Hamilton County Parties Make Deal to Limit Contested Races

My initial reaction to this is very negative. The Enquirer reports that the county parties have made an agreement to give various county office candidates a free pass. Short version, former congressional and city council candidate Greg Harris (D) will not oppose Clerk of Courts Greg Hartmann (R) in his bid for county commissioner; County Commissioner Todd Portune (D) won't face an endorsed opponent (it would have been Green Township Trustee Tracy Winkler (R)), although he still faces unendorsed opponent Ed Rothenberg (R); and prosecutor Joe Deters (R) and ten Common Pleas Judges will also get a free pass.

This kind of deal-making is part of the asserted basis for the bid by State Sen. Kevin Coughlin (R-Cuyahoga Falls) to unseat Summit County GOP boss Alex Arshinkoff. I'm not very comfortable about aligning myself with Coughlin, and one can recite economies and efficiencies that could be gained by such arrangements, but frankly it strikes me as a dangerous abuse of power. The point of democratic government is for voters to have the opportunity to decide who represents them, and such incursions into that right should ring lots of alarm bells. It's true that individuals can step outside the party system and run as independents, but as a practical matter political parties have a lot of clout - in many cases they can effectively stifle electoral challenges. Let's hope they are not doing too much damage to democracy ideals in this instance. That depends, I suppose, on whether the deal prevents close races that otherwise would have occurred, which is hard to assess.

OH House-54: School Levy Critic Files as Democrat

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that school board member and ardent school levy opponent Arnie Engel of Fairfield has filed nominating petitions to run for the 54th Ohio House District seat of State Rep. Eric Combs (R-Fairfield) as a Democrat. However, he will not be seeking the endorsement of the Demcratic Party, because he has disagreed in the past with party leaders about school tax levies. Engel says that "schools will be my No. 1 issue."

Combs' 2006 opponent Ken Keith (D-Hamilton) is also going to run.

OH-14: Does LaTourette (R) Agree About Staying in Iraq For 100 Years?

Last night Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said it would be just fine with him if the U.S. keeps troops in Iraq for another 100 years:

Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Twp) has endorsed McCain for president. Is LaTourette on board with McCain's century-long military presence in Iraq position? I'm just wondering. Because I'm pretty sure that Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell) wants us to get our troops out. Like the two-thirds of voters who want us out within a year.

PS: I believe that this is the first time that I have had occasion to write about Rep. LaTourette since he complained to the Plain Dealer about my participation in the group blog "Wide Open," resulting in my termination. If he wants to complain to my boss again ... well, that would be me. He can call any time. And then maybe he can tell me his position on U.S. troops still being in Iraq when the two of us are both long dead.

OH-07: Hood (R) Announces Run

The path of anointed successor State Sen. Steve Austria (R-Beavercreek) to succeed his mentor, retiring Rep. Dave Hobson (R-Springfield), just got a LOT rockier, with former state representative Ron Hood (R-Asheville) announcing last night that he is running. Hood's entry brings to four the number of confirmed GOP candidates, the others being attorney and county GOP chair Dan Harkins (R-Springfield) and retired USAF pilot John Mitchel (R-Beavercreek).

The story in today's Dayton Business Journal makes it clear that Hood will run an agressive primary challenge from the right:

"I'm running for Congress because I believe we need to restore the core conservative values of the Republican Party to our state and our country," Hood said in the announcement. "I have always defended life, traditional marriage and the Constitution -- including the Second Amendment." ...

Until mid-October, Hood worked for the National Right To Work Committee, a nonprofit that "combats compulsory unionism" and enlists public support for Right to Work legislation, according to its mission statement.

Ohio Sen. John Carey, R-Wellston, who has endorsed Austria for the U.S. Congress, said Hood is known for running an extremely aggressive campaign, with strong grassroots support from the National Right To Work Committee.

OH Sen-20: Waiting for Shriver (D) and/or Richards (D) to File

ODP Chair Chris Redfern (D-Catawba Island) has indicated that the 20th Ohio Senate District represents one of the Democrats' best pickup opportunities in that chamber, with bankruptcy-plagued incumbent State Sen. Joy Padgett (R-Coshocton) retiring and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) and Gov. Ted Strickland (D) having done well here in 2006. State Rep. Jimmy Stewart (R-Athens) is the GOP candidate, but nobody has yet filed on the Democratic side.

