Ohio2006 Blog

News, analysis, and comments on Ohio elections.

Wednesday, March 29

Cong. OH-6th: Wilson (D) Goes for Broke

State Senator Charlie Wilson (D-St. Clairsville), pictured, having resorted to write-in status after failing to submit enough valid signatures for the May 2 primary ballot, is pouring all his resources into persuading Democrats to cast write-in votes in his favor, and educating them how to do it. The latest step by the Wilson campaign is to advertise for door-to-door canvassers, as related by the UAPA Blog here, based on a report in the Youngstown Vindicator that is trumpeted with glee on the National Republican Congressional Committee website:

"The ads ran for four days through Sunday and states the jobs currently would run through May 2, the day of the primary. The ad states canvassers could earn up to $1,500. That monetary amount is for working six days a week for six or seven hours a day for the next five weeks, [campaign manager Jason] Burke said. That's about $7 to $8 an hour. 'Enjoy the sunshine, and help make history by getting Charlie Wilson written in this May!' the ad reads."
Wilson had $437,000 cash on hand at the end of 2005, while his primary opponents have apparently not raised the $5,000 minimum required to trigger FEC filing requirements. Those opponents, profiled in the Athens News here, are frankly not credible alternatives by a long shot. John Luchansky (D-Poland) is an out-of-work truck driver who gained a few hundred votes as a write-in candidate against current gubernatorial candidate Rep. Ted Strickland (D-Lisbon) in 2004. Asked what issues prompted him to run, Luchansky cited his personal antagonism against Strickland:

"'I had written Rep. Strickland for some help on some legal matters that I had, and he didn't help me the way I wanted him to,' Luchansky said. Records with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio indicate that Luchansky filed a $3 million civil-rights lawsuit against the village of Poland in March 1997, which he apparently lost when the court granted judgment in favor of the defendants."
Bob Carr (D-Wellsville) is an historic preservation specialist who moved to Ohio recently after an unsuccessful Congressional campaign as an upstart Republican (he ousted the preferred candidate in the primary) in Michigan in 1996. Carr switched parties in 2000, citing hostility on the part of the Michigan Republican establishment. He is in trouble with the Columbiana County prosecutor, to whom the Board of Elections referred a complaint by opponent Luchansky that Carr has been passing himself off as the former Democratic Congressman Bob Carr, also of Michigan. (Luchansky also questioned Carr's mental competence to run for office.) The Youngstown Vindicator published a story misidentifying him as the former Congressman, which it later corrected, and John Payne, director of the Columbiana County Board of Elections, has also said that Carr identified himself as a former congressman when dropping off his nominating petitions. When Carr speaks it is apparently a rambling mish-mosh of confusing anecdotes and self-aggrandizement. In his remarks to the Athens News reporter he managed to insinuate that he might be the illegitimate son of former Presidential candidate Thomas E. Dewey, claimed that he knew in advance that Wilson would fail to qualify for the ballot, and bragged that he is a political "superstar" and the "other guys don't stand a chance."

Against this low caliber of competition, the Wilson camp thinks the write-in campaign is a winner. Wilson, who has a degree in mortuary science and operates a funeral and furniture business along with a realty firm, has served two years as a State Senator and eight as a State Representative. In a mid-January poll, Wilson led Blasdel 42% to 26%. Wilson is counting on his name recognition and his claimed similarity of viewpoint with incumbent Strickland to rally Democratic voters to support his write-in campaign. Matt of Lincoln Logs Blog quotes poll results touted by Wilson as follows:

