News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races

Big doings on the Congressional campaign trail:

OH-02: News Blizzard - Steve Black (D) thanked Victoria Wulsin (D) via a faxed note for engaging in an impromptu debate at the Anderson/Newtown Democratic Club meeting last evening, but renewed his demand for additional debates in all the other counties; SOTENI International, a non-profit founded and led by Wulsin that helps children with AIDS in Kenya, has issued a press release protesting an item in the Cincinnati-based web site "The Whistleblower Newswire" which portrays her as living a lavish lifestyle, and asserting that the organization is legit and Wulsin was not paid a salary by the organization, only travel expenses -- Bill Sloat has an item up explaining that Wulsin had mistakenly reported the value of her services as "salary" from SOTENI but has now revised her financial disclosure; Matt at WMD has reported on internal polling by Rep. Jean Schmidt (R) showing her with a commanding lead over challengers Phil Heimlich (R) and State Rep. Joe Brinkman (R):

52% Schmidt
31% Heimlich
9% Brinkman

OH-10: Big Endorsement for Cimperman; Kucinich Agrees to Debate; Hackett Stumps for Palmer - Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson (D) has endorsed challenger Councilman Joe Cimperman (D), a huge boost for the candidate. The same news story reports that Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D) has agreed to debate all four of his challengers in an event to be sponsored by the City Club but held at the Crowne Plaza ballroom on February 19th. Iraq veteran and former U.S. Senate candidate Paul Hackett will campaign for Rosemary Palmer (D) at the opening of her office at 15732 Lorain Avenue tonight at 7:00 p.m., and again tomorrow aboard the HopeMobile with stops at a house party and a meeting with voters at Cleveland’s West Side Market at noon.

OH-15 & OH-16: DCCC Puts Races on "Red to Blue" List - The campaigns of County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy (D) and State Sen. John Boccieri (D) are included in a short list of seven open seat races and three special elections that will receive DCCC assistance under their "Red to Blue Program." From a post at by DCCC Chair Chris Van Hollen:

As you know, these are strong examples of people-powered Democrats who have performed very well in the early stages of their campaigns. Their success is due not only to their message of change but all of your hard work. The energy and resources that the local and national Netroots have devoted to these candidates has been essential in providing their campaigns this exceptional early momentum. This is the earliest the DCCC’s Red to Blue program has been implemented in an election cycle.

The Red to Blue Program will introduce them to Democratic donors to help expand the fundraising base for their campaigns. It will give them the structural and financial edge they need to be even more competitive this year. A round of candidates challenging Republican incumbents will be announced next month.

OH-18: Schedule for RENEW OHIO-18 economic conferences Rep. Zack Space (D) is sponsoring these events to "develop a new economic blueprint for Southeastern Ohio":

January 25: RENEW OHIO-18 Ohio Kickoff, Zanesville, OH

February 29: Broadband Working Group Meeting, New Philadelphia, OH

March 21: Agriculture Working Group Meeting, Coshocton, OH

April 11: Alternative Energy Working Group Meeting, Nelsonville, OH

April 25: Healthcare Working Group Meeting, Chillicothe, OH

May 23: Summit, Zanesville, OH

OH House-20: Dems Cry Foul Over County Party Endorsement UPDATED

Last night I was contacted by a Franklin County Democrat who reports that many people involved with the party are furious about the heavy-handed role of State Rep. Ted Celeste (D-Grandview) in last night's endorsement vote by the Franklin County Democratic Party Executive Committee in favor of first-time candidate Nancy Garland (D-New Albany) over repeat candidate Bev Campbell (D-Gahanna), who nearly won the seat in 2006.

The endorsement vote came after what was reported to have been a lengthy and contentious discussion. Campbell had little party support last time around, particularly early in the race, yet came within 364 votes out of about 60,000 after an official recount. Garland, Executive Director of the Ohio Physical Therapy Association, has extensive experience as a lobbyist but has not previously run for public office. There are points to be made for each candidate, but Campbell supporters are angry both that Garland was specifically recruited at the eleventh hour by Celeste, who has ambitions to run for House Speaker if the Democrats take control of the chamber and is seen as lining up supporters through his recruitment of candidates, and that he appears to have heavily influenced the vote by getting County Party Executive Director Zach Manifold to distribute a message in support of Garland to executive committee members prior to the vote.