Today, with the 4:00 p.m. filing deadline fast approaching, the suspense is whether it will be Morgan County Commissioner Rick Shriver (D) or 2004 congressional primary contender Paul E. Richards (D-Glouster), or perhaps both. The two have been circulating nominating petitions.

Jim Phillips reports in the Athens News today that Shriver has been heavily recruited by party leaders in Columbus and Washington, including Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) and Gov. Strickland (D). Shriver is president of the county commission and teaches communications at Ohio University in Zanesville. He is also a former Fulbright fellow.

Richards is a union carpenter who won over 22,000 votes in 2004 in the 18th Congressional District, losing the primary to Brian Thomas. He told Phillips that he might not stay in the race if there is to be a primary.

Classy Biden (D) Exit Speech

New front-runner Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) isn't the only one to make a great speech last night. The nine minute farewell address by Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) really was one of the classiest I have ever heard. Poised, sincere, grateful, but proud and inspiring at the same time - truly worth watching. As Biden said, it was a great night to be a Democrat:

OH-02: Bailey (R) Joins Race

According to Politics Extra, Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) has drawn a third primary opponent in Nathan W. Bailey (R), but Google searching reveals nothing about him -- can any readers help?

News and Notes: General Assembly Races UPDATED

Late breaking developments on filing day:

OH House-41: Cole (R) to Oppose Williams (D) - Randy Cole (R-West Akron), who ran unsuccessfully for county council in 2004 and for city council in 2007, will run against State Rep. Brian Williams (D-Akron). President of web site developer GovTech Solutions, Cole said that his "relationships with government, business and community leaders" and his prior experience as an administrator for two county engineers and as a legislative aide and budget analyst in the Ohio General Assembly make him "uniquely qualified to address the important issues" in the district.

OH House-50: Hagan (R) to Run for County Office - Term-limited incumbent John Hagan (R-Marlboro Twp) will run for Stark County Commissioner, while his daughter Cristina runs for his former House seat. She will face a primary challenge from attorney Todd Snitchler (R-Lake Township) and perhaps Lee Strad (R-Pike Township). ODP Chair Chris Redfern (D-Catawba Island) regards this as a top pickup opportunity because the Republican lean of the district is modest (PVI R+3.7) and Strickland and Brown did well here in 2006. The names I've read about on the Democratic side are Adam E. Artimez (D-Lake Township) and Martin Olson (D-Lake Township).

OH-House 54: Keith (D) to Oppose Combs (R) - Ken Keith (D-Hamilton) will run against State Rep. Courtney Combs (R-Fairfield) again, having done well in 2006 by winning 42.84% of the vote in this heavily Republican district (PVI R+12.3).

OH House-55: Klimek (D) Will Run - Political newcomer Anthony Klimek (D) will oppose State Rep. Coley (R-Middletown) in this Republican stronghold (PVI R+16.8).

OH House-63: Nagy (D) Out? - It appears that former legislative aide Doug Nagy (D-Mentor) may have decided not to file, clearing the Democratic field for assistant prosecutor Mark Schneider (D). First-term State Rep. Carol-Ann Schindel (R-Leroy Twp) is apparently unopposed on the GOP side. H/t/ BSB.

OH House-65: Harwood (D) Faces Two Primary Challengers - According to a story today in the Tribune Chroncle, personal injury attorney Mike Harshman (D), well-known locally from his TV commercials, has joined pilot and air reservist John D. Williams (D-Liberty Twp) as challengers to three-term incumbent Sandra Stabile Harwood (D-Niles). Harshman, who is reportedly a close friend and campaign fund-raiser for Attorney General Marc Dann (D-Liberty Twp), had previously expressed interest in the seat when Harwood was mentioned for a judicial post. The GOP candidate is Lyle Waddell (R-Newton Falls).

