Ohio2006 Blog

News, analysis, and comments on Ohio elections.

Tuesday, October 31

Cong OH-14: Profile of Cranley (D) on MyDD.com

There is a great article about John Cranley (D-Cincinnati) up on MyDD.com, posted by regular contributor Adam Connor. Conner is on a "Midwest MapChangers" Roadtrip sponsored by the AFL-CIO's Labor 2006. He describes his visit to Cranley headquarters yesterday, including a long conversation with Cranley about the race. Good photos, too.

Ohio House 38th: Rice (D) Campaigning Hard Against White (R)

This is a TV ad for impressive 38th Ohio House District candidate Carolyn Rice (D-Kettering):

[NOTE: I have removed the embedded link, but the video is available here.]

On Sunday evening I spoke to Rice for about an hour on the phone. She and husband Michael had been out canvassing all day, but she still exuded energy and determination during our call. She has surpassed 14,000 doors in her grassroots campaign. What Rice hears from voters the most is that people "want whoever is in office out of office." Otherwise, the big issues are education, jobs and health care, although "once in a blue moon" she'll hear about the so-called "social values" issues of abortion and gay marriage. Voters' concerns about education are mainly whether their kids can go to college, how the state pays for schools, and the quality of education that their children receive.

The 38th is a very diverse district in the south suburbs of Dayton, ranging from affluent Centerville to struggling areas close to downtown. The residents represent a whole spectrum from wealthy to very poor. There are four different school districts, with the urban schools hurting the most.

A newcomer to politics, Rice relates that her life changed dramatically when she lost her position as a marketing director for Reynolds and Reynolds, a company in the automotive business that is one of Dayton's largest employers. She spent two years in a temporary position with Lexis-Nexis and engaged in a multitude of job interviews before finding her current position as Director of Executive and Cohort MBA Programs at the Raj Soin College of Business at Wright State University. During those two years she decided to get more involved in the community and to do things she is more passionate about. She worked on the Kerry campaign in 2004 and afterward joined with others from the campaign to form a successful local group called Democrats for a Stronger America. Personally, she went from feeling that politics is something you shouldn't talk about to speaking out about issues. When some of her friends didn't react well to this change, it just made her more determined to be vocal. She said that "silence is consent, so you've got to speak out if you want change."

When Montgomery County Democratic Chair Dennis Lieberman approached her about running against White, she initially had a "who, me?" reaction, but eventually realized that she wanted not only to run but to "give it 150%." She also said that "the more I get into this, the more I realize that I'd be terrific, and way better than what we've got today."

Rice said that she is trying to run a campaign like a legislator, meaning that she wants to be out among the people as much as possible and to get ideas from the district. What surprises her is that opponent Rep. John White (R-Kettering), a three-term incumbent and the Montgomery County Republican Party Chair, has not done the same. In fact, he has been virtually invisible. He has not attended school board, city council, or township meetings, or even local festivals during the summer and fall. He didn't attend candidate forums or the League of Women Voters candidate taping for local cable. Rice has seen very few yard signs for him and there have been no ads. The only time Rice has actually seen White in person was at the Dayton Daily News endorsement interview.

At a recent school board meeting Rice introduced herself to a parent who said after the meeting, "I just can't get over that someone who's running for the legislature actually cares about education." She has also heard from area residents that they have never met anyone who is running for the General Assembly. Rice notes that White didn't run any noticeable campaign two years ago but still won with about 60% of the vote. However, Rice feels that her hard work has put her into contention. "I don't know if I'll pull it off," she said, "but if I don't it's going to be close."

Ironically, part of Rice's inspiration to be very involved in the community is from White's predecessor in office, Rep. Bob Corbin (R), who held the seat for 24 years and was a frequent attendee at city council and township meetings. If elected she intends to hold monthly meetings on Saturdays at rotating locations throughout the district, attend school board and city council meetings, and spend a few hours each month walking through neighborhoods. However, Rice wants to emulate Corbin's community involvement not only as a legislator but in her campaign. Her idea is to "not just talk about how I'd be different, but actually campaign differently."

In the endorsement interview, Rice said that she did very well and White did poorly. When the editors asked White about his legislative accomplishments, he said that for the first four years he really didn't do anything. He talked about wanting to obtain public funding for faith-based organizations but couldn't name them, and praised gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell (R-Cincinnati) as "his guy" and a "friend." (Blackwell's extreme rightwing ideas turn off many moderate Republicans, including White's predecessor Bob Corbin.) At the end of the interview White complimented Rice, saying that she is "great." To her surprise, the newspaper endorsed White, writing that he has "shown signs of moderation" and is "a constructive, engaging, enthusiastic participant in state and community affairs." These comments are completely wrong, she said, because White was and is extremely conservative and he has noticeably failed to maintain an active presence in the district.

Rice reported that gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland (D-Lisbon) and U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Sherrod Brown (R-Avon) are doing well in the district and have been tremendously helpful to her campaign. They have each appeared before Rice's group, and Brown also met with small groups of voters to address their concerns after the acrimonious departure of the popular Iraq veteran Paul Hackett (D-Indian Hill) from the primary. Rice said that she wants to be like that, meeting face-to-face with people who are unhappy and dealing directly with their concerns. She says that she has been a consensus-builder in the business world and intends to approach public service the same way.

Personally, I was extremely impressed with Rice's spirit and determination. She speaks passionately and with evident conviction. As she said at the end of the call, "anyone who knows me knows that I am a person of my word, and that's something that people don't see in politics anymore." Amen to that!

Stark County Comm: TV Ad for Bosley (D)

Here is a powerful anti-corruption TV ad for Todd Bosley (D) against incumbent Richard Regula (R), which will run all week starting today:

[NOTE: I have removed the embedded link, but the video is available here.]

Congressional Races: News and Notes

Up to the minute in Ohio's Congressional contests:

Senate: Audio of an interview with Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon) and spouse Connie Schultz by Thomas Mulready of Cool Cleveland is available here.

Brown will make two stops in the Cincinnati area tomorrow with Rep. Ted Strickland (D-Lisbon) and other Democratic candidates: 8:45 am at the Cincinnati Museum Center, 1301 Western Avenue, Cincinnati, and 10:15 am at Cincinnati IBEW Hall, 4300 Milliken Road in Hamilton.

Potential GOP presidential candidates are swinging through Ohio this week on behalf of beleaguered incumbent Mike DeWine (R-Cedarville). As reported in the Columbus Dispatch and the Toledo Blade, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) were here yesterday and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is also coming this week.

1st District: Senate Majority Bill Frist (R-TN) stumped for Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati) in Cincinnati yesterday and RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman is coming today. Meanwhile, the excellent blog Take Back Cincinnati pointed out yesterday that Chabot lied when he claimed that he never promised to limit how long he would serve in Congress, and the day before revealed that Chabot lied on October 18th about driving the same car throughout his twelve years in Congress.

2nd District: Rep."Mean Jean" Schmidt (R-Loveland) again made #2 on Keith Olberman's Worst People in the World list on the MSNBC show "Countdown" last night, this time for saying that she is open to the idea of storing nuclear waste in her Congressional district.

6th District: This article in the Youngstown Vindicator reports that State Sen. Charlie Wilson (D-St. Clairsville) is so confident of beating State Rep. Charles Blasdel (R-East Liverpool) that he's:
* Canceled 40 percent of his television commercial buys.
* Not mailing fliers to voters.
* Contributing campaign money to other Democratic candidates.
* Paying back some of the money he loaned his campaign.
* Bragging about it.
The article also spells out how moderate-to-conservative Wilson really is. Wilson plans to become the only Ohio member of the Blue Dog Caucus, "because of their stance on fiscal responsibility and demanding honesty and accountability from the federal government." His campaign received $10,000 from the Blue Dog Political Action Committee and $1,000 each from two Blue Dog members. He also received $10,000 from Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), a moderate who may challenge Rep. Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House. Wilson said he would likely support him.

12th District: An article in today's Columbus Dispatch discussed how this district, spanning parts of Franklin and Licking counties and all of Delaware County, has changed from reliable GOP territory to a swing district. Republicans have held the seat since 1983, when former Rep. John R. Kasich (R-Westerville) beat Bob Shamansky (D-Bexley) after his first term. Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Westerville) was a former Kasich staff member. He defeated Maryellen O’Shaughnessy (D) in 2000 by 9% and won re-election twice with more than 60% of the vote, but this year is different. Bush won here in 2004 by only 2%."Tiberi has won big in the past, but it has been against weak candidates," said Paul Beck, a political-science professor at Ohio State University. "It’s the national tide that candidates are worried about. It clearly advantages the Democrats, but no one knows by how much, and that could tip right up to the end."