Ohio Daily Blog has obtained a copy of Celeste's message, as well as a message in support of Campbell that Manifold was later asked to distribute -- but apparently did not. Celeste emailed Manifold to say that he's been asked why he supports Garland over Campbell and relates his concerns that Campbell "did not file a campaign finance report [last summer] showing she had raised any money since the last campaign" and that he "was looking for someone who could raise money, had good political experience and could wage a tough door to door campaign." He attached literature to his message from the Garland campaign "that should give you a good feel for why I feel she has a grasp of what it will take to win." [I did not receive the attachments.] Celeste then goes on to point out Garland's "extensive experience on Capitol Hill and at the Statehouse," the importance of Garland's expertise in health care as being "one of our major issues," her fund-raising capability, and her contacts around the state and nation as "important ingredients to a winning effort." Celeste adds that Garland "has put together a campaign group ready to host house parties, have fundraisers and go door to door." However, he concludes by noting that Garland "feels that the endorsement of the Franklin County Democratic Party is an important first step to her victory in November and I feel she will do well in the screening process" and "I know that she is committed to running and winning with that endorsement," remarks that imply that the endorsement may be necessary to keep Garland in the race. He ends by asking Manifold to distribute the message to committee members, which Manfold did, with the comment that Celeste asked him to do so.

An area Democrat who said that she was undecided on the primary race wrote to Manifold to question the fairness of Celeste's letter being distributed by a high-ranking party official, which "seems a bit like stacking the deck." Manifold replied that Celeste's "email wasn't working," a dubious claim on the face of it since Celeste sent email to Manifold, and "I only sent it out because the screening committee unanimously endorsed Garland yesterday," which doesn't appear to address the concern at all. That individual subsequently sent a letter in support of Campbell to Manifold with the request to distribute it, "in fairness to both sides," which reportedly was not done. This letter asks the committee to refrain from making an endorsement and points out Campbell's close race in 2006 without substantial support and despite being outspent by 10 to 1; that no Democrat before Campbell had captured more than 43% of the votes in this district; that Campbell has been active in a lengthy list of community groups and charities and has "visited nearly every church, synagogue and mosque, school, firehouse, police station, and business owner" in the district; that Campbell can connect with the voters and gain their trust better than "a career lobbyist;" and that Campbell is supported or endorsed by a long list of local and national political figures (including Sen. Joe Biden, former Congressman Bob Shamansky, Treasurer Ed Leonard [see 2nd Update], Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy, and Charleta Tavares), labor unions (including UAW, SEIU, and teachers unions), and advocacy groups (including the Sierra Club, Veterans & Military Families for Progress, and the Stonewall Democrats).

Contested primaries are a difficult proposition for a party under any circumstances, since they consume resources needed for the general election and (especially if negative) can generate animosity and division in the party base. However, primaries can play a positive role (as the author of the pro-Campbell note points out) by "invigorat[ing] the electorate and the party, test[ing] the candidates, and creat[ing] an opportunity to get all the information on the table." I'm very concerned about how this endorsement vote was handled, as tending to reduce the positives and increase the negatives (specifically by inflaming negative sentiments in the race), which is what we don't want. I have left telephone messages for Zach Manifold and Ted Celeste to ask for comments on this matter, and I have emailed the author of the pro-Campbell letter to get her comments as well, so I will update this story as appropriate.

UPDATES: Ted Celeste and Zach Monifold responded to my requests for comment -- continue reading after the break.

OH-18: Fundraiser for Matt Patten (D)

01/24/2008 - 5:00pm
01/24/2008 - 8:00pm

This is a key race as the Democrats seek to take control of the Ohio House of Representatives. Community activist Matt Patten is a dedicated progressive and deserves our support.

Come on out and meet the candidate at a fundraiser on January 24, 2008 from 5:00 to 8:00 pm at Tony K's, 841 W. Bagley Rd., Berea, OH 44017 - 440-234-9700.

News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races

Some items of note:

OH-02: Black (D) Blasts Wulsin (D) Over Lack of "Substance" on Web Site - In a fund-raising email, Steve Black (D-Indian Hill) takes Vic Wulsin (D-Indian Hill) to task for having relatively few and brief issue statements on her campaign site. The email sets out a side-by-side comparison of her four brief statements with the ten lengthy disquisitions available on Black's site. It's a clever attack, but is it fair? To some extent picking which issues to address and at what length is a matter of style, not substance.

OH-03: New Mitakides (D) Site? - I've been listing as the web site for candidate Jane Mitakides (D-Dayton), but it is really just an online resume. However, she used as her campaign site in the 2004 race, and I see that has been reserved.

OH-07: Austria (R) Asserts Kids in Photo Are Real - A truly baffling comment appears on the campaign site for State Sen. Steve Austria (R-Beavercreek). Under a typical posed, smiling family portrait is a caption that identifies the candidate and his spouse and their three children - and then states that "they are not hired talent - they really are our family!"

OH-08: The Scoop on Nick von Stein (D) - I heard candidate Nick von Stein (D-Mason) introduce himself to the group at RootsCamp but did not get a chance to speak to him individually. However, I just tumbled across a mini-bio at the web site for America Votes:

Since coming to America Votes in April 2006 Nick has assisted the implementation of the southwest regional field plan, which includes mobilization of supporters, door-to-door canvassing and volunteer recruitment.

