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).

OH-16: Boccieri (D) Filed Petitions Today

The New Philadelphia Times-Reporter has a story about State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown) filing his petitions to run for Congress today. The candidate issued this statement:

“I have spoken with many citizens in the 16th Congressional District over the last several months, and it is clear that we share a desire to change how Washington, D.C., does business. Our families are losing their jobs, they’re losing their homes, and losing their savings from out-of-control gasoline prices and health insurance costs.

“We need a voice in Washington that will say no to bad trade policies that send our jobs overseas. We need a voice in Washington that will say no to the partisanship that divides our country and give special interests an unfair advantage.

“We need a strong voice in Washington that says it’s time to bring our troops home from Iraq safely, honorably and soon. And when they come home after fighting for us, the president and Congress should fight for them so that they have the best care. We need a voice in Washington that will fight for Ohio families and put America first. I would be honored to be that voice.”

News and Notes: Ohio Congressional Races UPDATED

What's going on in our U.S. House contests:

OH-01: Driehaus Assails Chabot on Iran Intelligence - Challenger State Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Price Hill), who filed his petitions the week before Christmas, recently criticized incumbent Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood) after the latter questioned the validity of the National Intelligence Estimate that indicated that Iran suspended its nuclear weapons program four years ago. "I wish he had said the same thing about U.S. intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war, but he seemed to believe the intelligence back then," Driehaus said. A group called Campaign to Defend America recently made robo-calls in the district tying Chabot to Bush and Cheney and saying that they "were wrong about having to bomb Iran, just as they were wrong about invading Iraq."

OH-02: Sinnard Drops Out - The Democratic primary narrowed to a two-way contest between repeat candidate Victoria Wulsin (D-Indian Hill) and Steve Black (D-Indian Hill) as third-time primary candidate Jeff Sinnard (D) dropped out and filed to run for the 34th Ohio House District seat of term-limited State Rep. Tom Brinkman (R-Cincinnati) instead.

OH-04: Carroll to Oppose Jordan - Mike Carroll (D-Mansfield), an Education, Training & Personal Development Coordinator for AK Steel who is a veteran of the Ohio Air National Guard and a member of the United Steelworkers, will run against freshman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana).

OH-05: Mays Files Petitions - Karaoke salesman George F. Mays (D-Norwalk) has filed petitions to run against Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green). Mays lost to three-time candidate Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon) in the 2007 Democratic Special Primary, but won 27.88% of the vote. Weirauch has pulled petitions but so far has not filed. Others have pulled petitions but we have conflicting reports as to whether they will file or not.

OH-06: Wilson Files - Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-St. Clairsville) filed petitions to run for re-election last Thursday. Hopefully he has enough valid signatures this time; his petitions were rejected for the 2006 primary, but he won as a write-in candidate. Deputy Recorder Richard Stobbs (R-Dillonvale), who lost in the 2006 GOP primary to then-House Speaker Chuck Blasdel (R-East Liverpool), is the GOP candidate.

OH-10: Kucinich Autobiography Not Selling - Presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland), who yesterday told his Iowa supporters to go with Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) as their second choice if they can't cast their ballots for him, is having a dispute with the publisher of his autobiography, which reportedly has sold only 500 copies in two months.

OH-11: Three Possible GOP Challengers - Three Republicans have pulled petitions to challenge incumbent Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland): businessman Robert E. Saffold (R-Shaker Heights), who won 19.4% of the vote in a four-way GOP primary in 1998 and ran unsuccessfully for the Republican State Central Committee in 2002; Gerald Sexton (R-Cleveland Heights), who considered running for school board in 2007; and Dan Reily (R).

OH-13: Sutton Draws Weak Opponent - This was a hotly contested district when it was an open seat in 2006, but the only opponent so far for Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Township) is Frank Chestney, owner of an Arthur Treachers chain restaurant in Parma Heights. Interestingly, Chestney seems to be running primarily as an opponent of the war in Iraq, an issue on which he and Sutton agree. He plans to run a "simple campaign" and will accept no donations.

