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News, analysis, and comments on Ohio elections.
My blogging operations have been transferred to Ohio Daily Blog.
My Geauga County friends Terry and Janet Carson went to Tuesday night's Indians game with John Hazley and a special guest:
Today was the final day for filing election petitions in Wood County for the November 6th special primary elections in the 5th Ohio Congressional District. Subject to verification of petition signatures, the candidate list looks like this (h/t CQ Politics):
I've been trying to keep track as the number of Democrats calling on Republicans to condemn Rush Limbaugh's reprehensible remark on Wednesday that U.S. military personnel returned from Iraq who criticize the war are "phony soldiers." (Limbaugh also called Vietnam veteran Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) "Senator Betrayus" back in January.) Here is a scorecard:
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Chair of the DCCC - "It minimizes the sacrifice our troops in Iraq and their families are making and has no place in the public discourse. Rush Limbaugh owes our military and their families an apology for his hurtful comments that minimize their service to our country."
In a new poll just out from Fox News, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) has a big (and growing) lead over three major GOP contenders in head-to-head matchups (parenthetical numbers are from July):
A few days ago Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Township) joined a group of 24 House members in signing a "bipartisan compact on the Iraq debate," which they call a pledge designed to reduce political infighting and promote a "bipartisan solution." Among other things, the document states that cutting funding for troops in Iraq would endanger service members, future military involvement in Iraq requires a "clearly defined and measurable mission," the Iraqi government must steer Iraq's future course, and U.S. troops must have adequate recuperation between deployments.
"I agree that bipartisan efforts are the only way we are going to get our troops out of harm's way. But this compact appears to be nothing more than empty words in lieu of action - an attempt to put a happy face on what has become a foreign policy disaster.
An article published yesterday by McClatchy Newspapers' Washington Bureau says that new voting laws in Ohio and Florida could dampen Democratic voting in 2008, and the part about Ohio contains a hair-raising warning from Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (D).
Backers of the new laws say they're aimed at curbing vote fraud. But the statutes also could facilitate a controversial Republican tactic known as "vote caging," which the GOP tried in Ohio and Florida in 2004 before public disclosures foiled the efforts, said Joseph Rich, a former Justice Department voting rights chief in the Bush administration who's now with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights.Later it gets into the comments by Brunner:
Caging, used in the past to target poor minorities in heavily Democratic precincts, entails sending mass mailings to certain voters and then using the undelivered letters to compile lists of voters for eligibility challenges.
In Ohio, which swung the 2004 election to Bush, new Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner said in a phone interview that an election law passed last year and signed by former Republican Gov. Bob Taft effectively "institutionalized" vote caging.
Kudos to Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) and Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Township) for continuing to take the lead on legislation to address the continuing mortgage crisis.
Salon's Washington Bureau Chief Walter Shapiro has an article out that explains in straight-forward terms why Democrats in Congress can't end the war -- they don't have enough votes to override a veto, and Republicans won't join them in opposing it. Here is the end of the article, the last paragraph of which really jumped out at me:
With Congress slated to adjourn in mid-November, the clock is fast running out on legislative efforts to reshape the war. Symbolic gestures like "sense of the Senate" resolutions and toothless withdrawal plans -- even if they survive a filibuster -- are unlikely to cow the administration, especially next year when Bush has less than a year left in the Oval Office. Democrats in swing districts will be even more reluctant to engage in a scorched-earth battle with the administration over war funding as the congressional elections draw near.
But the date that is most important to keep in mind is Feb. 6, the morning after the Super-Duper Party-Pooper orgy of primaries when both parties are likely to have de facto presidential nominees. The victorious Democrat in particular will want nothing to happen in Congress that could possibly jeopardize winning back the White House. And congressional leaders (along with most back-benchers) will be shrewd enough to understand that electing a Democratic president is the only surefire route to ending this debilitating war.
That is why angry antiwar activists should realize that their targets are no longer skittish congressional Democrats and Beltway insiders who are their counselors in caution. This is not the moment for guerrilla theater and mau-mauing the moderates. For the true struggle on the home front to end the Iraq war is no longer going to be waged in the chambers of Congress. The coming battleground instead is the familiar terrain of Ohio and Florida -- and the hearts and minds of the swing voters who will decide the 2008 election.