OH-10: Cimperman (D) Video: Missing Congressman [UPDATE: Kucinich Demands Investigation]

Pretty funny video clip, with challenger and city council member Joe Cimperman (D-Cleveland) visiting the office of Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) in pursuit of the well-traveled incumbent:

Of course, it isn't fair to check a legislator's office just once and use it to suggest that he's MIA. If people went to Cimperman's office while he was filming this video, they wouldn't have found the councilman in, right? Still, pretty good visual.

Meanwhile, John Kraushaar writes on The Politico today about both Kucinich and GOP longshot Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) facing stiff primary challenges at home. Kraushaar reports that after the New Hampshire primary, Cimperman showed up at Kucinich’s front door with kielbasa, Polish turnovers, a “Welcome Home” fruit basket, and a map. Here's a quote from Kucinich's political advisor, John Sweeney:

“This is the most serious challenge he’s had since he’s been running. This is going to be a tough race. Cimperman’s been in the business for a while, and he knows what he’s doing. We are not taking this lightly.”

Cimperman has reportedly raised $226,000 in the last month alone.

UPDATE: Unbelievable. Mark Naymik reports on Openers that Kucinich responded to the video by requesting a Department of Homeland Security investigation of Cimperman over his use of the video camera in a federal building.
How. Totally. Childish.

News and Notes: County Office Races

Big doings in local races:

Franklin: Redfern Endorses O'Grady - “Like the Franklin County Democratic Party, I want to announce my support for John O’Grady in the Franklin County Commissioners race," says ODP chair State Rep. Chris Redfern (D-Catawba Island). "John O’Grady has been a good and loyal friend to me and to the Ohio Democratic Party. John O’Grady will work to bring good paying jobs to central Ohio, and I am pleased to announce my support for his campaign.” O'Grady faces former judge and city council member Cindy Lazarus (D) in a hotly contested primary.

Mahoning: De Souza Writes on County Races - The Youngstown Vindicator's eminent political observer Bertram de Souza wrote a piece over the weekend about Cafaro Co. connections to some county races, and how the expected "bloodbath" in the wake of an epic county struggle over relocating the Jobs and Family Services Agency didn't materialize. Nevertheless, the struggle has echoes in the primary between County Treasurer and local Dem chair Lisa Antonini (D-Austintown) and attorney John Schultz (D). County Commissioner candidate Eric Ungaro (D-Poland), son of a former Youngstown mayor, submitted a comment to the online edition responding to the piece.

Columbiana: Sheriff Drops Out of Race - Sheriff David L. Smith (R-East Liverpool), facing trial on a drunk driving charge between now and the primary, has canceled his bid for re-election. Smith was stopped in Guernsey County last October while driving an unmarked cruiser and a urine test showed twice the legal level of alcohol. Anticipating this eventuality, there are three GOP challengers in the race (former deputy sheriff Jerry Herbert (R-New Waterford), former deputy sheriff Daniel "Skip" McLean III (R-Yellow Creek Twp), and police chief Ray Stone (R-Perry Twp)). Police chief John Soldano (D-Leetonia) will face the winner.

Clermont: GOP Commissioner Candidate Injured in Ski Accident - The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Miami Township Trustee and county commissioner candidate Ed Humphrey (R) fell while skiing in Michigan on Tuesday. He broke three ribs and injured the tips of seven vertebrae in his back. However, although incapacitated and lying in the hospital now, he is determined to continue his primary battle against incumbent Mary Walker (R) and Batavia Township Trustee Archie Wilson (R). There is no Democrat in this race.

Summit: Pry Online - County executive Russell Pry (D) has announced his new campaign web site. He faces recent mayoral contender Joe Finley (D) in a primary, and the winner will be opposed by Municipal Court Clerk Jim Laria (R).

OH-07: Austria (R) Called Co-Conspirator in Corrupt Steering of No-Bid Contracts

Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. John Mitchel (R-Beavercreek), now running for the seat of retiring Rep. Dave Hobson (R-Springfield) and a veteran of past campaigns for Governor and Congress, charges that opponent State Sen. Steve Austria (R-Beavercreek) and his spouse Eileen are co-conspirators in a scheme to steer no-bid contracts to campaign contributors of Hobson, who supports Steve Austria in the race and has paid Eileen Austria large consulting fees. Mitchel compares the scheme to the steering of federal contracts by Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) that resulted in his resignation from Congress in November 2005 and guilty plea to federal conspiracy charges. Cunningham is serving an eight year prison sentence.