OH-14: Blanchard May Run - Accountant Dale Virgil Blanchard (D-Solon), who was the 2002 Democratic challenger to Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Township), lost the 2004 Democratic primary to Capri Cafaro (D-Hubbard), and lost the Democratic primary to Lew Katz (D-Pepper Pike) in 2006, has pulled petitions to run this year. The announced Democratic candidate is former appellate judge and Ohio Supreme Court candidate Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell).

OH-15: Sexist Comment by Stivers - Ecch. Here's a disgusting little tidbit about GOP candidate State Sen. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington):

The state champion girls volleyball team of Mercy High School in Cincinnati was in the Senate chamber recently to receive a resolution recognizing their accomplishment. They had gathered around State Sen. Eric Kearney, D-Cincinnati, causing fellow Sen. Steve Stivers, R-Columbus, to comment that Kearney “attracts all the attractive women.”

Reminded that he had just returned from his honeymoon after marrying the former Karen Tabor two weeks earlier, Stivers backpedaled. “I’m allowed to window shop, just not buy,” he said.

Terrific. Women as commodities. And he's running against a woman, Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus).

OH-16: Attacks on Boccieri Revealed - A few weeks ago State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown) sent out a fund-raising appeal that cited unidentified "Swift Boat" attacks on his military record. Bloggers Jill Miller Zimon and Pho identify the attacker as the anonymous blogger at Stark Politics, via this opinion piece in the Canton Repository. GOP candidate State Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-North Canton) is quoted in the piece as condemning the attacks.

OH-17: Ryan (D) May Be Unopposed - Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles) filed to run for his fourth term last Friday, but lone challenger Duane Grassell (R-Mogadore) had to withdraw when the petitions he filed Wednesday were found to be defective. Grassell is reportedly undecided about whether to refile, and local GOP official Mark Munroe concedes that they have no back-up plan at this point.

OH-18: Space Rejects VA Findings Against New Facility - Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) this past weekend flatly rejected the results of a VA feasibility study that he requested following a joint a House-Senate VA field hearing conducted earlier this year in conjunction with Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Avon). The study found insufficient need for a new VA hospital in southeastern Ohio. "This study is an injustice, and it misses the point," said Space. "The VA in Washington should send representatives to our region to hear what I hear time and time again from veterans as I travel my district. Veterans are fed up with the distances they must travel to receive care. Many of our nation’s heroes elect to go without services simply because they cannot afford the price or time it takes to travel to a VA facility. That's unacceptable.”

News and Notes: General Assembly Races

New developments in statehouse contests:

OH House-6: No Free Pass for Gardner - Attorney Andrew R. Schuman (R-Bowling Green) and businessman Brian P. Burns (R-Rossford) have joined State Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) in submitting applications to be appointed to replace Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) in order to run as an incumbent. Former city council member Jeff Bretz (D-North Baltimore) is the Democratic candidate.

OH House-10: Miller Introduces Bill on Abandoned Buildings - First-term State Rep. Eugene Miller (D-Cleveland) introduced legislation Monday that requires restoration or eradication of abandoned properties that sit within 1,000 feet of a school building. “These types of nuisance properties are eyesores that represent a danger to our children,” Miller said. “In some cases, tearing them down is the practical answer to creating safer environments near our schools and promoting new economic and residential development in areas that sorely need it.” The bill would allow a local board of education to file a complaint with the Court of Common Pleas about an abandoned property, alleging that the property constitutes a nuisance detrimental to the mission of a nearby school and the safety of its students. If the court finds for the district, the board may be entitled to demolish or repair the property.

OH House-11: Elkins May Run - City council member Trevor Elkins (D-Newburgh Heights) has pulled petitions to challenge State Rep. Sandra Williams in this heavily Democratic district. Elkins was briefly a candidate for Ohio Senate in 2006. Darnell Brewer (D) and Ivan Williams (D) have also pulled petitions, but so far only the incumbent has filed.