A reader in Wood County informs me that Tiffin University administrator Mike Grandillo (D-Tiffin) has decided against running in the special primary election. However, petitions have been filed by Dr. Earl Campbell (D-Perrysburg), and there are reports that George F. Mays (D-Norwalk) may also file, so it appears that there will be a Democratic primary.
There have been four or five potential Republican candidates under discussion in the comment thread to this post, but meanwhile the Toledo Blade has reported that on two new announced candidates, neither of them a familiar name. Michael J. Reynolds (R-Columbus Grove) is a retiree who misspelled the deceased Congressman's name as "Gilmore" in his campaign announcement, and Mike Smitly (R-Van Wert) is a business consultant who is actually a Libertarian.
What's going on today in the state whose width (220 miles) is the same as its height (220 miles):
Democratic primary challenger Rosemary Palmer (D-Cleveland) lost no time in lambasting Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) for his mystifying vote against extension and expansion of SCHIP health insurance coverage for children:
I was appalled by Congressman Kucinich’s vote against the State Children’s Health Insurance Program on the House floor tonight. This bill would have expanded an already successful program to provide health insurance to millions of children across the country. It takes some twisted logic for someone who claims to support health care coverage for all to oppose this necessary and overdue move in the right direction.
On one hand, President Bush vows to veto the bill, and on the other, Dennis Kucinich votes against it because he doesn’t think it is perfect. This is a perfect example of what is presently wrong with Washington decision-making. Polarizing positions work against functional compromise resulting in a government that cannot serve in the nation’s best interest. While fringe politicians like President Bush and Congressman Kucinich rant like petulant children, the nation remains stagnant and desperately needing effective leadership. Unfortunately, children in Northeast Ohio and around the country will pay the price for their obstinate actions.
The House-Senate compromise bill to extend and expand SCHIP (H.R. 976, House Vote #906) passed tonight by a broad bipartisan majority of 265-159, with 45 Republicans voting "Yes" and 8 Democrats voting "No." Unfortunately, that is 24 votes short of the 2/3 majority needed to override the threatened presidential veto.
Some interesting news items from the state whose highest point is Campbell Hill, 1550 feet above sea level:
Some of what's happening today in the state that fought a boundary war with Michigan in 1835 over the "Toledo Strip":
In a piece in the Washington Post by Chris Cillizza and Shailagh Murray yesterday, the authors include Rep. Dave Hobson (R-Springfield) and Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Navarre) in a list of six GOP House members "who might bow out over the coming weeks and months." They also comment that "the sudden recent death of Rep. Paul Gillmor, a 20-year home-state colleague, could help tip the balance for" Hobson, and that Regula's "primary opponent invited Regula supporters to an upcoming fundraiser."
It's Sunday evening and I thought I'd clear out the feed reader - so here's a sampling of what's going on in the state whose name is derived from the Seneca word ohi:yo', meaning beautiful river:
I have received an email from a reader in the eastern part of the 5th Congressional District who confirms an anonymous commenter's report that former State Rep. Rex Damschroder (R-Fremont) has decided not to run. He goes on to say that because of that decision, and a local desire to have a candidate from the eastern portion of the district, there is a movement underway to get one of the following three people to jump into the race:
* State Rep. Jeff Wagner (R-Sycamore), a farmer, who can only run one more time due to term limits;Any of these candidates would have an uphill battle in the primary, but would carry a lot of votes in the eastern part of the district, and that could tilt the race from State Rep. Bob Latta (centrally located in Bowling Green) toward State Sen. Steve Buehrer (from the western town of Delta).
* Mayor Terry Overmyer (R-Fremont), a businessman who is the longest-serving mayor in Fremont's history; and,
* Three-term Sandusky County Commissioner Brad Smith (R-Fremont), an attorney, who worked for the Ohio House Republican Campaign Committee under JoAnn Davidson and has served as a City Councilman and an prosecutor.
House and Senate leaders are negotiating a compromise bill to extend and expand the S-CHIP program, which allows children in certain low-to-middle income families to enroll in Medicaid. (The popular program will expire in ten days without Congressional renewal.) The compromise bill reportedly would permit states to extend the program to families with incomes up to 300% of the federal poverty level, sufficient to permit Ohio to go ahead with the plans reflected in the recently passed state budget.
Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), quoted in a piece by blogger Taylor Marsh, says what I wish Democratic leaders would say:
"I commend MoveOn for their ad and for speaking truth to power," said Stark. "Up is not down, the earth is not flat, and the surge is not working. General Petraeus betrayed his own reputation by standing with George Bush in opposition to the timely withdrawal of all of our brave men and women from Iraq. I thank MoveOn for their patriotic ad and call on Petraeus to help Bush end a war the President should have never started."
A few weeks ago I spoke with Michael Todd (D-Medina Township) about his campaign for the 22nd Ohio Senate seat of term-limited Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster). Todd is an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Summit County and a Township Trustee for Medina Township. He is also a member of the Ohio Democratic Party State Central Committee. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the Case Western Reserve University School of Law. He will face the winner of the GOP primary, for which State Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Lakeville) and State Rep. Jim Carmichael (R-Wooster) are declared candidates.
The Columbus Dispatch blog The Daily Briefing reported yesterday that Karen Gillmor (R-Dublin), widow of Rep. Paul Gillmor (R), will not run in the special election in the 5th Ohio Congressional District. However, the same item reports that State Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R-Napoleon) is circulating petitions, and Right Angle Blog posted an announcement from Wachtmann yesterday that he is making an announcement today in Henry County,
I'm "turning over the mic" to a reader who sent me this message about yesterday's political stunt by the GOP:
[T]he reason this has caused me to taste my own bile so bitterly this afternoon is it shows that this is the kind of pathetic b*llsh*t that our Senate has time for--perhaps being of the view that we have no domestic or international policy problems that we should actually be worried about.
This is absurd and outrageous. In an act of ideological posturing, the GOP has engineered a Senate resolution condemning MoveOn.org for an act of pure political speech, i.e., its newspaper ad criticizing Gen. David Petraeus on the eve of his Congressional testimony in support of staying the course in Iraq. Sen. George Voinovich (R) voted in favor of the resolution, of course. Twenty-two Democrats joined the GOP, but to his great credit Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) voted against.
The folks at Open Left may be targeting Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) with their misguided "Bushdog" campaign, based on his votes for funding Iraq without a withdrawal deadline and for amending FISA, but he can definitely count on my support. Space comes out strong on many critical progressive issues relating to the economy, health care, and energy policy, and this reaction to Bush's threatened veto of Congressional action to continue and expand the S-CHIP program (which provides Medicaid coverage to children in middle-to-lower income families that don't qualify for Medicaid directly) is a great example:
“Instead of doing the right thing by signing the legislation and protecting the coverage of millions of children, President Bush is compromising the health and safety of our children just as they are starting their lives. The President has essentially told them that they must start their lives on the wrong foot.Read the rest of this post at my new location, Ohio Daily Blog.
Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon) and Steve Buehrer (R-Delta) have officially announced that they are running in the special election in the 5th Ohio Congressional District. From Weirauch's campaign site:
Pledging to uphold conservative values, State Sen. Steve Buehrer launched a congressional campaign for Ohio's Fifth District this morning at the Fulton County Courthouse.
"The solutions to our problems are not far away in marble buildings in Washington," Mr. Buehrer said. "They are here in the common sense wisdom of the heartland."
On the issue of Iraq, Mr. Buehrer said Congress should not attempt to "armchair quarterback" the war but allow the generals on the ground to implement their strategies.
Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley) has sent out a press release with more from her floor speech in support of H.R. 1852, passed by the House on Tuesday. The legislation would "revitalize" the Federal Housing Administration by increasing the range of borrowers eligible for FHA mortgage reinsurance and making other changes, including providing for financial counseling for borrowers and emergency housing grants. As Sutton notes, 1 in 10 Ohio homeowners with a mortgage is at least a month behind on payments, and 1 in 4 with a subprime loan is delinquent or in foreclosure. Here are her remarks on the floor:
The American Dream is in peril for many families in this country as foreclosures rise and dreams shatter. The American Dream means owning a home, belonging to a community, and being able to provide a safe and stable place for our families. But for too many families, that dream can be a nightmare when predatory lending practices and a complacent government get in the way. We in Congress can help working families take steps toward achieving the American dream, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.Read the rest of this post at my new location, Ohio Daily Blog.
Ohio's place in the forefront of the mortgage foreclosure crisis highlights the larger issue of predatory lending in general. Abusive practices by lenders can lure or steer borrowers into loans with unnecessarily high interest rates or unfavorable terms, and some of the terms that lenders stick into loans simply ought to be banned.