14th District: Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Concord Township) and challenger Lewis Katz (D-Pepper Pike) will debate at the City Club of Cleveland on Thursday, November 2nd, from about 12:30 to 1:30 pm.

15th District: First lady Laura Bush is speaking in Hilliard tomorrow for Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Upper Arlington). Meanwhile, challenger Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus) today began a series of comments on provisions of the 1994 "Contract With America" and how Pryce has failed to fulfill them since she was first elected to Congress that year. Today's installment is on term limits, i.e., a pledge to seek a first-ever vote on limiting tenure in Congress to "replace career politicians with citizen legislators." Pryce, who has said that "[i]t's hard to continue to revolt when you're in charge," is now seeking her eighth term.

18th District: Long-time veterans advocate and Assistant Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Zack Space (D-Dover) will meet with area veterans tomorrow, November 1st, at 9:30 am at the Zanesville VFW Post, 1318 Putnam Avenue. Hoyer and Space will discuss why Congress has under funded veterans' health care and benefits by billions of dollars. From the press release:
Hoyer, who was first elected to Congress in 1981, has worked tirelessly to ensure that America's veterans receive the care and benefits they have earned. In 2000, he sponsored the legislation creating the Veterans History Project. Last year, the American Legion named Hoyer one of its "Unsung Heroes" of the 108th Congress for his efforts to ensure the affordability and accessibility of veterans' health care. Congressman Hoyer also successfully thwarted efforts to gut key military installations on the East Coast.

Gov & Sen: CNN Poll Shows Dems With Large Leads

A CNN poll released today shows Rep. Ted Strickland (D-Lisbon) leading Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (R-Cincinnati) by 23 points, and Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon) leading Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Cedarville) by 11 points, with only one week to go before voting ends:

59% Strickland (D)
36% Blackwell (R)

54% Brown (D)
43% DeWine (R)

The telephone poll of 542 likely voters was conducted October 26-29 by Opinion Research Corp. The margin of error is 4 points.

UPDATE: Also out today are new Wall Street Journal/Zogby Interactive polls, and they're very out of step with the other results we've been seeing:

50.8% Strickland (D)
43.3% Blackwell (R)

48.7% Brown (D)
47.3% DeWine (R)

These polls have a margin of error of 3.7 points. Frankly, don't put any stock in these. The average of the last five polls in each race at Pollster.com puts Strickland up by 24 points and Brown by nearly 12.

Secty State: Brunner (D) Endorsed by Cincinnati Enquirer

In a major development in this race, the Cincinnati Enquirer, hometown paper of Greg Hartmann (R-Cincinnati), today endorsed his opponent, Jennifer Brunner (D-Columbus). The editors call both "strong candidates" but prefer Brunner because of her "experience as an attorney specializing in election law and, later, as a respected Franklin County Common Pleas Court judge, make her the better choice." They review Brunner's campaign proposals in some detail and conclude that she brings a "mature, comprehensive perspective" to the office, "developed over years of solid service and rare expertise in election issues."

Ohio House Races: News and Notes

The latest on the races for State Representative:

4th District: Former talk radio host Dennis Shreefer (D-Lima) is running against city council president Matt Huffman (R-Lima) for the seat of term-limited Rep. John R. Willamowski (R-Lima) in this district that encompasses highly-conservative Allen County. Thanks to the Ohio House Democratic Caucus blog for pointing out that "the last Democrat to represent Allen County in the Ohio House of Representatives was Ortha O. Barr, a hotel proprietor and attorney who served from 1931-34." Shreefer could be on the verge of an historic victory, however, because the Lima News reported Sunday that Huffman leads Shreefer by only 7 points (49% to 42%), with 9% of the voters undecided. In the city of Lima, Shreefer leads Huffman by 63% to 26% with 11% undecided. “It’s close enough to be a contest, and I’ll be working as hard as I have, and more,” Shreefer told the reporter.

12th District: The Cleveland Plain Dealer endorsed veteran legislator Michael DeBose (D-Cleveland) today, writing that during his four years in office he "has busied himself largely with criminal justice and health care issues." He has advocated improvements to the Amber Alert system and for "more specific ways to monitor sexual offenders after their release from prison." The editors also praise DeBose for his community education summits, "a valuable public service." Anthony Cefaratti (R-Maple Heights) did not attend the endorsement interview. This Cuyahoga County district comprises Garfield Heights, Maple Heights, and Cleveland Wards 1, 2 and part of 3.

25th District: Rep. Dan Stewart (D-Columbus) gave Daily Show reporter Samantha Bee a tour around the Ohio Statehouse yesterday. Stewart, no relation to host Jon Stewart, has the endorsement of both the Columbus Dispatch and the Suburban News Publications in his contest with challenger Michael D. Wiles (R-Columbus). Hat-tip to the Ohio House Democratic Caucus Blog.

42nd District: The Akron Beacon Journal gave challenger Paul Colavecchio (D-Cuyahoga Falls) a big boost the week before last by endorsing him over two-term incumbent John Widowfield (R-Cuyahoga Falls). Colavecchio is a staff attorney for the United Auto Workers' legal services plan in Macedonia. His wife Diana Colavecchio ran against Widowfield two years ago but did not gain the newspaper's endorsement. The editors praise Widowfield as "a voice of moderation" but criticize him on education funding for "tinkering around the edges, the larger and necessary task of an overhaul eluding him" and for delaying the addition of new judges to the Summit County Common Pleas Court in deference to powerful county Republican Party chairman Alex Arshinkoff. "In short, John Widowfield has had his chance." The editors praise Colavecchio for running a clean campaign and working hard, for being committed to a comprehensive school funding solution, and for demonstrating his independence by rejecting contributions from political action committees (including from the UAW). This Summit County district covers most of Cuyahoga Falls and Hudson, Stow, Silver Lake and Munroe Falls.

43rd District: Christine Croce (R-Green) has filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission against literature mailed by the Ohio Democratic Party on behalf of opponent Stephen Dyer (D-Green). The flyer says that Croce "recommended reducing charges against a man, 39, who was accused of using the Internet to lure a 20-year-old woman with mental disabilities to Akron before raping her." Croce said that she offered the defendant a plea bargain but it was rejected and the subsequent trial resulted in a stiff sentence. She also said the only reason she offered the plea was the victim's mother did not want her daughter to go through the ordeal of testifying. The Democrats and Dyer said that the flier was accurate because Croce did in fact offer the plea deal, in which 11 felony charges would have beeen reduced to two. Dyer also said Croce has been touting her law-enforcement experience on the campaign trail, and he believes the case is a representation of her experience. In an earlier complaint, Croce also accused Dyer of not having the proper campaign address on his literature. Hearings have been set on both complaints.

46th District: Mark Dansack (D-Monclova Township) has issued the first of a series of press releases recapping the reasons to elect him as a "voice for positive change" over incumbent Mark Wagoner, Jr (R-Toledo), who "embraces the present 'pay to play' dynamics now running rampant in Columbus." Today's release states that "Dansack will work to restructure state agencies in order to eliminate wasteful spending and wasteful investment practices" while "Wagoner will continue to accept large donations from corporate PACS and look the other way when Ohioans are being ripped off by powerful special interests":
We need to look no further than the Bureau of Workers Compensation in Ohio to see the obvious graft and misuse/misappropriation of public funds. From the investment deals which have cost Ohioans hundreds of millions of dollars, to the managed care method of treating our injured workers, which has resulted in waste of $1.4 billion to $1.6 billion since its implementation in the late 1990s, it is clear that change is needed in the way we administrate this system and also in the level of oversight which is required to insure elimination of waste and ineffeciency.
Dansack also takes Wagoner to task for failing to respond to Dansack's public challenge on September 14th to seek a "stay" of new legislation that cuts workers compensation benefits in the wake of investment losses, until a full investigation into the irregularities at the BWC is conducted.

