General Assembly Races: News and Notes
Never a dull moment on the Ohio Senate campaign trail.
7th Senate District: Rick Smith (D-Cincinnati) was endorsed yesterday by Cincinnati’s news and entertainment weekly, CityBeat. Editor John Fox wrote that Smith is a “smart and creative newcomer” and declared that “this is the election for a clean sweep.” “I’m very pleased to receive such a resounding endorsement from this independent voice of Cincinnati,” Smith responded, adding that he intends to be a strong vertebra of the Strickland backbone that will make Ohio upright again. (!!!) CityBeat has a readership of over 355,000 in the greater Cincinnati region.
21rd District: This race between Kevin Bacon (R) and Dean Hernandez (D-Westerville) is profiled in the Columbus Dispatch today. This district covering Worthington and northern Franklin County went for John Kerry by 4 points in 2004 and incumbent Linda Reidelbach (R) won by fewer than 6 points that year. Two-term Blendon Township trustee Bacon is more moderate than Reidelbach, shifting the focus away from abortion and gay marriage and onto education, jobs and health care. "Social issues are important, but those are not the issues I’m leading with," he said. Investment operations director Hernandez "insists that even with Reidelbach out, people are so unhappy with the direction of the Republican Party that he remains in a position to win. He also sees education, the economy and health care as key issues." Hernandez would become the only Latino member of the legislature. However, Bacon has raised about $86,000, more than twice Hernandez’s total. "Both candidates have executed fierce ground games, knocking on thousands of doors. But the well-stocked House Republican caucus has been running television ads for weeks on Bacon’s behalf" — first promoting him and now attacking Hernandez on taxes. Bacon tries to distinguish himself from other Republicans. "Most of the people abandoning Blackwell, I don’t see them abandoning my race," Bacon said. "I have held elected office, but at the same time I’m not tainted by being in the legislature." Bacon disagrees with the Republican party line, he says, by saying that charter schools have expanded too fast and lack accountability and the new Commercial Activities Tax needs to be tweaked. He also wants to put more money into education, and Hernandez agrees. "The problem we’ve had in the state legislature is a desire to get re-elected over a desire to put in place plans that are going to pay huge dividends once you are out of office," he said. Hernandez also supports reassessing state tax incentives. "Right now we’ve got a tax code that’s set up, in my opinion, to incentivize certain industries based on support those industries provide for elected officials, versus what is better for us five or 10 years down the road," he said. Hernandez is only recognized from TV due to Bacon's negative advertising, but the reporter writes that his "laidback style" makes a good impression on voters. "We’re up against a lot of money," he said. "If we don’t win, we don’t win. There’s no part of this campaign that I’m not proud of."
73rd District: Phil Holloway (R-Mansfield) said from his hospital bed that he will stay in the race against Jay Goyal (D-Mansfield) despite being hospitalized after police said he threatened to kill himself. "Recent stresses have been very challenging," he said. "Yes, I did have thoughts of suicide. However, I did not attempt suicide. I repeat: I did not attempt suicide." Holloway read from a prepared statement. "I still believe, with all my heart, that I can meet the responsibilities associated with being a state representative," Holloway said. "My campaign will more forward." He also spoke about his religious faith as helping him through the crisis. He did not answer questions. The Republican party continues to support Holloway and had not considered asking him to step aside, Richland County Republican Party Chairman Ed Meehan said earlier in the day.
92nd District: The Athens News has this story about the campaign between Rep. Jimmy Stewart (R-Athens) and challenger Debbie Phillips (D-Athens). The reporter wrote that the race "neared a fever pitch last week at two debates and in sharp-fanged advertisements." At a debate last Wednesday Phillips said, "Ohio's a great state, but we have fallen on hard times in recent years, and we can do better. To move Ohio forward, we need to elect new leaders. One-party rule is a big part of what has gotten us into the mess we are in in Ohio." Stewart countered by asserting that he has "a much broader base of support," citing endorsements from business, labor, environmental and social-service groups. He said he could not have won his House seat by comfortable margins in 2002 and 2004 without such a coalition in a heavily Democratic district. "I didn't do that with just Republican votes," Stewart told a crowded room of mostly OU students in the second debate on Thursday. The reporter notes that the campaign "is suspenseful because it covers a small enough district that reliable polls are virtually nonexistent, and the two appear closely matched. Stewart casts himself as a sensible moderate, while Phillips takes the tone of a reformer, and the two are cordial at joint public appearances." Ads by state party committees, however, have been harsh. "GOP television ads and pamphlets for Stewart suggest that Phillips is either 'dumb' or a 'lawbreaker' for proposing an amendment in September that would have given unionized city employees the choice to automatically donate some of their earnings to a political action committee." Democratic ads portray Stewart as a "pea in a pod with Taft and Ney who feeds at the trough of large corporate donors." At the debate Wednesday, Phillips "charged that Stewart votes along Republican Party lines as much as 95 percent of the time," and that calling attention to this is not a negative campaign tactic. "Right now there's a supermajority in both the (Ohio) Senate and the House of Republicans," she said. In the General Assembly, Democrats "are not listened to," and their bill proposals won't float amid an atmosphere that has "shut down discussion and shut out good ideas." Summing up, Phillips said, "I think the bottom line is if you're happy with the way things have been going in the last five years, I'm probably not your candidate." The district includes Athens, Meigs, Morgan and western Washington counties.