OH Sen-4: Two Democrats to Oppose Cates (R) - Retired businesswoman Kathryn Bridgman (D-West Chester) has filed to run against incumbent State Sen. Gary Cates (R-West Chester), and Victor Rivera (D-Fairield) is expected to file as well. 4th District is in Butler County in southeast Ohio and includes the 53rd, 54th, and 55th Ohio House Districts, all Republican-held. It leans strongly Republican (PVI R+13).

OH Sen-12: Kaffenberger (I) Will Run - Jack Kaffenberger (I-Rossberg), who ran unsuccessfully against Jim Jordan (R-Urbana) in this district in 2000, has filed to run against State Sen. Keith Faber (R-Celina).

OH-10: Cimperman (D), Other Challengers Raise Big Money Against Kucinich (D)

Mark Naymik posted an eye-popping item on the Openers blog last night about fund-raising in the 10th Ohio Congressional District. He reports that city council member Joe Cimperman (D-Cleveland) has raised $226,000 in just about one month, and Rosemary Palmer (D-Cleveland) has raised about $130,000 since she started campaigning last summer. The other challengers are not quite so flush -- Barbara Anne Ferris (D-Cleveland) has raised about $35,000 and Mayor Tom O'Grady (D-North Olmsted) about $30,000.

That's a total of about $421,000 amassed against Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland), who does not appear to have given his congressional re-election campaign much thought at all. However, Naymik reports that he plans to have a campaign kickoff event at the North Shore AFL/CIO headquarters on Wednesday.

Biden (D) and Dodd (D) Dropping Out

It's a massacre for the second tier. Suddenly we have only the top three plus Bill Richardson, Dennis Kucinich, and Mike Gravel.

Richardson only got 2%, but he did place fourth. From an email message to supporters:

"We made it to the final four," Richardson said. "My staff and volunteers worked their hearts out to get us here. Now we are going to take the fight to New Hampshire."

Turnout among Democrats overall was huge, turnout among young voters was huge, and the message of the evening is the voters overwhelmingly want change.

Obama (D) Scores with Triumphant Speech

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) just amplified his dramatic victory in the Iowa caucuses by giving a soaring, inspiring victory speech reminiscent of his 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote address. Calling for a "coalition for change" and telling Iowa voters that they had sent a message for change and unity, Obama established a visceral connection with his audience and created a powerful sense of history in the making. With the momentum and confidence of this early victory at his back, we may be seeing Obama emerge as the kind of transformational, post-partisan candidate for which many had been hoping:

OH Sen-2: Washburn (D) to File

Board of Education member Sylvia Washburn (D-Maumee) was collecting signatures tonight and plans to file nominating petitions tomorrow to run for the 2nd Ohio Senate District seat of term-limited State Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green). Gardner is expected to be appointed to the vacated 6th Ohio House District seat of Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green), with well-funded State Rep. Mark Wagoner (R-Ottawa Hills) replacing Gardner as state senator.

OH House-28: Incumbent Raussen (R) Pulls Petitions for Hamilton County Office

Today's game of musical chairs among GOP candidates for Hamilton County offices has apparently converted the 28th Ohio House District into an open seat race, as incumbent Rep. Jim Raussen (R-Springdale) has reportedly pulled petitions to run for Hamilton County Clerk of Courts.

Earlier in the day it was reported that the current clerk of courts, 2006 secretary of state candidate Greg Hartmann (R), will run for county commissioner instead of re-election, and current county commissioner Pat DeWine (R) will run for Common Pleas Judge. It was thought that former state senator Patricia Clancy (R) would run for the clerk of courts post. However, it now appears that Rep. Raussen will seek that office, and City Councilman Rick Bryan (R-Blue Ash) will run for state representative in the 28th District.

If so, this development is a huge boost for second-time candidate Connie Pillich (D-Montgomery), who gained an impressive 48% of the vote against Raussen in 2006. With the benefit of name recognition from her prior campaign and running for an open seat instead of against an incumbent, Pillich's bid in the 28th District becomes one of the very best pickup opportunities for the Democratic Party in the Ohio House of Representatives.