In an email to Greene County officials, following up on his request for a meeting to discuss requests for information on the matter, Mitchel describes his allegations this way:

Former California Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham is in federal prison for steering no-bid contracts toward his campaign contributors. Based on remarks spoken to me by Ms. [Marilyn] Reid, [the Greene County GOP chair who is running for county commissioner,] I am alleging that is exactly what occurred with the BRAC Initiative Agreement. There is compelling evidence that Dave Hobson and other elected officials, including Steve Austria as well as Mrs. Austria, who both sit on the Dayton Development Coalition Wright-Patt 2010 Advisory Committee, intervened to influence the award of no-bid contracts to The PMA and Greentree Groups. Please note that documents disclosed on the FEC website show that employees from PMA and Greentree donated over $50,000 to "Hobson for Congress" prior to, during and since the period of performance (PoP) of the BRAC Initiative Agreement. Don't hesitate to call if you have any questions prior to our meeting on the 24th.

On the telephone yesterday, Mitchel further explained his accusation. Steve and Eileen Austria sit on the referenced advisory committee along with Sam Greenwood of the Greentree Group. They were instrumental in causing money transferred by Greene County to the Dayton Development Corporation to be used to award a large no-bid contract to Greentree Group, purportedly to assist in an effort to keep Wright Patterson Air Force Base open during the BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) process. Mitchel contends, however, that the base was in no real danger of closing, so the transactions in reality amounted to no more than an enormous transfer of public wealth to private hands, and in any event the purpose of the contract was lobbying and that is not the business of Greentree, an IT firm. Greentree in turn awarded a $660,000 contract to PMA, which is in fact a lobbying firm. During the period for performance under these contracts, principals or employees of Greentree and PMA gave $50,000 in campaign contributions to Hobson. Eileen Austria was a district director for Hobson, and while so employed Hobson paid her $50,000 as a political consultant. Linking the transfers together, Mitchel sees an orchestrated chain of transactions that acted as a pipeline for public money that ultimately wound up in the hands of Eileen Austria.

GOP Street Fight in Summit County Continues

Latest reported in the Akron Beacon Journal: State Sen. Kevin Coughlin (R-Cuyahoga Falls) is challenging the nominating petitions of 64 Republican central committee candidates, presumably ones aligned with foe Alex Arshinkoff. 600 people filed for 475 seats, and Coughlin claims that 315 filings represent supporters of his bid to oust Arshinkoff, including 170 petitions filed directly by Coughlin. However, as many as 18 of his supporters have already been tossed off the ballot and hearings are pending for as many more. He is now trying to improve his odds by getting Arshinkoff supporters bounced, claiming (credibly, it appears) that BOE employees examined the petitions of Coughlin supporters more closely than those of Arshinkoff supporters.

Coughlin requested hearings on a number of his challenges and also for a challenge regarding GOP elections board director Bryan Williams, running for the GOP State Central Committee, who Coughlin claims got signatures for his petition from elections board employees during business hours. In a related controversy, Williams is standing by his decision to transfer a BOE employee, Scott Sigel, who says that he learned of "a few problems" in his position as GOP finance examiner. Williams accuses Sigel of publicizing his "personal political crusade" to have his boss fired or replaced. Sigel calls William's move "punishment" and an "abuse of power." The matter will go to the entire board for review.

The fight between Coughlin and his camp and Arshinkoff and his allies will presumably escalate over the next two months as we move toward the vote by the GOP central committee on county party leadership, which will occur during the first week of May.

News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races

More tidbits from working on the candidates list:

OH-07: Web Sites Up; Fun Facts - New campaign sites are up for attorney Sharen Neuhardt (D-Yellow Springs) and former state legislator Ron Hood (R-Ashville). This article from the Lancaster Eagle Gazette has some fun factoids about the crowded field, such as that former county health inspector Tom Scrivens (D-Xenia) was deputy campaign manager during John Glenn's 1984 bid for president, former Libertarian candidate Jack Null (D-Fairborn) served 20 years in the U.S. Army, and Dr. Richard Wyderski (D-Beavercreek) is firmly committed to single-payer health care: "A single-payer system is the most (practical) way to make sure that everyone has health care coverage," he said. "Everyone is in, and no one is out."

OH-08: Meier Drops Out - 2006 candidate Morton Meier (D) has dropped out of the race, leaving political activist and USAF veteran Nick von Stein (D-Mason) as the only opponent to Rep. John Boehner (R-West Chester).

OH-10: O'Grady and Visokaj Have Web Sites - Democratic challenger Thomas O'Grady (D-North Olmsted) and independent Paul Visokaj (I) are online.

OH-12: New Dagres Site - Aaron Dagres (D) had been using his Facebook page as a campaign site, but now he has his own domain.

OH House-10: Miller (D) Unopposed

First-term State Rep. Eugene Miller (D-Cleveland) faces a primary challenge from Freddie Moore (D-Cleveland), but it appears from Cuyahoga County Board of Elections records that the only GOP candidate Susan Capello (R-Cleveland) has withdrawn her nominating petitions.

