Ohio2006 Blog

News, analysis, and comments on Ohio elections.

Monday, July 31

Auditor: Sykes (D) Leads Taylor (R) by 17 Points in Poll

A new poll by commissioned by AFSCME and conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group shows State Rep. Barbara Sykes (D-Akron) with a 17 point lead over State Rep. Mary Taylor (R-Green) in the contest to replace incumbent Betty Montgomery (R), who is running for Attorney General:

39% Sykes (D)
22% Taylor (R)
39% Undecided

The poll was conducted June 27 through July 2 with a sampling of over 400 Ohio households and has a margin of error of 4 points.

This race is profiled in the Akron Beacon Journal in today's edition here. An excerpt follows:
The auditor has the power to look at the books of public agencies and nonprofit organizations and call into question their management and spending. ...

The auditor also will have a seat on the state reapportionment board to redraw the boundaries of state legislative districts after the 2010 census -- one of the most important political events in the state.

Whoever wins the 2006 election is in a good position to be re-elected in 2010 and serve on that board. ...

Republican Mary Taylor is white and a resident of suburban Green, and has been in public office since 2001.

Barbara Sykes is black and from Akron, and has been in public positions for more than 20 years.

But in spite of Taylor's shorter tenure, her campaign fundraising outstripped Sykes by more than $2 for every $1 in the April-June reporting period, according to campaign reports filed after the May primary.

Sykes, one of eight children born to an Arkansas sharecropper, is one of the most influential black women in Ohio politics -- prominent enough to have run for state treasurer in 1994 against another black candidate, J. Kenneth Blackwell.

She is president of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus. To her party's chagrin, she has sometimes negotiated with Republican colleagues to increase her black caucus' clout.

Sykes was elected to the Ohio House in 2000 when her husband, Vernon, was prevented from running for re-election because of term limits. She also served on the Akron City Council in the 1980s and worked in the Summit County executive's office between council and the legislature.

Sykes, 51, the mother of two, had planned to retire from public life this year because of term limits, but was encouraged to run statewide by state Democratic Party leaders and Howard Dean, Democratic National Committee chairman.

``The thing about the auditor is it's not sexy,'' Sykes said. ``You're not talking about jobs and schools, but it's the job of the auditor to talk about making sure the money is there for schools.''

Sykes has been a critic of money flowing to charter schools that are operated by for-profit management companies.

One of Taylor's largest financial supporters is David Brennan, the Akron entrepreneur who founded the state's largest education management company, White Hat Management. ...

Democrats criticized {current Auditor] Montgomery for being one of the last state officials to become involved in a growing scandal over questionable investments at the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation.

Taylor said the problems in the bureau were rooted in communications and internal controls, not the auditor. She said extra attention should be paid to high-risk areas such as the bureau.
Taylor apparently is stuck with trying to defend Montgomery over the BWC mess.

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