Ohio’s Updated House Races

A few things have happened since last month’s post about the Ohio Congressional races.  First of all, Isaac Quinones II had withdrawn his challenge to Marcy Kaptur and instead put it in to face Jim Renacci.  Then, Quinones withdrew from that race and is returning to DC to finish college.  Maybe we’ll hear from him at a later date.

It seems Democrats have filed for races against Gibbs and Renacci, and Republicans have filed against Fudge and Beatty, so there will be no uncontested races in 2014.  (In 2012, Boehner and Fudge were both the only candidate on their respective ballots.)  I still see Joyce and Johnson as the most vulnerable Republicans, with Joyce being a bit more vulnerable than Johnson.  Well the Tea Party has smelled Joyce’s blood in this district’s water and they’ve been waiting for this fight!

State Sen. Matt Lynch has been a frequent speaker at Tea Party events and he has filed to challenge Joyce.  Not coincidentally, Steve “ChuckleHead” LaTourette’s daughter had previously filed to challenge Lynch for the State Senate, so Lynch decided to run for Steve’s old seat and beat his hand-picked successor.  Like LaTourette, David Joyce has a weak Heritage Score and will certainly be vulnerable in a primary fight.  If the Tea Parties in Northeast Ohio can GOTV in the primary, then there will be one less non-conservative Republican in Congress.

Also if Lynch wins, nobody has any illusions that he will have an easy race to Washington.  The Democrats already have this district as a potential pickup with the incumbent Joyce running as a Republican.  With Lynch, this district will instantly move to “TossUp” or even “Lean D.”  Nevertheless, I think more conservatives are willing to fight and lose Congressional and Senate races as opposed to not fighting and losing with a weak Republican.

Ohio House Races: 2014

As Obama was winning the state in 2012, Ohio sent 12 Republicans to Congress and only 4 Democrats.  Having been in charge of the redistricting process, Republicans squeezed the most liberal parts of the state into long and winding districts from Toledo to Cleveland (Kaptur), Cleveland to Akron (Fudge), and Akron to Youngstown (Tim Ryan), and then gave the Democrats the inner parts of Columbus (Beatty).  Each of these Democrats won with 70-80%  of the vote.  Republicans made up the rest, most of whom won with about 55-65% of the vote.

Republicans do not seem to have any primary opponents with the exception of John Boehner.  If there was only one challenger, this district might be worth a good look.  Democrats might give this district a good fight, but this is an extremely conservative part of the rural southwest.  In the primary this May, however, there will be THREE challengers to Boehner which will guarantee a Boehner victory.  Ohio needs to change to a runoff system like Texas to eliminate spoiler candidates and force the leader to take on a challenger one-on-one.  As it is, Boehner simply needs to win a plurality which he is certain to do.

The Democrats may have an interesting primary with a young Isaac Quinones II taking on the long-serving Kaptur.  Kaptur’s district stretches far away from her base in Toledo, and Democrats in Lorain and Cuyahoga counties may choose the young gun over the dean of the Ohio delegation.

Looking towards November’s general election, Renacci and Gibbs, who otherwise may have been moderately vulnerable, do not currently have Democrat challengers.  The two seats most likely to flip to the Democrats seem to be those of David Joyce and Bill Johnson, both in northeast Ohio.  Joyce had taken over the seat of Steve LaTourette, a GOP moderate if ever there was one.  Joyce has not done anything of note in his first term, and the Democrats are hoping to make this a competitive race.

Bill Johnson represents the eastern Ohio river region which have historically been the most purple counties in Ohio.  If Democrats could swing these counties, then they would likely win a statewide race.  This wasn’t true in 2008 and 2012 though, as Obama’s margins in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton were so wide that he could afford to lose these voters to the Republican.  His challenger will be an experienced state representative so this might be a race to watch.

In the end though, I don’t foresee any change coming in this election.  These four northeast Ohio Republicans (Gibbs, Renacci, Joyce, and Johnson) have the seats that are most likely to flip if there is a strong Democrat surge in the next decade.

Weak or Vulnerable GOP Congressmen

It’s nice to receive validation, especially from folks at the Madison Project who I believe cross over into RealClearPolitics and RedState.  The Madison Project has scored the last Congress on conservative votes, and then compared that to the conservativeness of their respective district.  In looking at their “Hall of Shame,” we can see which Representatives should be voting more conservatively than they currently are.  Many of the greatest offenders come from weaker Republicans in strong GOP districts in the South, although there are many strong GOP districts across the country.  (“Hall of Fame” kudos to Jim Jordan, and also to Steve Chabot who didn’t make the cut but is fighting the good fight.)

Most of Ohio’s Republican districts would be considered leaning or swing, and they include the four who I’ve previously tagged as weak or vulnerable.  Both Steve Stivers (OH-15) and Pat Tiberi (OH-12) were redistricted away from central Columbus into areas which should be more Republican.  These two are ripe for GOP primaries.  (The Madison Project has Tiberi in a D+1 district, but I think that is the old district and not the new one.)  These two do NOT show up in Cook’s current Race Ratings and any Republican should be a winner, so why not challenge these two and get somebody in Congress more conservative?

