Ohio2006 Blog

News, analysis, and comments on Ohio elections.

Saturday, April 29

DNC Neighbor-to-Neighbor National Organizing Day

Today I attended one of many local canvassing events across the country initiated by the Democratic National Committee, this one at the home of blogger Cindy Zawadzki of HeightsMom. Meena Morey Chandra arrived (with the Chandra triplets) and spoke briefly on behalf of her husband, Attorney General candidate Subodh Chandra (D-Cleveland). Juvenile Judge candidate Joe Young (D-Cleveland) came with his family and spoke, and 9th District State Representative candidate Julian Rogers (D-Cleveland Heights) arrived a little later. (Unfortunately, the only picture I took of Rogers did not come out.) (UPDATE: Okay, I added the picture with Julian Rogers, even though he is a bit blurry.) Cindy deserves a lot of credit for stepping up and hosting this event, which she promoted through her blog.

For the occasion the DNC printed up doorknob hangers, setting forth in six bullet points "the Democratic Vision: a bold new direction for a secure America," to wit:

1 Honest Leadership & Open Government We will end the Republican culture of corruption and restore a government as good as the people it serves.

2 Real Security We will protect Americans at home and lead the world by telling the truth to our troops, our citizens and our allies.

3 Energy Independence We will create a cleaner and stronger America by reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

4 Economic Prosperity & Educational Excellence We will create jobs that will stay in America by restoring opportunity and driving innovation.

5 A Healthcare System that Works for Everyone We will join 36 other industrialized nations by making sure that everyone has access to affordable health care.

6 Retirement Security We will ensure that a retirement with dignity is the right and expectation of every single citizen.
I think the national security one is pretty lame (yeah, truth is important and the Republicans haven't been truthful, but that isn't the only and probably isn't the main point to be made here, folks!), but I'm in no mood to quibble. It is really good to see the party putting out a unified, positive message.

I did my canvassing in the precinct where I live and am running for Democratic precinct committee member. It was a beautiful day so quite a few people were outside. Most were very receptive and some wanted to talk at length about the sorry state of government in Ohio and their hopes for a big change in November, which has me feeling very optimistic. There seem to be more yard signs than usual before a primary election.

Friday, April 28

Cong. OH-2nd & OH-13th: An Angry Electorate Likes Feisty Candidates

How to explain the continuing popularity of Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) in the 2nd Congressional District and shopping mall heiress Capri Cafaro (D-Sheffield Lake) in the 13th Congressional District? The former has been caught lying about her education and endorsements, the latter has been threatening to sue her rivals for impugning her characterbased on her grant of immunity to testify in an old case, yet each is in or near the lead in her primary race. My theory is that an angry electorate, upset about the economy and the looming threat of nukes in Iran, and generally pissed off at our corrupt and ineffective state and national administrations, would rather support an ornery, poke-'em-in-the-eye candidate than an accomplished, respectable alternative (such as former Congressmen Bob McEwen in the 2nd District or Tom Sawyer in the 13th District).

For a more detailed explication of this idea, see my post today on the national blog American Street, where I will be guest blogging on Fridays henceforth. Also be sure to check there on Mondays to read posts by Cindy Zawadzki of HeightsMom and Jill Miller Zimon of Writes Like She Talks.

Cong. OH-2nd: Schmidt (R) Reprimanded for Falsehoods

As reported in the Cincinnati Enquirer here, a unanimous Ohio Board of Elections has publicly reprimanded incumbent Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) for false statements with potential to affect the outcome of the election. The false statements involved claiming that she had a second undergraduate degree from the University of Cincinnati. A letter citing the campaign's "reckless disregard for truth" will be sent by the commission today. It's the most serious punishment available short of fines or criminal prosecution. Schmidt's campaign says it will appeal the ruling.

The commission also determined that Schmidt made other false statements by claiming endorsements from Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) and the Family Research Council that she did not actually get. The commission did not impose any punishment for these falsehoods, however. The commission found no false statement with respect to Schmidt's claim of an endorsement by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati), because Chabot said that he had endorsed both Schmidt and McEwen.

In yet another blow to Schmidt, the commission rejected a complaint by Schmidt against her rival, former Rep. Bob McEwen, that he made false statements about living and voting in Ohio. A bipartisan panel of the commission voted 3-1 to find "no probable cause" to hear evidence on that complaint.

McEwen expressed glee over these actions. "The reason that I was cleared was that (Schmidt's) operatives made the most bogus charges you could imagine and the commission utterly rejected them," McEwen said. "The commission saw through her."

The attorney for the person who filed the successful complaints against Schmidt sought to underscore Schmidt's hesitance to admit the errors by reading portions of Schmidt's 68-page deposition, in which she said "I don't know," "I'm not sure," "I can't answer that," or "I don't remember" at least 50 times.

Cong. OH-18th: Sulzer (D) Scores Big Endorsements

In the Democratic primary to determine an opponent for embattled Rep. Bob Ney (R-Heath), Chillicothe Mayor Joe Sulzer (D) has received a big boost over rivals Zack Space (D-Dover) and Jennifer Stewart (D-Zanesville) in the form of an endorsement by two newspapers, the Zanesville Times-Recorder and the Coshocton Tribune. The editorial boards of the related newspapers interviewed candidates as a group but voted separately on endorsements. In identically-worded editorials published today, the papers note that Democrats have not only a chance to topple Ney but to take charge of the House of Representatives after a dozen years in the minority. Although praising Space and Stewart as "bright, articulate and engaging," the papers pick Sulzer as "the best choice for Democrats in Ohio's 18th Congressional District." (The fourth candidate, Ralph Applegate (D-Columbus), is dismissed as "a perennial candidate with no Web site, no funds and no chance of winning.")

The editors were influenced by Sulzer's experience as mayor, Vietnam veteran, and former state legislator. They describe his "impressively detailed and comprehensive" plans to deal with "key issues" such as government negotiation for lower prescription prices under Medicare, federal help for building roads, sewers and high-speed Internet access in rural Ohio, unfair free trade agreements, and redeploying American troops to the Iraqi borders.

In comparison to Sulzer, the editors regard Space as "a strong challenger to Ney" but "not as seasoned" and lacking "legislative experience," and see Stewart as "knowledgeable and passionate" but having "little to offer in terms of national defense, immigration reform and the economy, other than to say they were complex issues."

The sprawling 18th District reaches into 16 counties in southeastern Ohio. The Republican primary pits incumbent Ney against financial analyst and political novice James B. Harris (R-Zanesville).

Thursday, April 27

Cong. OH-13th: Open Letter to Grace (D) - Please Withdraw and Endorse Sutton

Dear Mr. Grace:

You are an honorable and dedicated public servant. You have run a good campaign and have conveyed your genuine concern for working people and families in the 13th Congressional District. You've earned my respect and appreciation, and clearly many others feel the same, as the latest poll shows that you command the allegiance of 7% of likely voters.

Now, however, as I think you must know, it is clear that you will not win this race. There is a big gap between 7% support and the 24% support enjoyed by each of the three front-runners. You did not appear for the 13th District Candidates Debate at the City Club the other day, and your web site lists no public events since March 22nd. You have campaigned hard, but victory in this particular race is not a realistic goal.

However, you have the opportunity to do something important and good for the residents of the 13th District. The race appears to be deadlocked between two capable candidates, and one who has little to recommend her except a personal fortune with which to bankroll campaign commercials. You have the opportunity to make this primary election come out the right way for the people you care about, by withdrawing from the race and calling on your supporters to vote for one of the two good candidates now in the lead.

Personally, I would like to see you throw your support to Betty Sutton, who is energetic and determined to protect the interests of working people. However, if you prefer to support Tom Sawyer, who has proven himself a capable and compassionate legislator, that would be fine too. Either way, your support at this critical juncture would help boost one of these fine contenders into the lead.

Thank you for your proven leadership and dedication to the public good, and for considering this request.


Jeff (blogging as Yellow Dog Sammy)

Cong. OH-3rd: Studebaker (D) Receives UAW Nod

Just in from the campaign of Stephanie Studebaker (D-Dayton), the United Automobile Workers of America (UAW) announced their endorsement of her today. The UAW has over 1 million active and retired members worldwide, and roughly 4,800 members working at General Motors, Delphi, and other employers in the 3rd Congressional District. UAW Local 696’s Legislative Committee Chairperson, Rick Tincher, said that they were endorsing Stephanie because she “supports working families while our current Congressman turns his back on the working men and women of the Miami Valley.” Regarding job loss, Mr. Tincher added, “Mike Turner was in town recently to receive a check for $25,000 from UPS after they announced they were closing their Dayton hub and laying off over 1,000 workers. Anyone that trumpets companies leaving town isn’t going to be the UAW’s candidate.”

Cong. OH-13: New Poll Shows 3-Way Tie

This new WKYC/SurveyUSA poll shows former Rep. Tom Sawyer (D-Akron), labor lawyer Betty Sutton (D-Barberton), and shopping mall heiress Capri Cafaro (D-Sheffield Lake) in a three-way tie in the 13th Congressional District Democratic primary at 24% each. Gary Kucinich (D) follows with 12% and Elyria Mayor Bill Grace (D) with 7%. There were 6% for others and 4% undecided.

A poll from the same source two weeks ago had Sawyer at 24%, Cafaro at 21%, Kucinich at 15%, and Sutton at 13%.