OH-05: Weirauch (D) to Run for Henry County Commissioner

Three-time congressional candidate Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon) will pass on the 2008 race against newly-elected Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green). She attended tonight's OH-05 District caucus collecting nominating signatures for Henry County Commissioner, which she will file tomorrow.

Weirauch spoke briefly to the crowd and was very well received by the Party faithful. She was positive, upbeat and optimistic. It was great to see her and her husband Bruce in such good spirits. (She's doing a LOT better than I would be!) We wish her the best in her race and will have more coverage in the days ahead.

Obama (D) Wins Iowa!

CNN has just projected that Obama will win. Youth vote is very heavy.

Clinton is struggling for second, still a point behind Edwards. Whether she squeaks into second or not, the "aura of inevitability" is now officially gone. Either she produces a major comeback in the style of her husband in 1992, or we're looking at a tight three-way race going into New Hampshire and subsequent states.

UPDATE: Taegan Goddard notes that "more than half of caucus goers younger than 29 years old are backing Obama; nearly half those over 65 back Clinton." Wow. That's a huge generational divide.

The Politico says that Dodd, having failed to finish fourth, may announce tomorrow in Hartford that he is dropping out.

2nd UPDATE: EDWARDS WILL FINISH SECOND - Although Edwards and Clinton appear to be tied for second at 10:00 p.m. with 1660 of 1781 precincts reporting, most of the remaining votes are from Johnson County/Iowa City, which figure to be from younger voters and therefore not as good for Clinton as elsewhere:

Obama : 37.30%
Edwards : 29.95%
Clinton : 29.54%

Edwards will hang on for second place, just ahead of Clinton.

3rd UPDATE: FINAL TALLY - At 10:30 p.m., with almost all the precincts reporting, Obama wins by a decisive 7 1/2 point margin (buoyed by strong turnout among young voters) and Edwards edges Clinton for second at about 30% each, with Biden and Dodd failing to attain either double digits or fourth place and therefore likely out of the race:

Obama : 37.52%
Edwards : 29.88%
Clinton : 29.41%
Richardson : 2.09%
Biden : 0.94%
Uncommitted : 0.14%
Dodd : 0.02%

Yellow Dog Sammy Elected as Delegate to Democratic National Convention

That's right. At the 11th Congressional District Caucus tonight, yours truly was elected as a delegate for Sen. John Edwards (D-NC).

Four men and one woman were elected. How many of us get to go will depend on what percentage of the vote Edwards wins in the Ohio primary on March 4th.

Iowa Results

CNN is calling the GOP caucuses for Huckabee. Exit polls indicate that Romney will finish second and Thompson probably third just ahead of McCain. Paul is clobbering Giluliani.

On the Democratic side, it is too close to call, with Edwards, Obama, and Clinton all around 31% to 33% in exit polling.

Here is a link for results from the Iowa Democratic Party.

UPDATE: At 9:30 p.m., with 1369 of 1781 precincts reporting, the Democratic candidates are ranked as follows:

Obama : 35.87%
Edwards : 30.65%
Clinton : 30.44%
Richardson : 1.92%
Biden : 0.98%
Uncommitted : 0.10%
Dodd : 0.03%

Obama is pulling ahead. Edwards and Clinton are way to close to call. It's looking like a lethal night for the Biden and Dodd campaigns.

OH-07: Neuhardt (D) To File Nominating Petitions

Three weeks ago Ohio Daily Blog broke the story that she was considering a run, and tomorrow morning business attorney Sharen Neuhardt (D-Yellow Springs) will make it official. From the press release:

Neuhardt [will file] nominating petitions at the Greene County Board of Elections on Friday morning after collecting more than 150 signatures from voters in the Seventh District.

“I am excited to become a candidate for Congress, and I believe that the fact that I've never run for public office before is an advantage,” Neuhardt said. “People want change and new voices to break the stalemate that exists in Washington. I have a 30 year history of working to do what's right for this region, and of working with community and business leaders to do that without regard to party affiliation.”