OH House-18: Patten Receives County Party Endorsement - Matt Patten (D) received the endorsement of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party in the race to succeed term-limited State Rep. Tom Patton (R-Strongsville), who is running for Ohio Senate. Petitions have also been pulled by 2006 primary foes John M. Celebrezze (D-North Royalton) and former congressman Ron Mottl (D-North Royalton). Term-limited State Sen. Bob Spada (R-North Royalton) is the GOP candidate.

OH House-19: Fundraiser for Harris - A host of elected officials including State Treasurer Richard Cordray, House Minority Leader Joyce Beatty, Rep. Ted Celeste, Rep. Dan Stewart and Rep. Tracy Heard will host a a fundraiser for Marian Harris (D-Columbus) on Wednesday, January 30th, from 5:30 to 8:00 pm at Club 185, 185 E. Livingston Avenue, in Columbus. Suggested Donation is $100. RSVP to mharris-at-marianforohio-dot-com.

OH House-21: Former Judicial Candidate May Run - Jay G. Perez, who ran unsuccessfully for judicial posts in Franklin County in 2005, 2006, and 2007, has pulled petitions to run for state representative. As reported here, Perez challenged appointed incumbent Patsy Thomas (D) in a Municipal Court race last fall and then withdrew, but his name was still on the ballot and he got 8% of the vote. That maneuver contributed to Thomas' narrow loss to David Tyack (R), who was also the beneficiary of name confusion (there are two Tyacks already on the bench). Paul Ackerman (D-Powell), who is my friend and sometime colleague, is the only Democratic candidate to file in this district to date.

OH-House-28: Pillich Files - Howard Wilkinson has a nice bit on the Politics Extra blog about attorney and U.S. Air Force veteran Connie Pillich (D-Montgomery) filing to repeat her challenge against State Rep. Jim Raussen (R-Springdale). Pillich won 48% of the vote in 2006 and as Wilkinson says, "if there is a district in southwest Ohio that is likely to draw special attention from the Democratic party, it is probably this one."

OH House-34: Sinnard In; 3-Way GOP Primary - In the contest to replace controversial term-limited State Rep. Tom Brinkman (R), civil engineer and repeat Congressional primary candidate Jeff Sinnard (D) will take on the winner of a three-way primary between lawyers Peter Stautberg (R-Anderson Township) and Gregory Delev (R-Anderson Township) and township trustee Russ Jackson (R-Anderson Township).

OH House-82: Sharrock (D) Opposes McClain (R) - The Bucyrus Telegraph Forum reports that former director of Crawford County Job and Family Services Wanda Sharrock (D-Bucyrus) will oppose Jeffrey A. McClain (R-Upper Sandusky) for the seat of term-limited State Rep. Steve Reinhard (R-Bucyrus), who is running for Ohio Senator in the 26th District.

OH House-92: Contest Profiled in Athens News - This is a nice article in the Athens News last week, analyzing this high-priority contest between city council member and repeat candidate Debbie Phillips (D-Athens) and County Auditor Jill Thompson (R-The Plains). Reporter Nick Claussen interviewed me and Republican blogger Scott Pullins extensively for the story.

OH Sen-24: Three Pull Petitions to Oppose Patton - Three possible Democratic candidates have pulled petitions to oppose State Rep. Tom Patton (R-Strongsville), who has already filed. One is Patton's 2006 challenger for state representative, retired school administrator John M. Celebrezze (D-North Royalton). Another is school board member Joanne DiCarlo (D-North Olmsted), co-founder of a non-profit called "North Olmsted League for Education of the Gifted," or NOLEDGE. The third is Maureen M. Sweeney, about whom I have been unable to dig up any information.

OH Sen-26: Reinhard Still In - I have been wondering if term-limited State Rep. Steve Reinhard (R-Bucyrus) still intends to oppose Karen Gillmor (R-Dublin) for the seat of term-limited Larry Mumper (R-Marion), since he announced his intention to run before the widow of the deceased congressman got into the race, but this story in the Bucyrus Telegraph Forum appears to confirm that he is running.

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