Ohio House 5th: Farmer (R) and Stebelton (R) in Close Race; Kirk (D) Awaits

The 5th District of the Ohio House of Representatives is composed solely of Fairfield County, just southeast of Columbus. It has been represented since 2001 by Rep. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster), now running for the Ohio Senate 31st District seat of term-limited Sen. Jay Hottinger (R-Newark).

The three Republicans vying to replace Schaffer are high school teacher and party official Kyle Farmer (R-Baltimore), attorney and former school board and city council member Gerald Stebelton (R-Lancaster), and former school board member Doug Leith (R-Pleasantville). According to this story from the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, the Republican primary has come down to a close race between Farmer and Stebelton:
"I think we have a real horse race between Stebelton and Farmer," said Fairfield County Executive Committee Chairman Steve Davis. "I think Kyle Farmer will be stronger in the northern end of the county, while Jerry Stebelton will do better in the southern end of the county," Davis said. "I think Doug will also pick up some votes around the county. But Doug hasn't been active in the party that I can remember. I think the voters are going to have a great choice and it will come down to election day."
The winner of the Republican primary will face an interesting sort of Democratic candidate in Robert Kelly Kirk (D-Stoutsville). The owner of Sleep Care of America LLC, he is a member of the New Beginnings Assembly of God (an evangelical Christian church in Columbus), the National Rifle Association, and Democrats For Life. As quoted in this article reprinted from Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, Kirk said when announcing his candidacy:
"I'm an evangelical Christian Democrat. Some people hear that and say I'm in the wrong party, but I don't think so. I agree with many of the social positions of the Republicans, but my Christian values teach me I should look after the little guy, the poor people, and the Democrats do that better than the Republicans. I think that the Democratic Party is big enough for evangelical Christians, and I think their policies toward the less fortunate are more in line with Christian teaching."
Kirk is running in a county that is home to conservative megachurches and where Republicans greatly outnumber Democrats, but he thinks that "a real change" is coming, as evidenced by Democrats having a majority in the Lancaster City Council for the first time im years. "I think I have a real chance of getting elected with a strong grassroots organization," Kirk said. "I think the people are tired of the same old people in power." Also, Kirk thinks that "the time has come for us to look at how lobby money influences decisions," because "all you have to do is look around and see all the scandals going on around and know something needs to be done."

Lancaster City Councilman Dyke Andrews, a Democrat, is thrilled about Kirk's campaign:
"In the last 16 years, we in the party have had trouble getting people to run for office in Fairfield County," Andrews said. "I'm just tickled pink about a young man like Kirk who is willing to run. I think we have been able to show that with a strong grassroots campaign, Democrats can win elections, and now we are seeing good candidates like Kirk willing to run."
Kirk is just the kind of candidate the Democratic Party needs to field in order to make inroads in conservative areas like the 5th District, where Rep. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) was unopposed in 2002 and 2004.

Ohio Sen. 1st: Buehrer (R) and Hoops (R) in Bitter Struggle

The hard-fought primary in the 1st Ohio Senate District between term-limited State Representatives Stephen Buehrer (R-Delta) and Jim Hoops (R-Napoleon) has been marked by heated arguments about which man is more fiscally and socially conservative.

A check of his web site reveals that Buehrer has been endorsed by the Fulton County Republican Central Committee, the National Rifle Association, the Buckeye Firearms Association, Family First, incumbent State Sen. Lynn Wachtmann (R-Napoleon), and Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (R-Cincinnati), and was rated at 100% by the United Conservatives of Ohio. According to this story in the Lima News, Buehrer leads in campaign spending, having reported as of April 12 that he has $143,658 on hand after bringing forward $250,756, raising $57,085 and spending $164,206.

A look at Hoops' web site shows that he has been endorsed by the Henry and Paulding County Republican Central Committees, Ohio Right to Life, and Moms for Ohio. His April 12 fundraising numbers were $168,283 on hand after bringing forward $180,418, raising $85,028 and spending $97,164 -- less than 2/3 of what Buehrer had spent. However, Hoops has somewhat more cash on hand for the final push.

Blogger Chad Baus at Black Swamp Conservative, who is a member of the Fulton County Republican Central Committee and a solid backer of Buehrer, looked at the candidates' voting records and concluded that Buehrer is the true conservative. However, Hoops has been claiming in mailers and radio ads that Buehrer has broken his pledge to stand against tax increases. Part of the debate centers on Governor Bob Taft's last budget, which Hoops voted for and Buehrer voted against. Because the complex budget contained both tax-increasing and tax-decreasing measures, each candidate can attack the other's vote as pro-tax.

One thing the contenders have in common is receiving significant amounts of campaign cash from indicted Republican fund-raiser Tom Noe. According to this story reprinted from Findlay Courier, Buehrer received $7,975 from Noe since 2000, and Hoops received $7,227 from Noe since 1998.

The 1st District includes Fulton, Williams, Defiance, Henry, Paulding, Putnam, and Van Wert Counties. The winner of the Republican primary will face Ben Nienberg (D-Glandorf) in the general election.

The Gathering Storm: Polls Show Public is Angry

The latest NBC/Wall Street poll reveals a surly public that detests George Bush, is worried about the gasoline prices and the economy, and favors a change to Democratic control of Congress (numbers from March in parens):
In general, do you approve or disapprove of the job that George W. Bush is doing as president?

Approve 36% (37%)
Disapprove 57% (58%)
Not sure 7% (5%)

Which causes you the most concern?

Gas reaching $3 per gallon 45%
Iran building a nuclear weapon 33%
The issue of illegal immigration 26%
Continued civil disorder in Iraq 23%
Bush admin leaking national security information 18%
Corruption in the business world, as in Enron 11%
Duke lacrosse team sexual assault allegations 3%
Other 1%

Which is closer to your view of the economy?

Confident about the economy 19%
Uneasy about the economy 77%
Some of both 3%

What is your preference for this year’s election a Republican or Democratic controlled congress?

Republicans 39% (37%)
Democrats 45% (50%)
Not sure 16% (13%)
Put these numbers together with today's USA Today/Gallup poll, which found that Republicans are increasingly disenchanted with Bush as well, and less enthusiastic about voting in the fall than Democrats:
A recent USA Today/Gallup survey finds Republican enthusiasm for the 2006 congressional elections waning at the same time that Democratic enthusiasm is at a record high. That disparity could have significant implications for voter turnout in the fall, therefore accentuating the relatively weak support seen for Republican candidates with the general electorate. In other words, the Democrats' greater enthusiasm makes a shift in power in Congress from Republican to Democratic control even more possible, given that turnout in midterm elections is usually a critical factor in the ultimate outcome.

According to the survey, conducted April 7-9, 2006, Democrats lead Republicans by 10 percentage points, 52% to 42%, among all registered voters as the party they are more likely to support in their local congressional race. Typically Republicans can count on higher turnout from their members to significantly contract Democrats' lead among all voters, but whether that happens in 2006 is currently in doubt.

When asked how they feel about voting in this year's congressional elections compared to previous years, the plurality of Republicans, 47%, now say they are less enthusiastic; only 33% say they are more enthusiastic. This is a sharp change from January, when the Republican numbers were nearly reversed; 47% were more enthusiastic and 32% less enthusiastic. Over the same period Democrats' enthusiasm has held constant, with 48% saying they are more enthusiastic and slightly fewer saying less enthusiastic. ...

Bush's 74% approval rating among Republicans is particularly ominous for the party in that it is identical to the rating President Bill Clinton received from Democrats on the eve of the 1994 elections in which Clinton's party lost control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
While we political activists are fussing and fighting and responding to the daily minutiae, there are huge dark clouds gathering on the horizon. Public anger at this administration reaches deep into the populace and is building steadily. The storm unleashed in November could be unlike anything we've ever seen.

Wednesday, April 26

Cong. OH-6th: Wilson (D) Write-In Campaign Generates Debate and Anticipation

This report from Cincinnati TV station WCPO details some of the debate, extra preparation, and tense anticipation swirling around the write-in campaign of State Sen. Charlie Wilson (D-St. Clairsville), pictured, who failed to submit enough valid signatures to qualify as a regular candidate in the Democratic primary for the 6th District seat of gubernatorial candidate Rep. Ted Strickland (D-New Lisbon).

John Payne, deputy director of the Columbiana County Board of Elections, told poll workers that they will preside over a "closely watched write-in voting effort" and everything they say and do to help voters will be scrutinized. All poll workers were required to take a series of classes. Columbiana County will use optical scanner machines, so the voters must darken a circle as well as write in Wilson's name, or the vote does not count. In Mahoning County, which will use touch-screen ballots, voters must type in the name using an on-screen keypad. Because there is no other candidate with a similar name, merely writing or typing "WILSON" or something recognizably close to it should be sufficient. However, it would be a violation of election law for poll workers to say anything about write-in voting unless first asked. The Republican and Democratic parties both plan on sending observers and lawyers to polling places throughout the 12-county district.