News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races

Just a few quick items of interest as I work on refining the candidates list:

OH-07: Woolever (D) Wins IBEW Endorsement - Restaurant owner Dave Woolever (D-Stoutsville), a former IBEW member, has earned the endorsement of IBEW Local 1466, based in Columbus. From the presser:

"... Of all the candidates for the Democratic nomination in the seventh district of Ohio, I know what the working men and women of Ohio face in this current job climate," Woolever said. "I have suffered job loss when a job I held was outsourced to Mexico. I was a member of the IBEW Local 2331 when I worked in my next job. When the signs were showing that they would close due to outsourcing, I decided that my best course of action was to open a small business in the community. Not long after, that plan closed and jobs were lost to both China and India

“I will stand shoulder to shoulder with the people who are the heart and soul of Ohio, the working men and women. I will work to change the direction of trade agreements that have devastated jobs here in Ohio. I will work to make sure that a good day’s work brings a good day’s pay to those who need it the most. ...”

OH-12: Renaissance Candidate - I'm really impressed with the variety of interests and accomplishments revealed on the bio page of candidate David W. Robinson (D). He graduated cum laude from OSU with an undergraduate degree in accounting and has a master’s degree in Theological Studies from The Chicago Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in theology and psychology from Emory University. He organized and carried out a 4,700-mile cross-country fund-raising bicycle ride for Alzheimer's research, he taught English in Taiwan for a year, and recently he was a Presenter for Al Gore’s Climate Project initiative and has given numerous presentations on global warming. His is now a vice president for Marcy Enterprises, a Columbus-based adhesive tape manufacturer.

OH-11: Saffold Withdraws Shaker Heights businessman Robert Saffold (R) has withdrawn his nominating petitions, leaving only Thomas Pekerak (R) to oppose Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland).

OH-15: Three GOP Challengers Disqualified - State Sen. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington) still faces a primary challenge from OSU economics professor Robert Wagner (R), but additional challengers Charles Chope, John Diamond, and perennial candidate Ralph Applegate were all tossed off the ballot.

Meet & Greet With Sen. Sherrod Brown in Cincinnati

01/15/2008 - 7:00pm
01/15/2008 - 8:00pm

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Avon) will be in Cincinnati tomorrow and will be holding an informal meet and greet at Crowley's, 958 Pavilion Street in Mt. Adams, at 7:00 PM. If you’d like to meet Senator Brown here's your chance. All are welcome.

Click here for a map.

Michigan Democrats for Mitt!


Democrats Go On Offense in Clermont County

This is great to see. Republicans hold all county offices in Clermont County and there hasn't been a Democratic county commissioner there in 28 years, but current county commissioner Mary Walker (R) is being investigated by the Ohio Ethics Commission and faces criminal corruption charges. There are GOP primary challengers attempting to block Walker's bid for re-election, but the county Democratic Party is capitalizing on the disarray by fielding strong candidates and making a serious run at both commissioner seats up for election, clerk of courts, and county recorder. As reported in the Enquirer last weekend:

For the first time in two decades, Democrats have launched a major assault on Republicans entrenched in positions of power in Clermont County.

"It's the strongest and largest slate of candidates probably in 16 to 18 years," said Gregg Conrad, a Pierce Township trustee who met Friday's filing deadline to run as a Democrat for clerk of Common Pleas Court. ...

The rallying cry of many Democrats, regardless of the office sought, is this: "Mary Walker."

Milford Democrat Theresa Conover filed last month to run for Walker's seat in the November election, saying "people are tired of the perceived corruption."

Even members of her own party want to distance themselves from Walker, who has been a commissioner since 2001.

Competing in the GOP primary against Walker will be Batavia Township Trustee Archie Wilson, Miami Township Trustee Ed Humphrey and former Bethel Councilman Melvin Dean. "I think we need to replace the current commissioner for obvious reasons," Dean said after filing Friday.

Contribute to Ohio political blog history

It is only by a fluke that I’m editing the 100th Carnival of Ohio Politics this week. But please, don’t let a fluke get in the way of your submitting - first timer or veteran - to this week’s edition of the Carnival.

Send up to three links to blog posts you’ve written about Ohio and politics by tomorrow night, Tuesday, 1/15, 9pm to ohiopolcarnival AT gmail DOT com and voila - you’ve made Ohio political blog history.

Please feel free to spread the word and keep the posts coming.

100 posts in the 100th edition is the goal.

Thank you!

Open Warfare in Two GOP County Parties

Gotta love it: Lucas and Summit. For more on Summit, see Redhorse and Pho. I imagine that Lisa Renee will have something to say about Lucas.

OH-10: Opening of Palmer (D) Campaign Office, With Guest Paul Hackett

01/18/2008 - 7:00pm
01/18/2008 - 10:00pm

Via email:

Join Rosemary Palmer and special guest, Paul Hackett, as we open the new Palmer for Congress storefront. Food, drink, speeches, and lots of fun. Plus, see the "HopeMobile" up close!

When: Friday, January 18th 2008, 7:00 to 10:00 p.m.