Neuhardt, a Democrat, said that her priorities will be working to end the war in Iraq, bringing jobs to the Seventh District, reforming our health care system, and moving the country toward energy independence. “I know how to get things done, how to build consensus, and how to do the right thing. As the representative in Congress for the Seventh District, I'll work with and for the people of the Seventh District to bring about the changes we all know are necessary to get the United States back on the right track,” Neuhardt added.

OH-05: Latta (R) Faces Primary Challenge

Marc Kovac reports on the excellent Capital Blog that two-time Iraq veteran Scott B. Radcliffe (R-Perrysburg) filed to run for Congress in the 5th District today:

“I am honored to be back home and able to seek public office,” said Radcliffe. “As I served in Iraq I kept the people of this great community at the forefront of my mind, and I am here today to continue that service.

“I am running for congress because I am willing to fight for the people of this district and take action when tough choices need to be made. People are tired of politics as usual, and it’s time we move in a new direction.

“Protecting our borders and growing our economy are two of the most important issues if not the most important. On these issues and the others that face our communities, I offer bold leadership and conviction. I will strive to unleash Ohio’s potential to lead the nation on alternative energies and promote business to grow the economy.”

After the bitter and costly special primary election last fall, I'm sure this isn't happy news for newly elected Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green).

That attack on "politics as usual" and call to "move in a new direction" really sounds like 2007 candidate Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon) talking.

Edwards (D) Invokes Two Roosevelts and Truman in Video

In this campaign video posted yesterday, Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) compares his willingness to stand up to wealthy corporations to that of trust-busting Teddy Roosevelt and social welfare champion Franklin D. Roosevelt. He also invokes the great quote from Harry Truman about how instead of "giving them hell" he simply "told the truth and it felt like hell." A strong message:

Richardson (D) to Join Kucinich (D) in Urging Support for Obama (D)

Following the lead of Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland), Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) is reportedly ready to tell his supporters that they should support Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) in the event that there are fewer than 15% of attendees supporting Richardson at their given caucus location (which prevents them going with their first choice). Richardson is polling at about 5% in Iowa. With the race too close to call, second-choice voting is likely to determine the final outcome.

This development could negate any possible Bill Richardson vice presidential bid with Clinton should she prevail, but raises the prospect of an Obama/Richardson ticket. Hm-hmm.

UPDATE: More on the effect of second-choice voting from Josh Marshall here. According to the pollster Zogby, taking second-choice voting into account firms up the likelihood of an Obama-Edwards-Clinton finish.

OH-02: First TV Ad for Wulsin (D) to Air Tonight

Word just in from the campaign of Victoria Wulsin (D-Indian Hill) that she will air the following TV ad on CNN, MSNBC, and CNBC during tonight's coverage of the Iowa caucus results:

Titled "Pledge," the ad has Wulsin promising to refuse Congressional health care "until Congress does its job and passes affordable health care for all.” This pledge follows the example of Gov. Ted Strickland (D) when he was in Congress, and of Sen. Sherrod Brown (D).

In a fund-raising message accompanying the ad, Wulsin says that she has "the expertise and credibility to tackle the health care crisis." Speaking of Strickland's pledge, she says that he "took a bold stand for hard-working Americans without health care coverage. Spiraling medical expenses are hurting businesses and families. The time to ensure affordable, quality health care is long overdue.”

News and Notes: General Assembly Races UPDATED

Interesting newsy bits on those all-important state legislative contests:

OH House-20: Garland Files - Received a tip that Nancy Garland of New Albany, Ohio has filed petitions to run against Rep. Jim McGregor (R-Gahanna). No confirmation yet, but I suspect that this may be the Nancy Garland who is CEO/Executive Director of the Ohio Physical Therapy Association, headquartered in Gahanna. No official word yet on whether financial advisor and 2006 candidate Bev Campbell (D-Gahanna) is running again.

OH House-31: Driehaus Announces - Recreation Commission President Denise Driehaus (D-Price Hill), sister of term-limited incumbent and Congressional candidate Steve Driehaus (D-Price Hill), makes it official. Scott Gehring is her GOP opponent.

