if Gore's going to do it, he must act quickly or he will lose his chance. Chris Bowers explained Tuesday on Open Left that Gore only has about two weeks before registration deadlines for primaries slam his window of opportunity shut (quoting from a Newsweek item):
And any "Shermanesque" decision from Gore will come between now and two weeks from today, October 23rd:
Even most diehard Gore supporters agree the next few weeks are do-or-die for a Gore candidacy. The New York state petition drive must gather 5,000 signatures during a short legal window between Halloween and early December. Gore supporters in Michigan launched a petition drive last week that must secure 12,396 valid signatures by Oct.
Here is the TV ad by the American Federation of State, County, and Municial Employees targeting Rep. Steve Chabot (R-West Wood) over his vote against the bipartisan SCHIP expansion bill vetoed by Bush:
AFSCME is targeting eight members of Congress. “This is the biggest fight we have had on a domestic issue since the showdown over President Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security,” said Chuck Loveless, Legislative Director for AFSCME. “President Bush has essentially told American kids to drop dead, and we are not going to let that happen.
This comforting, gauzy notion the White House is promoting that things have turned for the better in Iraq due to the "surge" and the leadership of Gen. David Petraeus is pure nonsense. Today in Iraq (as noted by Prof. Juan Cole at Informed Consent):
Guerrilla violence left at least 57 dead in Iraq on Tuesday, with 22 killed in two truck bombings in the northern refinery city of Baiji. The violence left nearly 120 wounded. (The attacks in Baiji appear to have targeted a tribal sheikh allied with the US.)
A private security firm based in Kuwait killed two women in a car, which apparently did not slow down as they had ordered.
In the northern big city of Mosul, gunmen assassinated the deputy chief of police.
From the AFL/CIO Blog:
This agreement was made possible because UAW workers made it clear to Chrysler that we needed an agreement that rewards the contributions they have made to the success of this company.
UAW Vice President General Holiefield, who heads the union’s Chrysler department, added:
Once again, teamwork in the leadership and solidarity in the ranks has produced an agreement that protects jobs for our communities and also protects wages, pensions, and health care for our active and retired members.
Details of the agreement are being withheld, pending ratification votes by rank-and-file UAW members at Chrysler. But published reports had indicated the two sides were stuck on the company’s demand for health care concessions. Also at issue was the union’s desire for job security pledges at U.S. factories and Chrysler’s wish to contract out some work now done by union members.
If this agreement tracks the UAW/GM agreement, it could be a very good thing. We will have to wait until the details are revealed.
This is a let-down. The Ohio Senate today unanimously passed a resolution sponsored by Sen. Tom Niehaus (R-New Richmond) that calls on Congress to renew the SCHIP program, but Democratic amendments to insert language that would directly address President Bush's veto of the bipartisan bill to expand SCHIP by $35 billion over five years, and to file an amicus brief in support of multi-state legislation to challenge restrictive new SCHIP rules, were both rejected along party lines (19-12).
Senate Democratic Leader Terea Fedor denounced the result:
“Our amendments were not adopted because the Senate Republicans lacked the courage to stand up to President Bush by urging Congress to override his veto. Simply reauthorizing SCHIP at its current level will not fulfill our budgetary obligation to expand SCHIP coverage to children and families up to 300% of poverty.
SCHIP has always generated bipartisan support. When we voted for the state budget in June, we all voted for a federal expansion of SCHIP, including President Harris and Speaker Husted. It is time to stop playing politics and make access to health care coverage for all children a top priority.”
Republican leadership in the legislature is bending to pressure from hard-core right-wingers and loyal Bush foot soldiers (like U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-West Chester)) despite a majority of Ohio's Republican members of Congress voting for the expansion, and the General Assembly unanimously approving expansion of Ohio's Medicaid program in the state's biennial budget in reliance upon the SCHIP expansion.
They have no spine, even when it comes to providing health insurance to Ohio's uninsured children.