The debate centers on how many write-in votes Wilson must attact in order to win. Wilson has a huge advantage in name recognition, endorsements, and fundraising over his primary opponents Bob Carr (D-Wellsville) and John S. Luchansky (D-Poland), and he is far ahead of them in opinion polling. All Wilson must do is gain more votes than the leader between those two, probably Carr. So how many votes does he need?
"Based on the 61,294 votes cast in the district's last midterm Democratic primary in 2002, some observers are guessing that Wilson needs 20,000 write-in votes to seal a victory. But if voter turnout is down and Democrats aren't motivated by Carr or Luchansky, Wilson could squeak by with far less. William Binning, a political science professor at Youngstown State University and a former Republican county chairman, said he has seen plenty of interest in the write-in campaign. He also has had older voters ask how to write in Wilson's name, which makes him wonder if people will be deterred by their unfamiliarity with the process. 'The intentions may be out there to write him in, but I just think there are a lot of barriers,' Binning said. 'All he needs is more than Carr, but if 20,000 is what he needs, that is a yeoman's task.'"
By the way, don't hold your breath for the results of this election. After the votes are cast, it may take another few weeks for officials to read the written names and decide how many valid votes Wilson received. If the name is not obviously "Charlie Wilson," the bipartisan election board for the county must try to determine the intent of the voter. If board members cannot agree, the final say belongs to -- guess who? -- Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (R-Cincinnati).

Cong. OH-15th: Pryce (R) Criticized by MoveOn.org in New TV Ad

As reported in the Columbus Dispatch today, MoveOn.org's political action committee has a new TV ad airing in Ohio's 15th Congressional District attacking incumbent Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Upper Arlington) over her vote for the Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage law. MoveOn will spend $93,000 in 10 days on the ad. The ad, which can be viewed here, says Pryce "accepted $100,000 from big drug companies ... and got caught red-handed, voting for a law that actually prevents Medicare from negotiating lower drug prices for our seniors."

An earlier MoveOn ad against Pryce on the issue of high gas prices was refused by WCMH-TV (Channel 4). This time MoveOn did not seek to place the ad with WCMH, using other area stations only.

Other Republicans in Congress targeted by MoveOn in recent ads are Nancy L. Johnson (CT), Chris Chocola (IN), and Thelma D. Drake (VA). Pryce is being challenged by Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus).

US Sen: DeWine (R) Trading Card Issued

This is excellent. Courtesy of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee:

Text expanding on the numbers:

Mike DeWine Has Rubberstamped Bush’s Agenda Despite Ohio’s Disapproval of the President

Ohio: 64% Disapprove of Job Bush Is Doing.
In Ohio, 64% of Ohioans disapprove of the job Bush is doing as president. In the SurveyUSA poll track going back to May 2005, Bush’s approval has never risen above 40%. In this recently released poll, his approval rating was only 34%. [SurveyUSA, Ohio Bush Track]

DeWine Supports Bush 92% of the Time.
According to Congressional Quarterly, DeWine has supported Bush 92% of the time. [DeWine Congressional Quarterly Profile]

DeWine Voted With Bush for CAFTA, Even Though It Would Hurt Ohio Workers. In July 2005, DeWine turned his back on Ohio’s working families and voted to adopt the Central American Free Trade Agreement. [HR 3045, 7/28/05, #209; Akron Beacon Journal, 6/29/05]

DeWine Voted With Bush to Keep Tax Incentives for Offshore Companies.
In March 2005, DeWine voted against repealing tax incentives for domestic companies that move their manufacturing plants to offshore locations and use the resulting revenue to reduce the federal deficit and debt by $3.2 billion from 2006 to 2010. [S Con Res 18, 3/17/05, #63]

DeWine Voted With Bush Against Full Funding of Veterans’ Health Care.
In 2005, DeWine voted against fully funding veterans’ health care. According to the Census Bureau, there were 1,004,602 veterans living in Ohio in 2004 [Vote #251, 10/5/05, U.S. Census Bureau, Ohio Fact Sheet]
I want to see this kind of thing coming out of the Sherrod Brown campaign!!!!

Gov: Petro (R) Attacks Blackwell (R) With Web-Based Quiz

This site created by gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Jim Petro (R-Rocky River) to attack his opponent, Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (R-Cincinnati), is really worth a visit. Titled "Wrong Again Ken," the interactive site presents a series of quotes from Blackwell, for each of which the visitor must click "True" or "False" in order to hear sounds and read a rebuttal. Very fun and well done! A fat lot of good it will do him, however, as Petro trails in the primary badly according to polls.

Ohio House 14th: Ritter (D) Sends Gay-Bashing Mailer

An offended voter in the 14th Ohio House District notified me that he received a mailer from the campaign of public school history teacher Bill Ritter (D-Cleveland), pictured in condensed form at right, which contains the following anti-gay attack on another candidate, tenants organization director Mike Foley (D-Cleveland):
"Mike Foley was asked [in an endorsement interview for the Sun Newspapers] if he was 'For Gay Marriage?' Mike said 'Yes' he supports gay marriage. UNLIKE MIKE this concerns me since I DO NOT want this to become a state law. I feel a Marriage is between a MAN and a WOMAN. That is the WAY I WILL VOTE in Columbus! In FACT Mike Foley has been ENDORSED by the STONEWALL DEMOCRATS, who are a GAY/LESBIAN political action committee. His endorsement is largely because of His Support of Gay Marriage.
This scurrilous bit of gay-bashing is misleading as well as offensive. Ritter makes it sound like a vote on gay marriage is pending or to be expected in the General Assembly. Of course, now that discrimination against gays is inscribed in our state constitution in the form of a ban on same-sex marriage (or civil unions of any kind), there is no prospect of state legislators voting for or against it. Also, endorsement by the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats is not necessarily premised on the single issue of supporting gay marriage.

The 14th District comprises Parma Heights, Brook Park, and Wards 19, 20 and 21 in Cleveland. This is an open seat since former Rep. Dale Miller (D-Cleveland) was appointed to the Ohio Senate earlier this year. The other candidates in the Democratic primary are former State Rep. Erin Sullivan Lally (D-Cleveland), who was recently endorsed by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and Susan Mahon (D-Cleveland). The winner will face William J. McGivern (R-Cleveland) in the general election.

Tuesday, April 25

Gov: Blackwell (R) and Strickland (D) Maintain Leads in New Polls

Buckeye State Blog is reporting new poll results from SurveyUSA, which show continuing solid leads for Rep. Ted Strickland (D-New Lisbon) and Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (R-Cincinnati) in their respective gubernatorial primaries (results from three weeks ago in parens):
Strickland (D) 61% (60%)
Flannery (D) 18% (15%)
Undecided 21% (25%)

Blackwell (R) 46% (46%)
Petro (R) 34% (32%)
Undecided 20% (22%)
Blackwell leads 2:1 among conservatives, while liberals and moderates prefer Petro. Petro needs to win 4 out of 5 undecided voters to surpass Blackwell in the primary next week.

Keep in mind that the latest Rasmussen poll showed Strickland leading Blackwell 52%-35% and leading Petro 51%-31% in head-to-head general election match-ups. The favorable/unfavorable numbers are as follows:
Strickland 54%/26%
Blackwell 40%/46%
Petro 38%/44%

Ohio House 60th: Hagan (D) Endorsed by Vindicator

Former State Representative and current State Senator Bob Hagan (D-Youngstown) has been endorsed by his hometown's biggest newspaper, the Youngstown Vindicator, in the Democratic primary in the 60th House District race. No Republican has filed to run in the district, which includes Youngstown, Campbell, Struthers, Lowellville, Coitsville and nine eastern Austintown precincts. Incumbent Rep. Sylvestor Patton (D-Youngstown) is term-limited.

The crowded primary has five candidates aside from Hagan: high school principal Richard A. Gozur (D-Campbell), city councilman Rufus G. Hudson (D-Youngstown), accountant Michael J. Latessa (D-Youngstown), teacher Ian Stublarec (D-Youngstown), and city councilman Daniel R. Yemma (D-Struthers).

The editors eliminated all but Gozur, Hagan and Hudson due to their inability to discuss the critical issue of education and school funding with any degree of specificity. Of the remaining three, they chose Hagan as "the candidate who best knows the players in Columbus, who knows what initiatives have been blocked in the past and by whom — in other words, one who has an institutional memory." Interestingly, the editors make a point of emphasizing their expectation that the Democrats will make gains in the General Assembly this year:
"There is a good chance that Democrats, who have been marginalized in Columbus for more than a decade, will gain some strength coming out of the November elections. With the scandals that have plagued Republicans, Ohio's status as one of the highest-taxed, lowest-growth states in the union, and an increasingly heated gubernatorial primary race, if the Democrats can't gain ground in 2006, they ought to fold up their tent. ... At a time when some of the power in Columbus might shift back to Democrats, the 60th District should want to have Hagan's insight and experience on its side."

Ohio House 44th: Sykes (D) Endorsed by Beacon Journal

Former Rep. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) has been endorsed by the Akron Beacon Journal in the Democratic primary to choose a candidate for the seat held by his spouse, Rep. Barbara Sykes (D-Akron), now running for State Auditor, who succeeded him in office. The primary winner will face Joseph Crawford (R-Akron) in the general election.

Vernon Sykes served in the Ohio House of Representatives from 1983 to 2000, when he was forced to step down by term limits, and also served on the Akron City Council. He has a Ph.D. in public administration and directs a program for Kent State University students who want to learn about state government. Praising Sykes' "knowledge, experience, [and] savvy," the editors point out that "as assistant majority floor leader and chairman of the Black Caucus, Sykes sponsored important bills in the House on housing discrimination, ethics, open meetings and school funding." Sykes is motivated to serve again by "the prospects of the Democrats gaining a new measure of clout, and with it the opportunity to influence the state's course," including "focusing on education funding" and bringing a commitment help "the disadavantaged who often lack a strong voice at the Statehouse."

