Ohio2006 Blog

News, analysis, and comments on Ohio elections.

Monday, October 30

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.

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