"Among the 56% of Democratic primary voters who recognize his name, Senator Wilson is literally revered: 76% positive (including 48% 'very positive') vs. just 6% (!) negative. ... Small wonder, then, that Senator Wilson dominates the Democratic primary trial heat: 50% Wilson, 7% 'Bob Carr,' 2% John Luchansky, 41% undecided."
However, the Republican establishment and the front-runner among Republican candidates, Ohio House Speaker Rep. Charles Blasdel (R-East Liverpool), see an opportunity to dump Wilson before the general election campaign even begins, and they are going to put everything they've got into it. Already Vice President Dick Cheney (R-Undisclosed Location) has visited the district to raise money for Blasdel (video coverage is here), and the National Republican Congressional Committee has been putting out the word that they have devastating opposition research about Wilson's personal and professional history. Instead of using it in the general election, the Republicans will begin their smear campaign now, hoping to dissuade Democrats from casting write-in votes for Wilson on May 2. To date, the negative information revealed about Wilson concerns an incident in the 1980s while he was in charge of a wastewater treatment commission, and apparently permitted an improper release of untreated sewage. Wilson has acknowledged wrongdoing in the affair, and it did not derail his election as State Senator. If there is more ammunition in the Republican character assassination arsenal, it has not yet been revealed.

UPDATE: When I posted this entry this morning I was in a hurry because my laptop battery was about to give out, and I left out a few key points.

My source when talking about the NRCC gloating about opposition research on Wilson is this piece in the Washington Post "blog" The Fix, to wit:

"NRCC aides have long promised that elements of Wilson's professional and personal past will come to light in the campaign and effectively disqualify him in the eyes of voters. ... The NRCC ... has a proven record of using opposition research to dismantle Democratic candidates (Jim Humphreys, Linda Chapin and Champ Walker jump immediately to mind), and operatives at the committee insist that Wilson has never before experienced the onslaught of paid media that will be unleashed on him between now and May 2."
Also, a discussion of mudslinging in the 6th District race would be incomplete without mentioning the recent brouhaha about non-payment of taxes. As detailed in this story in the Steubenville Herald-Star, Wilson's campaign started the fracas by publicizing the fact that Blasdel recently bounced a $542.68 check for property taxes in Columbiana County, commenting "We say (Blasdel) sounds like a perfect Republican, fiscally irresponsible and a deficit spender." Blasdel's camp fired back with a nine-year-old incident: in 1997 Wilson's business, the Wilson Funeral and Furniture Co. of Bridgeport, was sued by the state for a delinquent corporate franchise tax bill and eventually had to pay a delinquent tax fine of $1,007.19. The reply by Wilson's spokesperson: "It was an accounting error. It was one time in 108 years of business. At least the check did not bounce." Seems like that round was a draw, many more sure to come.

SECOND UPDATE: The Republican smear campaign has begun, as reported in The Fix as follows:

"2. Ohio's 6th District: As expected, national Republicans are going all out to keep state Sen. Charlie Wilson (D) off the ballot this November following the Democrat's inability to secure the 50 signatures necessary to qualify for the May 2 primary ballot. The National Republican Congressional Committee spent $90,000 on an ad this week detailing Wilson's role in raw sewage being dumped into the Ohio River. Wilson is responding with an ad in which he casts himself as an opponent of President Bush and Ohio Gov. Bob Taft and urges viewers to reject 'Republican distortions.' Wilson's campaign is also sponsoring an automated call into the district by current Rep. Ted Strickland, who is running for governor, in which Strickland decries the GOP ads. This is still a sticky ticket for Democrats as they must educate voters to write in Wilson's name on the primary ballot. If he becomes the Democratic nominee, this race would likely drop a few slots on the line. State Rep. Chuck Blasdel is the likely Republican nominee. (Previous ranking: 2)"

Hat tip to UAPA Blog for posting about this item.


At 1:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my opinion, write in candidates almost ALWAYS fail -- especially in this case becuase Wilson has to REMIND the voters of his original blundering incompetence of NOT GETTING / FAILING TO GET a measly 50 signatures to get on the lousy ballot in the first place (not unlike fellow Congressional OH-16 candidate Jeff "I'm pretending to be homeless and am currently no where to be found" Seemann and DJ Guy Fogle -- who was the only one that dems could apparently find in the dem rich Dayton area to go up against House Speaker Husted -- and THEY BOTH FAILED TO GET THE 50 minimum required sigs) so whatever is in the water down at odp, better stop drinking that kool-aid, because before long, Ted Strickland will be saying that he would hire convicted felons to work in Ohio Government (good news for soon to be unemployed Taft, who can be head of the golf and recreation departments!)


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