Sykes' primary opponent is Patrick Bravo, a Navy veteran now working on degrees in law and public administration at the University of Akron, having previously worked for the Trumbull County sheriff's office and the Brookfield Township police department. The editors describe Bravo as "bright and energetic" and "a welcome fresh face," whose "concerns are education funding and job development." However, "the difference in this race stems from the many skills that Sykes would bring to the legislature."

Monday, April 24

Ohio House 42nd: Van Ho (D) Gains Beacon Journal Endorsement

In the Democratic primary to determine an opponent for incumbent Rep. John Widowfield (R-Cuyahoga Falls) in the 42nd House District, the campaign of Assistant County Prosecutor Adam Van Ho (D-Hudson) received great news today in the form of a strong endorsement by the Akron Beacon Journal over rival Paul Colavecchio (D-Cuyahoga Falls), a staff attorney for the United Auto Workers' Legal Services Plan. This is the first election campaign for each.

The editors prefer Van Ho because of his "energy, stronger sense of purpose and broader reach on the issues." Van Ho regards Widowfield and the Republicans "as a party bogged down in pay-to-play, unable to move ahead with long-term solutions on issues from school funding to legislation that would add additional judges to the Summit County courts." While not "abandoning local property taxes," Van Ho "sees more state aid as essential" and would "consider ways to make education more efficient by encouraging cooperation, consolidation and pooling insurance coverage among districts." On the public corruption issue, he "favors lower contribution limits and would ban all gifts from lobbyists."

While not gaining the endorsement, Colavecchio is described as "smart and sincere," as very concerned about the "impact on state and local government" of gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell's Tax and Expenditure Limitation constitutional amendment, and as favoring "lower college costs" and "loan forgiveness for graduates who stay in Ohio." The editors opine that both candidates "would perform well at the Statehouse" but recommend the election of Van Ho.

The 42nd District includes parts of Cuyahoga Falls and Hudson, Stow, Silver Lake and Munroe Falls. Colavecchio's spouse, Diana Colavecchio, lost to Widowfield in 2004 but attracted a respectable 43.11% of the vote. She is now a Cuyahoga Falls City Council member.

Ohio House 43rd: Dyer (D) Endorsed by Beacon Journal

Stephen Dyer (D-Tallmadge), a former Beacon Journal reporter who is now a staff attorney for Summit County Executive James McCarthy, received his former employer's endorsement over auto parts company computer analyst Christopher Stoll (D-New Franklin) in the Democratic primary for the 43rd District seat being vacated by State Auditor candidate Rep. Mary Taylor (R-Green). The winner will face Christine Croce (R-Green) in the general election.

The editors identify Dyer's major concern as "education, particularly access to affordable higher education, which he correctly sees as the crucial link to job development," and praise his understanding of the power of information, "even the influence it can have in the legislature." For example, Dyer "knows the average income in his district is about $48,000 a year, and that tuition costs at a state school are about $15,000 a year, " a combination that "spells trouble if the state intends to move forward."

Stoll served with the Ohio National Guard in Iraq for 10 months. The editors commend his "heartfelt concerns about certain issues, especially primary and secondary education," but they conclude that he "lacks the knowledge and awareness of his opponent."

The 43rd Ohio House District covers much of southern Summit and Portage counties. Democratic candidate Jane Tabor-Grimm garnered 42.42% of the vote against Taylor in 2004, and Michael Grimm attracted 46.39% in 2002.

Ohio House 73rd: Goyal (D) Faces Haring (D) in Primary

This recent article in the Mansfield News Journal contains a profile of the Democratic primary in the 73rd District of the Ohio House of Representatives, where engineer and executive Jay Goyal (D-Mansfield) is competing with former teacher Ellen Haring (D-Mansfield) for the right to face Phil Holloway (R-Mansfield) in the general election.

A vice president of Goyal Industries, a manufacturing company founded by his father Prakash Goyal, Goyal says that his "private sector experience in meeting payroll, creating jobs and understanding financial reports" would make him "an effective legislator." He applauds incumbent Hartnett but decries the lack of ethics among other politicians as a problem that "takes time away from dealing with issues such as jobs, education and access to health care." Emphasizing "the need to compete in the global economy and establish the area's niche as a source of well-trained workers, " Goyal approves North Central State College's establishment of a tool and die training center because "education is such a critical component of all of this." He also says "rethinking education is required to make it more of a lifelong learning process." Goyal advocates "alternative ways to fund your schools rather than relying on the property owner," and believes early childhood education is "the most effective way" to close achievement gaps. "Health care for children and seniors" is also a big concern because the state must assure that its "most vulnerable citizens are taken care of in their most fragile years."

Haring is described in the article as a "former teacher who also counts other teachers and principals among her family." Her web site says that she is "a wife, mother, and community advocate with experience as a teacher, a small business professional, and a nonprofit advocate," specifically referring to her work as President of the Malabar Farm Foundation and Vice-President of the Mansfield Art Center. In the article she is quoted as saying that "public education has not been a priority in our government and, consequently, the voters are rebelling." Because relying on property taxes to fund schools is not working, "teachers and students are caught in the middle." Like Goyal, she notes "the importance of early preschool education in helping create a skilled labor force," although "equally important" is "training and retraining the current work force." While she joins Goyal in commending Hartnett's public service, Haring says that "other officials' behavior has upset voters."

This is the first campaign for each Democrat. The 73rd District covers most of Richland County. Incumbent Rep. Bill Hartnett (D-Mansfield) is term-limited. He was unopposed in 2004 and got 63.6% of the vote in 2002.

Sunday, April 23

Ohio House 11th, 13th, 16th & 43rd: Candidates Drop Out

A check of revised candidate lists at the Cuyahoga County and Summit County Boards of Elections reveal that the following candidates have withdrawn from Ohio House of Representative races:

* Joshua Wallace (D-Cleveland) is no longer a candidate in the 11th District, leaving six Democrats and no Republican in the race for the seat being vacated by Rep. Annie Key (D-Cleveland) to run for the Ohio Senate;

* Ernest M. Phillips (D-Lakewood) has left the 13th District race, leaving only homemaker Ben Perry (D-Lakewood) to challenge incumbent Rep. Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) in the Democratic primary, with write-in candidate John Hildebrand (R-Lakewood) on the Republican side;

* County party-endorsed Lanene Marie Meslat (D-Westlake) is out of the 16th District race, leaving write-in candidate Michael O'Shea (D-Rocky River), a city prosecutor, as the only Democrat to face Ed Herman (R-Rocky River) in the general election for the seat of term-limited incumbent Rep. Sally Conway Kilbane (R-Rocky River); and,

* Jack Sarver (D-Tallmadge) is no longer in the 43rd District race, where Stephen Dyer (D-Tallmadge) and Christopher Stoll (D-Franklin Township) vie for the right to oppose Christine Croce (R-Green) for the seat of incumbent Rep. Mary Taylor (R-Uniontown), who is running for Auditor.

Saturday, April 22

US Sen: Brown (D) Kicks Off "Road to Change" Tour

Yesterday I went to the job training center at the Laborers International Union Local 310 in downtown Cleveland to listen as Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon Lake) launched his new statewide tour, backed by signs reading "The Road to Change" and "Jobs for the Heartland." Bill of Callahan's Cleveland Diary was there, and I met John Ryan (formerly of the Cleveland AFL-CIO Blog and presently working for Brown's campaign). There was a sizable crowd of union leaders and members, all of whom were invited to stand around the candidate in a semi-circle while he spoke, leaving only a smattering of reporters and campaign aides (and one blogger) at the huge folding tables.

Being a total dork, I sat and scribbled furiously as Brown rushed through his remarks, barely pausing for breath, the gravelly voice becoming steadily more gravelly. The more experienced Bill Callahan assumed a dignified, arms-folded posture in the back of the room and took no notes. Only toward the end did I notice that the MSM reporter next to me had a handout with the text of the speech, which I was then able to obtain from press secretary Ben Wikler (an eager and very young-looking sort). When I introduced myself, Wikler said that "we" are "fans" of my blog. This made me feel a little better after my trying-to-write-down-the-whole-damn-speech gaffe, but I'm not letting it go to my head, having witnessed the relatively snarky treatment Brown receives elsewhere in the blogosphere. I think I would be a fan of me, too, under the circumstances.

The rapid-fire remarks began with a nostalgic, populist image of the Ohio we knew "when we were kids" (Brown grew up in Mansfield), where the American dream was "a tangible goal" obtainable through school, hard work, and paying taxes, a path which "has become a treadmill of futility" for Ohioans, where "trying to get ahead feels like running in place." Slapping aside the unhappy notion that Ohio's "manufacturing base is a lost cause" and Ohio's communities "are unfortunate victims to the necessary evil of globalization," Brown proposed to put Ohio "on a road to change" by "revamping economic priorities" and "utilizing Ohio's resources."