Where: Rosemary Palmer for Congress Campaign HQ
15732 Lorain Blvd.
Cleveland, OH 44111

Contact: anthony-at-rosemarypalmerforcongress-dot-com

Sherrod Brown (D) Likes Edwards (D) But Remains Neutral On Presidential Race

I am pressed for time but I want to highlight this short interview with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon) by David Skolnick in the Youngstown Vindicator. The headline and emphasis of the story is about the Democrats' lack of success in forcing an end to the war in Iraq. Brown is candid about the failure of the Democrats' strategy to date and doesn't think the chances of getting troops withdrawn during the rest of the session are great (although they will keep trying). I liked this bit:

The Bush administration and its supporters tell the public the United States can’t pull out of Iraq when there are problems because the country can’t govern itself, Brown said. When there is some stability in Iraq, the administration and its supporters say the policy is working and the United States has to stay there, he added.

“Look at the ludicrousness of the argument,” he said.

Brown also talks about his disappointment about not getting the SCHIP program expanded, a matter that will be taken up again this summer.

However, the part of the article that really caught my attention was about the presidential race:

As for the Democratic presidential race, Brown said he is remaining neutral — at least for now.

Brown had high praise for ex-U.S. Sen. John Edwards, who is lagging behind U.S. Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton in polls.

Brown likes Edwards' "populist message," his concern about free-trade policies, and his stand against big oil and pharmaceutical companies.

"I’d like to see Edwards’ message more from Obama and Clinton," he said.

Brown said he met with Clinton last month for an hour to discuss how to win Ohio. Clinton campaigned for Brown in his successful 2006 Senate campaign.

OH House-44 & 45: Candidates Removed From Ballot

The Akron Beacon Journal reports that the Summit County Board of Elections has disqualified two candidates for the Ohio House of Representatives due to problems with nominating petitions.

In the 44th District, State Rep. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) will be unopposed in this election because he has no primary challenger and his only GOP adversary, Adrian Sims (R), was removed from the ballot. The Ohio Republican Party has made much of fielding a candidate in every House district, so this is a setback for them on that front.

Freshly appointed State Rep. John Otterman (D-Akron) still had a Republican opponent in Joe Fazek (R), but sole primary opponent Brian Bardwell (D) has been taken off the ballot.

Summit Co. Council: Congrove (D) Off Ballot

The Summit County Board of Elections has ruled that County Council member Dan Congrove (D-Akron) had only 42 valid signatures on his nominating petitions, thus disqualifying him from seeking reelection. Congrove has been on council since 1993. He represents District 6, which covers Tallmadge and part of Akron. City council member Jerry E. Feeman (D-Tallmadge) and Charlie Lasher (R) will contest the seat.

News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races

What's going on:

OH-02: Wulsin (D) Statement on NCLB - On the sixth year anniversary of its passage, Victora Wulsin (D-Indian Hill) pledges to reform and fund the No Child Left Behind law to make it effective:

[NCLB] remains a textbook example of the wrong way to reform education. A well- intentioned idea, NCLB lacked the funding and this country lacked the leadership to be effective in changing American education for the better. NCLB turned out to be educational "deform".

We need to change the one-size-fits-all approach to evaluation of students, teachers and schools. Local communities need help and guidance from the federal government, not unfunded requirements and teach-to-the-test advice. ...

My four sons went to public schools, and I think we need legislation that reflects educators' and experts' views about what works best for children. We need highly qualified staff in all schools, who know how
to teach and know their subject areas. And we need to be sure the federal government supports the requirements it places on local schools, from special education to an updated No Child Left Behind.

OH-03: Esrati (D) Video Ad - Activist/candidate David Esrati (D-Dayton) says he won't be airing his ad on TV because he refuses to take conributions from the “Big Money” people, but he can afford to do YouTube:

OH-05: Radcliffe (R) Online - GOP challenger Scott Radcliffe (R-Perrysburg) has a spiffy web site up. Among other details on his biography page, we learn that he was a star player and captain of the football team at Perrysburg High and was inducted into the National High School Football Hall of Fame. He also led the West Point rugby team to three straight national tournament appearances, and after returning from his first tour of duty in Iraq he was executive officer and briefly commanding officer of a detachment sent to New Orleans to secure Algiers Parish in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

OH-07: Wyderski (D) Supported Turner (R) - Dr. Richard Wyderski (D-Beavercreek) is running as a Democrat to replace Rep. Dave Hobson (R-Springfield), but he has been a big fan of Rep. Mike Turner (R-Centerville) in OH-03 where Wyderski practices medicine. FEC records show that Wyderski contributed $500 to Turner in 2002, $500 to in 2004, and $250 in 2006.