The Columbus Dispatch blog The Daily Briefing reports that the Ohio House voted overwhelmingly today (82-13) to ban the slot machine-like games that have been proliferating at bars, restaurants, and race tracks in Ohio:
The bill would ban cash payouts from the games, or ban any tournament, including those for Golden Tee machines, darts or pool, where the house takes a cut of the proceeds. Banning tournament play, Speaker Jon Husted said, was necessary to avoid the next generation of games, where machine manufacturers get around the law by calling the games tournaments. ...
[T]he bill now heads to the Senate, where President Bill M. Harris, R-Ashland, has expressed support for the measure ...
The bill passed as an emergency measure, which means it take effect immediately after Gov. Ted Strickland signs it. That would block any attempt to go to the ballot and overturn the law through a referendum.
This reads like a big victory for Gov. Ted Strickland (D) and Attorney General Marc Dann (D), whose efforts to ban the games by executive order have been stymied in the courts due to ineffective language in the controlling statute on gambling.
Hallelujah. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) is still unhappy with the bill (because it omits children of legal immigrants per the request of Republican senators), but he says that "the president has to be held to an accounting."
A shooting spree has just occurred at SuccessTech Acadmey, an alternative high school in downtown Cleveland. Five people were taken to the hospital:
Students stood outside the building, many in tears and on cell phones. Family members also stood outside, anxiously waiting for their children to be released.
"I'm scared. I'm hoping no more people got hurt," Jackson said.
Tammy Mundy, 38, who has a son and daughter at the school, told The Plain Dealer of Cleveland that her daughter called when the shooting started.
"She said, 'Mom they're shooting in here, kids are running out, I'm hiding in the closet,'" Mundy told the newspaper.
Then she called her 18-year-old son, Darnell Rodgers, on his cell phone, and he told her he had been shot in the arm.
"He said, 'Mom I got shot,'" Mundy told the newspaper.
This madness has got to stop. There are too many guns on the streets. Teenagers should not have such an easy time obtaining deadly weapons.
On a related point, the law passed last year that forbids local governments from devising gun regulations to meet their own needs (HB 347) is outrageous. I fervently hope that the Ohio Supreme Court overturns it in the case it recently agreed to hear -- but with the Justices we have now I am not holding my breath.
Jennifer Stewart (D-Zanesville), a member and vice president of the Ohio State Board of Education (9th District), has filed to run for the 94th Ohio House District seat that is being vacated by term-limited Rep. Jim Aslanides (R-Coshocton). The district includes all of Coshocton County and much of Muskingum County. Aslanides won re-election in 2006 over Aaron Phillips (D-Zanesville) with 53.29% of the vote.
A news story in the Zanesville Times Recorder profiled the candidate:
[A] former Zanesville City Schools teacher, [Stewart] is also past president of the Zanesville City Board of Education, former chair of the local Goodwill organization and past president of the Mid-East Ohio Vocational School Board. In 2004, she was named the Ohio Association for Career and Technical Education's Person of the Year.
"As a full-time legislator, I will work hard to improve the conditions that will promote job creation and enhance the quality of life for our citizens," Stewart said. "My goals are to strengthen educational opportunities, workforce training, health care, home ownership and property values so we can build a strong economic base for our region."
The Zanesville High School graduate earned her bachelor's degree from Muskingum College and a master's degree from The Ohio State University. Jennifer and her husband of 36 years, Bill Stewart, have five children, Brian, Amy, Allison, Jessica and David.
Stewart was a candidate in the 18th Congressional District Primary Election in May, 2006, placing second behind eventual general election winner Zack Space (D-Dover): Zack Space 39%, Jennifer Stewart 26%, Chillicothe Mayor Joe Sulzer 24%, frequent candidate Ralph Applegate 12%.
In his latest set of House ratings, prognosticator Stuart Rothenberg calls the 15th Ohio Congressional District race "Toss Up/Tilt Democratic." Democratic candidate Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus) is still waiting for a Republican candidate to emerge about two months after incumbent Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Upper Arlington) announced that she would retire.
Rothenberg also calls OH-1 (Rep. Chabot (R)), OH-2 (Rep. Schmidt (R)), and OH-16 (Rep. Regula (R)) "Lean Republican" and OH-18 (Rep. Space (D)) "Lean Democratic." All the other Ohio races are regarded as being of limited risk to the incumbent party, skipping over the category of "Favored" to either party. This apparently included the special election in OH-5.