Brown attacked "job-killing trade agreements" for shipping 185,000 Ohio manufacturing jobs overseas, including 60,000 to China; proposed to help businesses afford employee health insurance by allowing them to join purchasing pools; and called on Washington to make prescription drugs more affordable. He stressed investment for small businesses, as creators of 75% of all new jobs, and called for creating new opportunity for Ohio's 6,500 returning Iraq and Afghanistan vets. He also called Ohio "uniquely positioned" to become "the Silicon Valley for alternative energy development," as a provider of components for wind, solar, geothermal and biomass energy. Regarding the Ohio's "brain drain," he called for full funding of college grant and loan programs and for federal initiatives to help states lower tuition, and also asserted that colleges and universities can be engines of community and economic development, along with mass transit and land reclamation projects.

Brown concluded by returning to the populist theme ("It is time that government is led by Main Street, not by Wall Street") and by decrying the "Bush-Taft-DeWine" policies that have failed Ohio, so that we can realize "a American dream of our own - a thriving Ohio." It was only time in his speech when Brown referred to DeWine by name, and it wasn't even part of the prepared text. It felt more like he was running against Bush and the Republican party generally.

Asked durng the Q-and-A period to compare the Senate with the House, Brown talked about how the House had become much more partisan than the Senate. It is worthwhile fighting for one's beliefs in the House, Brown said, but in the Senate he expects to be able work in a bipartisan fashion with certain Republicans, mentioning specifically Lindsay Graham (R-SC), with whom Brown worked in the House, and Larry Craig (R-ID), an opponent of CAFTA. The Senate is also a much bigger microphone for marshalling public opinion. Asked how he would shore up the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, Brown said it was a good question and that doing so must be a top priority, but I didn't hear a specific answer. He favors extending Medicare eligibility to an earlier age (I think he said 54). Asked about how employers could be allowed to pool together for health insurance purposes, Brown said that the Federal Employee Benefit Health Plan should be opened up to small businesses, with a 25% tax credit as an incentive to join. Questioned about the wisdom of inserting government into administering health insurance, Brown shot back with probably his most fired-up and best answer. "Look at Medicare and Medicaid, and compare them to private insurance," he said. The problem with the new Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage is not that the government is involved, but that "DeWine and Bush routed Part D through their friends in the insurance industry." Finally, on the topic of alternative energy, Brown noted that he supports (and has voted for) higher mileage-per-gallon requirements.

Was it an effective speech? Well, it worked for me, but then I'm part of his base. I liked his focus on economic development, jobs, and health care, and I thought that the populist appeal of talking about the Ohio of his Mansfield youth helped humanize him. I really wonder, however, to what degree this speech will draw in independent or disaffected Republican voters, or southern Ohio voters in general. I think Brown needs to do more in the way of conveying a homespun-but-tough quality, and of speaking in terms of core values and moral rectitude, to reach independents and rural residents. Also, shouldn't he be doing more to innoculate himself against the attacks that we all know the Republicans plan to throw at him? I realize that his speech is specifically addressed to the economy, but if he could at least allude to strong national defense and fiscal responsibility in government I think that would help a lot later.

Ohio House 11th, 14th, 18th and 57th: Plain Dealer Endorsements

Today's Cleveland Plain Dealer contains endorsements in three Democratic primaries for the Ohio House of Representatives. For some reason today's editorials do not yet appear in the online edition of the paper. (This is the link to the page where they ought to appear.)

In the 11th District, comprising Brooklyn Heights, Cuyahoga Heights, Newburgh Heights, and Cleveland Wards 5, 6, 7, 12 and 16, the editors chose former legislative aide Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland) over housing advocate Cleo Busby (D-Cleveland), Assistant County Prosecutors T.J. Dow (D-Cleveland) and Mamie J. Mitchell (D-Cleveland), Marcella King Piazza (D-Cleveland), and former Board of Education member Rev. Stephen D. Sullivan (D-Cleveland). Williams worked for term-limited incumbent (and Ohio Senate candidate) Annie Key (D-Cleveland) for five years. There is no Republican candidate in the race.

In the 14th District, which was recently vacated when incumbent Dale Miller (D-Cleveland) was appointed to the Ohio Senate, and which covers Brook Park, Parma Heights, and Cleveland Wards 19, 20 and 21, former State Rep. Erin Sullivan Lally (D-Cleveland) got the nod over attorney and director of the Cleveland Tenants Organization Michael Foley (D-Cleveland) and public school history teacher Bill Ritter (D-Cleveland). The editors don't mention Susan Mahon (D-Cleveland), shown as a candidate on the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections list. The winner will face William J. McGivern (R-Cleveland).

In the 18th District, which includes Berea, Olmsted Falls, Olmsted Township, North Royalton and Strongsville, the editors like former state legislator and Congressman Ron Mottl (D-North Royalton) better than retired school business manager John M. Celebrezze (D-North Royalton). Mottl is famous as the "father" of the Ohio Lottery. He supports casino gambling and "wants to advocate for seniors on a variety of issues." Celebrezze is from a prominent political family that produced a mayor of Cleveland and an Ohio Attorney General. The winner will take on incumbent Rep. Thomas F. Patton (R-Strongsville)

In the 57th District, comprised of Avon, Avon Lake, Eaton Township, and parts of Elyria, Elyria Township and Carlisle Township, the editors picked assistant safety director and former City Councilman Matt Lundy (D-Elyria) over small business owner Alan Caruso (D-North Ridgeville). The winner will face incumbent Rep. Earl J. Martin (R-Avon Lake).

Cong. OH-2nd: Schmidt (R) and Wulsin (D) Endorsed by Enquirer

The Cincinnati Enquirer has given the campaigns of incumbent Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) and Dr. Victoria Wells Wulsin (D-Indian Hills) a big boost by endorsing them in their respective primaries. Ohio 2nd Blog posted about this, and (as usual) has thoughtful commentary upon it.

Friday, April 21

Cong. 2nd, 6th & 13th: New Polls

Thanks to the splendid Ohio 2nd Blog for linking to a new Survey USA poll, showing incumbent Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) leading challenger Bob McEwen (R-Hillsboro) in the Ohio 2nd Congressional District race by a huge margin of 56% to 33%, with only 3% undecided. This poll contrasts sharply with a somewhat older Zogby poll, showing Schmidt and McEwen statistically tied at 35% to 33%.

Meanwhile, the write-in bid by State Sen. Charlie Wilson (D-St. Clairsville) in Ohio's 6th Congressional District seems to be in decent shape, according to a new Survey USA poll that shows Wilson with 54% support, compared to 9% for Bob Carr (D-Wellsville) and 6% for John Luchansky (D-Poland). On the Republican side, a Survey USA poll shows State Rep. Charles Blasdel (R-East Liverpool) with 41% support compared to 11% each for Tim Ginter (R-East Liverpool) and Danny Harmon (R-Quaker City).

Finally, in the 13th Congressional District race, the campaign of Betty Sutton (D-Barberton)reports that polling commissioned from Goodwin Simon Victoria shows Sutton closing the gap with former Rep. Tom Sawyer (D-Akron). The new numbers show Sawyer with 23% support compared to 18% for Sutton, 15% for Capri Cafaro (D-Sheffield Lake), and 11% for Gary Kucinich (D-Cleveland). Results from the same polling firm released January 23 had Sawyer at 27%, Kucinich at 22%, Cafaro at 7%, and Sutton at only 4%. The new figures contrast with a week-old Survey USA poll for WKYC that showed Sawyer at 24%, Cafaro at 21%, Kucinich at 15%, and Sutton at 13%.

Ohio House 79th: Hartzell (R) Endorsement Withdrawn

According to the excellent blog Dayton Politics, the Dayton Daily News recently withdrew it's endorsement of Joe Hartzell (R-Piqua), following a report on his history of alcohol-related arrests. (I located a link to the story in the online edition of the newspaper, but was unable to read it or retrieve the link due to a registration requirement.) Hartzell is challenging three-term incumbent Rep. Diana Fessler (R-New Carlisle), who has never been endorsed by the Dayton Daily News. The sole Democrat in the race is Dave Fisher (D-Bethel Township).

UPDATE: The news story is here.

Ohio House 9th: Rogers (D) Publishes Internet Commercial

Hey, this is very high-tech for a General Assembly race! Julian Rogers (D-Cleveland Heights), candidate for the Ohio House 9th District seat being relinquished by State Rep. Claudette Woodard (who has endorsed him), has an online commericial at his campaign site. Very impressive - take a look!

Thursday, April 20

US Senate: Vindicator Endorses Brown (D) for Sparring Partner

The Youngstown Vindicator has issued an endorsement of Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon Lake) in the Democratic primary to determine an opponent for incumbent Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Cedarville), but "endorsement for what?" is the question. In one of the strangest such pieces I've ever read, the editors never say that Brown would make a good senator if elected. Instead, they carefully limit their wording to endorse him only for -- literally -- purposes of argument.

The piece is entitled "With Brown, Dems have a contender for U.S. Senate." Oka-a-ay, we knew that. The editors praise Brown for issuing public warnings about health care, trade, Social Security, and Medicare as a Congressman. Then they say:
We endorse Brown for Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate because we believe his presence on the general election ballot will ensure intelligent discussion on the issues with the Republican nominee.
(Emphasis mine.) Huh? Sort of like a debate coach? Then they proceed to discuss how Brown "intends to make Republican domination of the federal and state governments the issue in the fall campaign," focused on the powerful question "Whose side are you on?," and praise him for setting as a goal the convening of a meeting of CEOs of major American corporations to "figure out what we do about the delivery of health care in this country," which the editors agree would be "timely and necessary." All of this leads them to say:
A general election campaign for U.S. Senate featuring Sherrod Brown as the Democratic nominee will ensure a lively debate on the issues that relate to the lives of Ohioans. We thus endorse his candidacy.
(Emphasis mine again.) I guess that eliminates any doubt. The editors want Brown in the general election to be a lively debate partner for DeWine, but they don't want to even contemplate that he might actually win.