50th District: John Johnson (D-Perry Township) was charged Tuesday with sexual battery and two counts of sexual imposition pursuant to an indictment alleging that he engaged in sexual conduct with a minor female between Jan. 1 and July 1. Johnson is in jail on $250,000 bond, facing one to five years in prison. His attorney says he denies all allegations and looks forward to going to trial. Ohio Republican Party Chair Bob Bennett called for Johnson to be removed from the ballot, and the Ohio Democratic Party concurred. "We have done nothing to promote this man's candidacy," said ODP spokesman Randy Borntrager. "He is not on the sample ballot we send out telling people what our slate is." Incumbent John P. Hagan (R-Alliance) is the other candidate in this district.

91st District: Columbus Dispatch columnist Joe Hallett called a TV ad being aired by former city law director William Hayes (R-Pataskala) against attorney Dan Dodd (D-Hebron) "the scummiest attack so far" in this year of sharply negative campaigns:
In a district that is 97 percent white, this is the "Willie Horton" ad of 2006, showing a big photo of a black deathrow inmate next to a photo of Dodd. "Dan Dodd does not want this man to be executed," a narrator says. "He kidnapped, raped and murdered a 14-year-old girl. Dodd’s liberal plan would spare his life." The evidence for this claim, which is not cited in the ad, is a scholarly treatise written in 2003 by Dodd and seven other University of Cincinnati law students showing that 88 of 173 Ohio Death Row inmates would be removed from Death Row if criteria used by a commission in Illinois were applied to Ohio.

Candidates who sling such sludge should not be rewarded.
This district includes all of Perry and Hocking counties and parts of Licking and Pickaway counties. Incumbent Ron Hood (R-Ashville) ran for the State Senate, 31st District, but lost in the primary.

UPDATE: Thanks to Paul at BSB for pointing out this amazing piece in the Logan Daily News, castigating Hayes for not repudiating the TV ad (which it denounces as scurrilous, racist, and beneath contempt) and endorsing Dodd in the election.

Monday, October 30

OH-1 & OH-2: Cranley (D) Up by 2, Wulsin (D) Down by 5

In addition to the poll reported earlier for the 12th Congressional District, Majority Watch also release results today for the 1st and 2nd Districts, showing John Cranley (D-Cincinnati) statistically tied with Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati) and Vic Wulsin (D-Indian Hill) trailing Rep. "Mean Jean" Schmidt (R-Loveland) by a small margin:

48% Cranley (D)
46% Chabot (R)

Bush approval 37%, partisan identity 37% Republican 32% independent, 30% Democrat.

51% Schmidt (R)
46% Wulsin (D)

Bush approval 45%, partisan identity 44% Republican, 29% independent, 27% Democrat.

The 1st District poll involved 999 respondents and has a margin of error of 3.09 points, the 2nd District poll involved 972 respondents and has a maring of error of 3.14 points. Both were taken October 24-26.

Sen: DeWine (R) Voted to Confirm Bush Judicial Nominees Who Made Political Contributions During Nomination Process

Russell at BSB has just linked to a new article at Salon.com, reporting the results of a four-month investigation of political donations by Bush-appointed judicial nominees. The investigation reveals that six appellate court judges and 18 district court judges contributed a total of more than $44,000 to politicians who were influential in their appointments. Among the recipients are Ohio's two senators, George Voinovich (R) and Mike DeWine (R). There are no laws or regulations prohibiting political contributions by a candidate for a federal judgeship, it just looks really, really bad.

It appears from reading the article that DeWine returned the contributions he received from the two judicial nominees highlighted in the article, Deborah Cook and John Adams. (Voinovich did not return contributions from these or another nominee.) Still, DeWine voted to confirm these judges, knowing the unethical conduct in which they had engaged.

Smaller Government

From a reader, with credit to Hannah's Blog:

Auditor: ODP Files Elections Complaint Against Taylor (R)

The Ohio Democratic Party announced tonight that ODP Chair Rep. Chris Redfern (D-Catawba Island) has filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission alleging that state auditor candidate State Rep. Mary Taylor (R-Green) purposely made false statements to voters about owning a construction business, Welty Building Company. A hearing on the complaint will be held on Wednesday at 11:30 am.

Seventeen press releases on Taylor’s campaign web site claim that “Taylor and her husband Don own and operate a construction management firm in the Akron area.” An additional press release quotes her as saying that she is a “small business owner.” However, in a letter sent to the ODP, Welty’s lawyer stated that Taylor "owns no interest in her husband’s business, and has not since December 31, 2004."

According to the ODP, these statements of ownership and Welty Building Company’s disavowal of same lead to larger questions of Taylor's honesty on the campaign trail and as a state representative. “Mary Taylor is intentionally misleading voters about her qualifications and just can’t be trusted," said Redfern. "Ohioans do not want more scandal and deceit and she should be ashamed by her campaign tactics.”

The complaint comes as Taylor has struggled to explain her role in "Letter-gate." In brief, she wrote and distributed to legislative colleagues a letter on official House stationary noting that "several of the Ohio Republican Party’s biggest supporters" supported restoring funding to University of Akron’s Global Business Institute. It was later revealed that Welty Building Company was supposed to receive a $331,000 contract to build the Global Business Institute building. In addition to the issue of false statements to be considered by the elections panel, the question of Taylor's criminal liability under Ohio Revised Code Section 2921.42 needs to be considered. That statute defines the following conduct as a fourth degree felony:
§ 2921.42 - Having an unlawful interest in a public contract

(A) No public official shall knowingly do any of the following:

(1) Authorize, or employ the authority or influence of his office to secure authorization of any public contract in which he, a member of his family, or any of his business associates has an interest; ...
The ODP has launched a website called SomethingAboutMaryTaylor.com, detailing Taylor’s many ethical lapses.

Ohio Sen 29th: West (D) Tied with Schuring (R) in Poll

A source who communicated with me on condition of anonymity reports that an internal poll conducted by the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus shows city councilman Thomas West (D-Canton) in a statistical dead heat with incumbent State Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton):

48% Schuring (R)
46% West (D)

This poll reportedly has a margin of error of about 2.2 points. The 29th District is comprised of Stark County, which includes both a large Democratic urban area (Canton) and Republican-leaning suburbs and rural areas. It was narrowly won by Kerry in the 2004 presidential election. However, the source indicates that according to the same poll the Democratic candidate for Stark County Commissioner, Todd Bosley, is leading Republican incumbent Richard Regula (son of Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Navarre)) by ten points.

Statewide Races: News and Notes

The latest in the statewide contests:

Governor: Rep. Ted Strickland (D-Lisbon) swept up four more newspaper endorsements this weekend: the Youngstown Vindicator (“Strickland has brought a touch of class” to the governor’s race), the Dayton Daily News ("not just because he’s been the better gentleman, but also because he’s right about what [the] job needs to be"), the Chillicothe Gazette ("a principled fighter who possesses drive and determination"), and the Lake County News Herald (“Ohio needs leadership now more than ever, and Strickland will provide it”).

Attorney General: State Sen. Marc Dann (D-Liberty Township) continues to display his tenacity in rooting out corruption in state government. Since early this month he has been seeking release of an internal audit at the Bureau of Workers Compensation directed at allegations that powerful state officials have intervened in the rate setting process, securing favorable rates for politically connected employers. Dann renewed his demand at a press conference last week, and on Saturday it was reported in the Cleveland Plain Dealer that BWC Administrator William Mabe has asked for the audit to be expedited and released by Wednesday. "Dann said a confidential source at the BWC has told him that unnamed legislators were able to reduce the medical insurance rates paid by 'politically connected employers arbitrarily, manually, without any actuarial analysis done.' He said the source said the reductions occurred 'on a repeated basis over the last 10 years.'"

Dann answered questions on the national blog Fire Dog Lake on Saturday.

Today Dann said the controversy swirling around the new voter identification rules for absentee ballots highlights the need for the Voter Integrity Division he will create within the Attorney General's office when he is elected. "Thousands of Ohioans may be disenfranchised because the Republican Secretary of State and the Republican Attorney General are once again playing politics with the right to vote," Dann said. "If we are going to have voter ID requirements, they should be enforced equally and equitably in every county. No one should lose their right to vote simply because they happen to live in a county where the rules are not being applied as they should be, as the evidence in this case suggests."

Auditor: The Cleveland Plain Dealer endorsed State Rep. Mary Taylor (R-Green) over State Rep. Barbara Sykes (D-Akron) on Sunday, swayed by her status as a CPA. However, the editors praise Sykes as an "earnest, smart legislator who has rightly questioned Taylor's subtle attempts to inject race into this contest."