I'm disappointed that OH-14 didn't make it at least into "Republican Favored." Bill O'Neill (D) is a strong candidate with a good fund-raising start, running against a potentially vulnerable incumbent in Rep. Steve LaTourette (R).
UPDATE: The Evans-Novak Political Report confirms Rothenberg by rating the 15th District "Likely Democratic Takeover." Novak suggests the GOP "may have given up on the seat."
Matt Parker, campaign manager for State Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green), reports that the Ohio Elections Commission found probable cause on Latta's compaint against State Sen. Steve Buehrer (R-Delta) alleging false statements by a 3-0 vote. A statement from the Latta campaign is pending.
UPDATE: Here is the statement from the Latta campaign:
Campaign Manager Matt Parker commented, “I am pleased that the Ohio Elections Commission ruled unanimously to move forward with our complaint. The Club for Growth has a history of using unethical campaign tactics. Just last month they were fined $350,000 by the FEC for failing to properly report contributions. It should be no surprise to anyone that they are now under investigation for making false statements about Bob Latta.”
Parker continued, “The truth is, Bob Latta is a rock solid conservative who protects our wallets. He has won three Watchdog of the Treasury Awards and has been Ohio’s leading advocate against the Death Tax. Club for Growth and the Buehrer campaign are not going to get away with distorting Bob Latta’s record.”
The full hearing on this complaint will most likely be heard on October 18th.
2nd UPDATEThe Club for Growth responds:
As the Club for Growth PAC stipulated in its statement to the Ohio Elections Commission, we stand by our assertion that our representation of Bob Latta’s voting record in our press release is completely accurate. Indeed, the official analysis by the Ohio Legislative Budget office, consistent with our press release, describes the 1998 legislation as a sales tax increase, as did Bob Latta’s own lawyer in a 1998 press release when he was the executive director of National Taxpayers Union of Ohio.
A new Ohio poll just out from Quinnipiac University pegs Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) at a 46%-40% advantage over former mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NY) in a head-to-head match up, basically unchanged from her 47%-40% advantage last month. Clinton has a favorability rating of 49% favorable/42% unfavorable, while the Republican front-runner is at 42%/33%. Clinton's rating has improved, but she has yet to break through the critical 50% mark. Her unfavorable number is very high, but because she is so well known it may have peaked.
In the primary contests, Clinton has a commanding lead at 47% while Sen. Barack Obama is at 19% and Sen. John Edwards is at 11%. Giuliani leads the Republicans by a slimmer margin at 29% while new-comer Fred Thompson is t 17%, Sen. John McCain is at 10%, and Mitt Romney is at 8%.
The poll also shows Clinton beating the other major GOP contenders, McCain (48%-38%), Thompson (50%-36%), and Romney (51%/34%). However, the other two top-tier Democratic candidates also lead their GOP counterparts, and overall Edwards performs the best:
* Obama tops Giuliani 44 - 38 percent, McCain 43 - 39 percent, Thompson 44 - 33 percent and Romney 47 - 31 percent;
* Edwards bests Giuliani 46 - 36 percent, McCain 46 - 35 percent, Thompson 48 - 31 percent and Romney 50 - 28 percent.
Favorability ratings for the other candidates are 45%/26% for Obama; 47%/26% for Edwards;40%/28% for McCain; 23%/19% for Thompson; and 19%/22% for Romney.
These results show Clinton maintaining her lead over Giuliani and consolidating her lead over her Democratic rivals. The GOP field is still very fluid, and of course these early polls are subject to big changes as lesser-known candidates get more name recognition and especially when the early caucuses and primaries occur.
The Concerned Women Political Action Committee (CWPAC) has announced its support for State Sen. Steve Buehrer (R-Delta) in the 5th Congressional District special primary. CWPAC is affiliated with Concerned Women for America, a group that claims to be the nation's largest public policy women's organization with over 500,000 grassroots members.