Well, I have news for the editorial board. If you peel away their weak rhetoric, the substantive points in the endorsement make a strong case for Brown not merely as a debater but as a winner. The points, arguments, and plans that Brown advanced in the endorsement interview are exactly what Ohio has been missing under the non-leadership of DeWine. This is going to be a real contest, not a mere campaign roadshow.

Wednesday, April 19

11th District Caucus Meeting: Democratic Party, Heal Thyself!

Last night I attended a meeting of the 11th Distict Caucus, the political organization of Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, at The Civic in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. I had a number of reasons for going, but a major one was to assess what a politically-connected friend had told me. He said that the simmering feud between certain statewide party leaders (ODP Chairman Chris Redfern and front-running gubernatorial candidate Rep. Ted Strickland in particular) and certain African-American political leaders (especially Tubbs Jones) is getting worse instead of better, and that at this point Tubbs Jones is inclined to "sit this one out," i.e., to withhold her support from Strickland's campaign. So, is it that bad?

Yes, maybe worse. There is a grievous wound in the Ohio Democratic party, it has been allowed to fester far too long, and some very strong medicine must be applied immediately or the outcome may be a catastrophe in November. Indeed, it may already be too late to heal the wound, but the attempt must be made this instant.

Arriving I saw signs and literature for many candidates, including gubernatorial candidate Bryan Flannery, but nothing for Strickland. There were many statewide candidates in attendance, notably Senatorial candidate Rep. Sherrod Brown, Attorney General candidate Marc Dann, Supreme Court candidate Judge A.J. Wagner, and Treasurer candidate Richard Cordray, along with a host of local legislative and judicial candidates. Other statewide candidates sent surrogates or at least conveyed their regrets for not attending, including Attorney General candidate Subodh Chandra, Supreme Court candidate Ben Espy, and Secretary of State candidate Jennifer Brunner. Stickland did not attend, did not send Lee Fisher or Francine Strickland or anybody else in his place, and so far as I know did not send regrets.

As the meeting started, those on stage included not only Cleveland leaders (Tubbs Jones, Jackson, Senate candidate Rep. Lance T. Mason, and political strategist Arnold Pinckney) but also Mayor of Columbus Mike Coleman and Mayor of Dayton Rhine McLin. (Two other African-American mayors of major Ohio cities, Jay Williams of Youngstown and Marcia Fudge of Warrensville Heights, sent regrets.) There were many rousing and inspiring moments in the generally brief speeches. However, one after another, the speakers included in their remarks the consistent message that the support of African-American voters is not to be taken for granted. Tubbs Jones said, "People want us to vote, [but] we have to get something for our votes." (Huge applause.) Coleman said, "Democrats can't take Democrats for granted - we're going to support those who support us." (Ditto.) McLin said, "We cannot be turned around or taken for granted in 2006." (More cheering.) The new executive director of the caucus, whose first name is Greg but whose last name escaped me (it sounded like Grows or Grolls), expressed the message through a metaphor. When a person of great physical beauty walks into the room, the others present ask themselves "yes, but are there brains to go with that body?" He compared the 11th District Caucus to that person with striking physical gifts, citing as the organization's "DNA" the past and present leadership of Carl and Louis Stokes, Pinckney, and Tubbs Jones. "We can't let it be asked whether we can take care of our business," he continued, "We have to project the vision that will keep us energized and focused. That vision is the image of a giant. We are a giant. A giant is in the land, and the giant is coming to take care of business."

After more remarks by Tubbs Jones, recalling highlights of her career such as rising on January 6, 2005 to object to the way that Ohio votes were counted (which she correctly portrayed as standing up for the legions of young African-American voters in 2004 wearing "Vote or Die" buttons), and introductions of returned Iraq vets (Tubbs Jones calling on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to "bring our babies homes, keep them safe"), area pastors, elected officials, and local and statewide candidates, Tubbs Jones proceeded to announce endorsements by her organization. For Supreme Court, Espy and Wagner. For Auditor, Treasurer, and Sectretary of State, as to which there are no Democratic primaries, she solemnly intoned her support for the sole candidates (Barbara Sykes, Richard Cordray and Jennifer Brunner). For U.S. Senate, Sherrod Brown (including Mayor Jackson in this endorsement). Her next endorsement, for Attorney General, was a very ugly moment. With ODP-endorsed candidate Marc Dann standing right next to her, Tubbs Jones stated that she, Mayor Jackson, and Mayor McLin will endorse Subodh Chandra, whose name she mispronounced (suh-BOOD instead of suh-BODE). Dann has many excellent qualities but a poker face is not one of them, at least not in this trying situation.

And for Governor? Tubbs Jones announced that there will be no endorsement in the gubernatorial race.

After the closing remarks and some meeting and greeting, I left for the parking lot. Someone had stuck a one-page flyer under my windshield wiper, which I didn't look at until today. There is no indication of authorship, so I would otherwise hesitate to publish it, but whatever the motivation or source the message indicates the scope of the problem:


"Bryan E. Flannery, a Democrat, is running for Governor of the State of Ohio in the May 2, 2006 Primary Election against Ted Strickland another democrat. You may not know much about either candidate. However; Please Do Not Vote for Ted Strickland whose Campaign Associates Have No Respect for Black Female Elected Officials.

"When they tell the Honorable U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones to sit down and shut up and Ted Strickland condoned this type of disrespect, what do think [sic] he will do if he gets in office? Birds of a feather flock together. Ted Strickland wants your vote but don't [sic] respect the people and the leaders of our Community.

"Enough is Enough!

"Give Your Vote to Bryan E. Flannery who Respects not only our Black Elected Female Officials but ALL PEOPLE.


Now I don't know enough to assign appropriate blame for causing this painful rift, but I do know that blame is not the point. I don't care whether anyone's resentment is justified or not justified. There are deep wounds here, and they must be healed. The feud and its specific causes don't really matter. What matters are the needs of the citizens, and what they need is an end to the ruinous policies of Republican government. What matters is healing the rift, so the Democratic Party can move forward in unison and harmony and retake control of state government.

I also know that it is up to the state party leadership to take the first step in the healing process. They lead the overall organization, and they represent all Democrats whether contented or discontented. When there is a harmful schism, it is their burden to close it. This is no time for statewide leaders to be proud or indignant or spiteful. They need to get over it, rise above it, and deal with it - to do whatever it takes to ease the pain. Now. And in case anyone in Columbus is baffled on how to do this, let me make a simple suggestion. Pick up the telephone and call a respected leader in the African-American community. (May I humbly suggest Mr. Pinckney?) Make an appointment to come and see him at his office (not yours). Accept fault. Make a sincere apology. Seek guidance. Listen. Learn. Thank him for his time and do what he says. It isn't too much to ask for the sake of unifying the party. And if it doesn't happen right away, it definitely will be too late.

Tuesday, April 18

Cong. OH-3rd: Studebaker (D) Endorsed by Progressive Democrats of America

Just in from the communications director for Stephanie Studebaker (D-Dayton), the national organization Progressive Democrats of America has endorsed Studebaker today. She is one of only twelve Congressional candidates in the nation to receive its seal of approval. The PDA press release postively glows:
"Stephanie Studebaker—-mother, veterinarian, and progressive activist—-is the presumptive nominee in this three-way Democratic Primary to take on incumbent Republican Mike Turner in Southwest Ohio. In the May 2nd primary, Stephanie is fighting against two conservative Democrats, one of whom was a registered Republican until recently. Stephanie is particularly excited to show Southwest Ohio and the nation how Mike Turner's rubber stamp approval of Tom Delay's Congressional policies has harmed her district.

"Stephanie firmly believes in supporting our men and women abroad and withdrawing from the war in Iraq. She looks forward to working with leaders from both parties and the administration to develop and implement a sound exit strategy.

"Stephanie opposes the trade agreements, like CAFTA and NAFTA, which have put American workers at a disadvantage in the global marketplace. She supports restoring historic funding for student loans and Pell Grants and developing a Federal pre-kindergarten system to improve our children's ability to learn. She understands that without serving as a watchdog of the purse, without cutting back on pork barrel spending, and without really working to eliminate the national debt, essential American services will continue to be cut by this Congress, and working class Americans will suffer.

"She supports an outright ban on lobbyists' gifts and travel for our nation's leaders. Stephanie passionately believes that America needs "citizen legislators" like herself, to step out of their professions to restore honesty and ethics to government once again.

"While occupying the Ohio 3rd District seat, her Republican opponent, Congressman Turner, presided over the second highest job loss in the nation. From September 2004 to September 2005, the Dayton metro area lost 4,800 jobs; since then it's had another 1,700 layoffs. Under the Congressman's watch, this small corner of Ohio had the highest rate of home foreclosures in the state, and one of the highest rates in the nation. With Delphi, one of the region's largest employers threatening bankruptcy, the 3rd District continues to serve as a poster child for the failed policies of this Congress. ... "

Supreme Court: Sorting Out Ratings and Endorsements

There are two Supreme Court seats up for election, and both have a two-candidate Democratic primary. The first race pits incumbent Justice Terrence O'Donnell (R-Rocky River), first elected in 2004 to fill out the unexpired term of Justice Deborah Cook (R), against either 11th District Appellate Judge William B. O'Neill (D-South Russell) or Common Pleas Judge A.J. Wagner (D-Dayton). In the other race, for the seat of retiring Justice Alice Robie Resnick (D-Toledo), who is the only Democrat on the seven-member court, it's 3rd District Appellate Judge (and former State Senator) Robert Cupp (R-Lima) against either former Senate Minority Leader Ben Espy (D-Columbus) or Cuyahoga County Juvenile Judge Peter Sikora (D-Cleveland).

