Ohio2006 Blog

News, analysis, and comments on Ohio elections.

Wednesday, September 13

Cong OH-14: Katz (D) at Solon House Party

A few weeks ago I finagled an invitation to a house party in Solon, Ohio for 14th Congressional District candidate Lew Katz (D-Pepper Pike), in order to hear him speak to the guests. I had met Katz, a highly respected law professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, but hadn't heard him speak on the campaign trail. The house party was hosted by Burt and Rose Barth, who only just met Katz in the spring and decided to help his campaign because they are very impressed by him. (When I asked Burt what prompted them to host the party, he reduced it to two words: "Concern ... and admiration.")

The Barths attracted a sizable crowd of people. Several expressed relief to me that there was a serious and capable challenger to Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Painesville) this year, after the disappointment of the 2004 campaign of shopping mall heiress Capri Cafaro. I was pleased to meet Ed Fire, a retired union president whose Labor Day fundraising picnic in Chagrin Falls I unfortunately had to miss; Steve Miller-Cobb, the campaign manager for 17th Ohio House District candidate Roger Goudy; Tim Snell, the campaign manager for 98th Ohio House District candidate Ray Ku (D-Bainbridge Township); Katz' primary opponent Palmer J. Peterson; and Katz aide Eleina Thomas, with whom I had corresponded by email.

I also got a chance to talk to Jan Katz, a very friendly and engaging person. She had a career in journalism and writing that eventually developed into public relations work for universities, and now she is exercising her writing talents in support of her husband by writing a campaign newsletter called the "Katz Meow." She admitted that she wasn't thrilled at first with the prospect of her husband running for Congress, but she has come around. She is gratified by people's interest in her husband's candidacy. When she passes out literature, for example, she is very encouraged because "people really respond."

When our host Burt rose to introduce Lew Katz, he started by declaring that we Democrats "love our country -- as much as, if not more than, the Republicans." It's a sad commentary that we all understood his implicit reference to the attempt by the other party to monopolize patriotism and disparage all critics as traitors. He said he is "thankful that Lew made the decision to be the next Congressman," and also thankful for the commitment of the people attending. Then he invited Jan to sit closer to where her husband would speak and she demurred, saying "I get to hear him all the time." Lew said, "Nothing like support at home," which drew a big laugh.

When Katz got down to the matter at hand he was forceful and direct. This campaign is about "making a difference in Washington," he said. "I believe that our government stopped working for us on January 21, 2001." From that day to now, with Bush and the Republicans in control of both the White House and Congress, "they have done nothing for average Americans, working Americans, or middle class families." He then chastised the Bush administration for "getting us into a war with no plan for an exit," spending money "like drunken sailors," and "converting surpluses into deficits that our children and grandchildren will have to pay." Their tax cuts have benefitted mainly the wealthiest 5% of Americans, and "the only way they'll raise the minimum wage is if we give millions in tax breaks to the Walton family that owns Wal-Mart."

"How did this happen?" Katz asks. "We were asleep at the wheel." We allowed the Republicans to take control, and they've done nothing to solve America's problems, such as making health care affordable. "Bush talks about Health Savings Accounts as if that would help," Katz says. And if we re-elect a Republican Congress in 2006, Katz warns, "they've already told us they're going to try to destroy Social Security." Even Bush Sr., Reagan, and Nixon never tried to do that.

As blistering as Katz' assault on Bush domestic policies was, he really hit his stride on the Iraq debacle. As detailed on his web site, Katz has developed a three-part plan for bringing America home while securing Iraq, which has been endorsed by a four star general. Katz said that he has been asked, "How do you know it will work?" He replies, "We've got to try something else." In reviewing the mess that Iraq has become, Katz makes the excellent point that the only construction project in that country that is on schedule is the 102 acre United States Embassy.

At this point, before Katz had finished his remarks, I had to go. Not long afterward, I received an announcement that Katz has received several important endorsements from labor organizations: the Region 2B United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW), the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the Tri County Regional Labor Council AFL/CIO, Lake/Geauga AFL-CIO, and the International Union of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers, Local Union No. 16. Jim Nagy, Chairman of the Ashtabula, Geauga, and Lake County CAP Council (UAW), said that "Lewis Katz's views, such as the United States cannot pursue free trade that is not fair trade, his ideas for affordable health care for all Americans, and the urgency that Congress must have in improving our educational system, reflects the feelings of the UAW members in the 14th District."

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