CWPAC identifies itself as "a conservative voice for traditional values." The announcement praises Buehrer as having "a proven and truly outstanding record on issues of concern to traditional values voters."
Buehrer has also received the nod of the Williams County Republican Party Central Committee. This comes as no surprise as Williams County is in the western part of the district that is Buehrer's home base.
The 86th Carnival of Ohio Politics is up, and it's major football rivalry time. Grab your face paint and check it out.
Thank you, Lisa Renee, good job!
He's presenting it as standing up for jobs, but it is apparent that the real motivation of Sen. George Voinovich (R) in opposing higher fuel economy standards stems from objection by the auto industry.
Sabrina Eaton and Robert Schoenberger have the story at Openers:
The Senate passed an energy bill in June that calls for auto producers to make fleets that get an average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020. Toyota, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler have opposed the legislation, saying those standards would be prohibitively expensive to meet.
Auto lobbying groups have said the Senate bill would cost jobs because it would force domestic producers to spend more on retooling plants and developing products. Meanwhile, importers, who are already much closer to meeting the standards, would be able to continue to sell without those huge expenses, allowing them to charge lower prices and take more market share from Ford, GM and Chrysler.
The law currently requires cars to average 27.5 mpg and trucks to average 22.5 mpg. The Senate bill, which passed 65-27, does away with that distinction, calling for one standard for both cars and trucks.
Environmentalists sayd the news standards can be met with existing off-the-shelf technologies, but the car companies complain about the price:
GM estimates that it would cost the company $50 billion to meet the new fuel economy standards. Automakers insist that they do not oppose fuel economy, but they would prefer a House bill that gives them more time and has more exceptions than the Senate legislation.
Environmental groups have criticized the industry for that stand, saying companies can meet the Senate standards with off-the-shelf technologies. But doing so would jeopardize highly profitable truck and sport utility vehicle sales.
The Columbus Dispatch blog The Daily Briefing reports on today's dust-up between Gov. Ted Strickland (D) and the Republican-controlled Ohio House of Representatives over competing plans to impose stricter audit controls over state agencies:
Republicans approved a proposal by state Auditor Mary Taylor that would create an independent internal auditing system.
“People have lost confidence, in many ways, in government,” said Rep. William G. Batchelder (R-Medina). “There is only one group of people who can fix that, and that’s the group here today.”
. . . Taylor cited the coin and investment scandals at the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation as reasons why government needs the system, which, she said, would improve the integrity of financial reporting.
“It’s what Ohio’s taxpayers demand and it’s what Ohio’s taxpayers must get,” Taylor said.
Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland opposes the measure, questioning its constitutionality and price tag. Instead, he prefers his July executive order that would create a new internal auditing division within the Office of Budget and Management.
Taylor says that plan doesn’t go far enough.
The dispute was reflected on the House floor, where Republicans and Democrats fought one of the few partisan legislative battles in the chamber this year.
“How are we going to pay for this stuff?” asked Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Cincinnati). “The fiscal analysis is woefully incomplete. It’s unclear how many positions we’re even talking about.”
Yesterday conservative talk show host Glenn Beck began a segment on Iran by declaring that "war with Iran is no longer a question of 'if,' I believe it's a question of 'when.'" With Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton (D-NY) having voted for the Senate resolution supporting the State Department's declaration that Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard is a terrorist organization, and Republican front-runner Rudy Giuliani (R-NY) having included neo-conservative war-monger Norman "Bomb Iran" Podhoretz on his foreign policy team, where do we look for a spokesman against sliding into another disastrous military conflict in the Middle East?
I missed this story in the Toledo Blade yesterday, indicating that retiree Michael Reynolds (R-Columbus Grove) is off the GOP special primary ballot due to failing to submit a sufficient number of valid signatures. That leaves five Republicans in the race:
According to Scott Pullins, attorney for State Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green), the Ohio Elections Commission has set a probable cause hearing on Latta's complaint against Club for Growth and State Sen. Steve Buehrer (R-Delta) for 10 am tomorrow, Wednesday October 10th, at the 21 West Broad Street, 6th Floor, Columbus.