The other two might be a little more tricky.  David Joyce (OH-14) (replacing Steve LaTourette, and who seems to have a similar temperament although we’ll wait for more data) and Jim Renacci (OH-16) are in districts that are slightly more Democrat-leaning than the 2002 map.  LaTourette had earned respect from his district and Republican challenges weren’t done and Democrat challenges fell flat.  If Joyce were to lose a primary to a more conservative candidate, the national Democrats will throw everything at this district because it is certainly winnable for them.  Ashtabula County has always leaned Democrat, and this district now includes more parts of Summit County which is certainly more Democrat.

Renacci’s district now includes the southwestern parts of Cuyahoga as well as parts of Medina County which are swing areas.  His district may be a bit more conservative than Joyce’s, but Democrats are pretty active and will likely have a high-profile candidate run on their side.  A primary generally hurts the incumbent, and it would be a struggle for either Renacci or the challenger to follow up with a November win.  It doesn’t mean somebody won’t try, and maybe Cook sees something that I don’t.  Like Stivers and Tiberi, Renacci is NOT listed as a vulnerable seat.

Moving to the Cook Report, there are two other seats that he has as “likely Republican.”  Bob Gibbs has a completely new district and people in the rural north are generally more Democrat than the rural central.  Bill Johnson’s district travels the southeast edge of the state bordering Pennsylvania and West Virginia.  The Appalachian areas are becoming more Republican and I think Gibbs is the more vulnerable of the two.

The big race in 2014 in Ohio will be for Governor.  Active Tea Party members are upset at the Medicaid expansion proposed by Kasich, and may consider a challenge in a primary.  I would be very concerned if they choose to challenge in the general, however, as a third party.  Kasich barely won in the big year of 2010, and if he loses just 5% to a third party then that might get a Democrat back in the statehouse.

Next year’s summer and fall should be all about getting out the conservative vote, but the winter and spring better be about getting a conservative candidate.  I hope conservatives are considering challenges at least to Stivers and Tiberi (and throw in Boehner), and we can push the next House even further to the right.  Gowdy, Amash, Chaffez, Brindenside, Gohmert, and Jim Jordan need all the help they can get.

Congress Letter on Immigration

And now for my letter to Gibbs.  Just venting…

The Tea Party was created because of Democrats who follow through on what they say and by Republicans who don’t.  It was just a few days ago that Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid said that building a fence wasn’t truly possible, but now they have supported a bill by saying it would do just that.  There are laws today that require the building of a fence, yet nobody is enforcing it and, as we have plainly seen over the last few years, Congress is incapable of providing any oversight.  After watching John Boehner draw lines in the sand in the 112th Congress only to scrap them and draw new lines (budget, CR, debt ceiling, and repeat), I cannot trust a bill that comes out of Conference with members that he will appoint.

I would rather you take out the special crony citizenship path of the bill and keep the border security portion.  If you can’t, however, here’s an idea.

Add a Voter ID law.  Say that all voters in a federal election must register and sign up for an ID that is only legal for one person at one location.  It would encourage illegal immigrants to “come out of the shadows” and begin the citizenship process.  For those disinterested in citizenship, they would be prevented from voting.

Rubio, Flake, and even McCain had campaigned on border security, and now have passed a citizenship path where the fence is up to the discretion of the Executive.  We’ve had these scabs picked off before by previous GOP Congressmen and have become very cynical to what anybody says.

Half-measures and small victories are no longer possible.  Progressives of both parties have slowly but constantly pushed and pushed for central control and loss of Legislative power.  Take that power back and stop the money flow if you have to.  Central power will always work against the individual, and we’re counting on you to start treating citizens and workers with respect.

Stunning Ohio House Election Numbers

As a follow-up to the Scarborough post, I decided to try to calculate the election results for the Ohio Congress versus the Presidential race.  As it turns out, House Republicans got 52% of the total vote.  Mitt Romney got 2.58 million votes and House Republicans got 2.54 million.  It’s a bit hard to make too many generalizations from this, after all there were two uncontested house races and Senate candidate Josh Mandel only got 2.36 million votes.  Steve Chabot in Hamilton County and Mike Turner in Montgomery County had the best showings for the House candidate versus Mitt Romney.  John Boehner had no Democrat challenger, so who knows what effect that had on these totals.  Parts of Cuyahoga and Summit counties had no Republican House candidate facing Marcia Fudge so Romney made up some difference here.  But overall, it was a consistent GOP showing from President to House.

Barack Obama got 2.69 million votes, Senator Sherrod Brown got 2.64 million, and the House counterparts only received 2.30 million, a stunning difference of almost 400k votes.  Half of the difference came in the four big counties of Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, and John Boehner’s Bulter County.  Obama did much poorer in Trumbull and Mahoning Counties than Democrat Congressman Tim Ryan.

