Congressional Races: News and Notes UPDATED
Five days left, let's get this Party started:
Senate: Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Cedarville) is calling for his opponent to denounce Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), and noted in a news release that Kerry has supported Brown's campaign. "With hundreds of Ohio's best serving in Iraq and around the world, where is Sherrod Brown's outrage and embarrassment at Kerry's remarks?" DeWine asked. Kerry says he botched a joke meant to be about Bush when he told a student audience that when you don't study hard and learn, "you get stuck in Iraq." Ben LaBolt, spokesman for Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon), called this a distraction from the real issue in the campaign, which is DeWine's willingness to lead us into the war based on faulty intelligence.
4th District: The very conservative Findlay Courier praised Richard Siferd (D-Lima) and found some of the positions of ultra-conservative State Sen. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana) too extreme to swallow, but endorsed Jordan anyway last week. The editors called it a "genuine contest" and saw "things to approve of and to disagree with in both." They objected to Jordan's rejection of abortion even in the case of a raped child (although respecting him for "sticking to his principles"!) and to his no-path-to-citizenship stance on illegal immigration, but seemed to take umbrage at Vietnam veteran Siferd's view that "Iraqis don't want democracy, which has been forced upon them." Siferd advocates a timetable for withdrawal, although without a firm date.
5th District: The Toledo Blade reports that Rep. Paul Gillmor (R-Dublin) bought an upscale condominium in Tiffin, Ohio last March, but according to a neighbor there's no sign that he actually lives there. "I've only seen him here twice in six months," said Don Zeis, who lives a few doors down. "He bought it to get an address. Can you believe that?" The unit cost $229,900. "I actually own two houses in the district. I still own a house in Old Fort, and I own a house in Tiffin," Mr. Gillmor responded. Challenger Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon) said Gillmor "clearly lives in Dublin. His kids go to school there, and when pressed to say where does your family live and sleep? It's Dublin." Dublin is far outside the district, but close to Columbus where Gillmor's wife works. "I believe the people of the district deserve a representative who's proud to be an active part of the communities they serve and so I think it's very important," Wierauch said. "I was raised in the district and have lived and worked here for over 40 years and I think that makes me a better representative. Given the fact the congressman hasn't lived in the district in at least 18 years, if not more, it's no surprise he's out of touch." When asked how often he stays at the Tiffin house, Gillmor refused to answer. "The Blade is the only paper interested in this and always writes articles on it," he said. Lately Gillmor has gone negative, accusing Weirauch of being unethical and deceitful. "He's the one deceiving people, saying he lives in Tiffin when he lives in a half-million-dollar mansion in Dublin and pays more taxes on it than most people in the 5th District pay for their mortgage in a year," said Trish Lanahan, Weirauch's campaign manager.
There is an excellent comparison of the candidates' views on the issues here.
6th District: The estimable Athens News takes a look at this race between State Sen. Charlie Wilson (D-St. Clairsville) and State Rep. Chuck Blasdel (R-East Liverpool) today. They are largely in agreement on issue after issue, but they disagree sharply on whether it's fair to associate Blasdel with unpopular Gov. Taft (R). "I don't think it's justifiable at all," Blasdel said. "First of all, he's not on the ballot. Secondly, if you look at my track record in the Statehouse in terms of big, major issues, when I thought that he was right, I supported him, and when I thought he was wrong, I didn't." He cited his vote against Taft's proposed increases in gasoline and sales taxes. Wilson argued that his opponent can't completely divorce himself from the failures of the Taft administration. "Mr. Blasdel is speaker pro tem of the House," he pointed out. "He's a part of Gov. Taft's leadership team."
7th District: Here is a good profile from last week of this "race of experience versus new ideas." Challenger Bill Conner (D-Beavercreek) calls for a return integrity to Washington in order to end corruption and influence peddling. Unlike incumbent Dave Hobson (R-Springfield), Conner said he won't take money from lobbyists, and any meeting with them would be videotaped. "The graft, the corruption of it is astounding," he said. Hobson touts his record in Congress but seems a little apprehensive about the race. He is buying TV ads for the first time in years, and has polled voters and conducted focus groups.
10th District: Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) is making a videotaped appeal for campaign contributions, available in Quicktime or Windows Media format. It doesn't sound like he needs the money to fend off challenger Mike Dovilla (R-Middleburg Heights), however. He cites the need to have the "strongest support coming out of this election" which will "enable me to take a strong stand in the next Congress." It sounds like we're talking clout, and committee assignments.
