And In The Other Corner

The Democrats aren’t going to simply play defense this year.  Every Republican they can pick off in 2010 will give them the chance to say “See, it was anti-incumbent and not anti-Obama.”  And you know, an anti-incumbent election would be a good idea if it weren’t for the gerry-mandering that makes 70-80% of the districts safe for one side or the other.  But that’ll be for next year when the census is taken, tabulated, and then the districts redrawn with (if estimates are correct) Ohio having two fewer seats.

Jean Schmidt has never held the southern Ohio River HD 2 with the comfort that the now Senate-candidate Rob Portman had for twelve years.  After Portman was appointed U.S. Trade Representative, Schmidt barely beat anti-war Iraqi veteran Paul Hackett in a 2005 race that portended the strength Democrats would have in 2006.  She further received national attention after calling out John Murtha and his desire to pull out the troops in Iraq by saying “cowards cut and run, Marines never do.”  Schmidt later said that she was not directing the comments at Murtha and apologized, but the the damage was done.  Schmidt was primaried in 2006 by a former Congressman, and then beat Victoria Wulsin by single digits.  The two women had a rematch in 2008 with Schmidt beating Wulsin by a few more percentage points, but Independent candidate David Krikorian took over 15% of the vote.

In 2010, Krikorian is poised to run for the seat as a Democrat.  His 2008 success may have been due in part to him running an “above-the-politics” campaign with endorsements from both sides of the aisle.  This race is already on, and not in a good way.  Krikorian has said that Schmidt has taken more money from the Turkish lobby and also denies the Armenian genocide.  Schmidt subsequently filed a libel suit against Krikorian.   We’ll have to keep watching for more news on this front as the story unfolds.

The only other Republican who may be in trouble is Pat Tiberi, who took over the seat in 2001 from the now Governor-candidate John Kasich.  Bush barely carried the northern Columbus district in 2004 and Obama took it over in 2008.  Tiberi has enjoyed double-digit victories, but that margin has steadily declined.  In 2010, Franklin County Commissioner Paula Brooks appears to be mounting a challenge in this ever-more blue district.

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Get to Know Your House Challengers

Some of the House races are beginning to shape up, and I’d like to introduce you to four of the stronger challengers who have announced thus far.

Steve Chabot lost HD 1 to Steve Driehaus 52-49 and is looking for a rematch in 2010.  Chabot came into office with the 1994 Contract With America and has achieved an excellent conservative voting  record.  Cincinnati voted heavily for Obama, and conventional wisdom suggests that Driehaus will have difficulty winning this district on his own.

Charlie Wilson took over the HD 6 seat vacated by Ted Strickland and he handily won re-election 62-33.  Charlie Wilson is a Blue Dog who voted against Cap-and-Trade and the Appalachain regions across the country were not as supportive of Barack Obama as the rest of the country.  Nonetheless, it’ll take a strong candidate to defeat Wilson and we hope that Dr. Donald Allen can be that guy.  You may remember Dr. Allen’s bid for the White House in 2008… or maybe not.  But hopefully that experience will help him pull off an upset by flipping this district red.

Another 2010 rematch will be Steve Stivers taking on Mary Jo Kilroy in HD 15 encompassing the western Columbus area.  This district has been very competitive the last few cycles, and in 2008 Kilroy needed to recount her way into the seat vacated by Republican Deborah Pryce.  Steve Stivers was a State Senator and, like Chabot, is looking to put this seat back in the Republican column.

Finally we have a challenger to the other Ohio Blue Dog, Zach Space of HD 18.  This district is one of the larger districts as it covers much of the rural areas in the eastern central part of the state.  Space won this seat in 2006 after Bob Ney needed to resign amid the Jack Abramoff scandal.  Can Space win without the toxic 2006 elections or the Obama 2008 elections?  Jeanette Moll, a judge from Guernsey County, is taking on the challenge in what should be a bellweather race.  Space has won each election with about 60% of the vote and is quite personable and can speak conservative when he needs to.  He has been a critical player in the Blue Dog holdup of the Obama Health Care package in that he is on the Energy Subcommittee on Health.  If Moll wins this seat in 2010, it should be a very strong year for Republicans.