It’s hard to know how well the gerrymandering did.  One of the best methods would be to look at the wards and precincts on each side of the border of the long Marcy Kaptur district as Republicans won everything to her south yet she for over 70% of the vote.  But it looks like Obama voters simply left and did not vote down-ticket.  I wonder if there’s a term for that?  Is low-information-voter too harsh?

Scarborough: Don’t Kick A Man When He’s Right

I almost called him a RINO, but I’m trying for a different tone.  Joe Scarborough has said a number of big government things over his years at MSNBC, but that doesn’t mean we can’t give credit when he’s speaking the truth.  Conservative intolerance is something everybody has to pay attention to… EVERYBODY!

And that means you, Joe Scarborough, Steve LaTourette, and anybody else who continues to misconstrue the Tea Party while speaking as a Republican.  I don’t expect Democrats to understand the Tea Party, although any mature person should want to try to understand the other side.  It is, after all, the fifth of the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”  But when Republicans are blatantly intolerant of the Tea Party by complaining of the Tea Party’s intolerance, then they’re no better than a Daily Show sketch.

On Meet The Press, Joe Scarborough made a point that I have made throughout my blog posts about Ohio’s redistricting.  He said that Republicans actually got a minority of the raw vote for House members despite having more members 233-200.  I’m not sure that’s true in Ohio, but the four Ohio Democrats won big in their districts:  Joyce Beatty in the new Columbus district got 68%, Marcy Kaptur got 73%, Tim Ryan got 72%, and Marcia Fudge got 100%.  John Boehner was unopposed, and then the only other Republicans above 60% were Mike Turner, Pat Tiberi, and Steve Stivers.

Now this is all well and good for the GOP.  After all to the winner goes the spoils, and Republicans controlled the redistricting map this time around.  But by segregating the inner cities into Democrat districts, the GOP has stopped making the argument to potentially win these voters.  The best argument for conservative change in the inner cities is being made by the Tea Party.  The RINOs would only give them government in a different way; the Tea Party speaks of individual liberty and rewarding success.

Scarborough’s point was that the Republicans really don’t have the mandate they think they have.  I believe that is true.  If it weren’t for favorable redistricting, who knows what the balance of the House might be.  But I hope the Republican House takes the next two years deciding to use the power that they have to make the argument against big government.

Ohio in the 113th Congress

The new year brought much crisis and intrigue in Congress.  Of course, we have a President who operates by crisis and has victories in doing so.  There’s no reason for him to change, so we can look forward to last-minute deals at the edge of each cliff that is created over the next four years.  How are the 12 Ohio Republicans going to fare?  Lets start with the end – 2014.

Safe Republicans should include Steve Chabot, freshman Brad Wenstrup, Jim Jordan, Bob Latta, Mike Turner, and Steve Stivers.  The Tea Party sophomores Bob Gibbs and Bill Johnson are probably safe but you never know.  Democrats are likely to mount strong challenges to Jim Renacci and to David Joyce who won the seat left by Steve LaTourette.  These are both northeast Ohio districts and are the most likely to flip blue at some point.

For potential Republican primary challenges, Pat Tiberi is in a much more conservative district than he was in 2008 when Barack Obama carried the district.  His votes are much closer to LaTourette than they are to a solid conservative like Chabot and this might not be palatable in his newly carved region.  And lastly, the Speaker John Boehner is in a solidly red district and I trust everybody will be watching his performance very closely.

The “fiscal cliff” vote was one of the last of the 112th Congress.  Yes votes included Speaker Boehner, Tea Party favorite Bill Johnson, the three-term conservative Bob Latta, the Columbus pair of Steve Stivers and Pat Tiberi, and Mr. Chucklehead himself, Steve LaTourette.  Stivers, Tiberi, and LaTourette are the most liberal of the Republican delegation, so their votes aren’t a surprise.  Bob Latta is in a solid district and he may have voted to keep some of his bridges from burning.  Bill Johnson’s vote is interesting as his district is one that is traditionally Democrat but has shifted over the last few elections.  And then there’s Boehner.

Boehner had a somewhat vocal challenge to his leadership which crashed when the votes were actually cast.  I didn’t hear any Ohioan being part of this coup, although Jim Jordan, former Republican Caucus Chair, received a Speaker vote from Tim Huelskamp of Kansas.  Jordan himself voted for Boehner.

On the Democrat side, Ohio has two female members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Marcia Fudge and Joyce Beatty.  The dean of the Ohio delegation is Marcy Kaptur who is enjoying her 15th term and is the second Democrat in line on the Appropriations Committee.  The fourth Democrat is Tim Ryan whose name has been floated for a run for Governor in 2014.

Activists have long memories, and decisions made on the fiscal cliff deal and the upcoming debt ceiling fight will lead to decisions whether or not to mount primary challenges.  I just hope that these decisions indeed move this country forward, if only to stop ourselves from moving backwards.