OH-08: Meier(D) Had Cost-Effective 2006 Campaign - There is a Wikipedia entry for the Democratic opponent to House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-West Chester), retired stock broker Mort Meier (D-Hamilton). From it I learned that Meier served more than four years in the United States Air Force during the Korean War and studied Public Administration and Economics at American University in Washington. In 2006 Meier spent less than $3,000 against an opponent who took in $3 million in contributions but won 36% of the votes cast, a total of 51,119. That's less than $17 per vote more than 17 votes per dollar, or less than $0.06 per vote. [Sorry - I meant to be flip and instead flipped the numbers.] Is that some kind of record?

OH-10: Kucinich (D) Announces; Palmer (D) Rolls Out "HopeMobile" - The Plain Dealer blog Openers has video from the re-election campaign announcement by Rep. Dennis Kucinish (D-Cleveland) yesterday, surrounded by applauding labor leaders. Among other things, Kucinich addressed criticism that he is not often in the district by pointing out that his job is in Washington. He doesn't mention his presidential campaign explicitly but makes clear that it will continue. Meanwhile, challenger Rosemary Palmer (D-Cleveland) purchased a 1985 Ford Collins school bus and dubbed it the "HopeMobile." Painted "progressive blue" (the theme color of her campaign) and emblazoned with her name and "messages of reclaiming hope," Palmer and husband Paul Schroeder are driving it around the district in an aggressive grassroots outreach campaign.

OH-18: Space (D) Signs Amicus Brief Against D.C. Gun Law - In the "news that makes me cringe" department, Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) continued to build his record as a gun-rights zealot today by announcing that he has signed an amicus brief encouraging the Supreme Court to overturn the comprehensive handgun ban in Washington, DC. “The Supreme Court has the opportunity to right a wrong by reaffirming our Constitutional right to own a firearm,” Space said. “In my mind, and in the minds of the residents of Ohio’s 18th Congressional District, the Second Amendment is absolute, and this court decision has the potential to put this issue to rest. ... The Supreme Court should uphold the Second Amendment, as it was written in black and white – and not yield to the misinterpretations that have compromised the rights of gun owners for decades." Ouch. Meanwhile, David at Ohio Valley Politics has details the new "I Back Zack" fund-raising program -- just $8 per month and you get a tee shirt and an invitation to a private reception.

Frances Strickland and Robert Creamer to Speak at RootsCamp

ProgressOhio Outreach Coordinator Lorraine Bieber has announced via email that Ohio First Lady Frances Strickland will be the morning speaker at RootsCamp on Sunday. She will speak on sustaining Ohio's progressive movement through 2008 and beyond.

The lunch speaker will be Robert Creamer of Americans United For Change, author of the recently-released book Listen to Your Mother: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, with a foreword by Tom Matzzie of MoveOn. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon) is effusive in his praise for this new book:

"If every activist in America read Listen to Your Mother: Stand Up Straight, we could change our country. This book will help bring on the New Progressive Era. It's that good."

Click here to find out more about RootsCamp, which will be held this Sunday, January 13th, from 9:00 to 5:00 at the Riffe Center, 31st Floor, corner of State & High Streets, Columbus, OH 43215. This free event is co-sponsored by Progress Ohio, America Votes, Licking County Pro-Active Citizens, UFCW Local 1059, UAW CAP Council, League of Young Voters, Licking County Democratic Club, Ohio Young Democrats, Ohioans for Democratic Values, Clintonville Community Market, and Licking County Women's Caucus.

Fedor (D) Statement on Leadership Change UPDATED

Via email:

“I am proud of the leadership I have demonstrated as Senate Minority Leader. Over the past year, I have had the pleasure of advancing important legislation, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars, recruiting strong candidates for 2008 and working with one of the finest Governors in our nation. I am proud of all of the hard work and accomplishments the Senate Democratic Caucus has achieved during my tenure as Leader. The job of Minority Leader is often taxing and thankless, but my experience has been one that I will cherish.

“Under my leadership, the Democratic Caucus passed as many bills out of committee and out of the Senate in the past year as it did during the entire two-years prior. Additionally, we were able to pass a nearly unanimous budget that invested in what matters, including a tax cut for one-third of all Ohioans and healthcare coverage for all children. I was also proud to help shepherd through the Governor’s Energy, Jobs & Progress Plan for Ohio which will provide reliable, affordable, and renewable energy to this State for decades to come. Finally, I am most proud of my caucus’ work to ensure a responsive and responsible government for the people of Ohio.

“There are many important issues affecting Ohioans that I have the opportunity to focus on. I look forward to working with Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to fix a flawed election system and continuing my effort with Governor Ted Strickland to create an education-funding system that provides an equal opportunity for all of Ohio’s children.

“As we move into this pivotal time in American politics, I have left a legacy of qualified, dynamic candidates for all 16 of our Senate races this coming year. Our candidates are a cross-section of our state, truly representing the best that Ohio has to offer. I am confident that they will go on to win seats and represent the people of our great state.