Sykes was endorsed by the Lake County News Herald today. The editors wrote that "the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation investment scandal has transformed the race for state auditor into a quest for restoring public confidence in the office," and Sykes' twelve years as a deputy auditor for Summit County is a better background to deal with this challenge.

Secretary of State: Jennifer Brunner (D-Columbus) will answer questions in a live blog session on DailyKos tomorrow, October 31st, at 11:00 am. Brunner will answer as many questions as possible for an hour. Brunner's campaign indicates that topics of discussion are likely to include "the recent voter ID rulings, the state of elections in Ohio, and Brunner's ideas about how to improve our elections process." Participants can click here at 11:00 am tomorrow and they will be redirected to the live blogging thread. Anyone can ask a question early by sending it to liveblogquestions-at-jenniferbrunner-dot-com.

Treasurer: There will be an "Ohio is in Jeopardy" party for Rich Cordray (D-Grove City) on Thursday, November 2nd, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the Harry Buffalo restaurant on E. 4th Street in downtown Cleveland. (Cordray was a five-time Jeopardy champion, back when that was the limit.) Tickets are $25 and $50.

Cong OH-1: MSM Denounces False Advertising by Chabot (R)

This is amazing. The campaign of John Cranley (D-Cincinnati) has put together a staggering list of media denunciations of false advertising by incumbent Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati):

“Republican mudslinging on an industrial scale”
(Annenberg Public Policy Center - FactCheck.Org, 10/27/06)

“Factcheck.org has called out Chabot’s ads as ‘deceptive’”
(The Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/25/06)

“The very definition of political mudslinging”
(Annenberg Public Policy Center - FactCheck.Org, 10/27/06)

“Many of the ‘headlines’ presented in the ad never ran in any local newspaper.”
(The Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/23/06)


(Annenberg Public Policy Center -- FactCheck.Org, 10/11/06)

“This is the ad the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee didn’t want fact-checked.”
(The Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/28/06)

“Nobody’s proposing paying benefits to illegals”
(Annenberg Public Policy Center - FactCheck.Org, 10/11/06)

“NRCC spokesman refused to release the ad’s supporting documentation, and would not discuss the claims made on it.”
(The Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/28/06)

“This ad provides no documentation for its claims”
(The Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/25/06)

“Vote cited in the GOP ad had nothing to do with taxes or spending”
(The Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/08/06)

“Cranley was endorsed by the FOP for City Council twice after he supposedly ‘turned his back’ on them”
(The Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/11/06)

“Outrageous assertions”
(The Boston Globe, 10/28/06)

“None of that money went to ‘riot sympathizers’”
(The Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/11/06)

“The charge is a mischaracterization”

(Annenberg Public Policy Center - FactCheck.Org, 10/11/06)

“The police-reform agreements, passed unanimously by City Council in 2002, were supported by politicians across the political spectrum, including two Republican councilmen (Pat DeWine and Chris Monzel) and former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. The Fraternal Order of Police was also a signatory to the agreement, and the national president was present at the signing ceremony.”
(The Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/11/06)

(The Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/23/06)

“Smearing the personal character”
(The Boston Globe, 10/28/06)

“Personal attack”
(Annenberg Public Policy Center - FactCheck.Org, 10/27/06)

“A hyperbolic quantum leap”
(The Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/11/06)

Cong OH-12: Shamansky (D) Only 5 Points Behind Tiberi (R)

A new independent poll by Majority Watch has Bob Shamansky (D-Bexley) very close to incumbent Pat Tiberi (R-Westerville):

51% Tiberi (R)
46% Shamansky (D)
3% Undecided

The problem for Shamansky is that Tiberi is over 50%, so adding the undecided voters to Shamansky's total won't overcome Tiberi's lead. However, the poll indicates that more among Tiberi's supporters are "weak" than among Shamansky's backers. Of those with a strong opinion, Tiberi's lead is only 41% to 40%.

Bush's approval rating is only 38%, the same proportion as there were Republicans in the sample. Independents constituted 28% of the sample and Democrats 34%.

The poll was taken October 24-26 from 1002 respondents and has a margin of error of 3.9%.

UPDATE: I'm told that within the Franklin County portion of the 12th Congressional District, Shamansky leads Tiberi 49% to 48%. This bodes well for the Democratic candidates in the 3rd Ohio Senate District and the 20th Ohio House District, i.e., Emily Kreider (D-Westerville) and Bev Campbell (D-Gahanna).

Congressional Races: News and Notes

There's always something new in Ohio's Congressional races:

Senate: There is a good diary on DailyKos today about the joint appearance in Columbus by Michael J. Fox and Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon). UPDATE: There's also a very nice report by Renee in Ohio at Howard Empowered People.

1st District: According to the campaign of John Cranley (D-Cincinnati), the Cincinnati Enquirer and Census Bureau statistics contradict the claim by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati) in a debate that Cincinnati has lost population while Cranley has been a councilman. According to the newspaper report, the City of Cincinnati has gained in population since Cranley has been on the council.

5th District: The suddenly frantic Rep. Paul Gillmor (R-Old Fort) is attacking favorable poll results released last week by the campaign of Robin Weirauch (D-Naopoleon) as "false" on the basis that Weirauch campaign manager Trish Lanahan is a principal of re:organize, the outfit that conducted the poll. They also dispute the validity of a figure that Weirauch often cites, 4,000 jobs lost in the 5th Congressional District, because the source is a think tank (Policy Matters Ohio) whose principals donate more money to Democrats than to Republicans. On the basis of these arguments they claim that Weirauch is "unethical." The problem, of course, is that they haven't come forward with anything to show that the data in either case is inaccurate, only that they don't like the sources. (Gillmor's sudden interest in campaigning suggests that the polling data is quite accurate indeed.) That's a far cry from "false," or from "unethical."

14th District: Former prosecutor and now Congressman Steve LaTourette (R-Concord Township) and the Republican-controlled Congress have failed to fund the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), resulting in the closing of the only rape crisis center in the 14th Congressional District. "The switch to prevention education must not come at the expense of helping people who are already victims," stated Lew Katz (D-Chesterland). "We must make certain that the rape crisis center serving the 14th District receives the necessary funding so that they can continue the essential services they provide to victims." Cindy Vanallen, Director of the Victims of Crimes Assistance office, stated "it's a sad day for our victims of assault or rape ... . My question is about the whole shift in funding. How do you tell an 80-year-old woman who has been raped, she should have taken prevention measures?"

18th District: In an hour-long debate broadcast on WJER Radio today, Zack Space (D-Dover) and State Sen. Joy Padgett (R-Coshocton) sparred over ethics and the economy. Space told voters that he would be "the agent of change," dedicated to "restoring a people-focused agenda in Congress." Space said that "Washington is broken and in need of new leadership":
I have two kids, and I'm worried about their future because our country is headed in the wrong direction. Our government doesn't seem inclined to work for us anymore, and we need to change the way business is done in Washington. I believe our government should do the same thing we expect from our own families. This means balance our checkbook, establish pay-as-you-go standards that require us not to spend more money than we have coming in, and bring transparency to the earmarking process to eliminate wasteful spending. Our government must be more concerned with fiscal responsibility.
The forum featured calls from listeners. Among the questions was why Padgett, a 20 year educator and member of the teachers' union, failed to receive the endorsement of the Ohio Education Association and the National Education Association. Space called Padgett's casual dismissal of the endorsement an "afront to all those thousands competent hardworking teachers in the state of Ohio, and nationally who support this campaign because they understand that I get it when it comes to the need to prioritize educational funding."

Ohio House Races: News and Notes UPDATED

Developments in Ohio House of Representatives races, mostly involving newspaper endorsements:

16th District: Last Friday the Cleveland Plain Dealer endorsed Ed Herman (R-Rocky River) over Jennifer Brady (D-Westlake) to fill the open seat of term-limited State Rep. Sally Conway Kilbane (R-Rocky River). The editors called them both "intriguing candidates" and praised Brady as a "good candidate" who "brings a grass-roots passion to education-related issues" and "is most persuasive when she says she would be a tireless advocate for children," but opted for Herman on the dubious basis that he "speaks to issues with greater specificity" and is "better prepared to lead." The Cuyahoga County district includes Bay Village, Fairview Park, Rocky River, North Olmsted and Westlake.

