SSP Daily Digest: 6/23 (Afternoon Edition)

KY-Sen: The Louisville Courier-Journal has something of a compendium of Rand Paul’s Greatest Hits, selecting the dodgiest bits from his public appearances from the last decade. While the whole thing’s worth a look, the highlight most likely to attract the most attention is his criticisms of the current health care system and how it “keeps patients from negotiating lower prices with their doctors.” Bwack bwack bwack bwack bwack bwack…

LA-Sen: A key David Vitter aide has resigned after his long rap sheet was revealed, perhaps most significantly that he pled guilty in 2008 to charges associated with a “knife-wielding altercation” with an ex-girlfriend, as well as that he’s still wanted on an open warrant in Baton Rouge on DWI charges. Perhaps most disturbingly, this was an aide that Vitter had been assigned to “oversee women’s issues.”

MO-Sen: I’ll bet you’d forgotten that Roy Blunt had a teabagging primary challenger, in the form of state Sen. Roy Purgason (I had). Well, Purgason wants you to know that, despite complete silence from the DeMint/RedState/CfG/FreedomWorks axis, he’s still hanging in there; he just rolled out an endorsement from one of his Senate colleagues, Matt Bartle.

NV-Sen: Well, this doesn’t look good for John Ensign. Staffers, in depositions, have told the Senate Ethics Committee that, yes, they knew that the one-year lobbying ban was being broken when they helped set up former Ensign staffer and cuckolded husband Doug Hampton with a cushy lobbying gig.

NY-Sen-B: After Quinnipiac didn’t even bother polling him this week, Joe DioGuardi (who holds the Conservative ballot line and its trying to petition into the GOP primary) wants you to know he’s still in this thing. He released an internal poll from the ubiquitous POS showing that he’s within 11 points of Kirsten Gillibrand (49-38), and, more plausibly, that he has a big edge in the GOP primary, at 21 against Bruce Blakeman’s 7 and David Malpass at 3.

OR-Sen: Rasmussen has been working hard to convince people that there just might be a competitive race in Oregon for Ron Wyden, against little-known law professor Jim Huffman. Looking to head that off at the pass, Wyden rolled out an internal poll today from Grove Insight that should be a bucket of cold water for the Huffman camp: Wyden leads 53-23.

CA-Gov: I’m not sure how much of this is Politico just, as is its wont, looking for drama where there isn’t much, and how much of this is genuine discontent. But they have an article today about an increasing sense among Dem insiders of wondering when Jerry Brown is going to drop the Zen approach and, if not attack Meg Whitman, at least work on some of the infrastructural aspects of the campaign.

CT-Gov: Ned Lamont got a key labor endorsement, from the state’s largest teachers’ union, the Connecticut Education Association. Lamont and Dan Malloy have split the endorsements from the various trade unions. Meanwhile, on the GOP side, Tom Foley got an endorsement that may help him with that all-important demographic bloc of Massachusetts expatriates; ex-Gov. William Weld gave Foley his backing.

MI-Gov: Peter Hoekstra got an endorsement from his next-door neighbor in the House, outgoing (and considerably more moderate) Rep. Vern Ehlers, who had earlier said he wouldn’t endorse but qualified that by saying “If there is an exceptional candidate that appears to be lagging” he’d endorse. Hoekstra in fact does seem to be lagging, facing a seeming surge from AG Mike Cox in the GOP gubernatorial primary.

MN-Gov: This seems odd; when she pulled the plug on her campaign after the DFL convention, Ramsey Co. DA Susan Gaertner said she didn’t want to get in the way of the historic prospect of a female governor and didn’t want to be a spoiler for Margaret Anderson Kelliher. So what did she do today? She endorsed Matt Entenza in the DFL primary instead.

NM-Gov (pdf): Magellan (a Republican pollster, but one who’ve started releasing a lot of polls where they don’t have a candidate) is out with a poll of the New Mexico governor’s race, and like several other pollsters are finding the Diane Denish/Susana Martinez race to be in tossup territory. They find the Republican Martinez leading Denish 44-43. There’s a huge gender gap here: women support Denish 48-36, while men support Martinez 53-36. One other item from the crosstabs, which either casts some doubt on the findings or else is the key to why Martinez may win this: while Martinez is losing in Albuquerque-based NM-01, she’s actually winning in NM-03 (45-41), the most liberal of the state’s three districts but also the most-heavily Latino.