News and Notes: General Assembly Races

Some developments of note:

OH House-14: Foley Endorses Wulsin in OH-02 - I noticed that State Rep. Mike Foley (D-Cleveland) is shown on the campaign site of Dr. Vic Wulsin (D-Indian Hill) as endorsing her Congressional bid -- the only public official so listed, despite the fact that his legislative district is 250 miles away. "Dr. Victoria Wulsin has spent her career fighting for health, for justice, for people," Foley is quoted as saying. "As a public health physician, she has succeeded by bringing people together and finding common ground. Her life has been dedicated to public service – and her track record is marked by her leadership in finding innovative solutions to difficult problems." Foley has has a good legislative session, having seen his bill to require prompt filing of title documents for foreclosed properties passed and having been selected for ranking minority member of the Ways and Means committee. He has also worked hard on the lead paint issue and has proposed legislation to impose tougher penalties for attacks on homeless people. Foley faces no primary opposition but will be opposed in the general election by David Morris (R).

OH House-21: Ackerman Withdraws - Paul Ackerman (D-Powell), who is a personal friend, has announced that he has withdrawn his nominating petitions, leaving Jay Perez (D) as the sole contender against first-term incumbent Kevin Bacon (R). Ackerman is to be commended for his efforts. He stepped up when it looked like no other Democrat might file in this district and he worked very hard to get his campaign going. Unfortunately, Ackerman was unfairly criticized in the blogosphere and rudely treated by local party personnel, leaving him feeling very bitter about the experience, which was complicated by the sad passing of his father just a few days ago. In a press release he nevertheless wishes Perez the best of luck in the race and urges his supporters to "continue the work that Governor Ted Strickland has begun" and "work to elect Democrats in 2008," because "Ohio needs to have a new direction."

OH House-45: Otterman Redux - City council member John Otterman (D-Akron) was sworn in yesterday to replace his term-limited father Bob Otterman (D-Akron), who retired to take a job with Summit County. “I’m proud and humbled to serve my hometown of Akron in the State Legislature,” said the younger Otterman. “My father paved a wonderful path for me, and I hope to build my own legacy fighting for better education, access to quality health care and economic development that creates good jobs for Ohioans.” Newly appointed Rep. Otterman had served on Akron City Council since 1992. He is also a community volunteer and a member of the National Semi-Pro Football Hall of Fame. “John’s 16 years of service to his community speaks volumes about his dedication to his constituents,” said Ohio House Democratic Leader Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus). “He’s a great public servant who comes from a great legislative bloodline. We’ll miss Bob, but we’re excited to welcome John into our caucus. He’ll be a strong legislator for Summit County.” Otterman faces a primary chellenge by Brian D. Bardwell (D). Joe M. Fazek (R) has also filed in this district.

OH House-93: Garrison Introduces Sex Offender Bill - State Rep. Jennifer Garrison (D-Marietta) yesterday introduced a bill that would ban the most serious Tier III sex offenders who previously victimized someone age 15 or younger from schools, pre-schools and child day-care facilities in the state of Ohio. Twelve states have similar laws. “It is important for Ohio law to represent policies that protect our children from those who wish to do them harm, and this legislation will work to accomplish that goal,” Garrison said. “There are approximately 14,000 Tier III offenders in Ohio, many of whom prey on children. This bill will protect Ohio’s children when their parents send them off to what is supposed to be a safe haven: their school.” Garrison has no primary opponent. High school student Chelsi Smith (R-New Matamoras) has filed to run against her in the fall.

ODB List of Court of Appeals Candidates

I have added candidates for the Court of Appeals to the ODB 2008 Candidates List. Please let me know if I have left anyone off the list, or any comments or questions. Court of Appeals posts are extremely important, although generally under-reported. Although these are technically nonpartisan races, parties do support candidates and it is vital to get Democratic judges elected.

I have also added a clickable table of contents to the top of the list to help with navigation, and I am working on expanding the list of county officer candidates to all 27 counties with more than 100,000 residents. Any assistance in identifying candidates would be much appreciated.

UPDATE: Nice to hear from Michele DeCresce of Monroe, Ohio, who is heading up the campaign of her husband Bruce Carter for a Court of Appeals judgeship in the 12th District. She pointed out that there are two seats up for election in the district, one newly created and the other vacant due to a retirement, and she provided the link to Carter's campaign web site. Carter is a navy veteran and personal injury attorney with a law degree from the University of Akron and undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Dayton. In his stellar career he has worked to obtain fair compensation for asbestos cancer victims and worked on cases in half a dozen states. He is part of a group of attorneys who have worked to create a compensation fund from Travelers Insurance Company worth over $400 million and has served as co-chair of the Court Appointed Official Creditors’ Committee of the Combustion Engineering bankruptcy, trying to prevent a Swiss parent company from avoiding responsibility for the injuries caused by it's U.S.-based subsidiary.

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