19th District: The Columbus Dispatch endorsed Majority Floor Leader Larry L. Flowers (R-Canal Winchester) over feisty challenger Marian Harris (D-Columbus) based on the former's lengthy experience, although praising Harris as "well-spoken and sincere." However, the Suburban News Publications endorsed Harris, noting that she has spent her career in behind-the-scenes constituent services for various elected officials and political campaigns and is "intelligent and extremely well-versed on the issues." Harris "promises to focus on education finance reform." As to Flowers, the editors believe his "tenure has been marked by too great a loyalty to the Republican House agendas of Speakers Larry Householder and Jon Husted. Those agendas have failed Ohioans on many fronts and local school districts in particular."

20th District: The Columbus Dispatch also endorsed incumbent Rep. Jim McGregor (R-Gahanna) because of his "experience and political savvy," including 18 years as Gahanna’s mayor, but the Suburban News Publications endorsed challenger Bev Campbell (D-Gahanna) for bringing "a fresh perspective and enthusiasm to her candidacy" and her sincere "desire to improve the lives of those in her district and Ohio in general." The editors note that Campbell "has a variety of experience to draw upon, from her work as a financial adviser for Merrill Lynch and 13 years in law practice" and "achieving the level of senior financial analyst" at Sun Oil, and conclude that "she can be an effective advocate on the issues she identifies as important -- the access of health care, reform of Ohio's tax system and improvements to Ohio's water and air quality." McGregor, on the other hand, "has been part of a legislature which has been largely unresponsive to things such as the DeRolph ruling, job losses and the spiraling costs of higher education."

21st District: The Columbus Dispatch rendered a split decision on Kevin Bacon (R) and Dean Hernandez (D-Westerville), vying for the open seat being vacated by Linda Reidelbach (R). The editors write that "[b]oth candidates have a pro-business orientation, and either man could do well representing the district in north-central Franklin County," although they fry Bacon for attacking Hernandez as a tax-raiser when Hernandez has never held office. The Suburban News Publications editors also call both candidates "strong" but prefer Hernandez as "willing to push for progress on the long-stagnant issue of school funding" and for questioning public funding of charter shools. They criticize Bacon for declining to take a position on the 65% education plan of gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell (R-Cincinnati), which "politicians of both parties have dismissed [as] simplistic and unworkable." Bacon's hesitation to contradict Blackwell "suggests that he would not be the kind of independent and bold thinker Ohio needs in the Statehouse."

22nd District: The Columbus Dispatch also split on incumbent Rep. Jim Hughes (R-Columbus) against John Carney (D-Columbus), calling both "qualified to serve." The editors write that Hughes "knows the district well" and has developed a reputation "as a straight shooter," but Carney has "made the accessibility and affordability of health care and improving Ohio’s education the cornerstones of his campaign" and "has sorely needed expertise in healthcare issues and is well-spoken and energetic." The Suburban News Publications favors Hughes over Carney, writing that he "works hard to be involved in community issues important to his constituents," but also indicating that "there is a lot about Carney to like" because "his background in the health-care industry could be a valuable asset."

24th District: The Columbus Dispatch has no preference between Ted Celeste (D-Grandview Heights) and incumbent Geoff Smith (R-Upper Arlington) in this Franklin County district that includes Upper Arlington, Marble Cliff, Grandview Heights and Valleyview. The Dispatch wrote that "voters have a choice between a three-term incumbent and a community-minded challenger who brings a background of diverse experiences to the mix" and "either would serve capably," although the editors criticized Smith's support for the "ill-conceived gambling initiative," Issue 3. They praise Celeste as "well-known and respected for his service in a number of business, education and civic organizations" and note that in a year of extreme mud-slinging, "Celeste’s positive campaign is reassuring and contrasts sharply with Smith’s," as the Republican’s literature has raised issues that have nothing to do with Ohio. The Suburban News Publications regard both candidates as "solid citizens" and "committed to public service," but "Celeste will be better suited to work with the new guard that is on the verge of winning the governor's office." The editors also rip Smith's negative campaigning:
Smith and his supporters have tried to sell the idea that voting for Celeste means a vote for his brother and a vote for the higher taxes seen by Ohioans in the late 1980s. It's a cheap shot that seems to forget the 1-cent "temporary" state sales tax approved by the GOP-dominated legislature in 2003 and the half cent extended in 2005, and a charge that opens the door to all candidates being painted by the shortcomings of their family members. Voters deserve better information and campaigning than that. It's the sort of politicking that tries to keep residents' focus off the real issues that affect their lives.
26th District: In a contest that I have read little about, the Columbus Dispatch and the Suburban News Publications both endorse Tracy Heard (D-Columbus) over Michael Elicson (R-Columbus). Heard defeated incumbent Mike Mitchell (D-Columbus) in the primary. The Dispatch notes that she believes in replacing lost jobs through the production of alternative fuel sources, including putting South Side manufacturing infrastructure to use building windmills and solar panels. Both candidates "are passionate about standing up for urban neighborhoods." Neither has held political office but "Heard’s experience as a legislative aide to former state Sen. Leigh E. Herrington of Ravenna gives her the edge." The SNP "gives Heard the edge based on her in-depth knowledge of economic and community development and of the need for a resolution to the school-funding dilemma" and because she "is an advocate of the state taking greater advantage of its agricultural base to become a leader in alternative fuels." They note that Elicson objects to Heard's use of the surname of her mother-in-law (the late Columbus school board member Loretta Heard) on the campaign trail, but state that "her grasp of the issues reveals her to be far more than just a legacy candidate."

41st District: There is a piece about this contest between Rep. Brian Williams (D-Akron), former head of Akron public schools, and former football star Tom Cousineau (R-Akron) in today's Akron Beacon Journal, but it's pretty much fluff. Of much more interest is coverage of the ORP's fear-mongering and fundamentally misleading mailers against Williams on the trumped-up issue of illegal aliens and concealed hand-guns, discussed on the excellent Akron political blogs Pho's Akron Pages and Psychobilly Democrat. This is a race that the Republicans are targeting, but it helps Williams that he has the Beacon Journal endorsement.

57th District: The Cleveland Plain Dealer issued a glowing endorsement of Matt Lundy (D-Elyria) last Thursday. The editors write of incumbent Earl "Marty" Martin (R-Avon Lake) that he "is campaigning like a man who knows his legislative record is mighty thin" and that "his stated aims are just party boilerplate and his attacks on Lundy are simply absurd." In contrast, Lundy "understands the need for tougher ethics laws, open government and easier access to public records" and "says he would work to make access to Ohio's public universities and colleges more affordable." This Lorain County district includes Avon, Avon Lake, parts of Carlisle Township, Eaton Township, parts of Elyria and Elyria Township, North Ridgeville and Sheffield.

62nd District: The Cleveland Plain Dealer also gave a strong endorsement to Rep. Lorraine Fende (D-Willowick) over challenger Greg Schmidt (R-Willoughby) on Saturday, noting that Fende, "a former mayor of Willowick, advocates a long list of reforms, from changing the way Ohio funds public schools to reducing the costs of medicines." The Lake County district comprises Concord Township, Eastlake, Kirtland, Kirtland Hills, Lakeline, Mentor-on-the-Lake, Timberlake, Waite Hill, Wickliffe, Willoughby, Willoughby Hills and Willowick.

69th District: The Plain Dealer recently reently endorsed former judge and legislator William Batchelder (R-Medina) over Jack Schira (D-Brunswick Hills), due to the former's "wealth of experience both inside and outside Columbus."

73rd District: The Mansfield News Journal picked Jay Goyal (D-Mansfield) over Phil Holloway (R-Mansfield), although writing that "each offer[s] a thorough understanding of key issues and a sincere dedication to serving the best interests of area residents." These candidates are running for the seat being vacated by term-limited Bill Hartnett (D-Mansfield), and once held by gubernatorial candidate Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon). Goyal is an engineer and vice president of his family's business, Goyal Industries. He worked hard to win the primary and has knocked on 10,000 doors. Holloway "amassed a wealth of experience during 24 years as an aide" to retiring Rep. Michael Oxley (R-Findlay) and previously as a Mansfield City Council member. The editors chose Goyal because "the legislature needs new ideas and fresh approaches to solving problems," and they also were sharply critical of Holloway's misleading political ads that falsely attack Goyal as having a tax "plan" that could expand the sales tax to prescription drugs, gasoline and school lunchhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifes. "The ads are a scare tactic not based on fact. Holloway has many good qualities, but we would have expected better from him, based on his stated commitment to 'restoring trust.'"