OH House-62: Gutierrez to Oppose Fende - Activist Mike Gutierrez (R-Eastlake) has filed with the Secretary of State and set up a web site to run against State Rep. Lorraine Fende (D-Willowick). This district has a slight Republican lean (PVI R+3.2) and figured to be a GOP target, but it does not appear from Gutierrez' web site that he has any prior governmental experience. He writes that he is "in the Employment Industry" and has "worked with non-profit organizations" and "organized hundreds of community members on consumer and environmental issues."

OH House-73: Balcolm May Oppose Goyal - Linda Martz reports in the Mansfield News Journal today that the county GOP has recruited Jim Balcolm to face first-term State Rep. Jay Goyal (D-Mansfield) and are racing to collect petition signatures. I have searched for information on Balcom online and didn't find anything. Goyal was named the 2007 Ohio Young Democrat of the Year and was one of two members of the Ohio House of Representatives selected by a bi-partisan panel to receive a fellowship for the Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development.

News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races

What's going on in those races for the People's House:

OH-02: Yard Sign Party for Wulsin - Pizza and refreshments will be served at a yard sign-assembling party this Saturday, January 5th, at 3:00 p.m. at 7390 Ridgepoint Drive, Apt 11, in Anderson. RSVP to volunteers-at-wulsinforcongress-dot-com.

OH-03: Esrati Petition Signatures Verified - Activist David Esrati (D-Dayton) reports on his campaign blog that the signatures on his nominating petitions have been certified. He also reports hearing that Dr. Mark MacNealy has decided not to enter the race. The other announced opponent to Rep. Mike Turner (R-Centerville) is 2004 candidate Jane Mitakides (D).

OH-04: Jordan Seeks Re-Election to Government He Despises - When Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana) filed to run for re-election, he reportedly said of the federal government that "with the exception of the military, [it's] a big, bureaucratic mess," and about the home foreclosure crisis, "I don't think the federal government stepping in will do anything but make things worse." Tom Spayde of Butler responded with an excellent letter to the editor of the Mansfield News Journal, asking "Why is he in Congress if he isn't going to help ordinary citizens in need?" and concluding that "in the ongoing guns-versus-butter struggle, Jordan clearly believes guns are more important. Next year, isn't it time we elect someone to Congress who has their head screwed on straight and their priorities in line with the people they supposedly serve?" The announced Democratic candidate is Mike Carroll.

OH-05: Hartman Is Not Running - I wrote yesterday that Prof. John Hartman (D) of Bowling Green is circulating petitions, but he has contacted me to say that this is not correct and that he supports Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon). I apologize for the error.

OH-06: Stobbs Was Sheriff And 2006 Primary Candidate - It seems that the opponent to Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-St. Clairsville) is not a political novice. Richard "Dick" Stobbs (R-Dillonvale), a Vietnam veteran, was elected Belmont County Sheriff in 1980 and ran in the 2006 GOP Congressional primary, placing fourth behind Rep. Chuck Blasdel, Tim Ginter, and Danny Harmon with 11.02% of the vote.

OH-07: What About Hood and Neuhardt? - Still no official word on whether former state legislator Ron Hood (R) and Dayton attorney Sharen Neuhardt (D) will file, although both have given every appearance of being serious about running. If they both join the race, it will bring the total of candidates (counting both sides) to at least ten, easily the biggest field in any Ohio congressional race.

OH-08: Only Race Without a Democrat - In 2006 the Democratic candidate was then-73-year-old former Republican retired stock broker Morton Meier (D-Hamilton), but his former campaign site is down. However, Rep. John Boehner (R-West Chester) reportedly has a GOP challenger in press operator Edward Meer (R-Hamilton).

OH-12: Goodwin Announces Run - A press release from the campaign of Navy veteran and former president of the Stonewall Democrats of Central Ohio Russ Goodwin (D-Columbus) today announced that he has filed to run. The candidate's statement:

"I am tired of electing career politicians who have no real understanding of what it means to serve this country. The United States needs a change. We need to put people in office who believe in American Values -- people who are not afraid to fight for what is right.

"Tiberi is completely immersed in Washington politics. I want a system of government that focuses on providing for the citizens of the 12th Congressional District, not a political system that revolves around dollars and cents."