Wow. Evan Smith and Paul Burka of Texas Monthly have each posted notes on comments made by Mark Halperin in Austin, Texas two nights ago. Halperin was political director at ABC News and creator of the insanely popular (among political junkies, anyway) internet site "The Note." Halperin was full of ideas and insights about the presidential race, so you have to go and read the full posts, but here are a few tidbits:
* Fred Thompson is toast. McCain, by contrast, should not be written off yet.Read the rest of this post at me new location, Ohio Daily Blog.
* Clinton's strength as a candidate is that she's learned from both her husband and George W. how to run a campaign.
Sen. George Voinovich has repeatedly talked the talk on changing the Bush administration's stay the course/endless war handling of Iraq, but once again he rejected an opportunity to vote where his mouth is. Last night he joined all but six Republican members of the U.S. Senate in obstructing a proposed amendment by Sen. James Webb (D-VA) that would have required troops spend as much time at home training with their units as they spend deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan.
I just received an email from the office of Ohio Senate Democratic Leader Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), indicating that Gov. Ted Strickland has presented to the Senate Clerk his energy bill:
The bill will be introduced “by request” sometime in the next several days. Energy, Jobs and Progress provides much-needed transparency, accountability and consumer protections to Ohio’s system of electric utility oversight. The proposal also will stimulate job growth and protect Ohio’s air and water, generating 25% of electricity consumed by Ohioans through alternative sources such as wind, solar and clean coal by the year 2025.
Just returned from a five-day trip to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-St.Clairsville) didn't see anything to change his mind about calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq within six months. In fact, Wilson told the Youngstown Vindicator that Iraq is a "surreal situation":
While traveling in Baghdad, Wilson said there were deep craters in the roads caused by explosives. Also, he said, the number of suicide bombers is on the rise.Quoted in a related article, Wilson adds:
“There’s a real sense you have to be on guard in Iraq,” he said.
Wilson went to Iraq to see if there is any progress being made and to see if there’s a reason for a continued presence there of U.S. troops. Wilson couldn’t find a reason to continue to put U.S. soldiers in a dangerous and deadly situation.
Wilson estimates it would take at least 10 years to restore order to Iraq.
“That’s 10 years too long,” he said.
"...We don't have the time or the resources [to remain in Iraq.] The president is calling for more money and more patience, but there's no political progress. There's no reason to do this for another 10 years."Wilson voted for troop withdrawal in April, and will have another opportunity to do so shortly.
A Strategic Vision poll released today shows former mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NY) with a 13 point lead over newly announced rival and former senator Fred Thompson (R-VA):
Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Township) spoke on the House floor today in support of H.R. 1852, a measure that would modernize and expand the role of the Federal Housing Administration in guaranteeing mortgage loans. Under the new rules, the FHA could guarantee refinanced mortgages loans for tens of thousands of borrowers who face delinquency due to interests rates resetting to sharply higher levels under adjustable rate mortgage loans with low introductory "teaser" rates:
"The American dream is in peril for many families in this country as foreclosures rise and dreams shatter," Rep. Betty Sutton, a Democrat from Ohio, a state particularly hard-hit by the default wave, declared in House debate on the measure.This is the first stand-alone bill by Congress in response to the mortgage lending crisis. In addition to changing the formula for determining eligibility for FHA mortgage insurance, it would also make funds available for financial counseling and provide grants for affordable housing. It also eliminates the statutory ceiling on the number of reverse mortgages that the FHA can guarantee.
She called the legislation, which backers say could help an estimated 250,000 families, "a bold step forward on what is going to be a long road to fix this broken system."
Hoping to build a bipartisan consensus, Sen. George Voinovich (R) will announce this afternoon what he considers a compromise plan for Iraq. His draft resolution calls for a "responsible reduction in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq" but states that "the withdrawal of U.S. troops cannot be precipitous and the U.S. will be engaged in Iraq for the foreseeable future." In other words, a few soldiers come home but basically the occupation continues indefinitely.
A few months before last year's election, Sherrod Brown (D) dismayed his progressive supporters by voting for the Military Commissions Act. Subsequently, and to his great credit, he has acknowledged that the vote was a mistake. This week he has a chance to help rectify the error by voting for S. 185, the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act, which will restore the right of habeas corpus to non-citizens caught up in the Bush administration's program of indefinite detention of persons declared to be enemy combatants. This move is essential to restore our moral standing in the world and to protect against the erosion of our fundamental constitutional rights.