UPDATE - 92nd District: Reacting to a misleading mailer from Rep. Jimmey Stewart (R-Athens) that erroneously implies a lack of support for challenger Debbie Phillips (D-Athens), Athens Mayor Ric Abel stated today that "[w]hile he disagreed with Phillips on a piece of city council legislation, it has nothing to do with her ability as a candidate for the Ohio House seat," and "Debbie Phillips is an Athens City Council member who has been very supportive of her constituency and she will also be a hard working State Representative." Abel also said that "I have no doubt that Debbie will be a full time Representative who will devote much time and energy to her House District."

93rd District: The race between Rep. Jennifer Garrison (D-Marietta) and Mayor Don Gadd (R-Byesville) is profiled in the Zanesville Times Recorder today. Garrison is talking up alternative energy development and infrastructure improvements (including broadband internet access) as the key to jobs and improving the economy. Gadd links jobs primarily to tax reductions, saying that "last year's tax reforms were a start, but much more needs to be done." He wants organizations like the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District to face the same voter-approved levies as school districts face in order to receive assessment dollars. "Jobs and taxes go together ... I believe we need a fast-growth economy and a slow-growth government." On education, Garrison calls it "the key to economic development" and touts her proposed school funding pland that would reduce the tax burden on property owners "and require the state to stop passing the buck to low-wealth school districts." Gadd said he would not make promises on education, adding "I do not believe the people of Ohio can sustain a huge tax increase to change the way schools are funded. We have to make fiscally responsible decisions and work to raise revenues by keeping more of our young people here. Jobs come first."

94th District: This race was recently profiled here. Aaron Phillips (D-Zanesville) faces incumbent Jim Aslanides (R-Coschocton) in this largely rural district in Coshocton and Muskingum counties. Both candidates "agree that there is a need to bolster the local economy as well as produce a better educational system for the entire state," but "Aslanides cites improving health care accessibility as another priority for the district" while "Phillips said the state needs to focus on the ethics of its governing leaders." For Aslanides, sparking the economy takes precedence over other issues. "First of all, the way to make health care better and our local education funding better is to improve the economy," Aslanides said. "The government can't create new jobs. We need to equip this area with the tools to create new jobs," by which he means "business-friendly" tax cuts. "I'd also like to privatize portions of Ohio's Department of Development," Aslanides added, and he also asserted that so-called tort abuse "has significantly driven out (health care) providers and health care professionals."

Phillips said "the state's and district's current and future prosperity rides on the ability of every child in the state to receive a quality education and the ability of every school district to provide such an education." He asked, "How many times do we need to be told that the funding formula (of Ohio's public education system) is unconstitutional? I think twice is one too many." As a youth leader in a Zanesville school, Phillips and his wife "have heard many students remark that they planned on leaving the state after graduation because there is nothing for them locally." He said the state "can attract businesses - particularly manufacturing and research industries - by creating an educated base of workers" because "education and the economy go hand in hand." Phillips added that the tax cuts for businesses and for people in high tax brackets haven't helped the average Ohioan. "We are the fifth highest taxed state and we are relying on property taxes to fund our schools ... When attracting new business, there are certainly going to be times when tax benefits are appropriate... but we need to focus on (providing) these benefits so they go to the people who need them most," Phillips said. As for government ethics, Phillips said "elected officials and those who work for the government should be held accountable for their actions and have records of their work accessible by the people in the state." He said he'll push for all voting records to be available online so constituents can watch how a representative is voting.

Ohio Senate Races: News and Notes

Items of interest in Ohio Senate races:

7th Senate District: Rick Smith (D-Cincinnati) is running a high-energy, innovative campaign against incumbent Robert Schuler (R-Sycamore Township). The estimable Ohio 2nd Blog explains how, including Smith using YouTube.com to post his debate with Schuler online here.

11th Senate District: State Sen. Theresa Fedor (D-Toledo) spoke out strongly last week against the Ohio Supreme Court ruling that the Ohio charters school system is constitutional. Fedor expressed agreement with Justice Alice Resnick's dissenting view that the Court failed to fulfill its responsibility to not only interpret but also apply the Constitution to this experimental form of education. "The Court failed on other fronts as well," Fedor continued. "It didn’t fully consider how the charter school experiment is undercutting our already unconstitutional system of school funding thus adding another step in retreat from DeRolph. The Court also failed Ohioans’ right to control their local schools and failed to recognize Ohioans do not have full transparency of their tax dollars. The court is essentially telling us that it is constitutional to privatize public education tax dollars, and that is simply not acceptable." Fedor called for reforming charter schools by increasing public accountability and transparency and "improving oversight of the currently lax experimental system.” The reforms are needed so charter schools may make a positive contribution to our educational system, presently not the case due to "rampant fraud and abuse in the system and an unacceptable failure rate."

23rd Senate District: The Cleveland Plain Dealer endorsed Sen. Dale Miller (D-Cleveland) last Friday, calling him "a smart, diligent and experienced lawmaker." The editors seemed more impressed with funeral home director and independent candidate Jim Craciun (I-Cleveland) than Republican challenger Howard Shrimpton (R-Parma), who appears to be running solely on opposition to taxes. They give the nod to Miller "by virtue of his track record and proven abilities." The Cuyahoga County district includes much of Cleveland's West Side, Brooklyn, Brook Park, Lakewood, Linndale, Middleburg Heights, Parma and Parma Heights.

31st Senate District: In a race that I don't get to read much about, the Pickerington Times-Sun (a Suburban News Publications newspaper) has endorsed Dennis Lupher (D-Pickerington) over State Rep. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) for the seat of term-limited State Sen. Jay Hottinger (R-Newark). The editors write that they "believe it is a time for new ideas" because of the Republican Party's "failure to adequately address the major issues in Ohio when it has been in the majority." Lupher is an economics professor at Ohio University's Lancaster campus and "retired from the military with more than 33 years of service, active and reserve." They state that he "has a thorough grasp of the statewide education, economic, budget and insurance problems as well as local issues."

Cong OH-5: Weirauch (D) Endorsed by Toledo Blade

In a big boost for the challenger, Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon) was endorsed yesterday by the Toledo Blade over entrenched incumbent David Gillmor (R-Old Fort). The editors state that Weirauch "has grown considerably as a candidate since she ran and lost" two years ago, and they slam Gillmor as "an absentee congressman who keeps his home in the suburbs of Columbus [and whose] 18-year congressional year is decidedly undistinguished." The sharpest words concern Iraq:
Five communities in his district have lost soldiers in the Iraq war, yet we see no challenge to the President and no leadership from a congressman who after nine terms in Washington ought to be showing some.
The editors note that Weirauch "has put herself out there, [and] is working hard on her campaign" and that she "vows to be a much more visible congressman than Mr. Gillmor." They conclude that she "would be an effective member of Congress for the 5th congressional district."

Gov & Sen: Barack Obama to Campaign in Cleveland Saturday

Political rock star Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) will stump for U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon), gubernatorial candidate Rep. Ted Strickland (D-Lisbon), Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland), and local candidates on Saturday, November 4th, at 7:45 pm at The Civic, 3130 Mayfield Rd., Cleveland Heights. Doors open at 7:00 pm.

Cong OH-14: More Evidence that LaTourette (R) is Neck-Deep in Corruption

Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Concord Township) needs to go. He has repeatedly broken his promises (for example, not to exceed four terms, and to vote against CAFTA), he had a secret affair with a lobbyist, and when he divorced and re-married his best man was Bob Ney. He has a capable opponent in Lew Katz (D-Chesterland), but the mainstream media isn't reporting LaTourette's ties to the culture of corruption.

I wrote before about LaTourette's ties to convicted felons Abramoff, Ney, Volz and Safavian, largely involving LaTourette's prior tenure as chair of the subcommittee that oversees the General Services Administration, and the suspicious surge in campaign contributions from gambling-promoting Cleveland real estate developers who recently received a huge development contract from the GSA. However, that barely scratches the surface. LaTourette is neck deep in tainted campaign cash, including $10,000 donations from PACs associated with Abramoff (two of them), DeLay, and Boehner. Although LaTourette returned one donation from an Abramoff tribal client, there are other suspicious donations that LaTourette has not returned.