Meanwhile, political newcomer Aaron Dagres (D) earns big points for dedication to the cause. He writes on his My Space blog about campaigning in Utica on December 30th and in St. Louisville on New Years Day, both in Licking County, and meeting the mayors of both communities.

OH-15: Stivers Names Campaign Manager - It's Michael Hartley, who has worked for incumbent Deborah Pryce and was Betty Montgomery's political director in her 2002 and 2006 campaigns. He was also the Ohio political director for Bush in 2004. As expected since Stivers got in, the GOP is bringing in the heavy artillery and this is going to be a very hard-fought race.

OH-16: Three-Way GOP Primary - Talk show host and former Marine Paul Schiffer (R-Canton) has joined State Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-North Canton) and County Commissioner Matt Miller (R-Ashland) to make it a trio in the GOP preliminaries. State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown) appears to be unopposed on the Democratic side. The story describes Shiffer this way:

He's never before held office, but has worked as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., and talks politics on his show, the Schiffer Report, broadcast on the conservative Web site http://www.rightalk.com.

"I feel I know the issues more than anyone in the race," said Schiffer, who often discusses defense and national security on his show.

On his campaign web site, Schiffer takes credit for "getting published" the book "Unfit for Command," a smear job against John Kerry by John O'Neill and Jerome Corsi.

OH-18: Space Awarded "Legislator of the Year" - The Ohio Association of State and County Office Employees gave its “Legislator of the Year” award to Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover), citing his efforts to help membership improve the agriculture industry, working conditions and farm programs. Space incorporated several provisions requested by farmers in the House version of the 2007 Farm Bill. OASCOE represents state and county-level Farm Service Agency employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

On the GOP side, it looks like county endorsements are breaking according to the home territory of the three contenders. Jeannette Moll (R-Zanesville) won the Muskingum County GOP endorsement, Paul Phillips (R-Chillicothe) got the Ross County GOP nod, and Fred Dailey (R-Mount Vernon) was anointed by the Knox County GOP.

Caucus Day!

Caucuses to elect delegates here in Ohio, caucuses on presidential candidates in Iowa. Here are some interesting bits about Iowa:

Todd Previews the Spin - Pundit Chuck Todd previews the post-Iowa spin. For the Dems, Todd calls it a must-win for Edwards and close to a must-win for Obama, with Clinton sticking around no matter what but anything less than second is a "near disaster." For the GOP, a must-win for Huckabee, a much more meaningful win for Romney if he manages it than if Huckabee had not surged, and good news for McCain if he gets at least 15%. Todd says Giuliani is out if he finishes behind Paul, and I think that could easily happen. Thompson appears to be headed for an early exit.

Rothenberg's Thumbnail Portrait of the Dems - "Democrats must decide whether they want a candidate who is angry and confrontational, and who sees those favoring compromise as traitors (Edwards), or a candidate who presents himself as a uniter (Obama), or a candidate who presents herself as someone who understands the ways of Washington and can get things done (Clinton)." Ouch! Guess he doesn't like Edwards much! For me, the more aggressive Edwards we've seen lately makes me like him more -- I thought he was being too nicey-nicey before.

Predictions - Predicted order of finish by Dan Conley at Political Insider: "Edwards, Obama, Clinton, Richardson, Biden, Dodd, Kucinich. And it will be the last state John Edwards ever carries." Taegan Goddard says Evans-Novak Political Report disagrees: "Obama, Edwards, and Clinton ... Romney, Huckabee, Thompson, and McCain."

Polls - The polls have been inconsistent, but the Edwards campaign has sent out a memo with the average of nine polls and it shows a statistical dead heat: Clinton at 28.2%, Obama at 27.5%, and Edwards at 26.3%. The chart of poll averages at Pollster.com shows them about that close as well:

The Des Moines Register poll is highly respected and has Obama ahead by seven points and Huckabee by six. The GOP contenders are close to tied nationally, but in Iowa the polling averages say it's Huckabee and Romney at the top and Paul and Giuliani at the bottom:

This is an amazing chart. Check out Giuliani's collapse (purple), McCain's late rebound (orange), and Huckabee's surge (green).

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