Two of the Democrats have run for the Supreme Court before. O'Neill, who famously does not accept any but token campaign contributions, was defeated by O'Donnell in the 2004 special election, in which O'Donnell outspent O'Neill by two million dollars. Sikora lost to incumbent Justice Andy Douglas (R) in 1996. As reported in the Toledo Blade here, the Democrats plan to make an issue of the fact that O'Donnell and two other Republican justices placed thousands of dollars in campaign contributions they received from Governor Bob Taft's former aide H. Douglas Talbott in escrow, after accusations surfaced that the money was illegally laundered by indicted coin dealer and Republican fundraiser Tom Noe. This issue would work well with O'Neill's extreme stance regarding campaign contributions and judicial independence. However, the Ohio Democratic Party has endorsed Wagner over O'Neill, apparently because O'Neill's principled stance against campaign contributions will handicap him in the general election. The ODP has also endorsed Espy over Sikora, motivated at least in part by the desire to include as many African-Amerians as possible on the statewide ticket (Auditor candidate State Rep. Barbara Sykes (D-Akron) is the only other).

Ratings. I have located judicial ratings by two state-wide organizations, the Ohio State Bar Association and the Ohio Women's Bar Association. I have also found ratings by four Cleveland-area organizations, the Cleveland Bar Association, the Cuyahoga County Bar Assocation, the Cleveland Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, and the Norman S. Minor Bar Association, the last being an organization for African-American lawyers. I have seen indications that ratings are also performed by the Columbus Bar Association, the Cincinnati Bar Association, the Toledo Bar Association and the Akron Bar Association, but I have not found current ratings by these groups (or in the case of Akron, none for the Supreme Court candidates). If I have missed any, I would appreciate readers letting me know about it.

In the race for O'Donnell's seat, the big surprise is that the Ohio State Bar Assocation has downgraded the incumbent from the Highly Recommended rating he earned in 2004 to just Recommended (lower than Espy, who has never been a judge). As between the Democrats, O'Neill's ratings are uniformly superior to Wagner's. The OSBA and OWBA rated O'Neill as Recommended and Excellent, respectively, while each scored Wagner as merely Adequate. O'Neill got a perfect sweep of Excellent ratings from all four Cleveland-area groups, while Wagner managed only Adequate from the Cleveland Bar Association and Good from the rest. O'Neill has been an appellate judge for many years, while Wagner has served on the Court of Common Pleas bench for only five, having been County Auditor for ten years before that.

In the other race, Cupp earned Highly Recommended from the OSBA, as did his Democratic opponent Espy, while his other opponent Sikora was given the lower rating of Recommended. However, Sikora was awarded higher marks than Espy by the OWBA (Excellent vs. Good) and the Cleveland Bar Association (Good/Preferred vs. Good), and the two were scored evenly by the other three, each winning Good from the county and criminal defense groups and Excellent from the African-American lawyers group. The inconsistency of these ratings probably reflects the apples-and-oranges quality of their respective credentials. Sikora, who is a paraplegic due to a childhood trampoline accident, has been a judge for 17 years, while Espy has never served on the bench. On the other hand, Espy has had a remarkable and distinguished career as an attorney in the Office of the Attorney General and as a legislator on the Columbus City Council and in the Ohio Senate, where he was Senate Minority Leader and wrote a brief for the Senate Democratic Caucus in the Supreme Court school funding litigation. Rating these two candidates requires a subjective weighing of judicial experience against public policy and litigation experience.

Endorsements. I'm disappointed that I have only been able to locate newspaper endorsements from two sources, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Cleveland suburban Sun Papers, each of whom chose O'Neill over Wagner and Espy over Sikora.

In the Plain Dealer, the editors praise O'Neill for his "bluntness":

"We still wince at his talk of holding the legislature in contempt for not reforming education funding, but we applaud his incisive critique of the Supreme Court's nonchalance toward conflicts of interest when big donors come before the bar.
Wagner, on the other hand, is characterized as a "genial guy" whose "his rulings seem more impetuous than thoughtful."

I don't have a problem with the Plain Dealer's reasoning in picking O'Neill over Wagner, but their analysis of the other race is frankly ridiculous. After noting Sikora's physical disability and saying that he "offers an inspirational life story," the editors praise him for his "unquestioned talent" and having "generally done fine work in his courtroom." Those are important and relevant factors, and they are favorable to Sikora. So what do the editors dislike about the man?

"Sikora now says he regrets some of his past, intemperate feuds with colleagues. Unfortunately, he has become a team player in the court's irrational opposition to a new juvenile complex in Cleveland's Fairfax neighborhood."
That's IT? You can't endorse Sikora because of squabbles between judicial colleagues, and a local political struggle about where to build the new juvenile court facility? For details about the latter, read TV news coverage here. In brief, local juvenile court judges objected to the county's unilateral decision to move the court's facilities from its convenient downtown location to a depressed neighborhood that would benefit economically from the project. Judge Joseph Russo said: "Any unilateral change in that agreement is not acceptable to the court, and the court will take any necessary steps to prevent that from happening." Sikora joined in with: "We are in separate branches of government. We need to work together. There has to be a realization though that one branch does not dictate what the other branch does." It sounds to me like the judges have an excellent point, and in any event this local power struggle is an absurd basis for downgrading a Supreme Court candidate.

Turning to Espy, the editors praise him for "working well across party lines" during 20 years of legislating, which "required careful listening and willingness to understand all sides of an argument." Although wary of the prospect that "an old legislator running for the bench simply wants a new venue to make law," the editors select Espy as the better choice. That first part is pure twaddle. Conflating political negotiation with appellate adjudication is inane. The latter point is a negative, if anything, so where's the basis for preferring Espy?

Personally, I like O'Neill over Wagner because of his grittiness and his superior judicial qualifications, despite my qualms about the disparity in campaign cash in the upcoming general election. The other race is a much closer call, but I like Sikora because of his judicial experience and the historical and jurisprudential significance of putting a severely physically disabled person on the high court, although I think that Espy will be a fine candidate if he wins the primary.

UPDATE: Okay, my bad, I missed that the Dayton Daily News has endorsed Espy and O'Neill, and the Akron Beacon Journal has likewise endorsed Espy and O'Neill. The former is especially interesting because it is Wagner's hometown paper.

Monday, April 17

Ohio House 21st: Herendeen Ackerman (D) against Hernandez (D) in Primary

In the Democratic primary for the 21st District seat of retiring State Rep. Linda Reidelbach (R-Columbus), it's a choice between first-time candidates Jean Herendeen Ackerman (D-Powell) and Dean C. Hernandez (D-Westerville). The winner will face another political novice, insurance executive and township trustee Kevin Bacon (R-Blendon Township), in the general election.

Herendeen Ackerman is a veteran public school teacher with a bachelor's degree degree in education from Ohio State University and a master's degree in gifted education from Ashland University. She has been endorsed by Democracy for America-Central Ohio, State Senators Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Robert Hagan (D-Youngstown), and the Hamilton Local Schools Ohio Educational Association Local. Education and the economy are the central issues in her campaign, and she has come out strong against charter schools. A recent ThisWeek News article profiling this race quotes Herendeen Ackerman as saying she is seeking election "because one-party rule for the last 12 years has hurt Ohio in many ways." Ohio is "hemorrhaging jobs and young people" and "almost every county in Ohio has higher unemployment than the national rate," she continued, while the focus remains on "divisive social issues":

"The Republicans are making it harder for people to vote and are cynically attacking the very foundation of our public schools by spending $1.2-billion of our tax money on failing and unaccountable charter schools. We must change the priorities and I will work to do just that."
Hernandez (sorry - no usable picture!) is director of investment operations for Meeder Financial in Dublin. He received a bachelor's degree in financial services from Wright State University and is an Army reservist. He has been endorsed by the Stonewall Democrats of Central Ohio, State Rep. Tim Cassell (D-Madison), and the Fund for Children and Public Education of the Ohio Education Association. In the ThisWeek News article, Hernandez said he is seeking election "because I believe that the state government has lost its focus":

"The state needs to be focused on job creation, real solutions for the school funding crisis, help for our citizens and employers facing ever larger health care costs and an environment that deserves to be protected and used as an engine to create jobs in rural areas. These issues are where Ohioans find common ground and will be my focus."
In my view, it's Jean Herendeen Ackerman who shows greater determination and has the more persuasive presentation. I hear that she has been pounding the precincts in a door-to-door campaign, and I like her unequivocal stance on charter schools. Given the prominence of education as an issue, I like that she is a long-time public school teacher.

The Herendeen Ackerman campaign will hold a fundraiser on Tuesday, April 25, from 6:00 to 7:30 pm at Short North Tavern, 674 North High Street in Columbus. I checked the upcoming events link on the Hernandez site, but nothing is listed there.