Here's a timeline that spells out LaTourette's ties to the Republican culture of corruption:

Sept. 5, 2002: LaTourette signed a letter drafted by Neil Volz, convicted former Abramoff associate and staffer to Rep. Bob Ney, which urged GSA official Steve Perry to give preferential treatment to disadvantaged business groups when evaluating development proposals for the Old Post Office. LaTourette chaired the subcommittee that oversaw the GSA at this time. David Safavian later testified that LaTourette was part of an effort to "rig the rules" in favor of Abramoff's Native American Indian Tribe clients, who were not named but were among the disadvantaged groups. Two such clients subsequently donated to LaTourette.

September 16, 2002: LaTourette receives at least $80,000 in individual $500 donations from persons associated with Cleveland real estate developer Forest City Enterprises (owned by the powerful Ratner family), which company eventually receives an enormous contract from the GSA to develop 44 acres of the Southeast Federal Center (SEFC) in Washington, DC. The law requires donations to be deposited within ten days of receipt, so these strangely timed donations may coincide almost exactly with the GSA letter.

The donations are from Albert Ratner: Executive VP Administration, Forest City Enterprises; Audrey Ratner, Housewife; Betty Ratner, Retired; Brian Ratner, Executive, Forest City Enterprises; Charles Ratner, Exec. VP Administration, Forest City Enterprises; Deborah Ratner, Homemaker; Ilana Ratner, Retired; James Ratner, Executive, Forest City Enterprises; Mark Ratner, Professor, Northwestern University; Nancy Ratner, Teacher, North Shore School; Ron Ratner, Executive, Forest City Enterprises; Susan Ratner, Administrator, Bellfaire; Tawny Ratner, Housewife; Deborah Salzberg, Executive, Forest City Enterprises; Michael Salzberg, Contractor, Salco Mechanical Contractors ; Samuel H. Miller, Executive, Forest City Enterprises; Abraham Miller, self-employed, Graffiti, plus owns 37,988 shares of Forest City Enterprises as of 2001; Barbara Miller, Self-employed, Graffiti. The suspicious grouping and low, identical amount of these donations suggest both improper funnelling of the contributions and a desire to avoid public notice.

October 18, 2002: Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians of California, well-known client of Abramoff, donated $1,000 to LaTourette. This contribution was never returned.

October 19, 2002: Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians of Mississippi, well-known client of Abramoff, donated $500 to LaTourette. Also never returned.

From 2002 to June 2006: Ratner and Salzberg families, connected to Forest City Enterprises, donate a total of at least $112,000 to LaTourette.

September 26, 2003: Neil Volz donated $500 to LaTourette. Never returned.

2004: During LaTourette's Congressional campaign this year, LaTourette received:

* $10,000 from The American Liberty PAC, put together by Rep. Bob Ney and funded in large measure by Jack Abramoff;

* $10,000 from The Freedom Project PAC of Rep. John Boehner, who received at least $15,000 in campaign donations from the Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana, an Abramoff client.

* $10,000 from the Midnight Sun PAC, another fund closely associated with Jack Abramoff.

* $10,000 from The Americans for a Republican Majority PAC, put together by disgraced and indicted Rep. Tom Delay, who is also closely tied to the Abramoff scandal.
July 27, 2004: Neil Volz donated $500 to LaTourette. Never returned.

June 2, 2005: GSA awarded Forest City Enterprises with a contract to develop 44 acres of the SEFC.

October 29, 2005: Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians of Mississippi, well-known client of Abramoff, donated $1,000 to LaTourette. This one donation was returned two months later, with the statement that "I didn't ask for the money and said to send it back." Why did LaTourette not return the earlier tribal donations? Because they were so close in time to the GSA letter, a connection that the mainstream media has so far failed to publicize?

June 26, 2006: LaTourette says, "If Jack Abramoff himself came into my office asking me to sign a letter saying sunshine was good, would it make sunshine bad just because Abramoff wrote it?"

Just this month Bob Ney has pleaded guilty and the FBI has indicated that the Abramoff investigation is expanding. It may be well after the election that LaTourette's ties to this mess are dragged into the national spotlight, but Ohioans in the 14th Congressional District can take matters into their own hands by electing Lew Katz!

[cross-posted at DailyKos]

Ohio Sen 3rd: Dispatch Endorsement of Goodman (R) Draws Fire

The lame endorsement by the Columbus Dispatch of incumbent Sen. David Goodman (R-New Albany) over energetic challenger Emily Kreider (D-Westerville) has attracted well-deserved criticism. From Democratic Underground:
Looks like the Columbus Dispatch may have dropped the ball on [their] endorsement of State Sen. David Goodman. As I recall it was not so long ago that the Dispatch was telling us we should not vote for candidates that sling mud at [their] opponents on TV. Well as we all know David Goodman [has] done nothing more than attack his opponent with over $1,000,000 worth of TV ads to date. Yet the dispatch went out of its way this morning in making the most unbelievable statements I have heard so far this fall about Emily Kreider: "her attacks against Goodman [...] have been shrill and sometimes ill-considered." Come on, Mrs. Kreider is running one of the best campaigns I have seen in a long time. She has knocked on over 6,000 doors. It is grass roots as well as informative to the people of the 3rd Senate [District]. Emily Kreider has worked hard to take the high road in this race as she is still being attack[ed] by Goodman and his Republican party. David Goodman is hiding, he will not tell us what he has done or what he will do for the people of central Ohio. Mr. Goodman sir you are a coward along with your Friends at the Dispatch.
From Blue Bexley:
I challenge the Dispatch or the Goodman campaign to name one shrill attack she or her staff has made against Goodman regarding school funding. One. I know there are a number of Goodman supporters who read this blog. If there is such an attack out there, point me to it. I think that I've been more attuned to every piece of public information in this campaign than anyone, including the Dispatch editorial board, and I can't think of one. They state that there have been 'attacks' (plural). I won't call them out as blatant liars if someone can point out just one single shrill or ill-considered attack that I've missed. ...

... I don't fault the Goodman team for having campaign talking points, I blame the Dispatch for writing something that sounds like it came (to paraphrase one of the more apropos recent criticisms of one of my pieces) from a clueless high-schooler. ...
I've met Kreider several times and I read the Dispatch endorsement and it is totally wrong-headed. Their backhanded dismissal of her innovative, positive campaign as "simplistic" and "shrill" is simply ridiculous. They praise Goodman for his talking point of wanting to "reduce wasteful duplication and competition" in college education, but that turns out to be merely a disguise for buying into Ken Blackwell's dangerously extreme educational platform. Goodman is the candidate who said in a debate that he doesn't need this job, and the voters ought to go ahead and relieve him of it.

I wish Ohioans would draw the right conclusion from the fact that the Republicans are spending a million dollars to try to fend off a challenge by a political newcomer, most of it devoted to their truly absurd attack on whether she voted in every election going back to her mid-twenties. The fact is, Goodman has a miserable record of non-accomplishment, and the residents of the 3rd District deserve better. In any event, money doesn't always carry the day in elections, especially in a year like this, and Kreider has the benefit of an endorsement by the Suburban News Publications and a formidable array of willing volunteers.

Goodman is using the utterly baseless "shrill and misleading attacks" language from the Dispatch endorsement in a new TV attack ad running today. Disgusting.

Congressional Races: News and Notes

Catching up with Ohio's Congressional contests:

Senate: The average of the last ten polls confirms a ten point lead for
Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon), and even a poll of highly conservative Allen County (where Bush defeated Kerry by a 2-1 margin) has Brown leading Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Cedarville) by 48% to 40%, with 8% undecided.

Meanwhile, DeWine is blasted over at Huffington Post for voting in 1986 to prevent important sanctions against the white apartheid regime in South Africa. DeWine joined then-Congressman Dick Cheney on the losing side of a 313-83 vote.

News coverage of the final debate last Friday between Brown and DeWine described the event as heated but producing little that would change any minds. For example, the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote that the candidates "were like two boxers slugging it out in the late rounds, with punches that long ago had lost their sting."

This is very cool new technology -- individual Ohioans can now record their personal endorsements of Brown online. Selected endorsements are posted for others to hear.