12th District: The Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz is very interested in Ohio politics, and especially Jewish politicians and voters:
Two years ago, Kerry lost Ohio and, as a result, the presidency - but now his party is in very good standing in several races across the region. Even Kerry apparently cannot ruin it. Twelve of the eighteen Ohio seats in the House of Representatives are now held by Republicans, but Democrats look poised to take two, three, maybe even five of them away in what is becoming known as the political tsunami.13th District: Brad Dickens wrote on Sunday in the Chronicle Telegram that Craig Foltin (R-Lorain) "feels confident going into the home stretch" against Betty Sutton (D-Copley Township). “Right up until the end, we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing,” he said, adding that he will concentrate his efforts on winning in Lorain County rather than in Cuyahoga, Summit and Medina counties where he’s been campaigning a lot. “Right now we’re pulling to the home county,” he said. “If I can get 56 or 57 percent of Lorain County, I win this race.” Sutton also is confident. "She hasn’t pulled punches when it comes to Foltin, particularly with high-ranking Lorain officials being sent to jail on corruption charges. 'It’s not just about what’s going on in my opponent’s administration,' she said. 'That being said, he has had some issues with some aides.'"
Ohio's Jewish community - including the 20,000 in Columbus - will vote almost straight Democratic down the line. A visit from Virginia's Eric Cantor - the only Jewish Republican in the House - is not about to change that. He was here last week but met mostly with the believers - the few who already intended to vote Republican. Today, Minnesota's Jewish Republican senator - Norm Coleman - is slated to pay a visit, but he will not be able to change the trend either.
In the 12th and 15th districts, most of Columbus and its suburbs, Republican representatives are fighting for another term. Deborah Pryce trails her opponent Mary Jo Kilroy, in the 12th, Pat Tiberi is a hair's breadth ahead of the contender for his seat: Bob Shamansky, Jewish and a Democrat.
14th District: Challenger Lew Katz (D-Chesterland) earned praise yesterday for agreeing to place his official schedule on the Internet as a member of the next Congress. Grassroots activists in the district asked Katz to sign an agreement to do so as part of the Punch Clock Campaign sponsored by the Sunlight Network, a Washington-based group dedicated to more open government. "Lewis Katz is a national leader in openness and accountability," said Zephyr Teachout, National Director for the Sunlight Network. "By opening his schedule to the public, Lewis Katz is showing that he is willing to use transparency to strengthen democracy. More importantly, Lewis Katz recognizes that when the public knows what their representative does all day, they can hold their representative accountable to them." The Sunlight Network, a 501 c(4), was founded in 2006 to foster a more positive relationship between lawmakers and their constituents, using technology, transparency, and local communities.
UPDATE - 15th District: A story in the Columbus Dispatch today reports that challenger Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus) is "tailoring her message to independent voters, working to deflect charges that she would be soft on terrorism and portraying herself as a pragmatic, cost-cutting Franklin County commissioner." Incumbent Deborah Pryce (R-Upper Arlington) is emphasizing taxes, contrasting Kilroy’s vote for a sales-tax increase in Franklin County with her own anti-tax credentials. Kilroy's theme, the reporter notes, is more multifaceted, "blast[ing] Republicans in Congress for refusing to raise the minimum wage, for supporting President Bush’s plan to partially privatize Social Security and for uncritically backing Bush on the Iraq war." "Our country is facing tremendous challenges, but we also have a tremendous opportunity to set our country on a new course," she said in an address to viewers of WCMHTV (Channel 4) last night. Kilroy rarely referred to Pryce by name.
UPDATE - 18th District: State Sen. Joy Padgett (R-Coshocton) has criticized Zack Space (D-Dover) for not voting in elections in his early twenties. Today the Columbus Dispatch reports that Padgett herself skipped voting five times between 1977 and 1999. The Space campaign did the research on her voting record. One really wonders why Padgett even bothered making the silly accusation when her own voting record isn't spotless. Oh ... oh ... wait for it ... "Padgett spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus responded that Space has missed more elections than Padgett and characterized the Democrat’s voting record as 'paltry.'"
The Chillicothe Gazette reports that Padgett canvassed door-to-door in Chillicothe yesterday and brought with her local candidates Rep. John Schlichter (R-Washington Court House) and Sen. John Carey (R-Wellston), as well as co-chair of the Republican National Committee and former Speaker of the Ohio House JoAnn Davidson. Although public campaign finance records indicate that money has been pulled from this race, Davidson said the move does not signal a Republican retreat. "It's a huge district and it's very competitive," Davidson said. "I think Joy is running a very strong campaign." Davidson also said the Democrats' theme of change won't fly. "I don't think it's a campaign of change, but a campaign of choice," Davidson said. "Voters can see who's going to be able to continue the economic growth ... and who's going to keep us safe from terrorism." Right.