Ohio House 67th: Kidd (R) Drops Out

This story in the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Mason City Councilman Victor Kidd has dropped out of the Republican primary for the 67th District Ohio House of Representatives seat of Rep. Tom Raga (R-Mason), the running mate of gubernatorial candidate Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (R-Cincinnati). Remaining in the primary are Attorney C. Keith Nixon Jr. (R-Lebanon), former legislative aide Shannon Jones (R-Springsboro), and John Meyer (R-Mason). Attorney Jeffrey Ruppert (D-Franklin) is unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Kidd, who runs the Kidd Coffee shop and serves as a pastor of Living Leaf Community Church in Mason as well as serving as Councilman, said he "lacked time and money to wage a meaningful fight for the seat." Because he dropped out after the ballots had been printed, his name will still appear on the ballot and voters will be warned that a vote for him will not count.

Cong. OH-13: Sawyer (D) Meets the Bloggers

I attended the Meet the Bloggers session with former Rep. Tom Sawyer (D-Akron) at Cafe Momus in Akron on Saturday. Pho of Pho's Norka Pages, Tim of Democracy Guy and Buckeye State Blog, Kyle and Tara from The Chief Source, Jason of Psychobilly Democrat, and George of Brewed Fresh Daily were also there, along with the candidate's spouse, Joyce Sawyer, and a few other folks I didn't get a chance to meet. Reporter Alex Parker of the Lorain Morning Journal, who talked to me on the telephone previously, was apparently one of the others in the room since the session is featured prominently in his excellent article about the effect of blogs on the 13th Congressional race.

Let me start by saying that I like Sawyer. He is knowledgable, sincere, genial, thoughtful, unflappable, comfortable with himself. He is remarkably well-read and articulate when talking about the issues he cares about. I have no doubt about his integrity (despite the efforts by primary opponents to make hay over trips he took during his prior service in Congress, and a recent late payment of taxes), and he is plainly correct to emphasize his experience and knowledge as these factors help his candidacy. He is also "good looking" in a relevant way. He has a direct manner, a handsome sort of square-jawed look, and enough gray to appear very distinguished. He seems like the kind of candidate that many voters will feel comfortable voting for: a likable, trustable, familiar face, a safe harbor in scary and uncertain times.

My concern about him is whether he can be inspiring, and whether he can be tough. I see this as the kind of election where Democratic voters need to feel inspired by the candidates in order for them to be motivated to go out and vote. All the polls show that the voters on the whole are disgusted with the Republicans, but the approval numbers for the Democratic Party are not especially great, and turnout in special elections (such as the recent one in California's 50th Congressional District) have not been high. In order for the Democrats to benefit from the kind of transformative election in 2006 that the Republicans experienced in 2004, I feel like the Democrats need to field candidates whose passion is palpable, whose enthusiasm is infectious. Hence the inspirational part of my concern.

Since all of this is evident to the Republicans, and since they feel like they will have a shot in the 13th District with Lorain mayor Craig Foltin as their candidate, I also want a candidate who is really tough. I expect a well-funded and nasty Republican campaign in the fall, and I want to make sure that the Democrat will be forceful and immediate in defending against attacks. Sawyer's campaign to date has been low-key (no web site, no army of volunteers, very little advertising). Can he turn aggressive when needed? On this score I was pleased to hear him decline when Tim asked if he would pledge not to run negative ads during the primary. Instead he said that he never launches negative advertising, but he will respond when attacked. I also liked that he distinguished his support for civility and good working relationships in Congress from seeking bipartisanship with a Republican House leadership that has spurned it. However, I was left with some uncertainty about how hard-edged he will be when that is needed in the fall. He described his campaign so far as a "thread the needle" campaign, a "don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes" campaign. Will he successfully ramp up the energy, the fund-raising, the media and internet presence, and the rapid-response sharpness in the gerenal election?

Bottom line, I liked the guy, was impressed with his demeanor and experience, feel like he would be fine as a Congressman, but was left feeling a little unsure whether he can display the zeal and aggressiveness to really energize this Congressional race.

Friday, April 14

Ohio Sen 27th: Hanna (D) Wins Key Endorsements

University instructor and activist Judy Hanna (D-Akron) has won endorsements from both the Akron Beacon Journal and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Both papers praised her primary opponent, Kevin Griffith (D-Cuyahoge Falls) for his dedication and conviction, but selected Hanna for her proven knowledge of Ohio issues. The Beacon Journal wrote:

"Her main public involvement has been through work for Common Cause on election reform and for Friends of the Crooked River and the Sierra Club on environmental issues. She is a former political chair of the Ohio Chapter of the Sierra Club.
In these endeavors, she has shown a practical, research-oriented bent that would serve her well in the legislature. On election reform, where some activists saw conspiracies to suppress the vote, Hanna's observations led her to embrace ideas such as better training for booth workers and careful record-keeping when technicians service electronic voting machines. In the legislature, she would push for the development of new technologies that would reduce pollution and save energy, not just to help the environment but to generate jobs. Hanna would also be a strong advocate for higher education."
The Plain Dealer offered sounded a similar note:

"Hanna has a sound grasp on quality-of-life issues and understands the state's desperate need to focus on making higher edu cation more afforda ble for Ohioans. ... Hanna's better understanding of the many important issues facing Ohio earns her our endorsement in the May 2 Democratic primary."
The winner will face incumbent State Sen. Kevin Coughlin (R-Cuyahoga Falls) in the general election, a race that I looked at here

Thursday, April 13

Ohio House 82nd: Pickens (D) Out After Arrest

As noted by Buckeye State Blog last night, the Akron Beacon Journal reports that a Democratic candidate for the Ohio House of Representatives, Navy veteran and bakery founder Willie Pickens (D-Marion), has dropped his campaign for the 82nd District seat of State Rep. Steve Reinhard (R-Bucyrus) following a bizarre episode in which an intoxicated Pickens impersonated an FBI agent in order to harrass and rob customers of a convenience store. Pickens was charged with two counts of robbery and three counts of abduction. The Cleveland Plain Dealer blog-like thing Openers adds that the Marion County Democratic Party asked Pickens to withdraw from the race, and Party Chairwoman Cathy Chaffin says she may try to replace Pickens on the ballot or find someone to run as an independent.

Wednesday, April 12

Secty of State: Brunner (D) on Online Radio Show

"DoubleSpeak" with Matthew and Peter Slutsky, an online radio show based in Washington D.C., features Secretary of State candidate Jennifer Brunner (D-Columbus) on their current show. The link is here.

Ohio House: By The Numbers

I have been looking over my list of candidates in Ohio House of Representatives races this year and have compiled some numbers. There are 99 seats, of which 60 are held by Republicans and 39 by Democrats. The Republican seats break down into 44 incumbents and 16 open seats (about 27%), the Democratic seats into 27 incumbents and 12 open seats (about 31%).

Assuming that my information is accurate (there could be a few mistakes), it appears that four Republican incumbents have no opposition of any kind, primary or general election (Rep. Jim Carmichael-3rd, Rep. Bill Seitz-30th, Rep. Bill Coley-55th, and Rep. Joseph Uecker-66th), and one has a primary challenger but no Democratic opponent (Rep. Danny Bubp-88th). This is a big improvement for the Democrats over 2004, when nine Republicans were unopposed in the general election. This year there are no Democratic incumbents without Republican opponents, but there are three Democratic open seats for which there are no Republican candidates (8th, 11th, 60th). This is an even bigger improvement for the Republicans, since there were thirteen Democrats unopposed in 2004, although one of them (Derrick Seaver-78th) switched parties after the election.

Out of 99 races, 59 have no primaries on either side. Of the remaining 40 races, 37 have a primary on one side only, and just 3 (all involving open seats: 32nd, 39th, 78th) have primaries on both sides. Of the 43 total primaries, 27 are between Democrats and only 16 are between Republicans. Thus, although the three contested Republican primaries among the statewide races (Governor, Attorney General and Treasurer) have tarnished the Republicans' reputation for party discipline somewhat, in the context of House races the Democrats are still the more fractious lot. Still, only three of the Democratic primaries involve Democratic incumbents (Rep. Michael Skindell-13th, Rep. Mike Mitchell-26th, and Rep. Brian Williams-41st), the same number as Republican primaries involving Republican incumbents (Rep. Diana Fessler-79th, Rep. Tony Core-83rd, Rep. Danny Bubp-88th), so on that score the two parties fare about the same.

The big disparity in primaries involves open seats. Of the 12 Democratic open seats, 10 have Democratic primaries (8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 14th, 32nd, 39th, 44th, 60th, and 73rd), and those 10 primaries feature a total of 41 candidates. (Three of these 12 Democratic open seats have Republican primaries [32nd, 39th, 61st], and one has no primary on either side [49th]). Of the 16 Republican open seats, only 8 (or one half) have Republican primaries (5th, 58th, 67th, 74th, 75th, 76th, 78th, and 91st), involving a total of 24 candidates. (Five of the 16 Republican open seats have Democratic primaries [4th, 16th, 21st, 43rd, and 78th], and 4 have no primary on either side [1st, 17th, 71st, and 69th]). Looking at it another way, Democratic primaries are about equally divided between Democratic seats (13) and Republican seats (14), but Republican squabbling is weighted more heavily toward seats they are defending (11) than seats they hope to pick up (5).