1st District: In a stroke that may have guaranteed a victory for the challenger, the Cincinnati Enquirer endorsed John Cranley (D-Cincinnati) over incumbent Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati) this weekend. The editors wrote that the long-time incumbent's "effectiveness seems to have peaked."

A poll commissioned by the DCCC from Grove Insight shows Cranley leading Chabot by 49% to 40%, with only 39% approving Chabot’s job performance and only 32% approving Bush’s. The pollster interviewed 400 voters on October 26 and the margin of error is 4.9 points. Cranley was also endorsed by CityBeat, Cincinnati's news and entertainment weekly.

This, at Take Back Cincinnati, is priceless (not from the Cranley campaign, by the way):

If you don't get it, click here for a look at Chabot.

2nd District: The Cincinnati Enquirer did not endorse Vic Wulsin (D-Indian Hill), apparently concluding that the freshman legislator Rep. Mean Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) deserves more time to dig herself out of the hole after her disastrous first term. However, the endorsement is so sharp in its criticism of Schmidt and so generous in its praise of Wulsin that the latter's campaign issued a press release entitled "ENQUIRER ENDORSEMENT PRAISES WULSIN; Schmidt's name mistakenly placed in headline." Wulsin was endorsed outright by the Cincinnati Post and CityBeat, and Esquire magazine also endorses Wulsin because "Jean Schmidt is a disaster."

A recommended diary on DailyKos today highlighted this story in the Enquirer, reporting that Schmidt is in favor of considering a nuclear waste storage facility for the already-polluted Piketon plant in Pike County. Wulsin is opposed. One Pike county voter said, "All I can tell you is that when it became known that she supports this, every Jean Schmidt yard sign in the county went down overnight." Wasting no time, the Wulsin campaign announced tonight that popular gubernatorial candidate Rep. Ted Strickland (D-Lisbon) will barnstorm with Wulsin across Brown, Adams, Pike and Scioto counties tomorrow (October 30th), and decontamination and decomission of the Piketon Atomic Plant will be discussed. Here is the schedule:
2 PM: Brown County Fairgrounds, Georgetown, Brown County

3:30 PM: Courthouse Square, West Union, Adams County

5:00 PM: Old County Courthouse, 100 E. 2nd St., Waverly, Pike County

6:30 PM: Plumbers and Pipefitters Hall, 1236 Gallia St., Portsmouth, Scioto County
Wulsin has a new radio ad called "No More 'Boss Hogg' Politics", featuring former Georgia Congressman and popular Nashville icon Ben Jones, also known as 'Cooter' from the television show "The Dukes of Hazzard". Listen to the ad here.

4th District: Rick Siferd gets the nod from Esquire magazine:
Jim Jordan stands up for religious intolerance. Pardon us--we meant to say American values. But Ohio's fourth district was represented by a great centrist, Republican Michael Oxley, for the past 25 years--a tradition Jordan's opponent will honor.
8th District: House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-West Chester) says that Donald Rumsfeld "is the best thing to happen to the Pentagon in 25 years."

12th District: Bob Shamansky (D-Bexley) has a new TV ad called "Headlines" that is powerful in its simplicity:

[NOTE: I have removed the embedded link, but the video is available here.]

Shamansky receives the endorsement of Esquire magazine:
Respect your elders: Bob Shamansky, 79 and a former congressman, decided to get back into politics after suffering through the Bush Medicare reform. "You couldn't have a more antimarket provision," he said of the Bush plan's abdication of price-bargaining rights. Sounds good, as does his intelligent criticism of the war--especially against his forgettable opponent.
13th District: The excellent Word of Mouth Blog has a baseball-themed analysis of the third and final debate between Betty Sutton (D-Copley Township) and Craig Foltin (R-Lorain) at Lorain County Community College on Friday. Bottom line -- Foltin swung for the fences and missed, Sutton played small ball and scored.

14th District: Esquire magazine prefers Lew Katz (D-Chesterland) to Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Concord Township):
What do you call an affair-having, Abramoff-linked reactionary? Gone. Don't let the door hit you on your way out, Steve.
18th District: Zack Space (D-Dover) campaigned with Rep. Ted Strickland (D-Lisbon) on Saturday in Athens, Vinton and Hocking counties. "Ted and I believe that Ohio needs a change of direction and new leadership that is focused on Ohio's hard working families who have been neglected for too long," said Space. "When I go to Congress, I'm committed to putting the people, not powerful special interests first." Strickland replied, "As long as I've known Zack, I've known him to be a man of hometown values, committed to helping the people of his community. We need new leadership like Zack Space in Congress to move our country in the right direction." Pollster.com reports that the average of the last three polls puts this race at an 8.3% lead for Space.

Sunday, October 29

G-Bombing Ohio

Steve Chabot; Jean Schmidt; Deborah Pryce; Joy Padgett; Sandra O'Brien; Greg Hartmann; Mike Turner; Mary Taylor; Mike DeWine

BREAKING - 6th Circuit Stays Temporary Injunction Against Voter ID Law

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has issued an order staying the temporary restraining order issued last week against the new voter ID requirement as applied to absentee voting. The apparent effect is to reinstate the directive issued by Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (R-Cincinnati) on the eve of the TRO hearing, which imposed certain new interpretations of vague terms in the voter ID law.

More details to follow.

UPDATE: I have reviewed a copy of the appellate court's order, which (1) denies plaintiffs' motion to dismiss the appeal; (2) grants the motion by the State of Ohio (i.e., Attorney General Jim Petro) to intervene in the case; and (3) stays the TRO "except to the extent that the TRO orders all County Boards of Election to preserve all absentee ballots in their present form." The order states that the court "will issue an opinion shortly" but that opinion is not yet available.

Subodh Chandra, an attorney for plaintiffs, is working on a motion to stay the ruling, and an subsequent appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is possible. Meanwhile, plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction is still scheduled for Wednesday, although the appellate court's opinion may cause that to be cancelled depending on the precise contours of the appellate court's ruling.

This development is a catastrophe for the upcoming general election. Absentee voting is extraordinarily heavy, and plaintiffs have already established that boards of election are applying the vague requirements of the law in an inconsistent manner. Blackwell issued a directive on the morning of the TRO hearing that only exacerbated the situation by adopting interpretations of several provisions that are more restrictive than instructions previously issued to absentee voters by boards of election around the state. Thus, voters who have already submitted absentee ballots in accordance with instructions from lawful election authorities are at risk of not having their votes counted.

Specifically, Blackwell's new directive is problematic in the following ways:
  • Blackwell starts out with a summary of the forms of voter identification authorized by statute but inexplicably omits one whole category ("current and valid photo identification"), thus conflicting with the law and generating more confusion;
  • Blackwell arbitrarily defines "current" identification as meaning that it was issued no more than six months before the election, not taking into account that water bills (one possible form of identification) are issued quarterly. The directive does not address what happens to absentee ballots already submitted on the basis of identification more than six months old;
  • "Other governmental documents" is defined as local, state, or federal government documents, but this formula doesn't clarify the status of public university documents (as may be submitted by college students), county documents, and documents from transportation authorities or other quasi-governmental entities;
  • Blackwell restricted the use of a drivers license number to the shorter number on the left side of the license, not the longer number printed over the photograph, despite evidence that a significant number of voters have already submitted absentee ballots on the basis of the longer number;
  • Blackwell compounds the problem concerning military ID by repeating the statutory reference to military identification with a current address, when such identification does not in fact include an address;
  • Contrary to the statute, Blackwell's directive requires in-person absentee voters to present identification rather than just provide a drivers license number or the last four digits of their social security number from memory, as mail-in absentee voters may.
Thus, absentee voters who have already submitted their ballots are at risk of not having their votes count if they failed to anticipate Blackwell's interpretation of the statutory requirements, whatever local elections officials may have told them. When I asked Chandra how readers should react to this deplorable situation, he said simply that "people need to vote in overwhelming numbers to overcome these shenanigans."

As to people who have already voted in ways now deemed unacceptable, their testimony is needed for Wednesday's hearing. Plaintiff's attorneys are determined to build a strong factual record of the continuing confusion and chaos that the appellate courts will not be able to ignore. Potential witnesses should contact the attorneys by writing to VotingProblems@gmail.com. See this post for more information.

2nd UPDATE: Coverage in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Columbus Dispatch, and Akron Beacon Journal.