AL-07: Local African-American organizations (the same ones who threw their backing to Ron Sparks in the gubernatorial primary) seem split on what do to in the runoff in the 7th. The Alabama New South Coalition (who’d backed Earl Hilliard Jr. in the primary) has now endorsed Terri Sewell, while the Alabama Democratic Conference is backing Shelia Smoot.

OH-05: Rep. Bob Latta languishes as one of the GOP’s most obscure back-benchers, but he’s in the news because of two different things that happened at a town hall meeting. First, he went birther-agnostic at the meeting in response to a participant’s questions, only to try to walk that back later when talking to a reporter. And second, he didn’t immediately respond to another participant’s suggestion that the President be “shot in the head.”

OK-02: State Sen. Jim Wilson is challenging Rep. Dan Boren in the Democratic primary in the 2nd; he’s out with an internal poll from Lake Research with a dismal topline (Boren leads 62-17) but with better numbers on the “informed ballot.” The topline numbers aren’t that different from Boren‘s own internal poll released last week. Still, between Boren releasing an internal, airing an anti-Wilson ad, and rolling out an endorsement from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, it’s clear Boren is taking the threat seriously.

Census: The Census Bureau is out this week with its 2009 population estimates of the nation’s cities, the last estimate it’ll provide before releasing the numbers from the actual 2010 count. Perhaps most notably, they found the population of New York City is up another 45,000 over the last year. NYC’s growth over the last decade accounts for two-thirds of the state’s population growth over the last decade; as we’ve discussed before, this means that in the next round of redistricting (Congressional, but especially legislative) the city is going to continue to gain strength at the expense of dwindling Upstate.

Roundup of Ohio Congressional Races

Following the break is a complete roundup and ranking of Ohio races for the U.S. House of Representatives. I have separated them into Republican-held and Democratic-held seats and divided each into tiers. Within each tier they are ranked in order of likelihood of changing parties.

Democrats were very successful in 2006 in winning a U.S. Senate seat, four out of five statewide offices, and a net gain of seven seats in the Ohio House of Representatives, but  the U.S. House races were a relative disappointment. The party gained only one seat and watched two promising races end in narrow losses after recounts. In this cycle Ohio has three open GOP seats and perhaps four or five races altogether that already look very promising, with another two or three that could be added to that list. The DCCC has already added three races to their “Red to Blue” program and is likely to take an interest in at least two more. In other words, Ohio is once again a critical congressional battleground.

Republican-Held Seats

Tier One: Toss-Up

15th District Central Ohio (includes part of Columbus and west and northwest suburbs, Hilliard, Marysville). Cook PVI R+1.1. Bush won 50% in 2004. In 2006 retiring incumbent Deborah Pryce (R) defeated Mary Jo Kilroy (D) by just over 1,000 votes. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 62.1% Democratic. DCCC Red-to-Blue program.

County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus) is running almost like an incumbent after her photo finish in 2006 and the retirement of her opponent. She has raised an impressive amount of money and has strong support from labor, womens’ groups (including Emily’s List) and among students, who are very numerous in this district. She is an energetic campaigner although not the most polished of public speakers. Opponent State Sen. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington), an Iraq veteran and former bank lobbyist, is a strong adversary with big support from the business community. Independent candidate Don Elijah Eckhart (I-Galloway) figures to take a few votes away from Stivers.

16th District NE Ohio (includes Canton, Massillon, Alliance, Wadsworth, Medina, Wooster, Ashland). Cook PVI R+3.6. Bush won 54% in 2004. In 2006 incumbent Ralph Regula (R), who is retiring, fared poorly in the GOP primary (58% to 43% over conservative Matt Miller (R-Ashland)) and defeated political novice Rev. Tom Shaw (D-Wooster) by the surprisingly narrow margin of 59% to 41% in the general election. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 60.8% Democratic. DCCC Red-to-Blue program.

Iraq veteran and former collegiate baseball star State Sen. John Boccieri (D-New Middletown) is a terrific candidate and is adored in his state legislative district. This congressional district unfortunately includes only a tiny slice of his home turf, but Boccieri is working very hard to build name recognition here and he has the energy and political talent to make it work. Opponent State Sen. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), a moderate, is strong in vote-rich Stark County but barely escaped a three-way primary against two more conservative opponents. The keys to this election are whether the Republican base turns out for Schuring and whether Boccieri can hold down Schuring’s advantage in blue-trending Stark County while gaining big vote totals elsewhere.

Tier Two: Leans Republican

1st District SW Ohio (includes part of Cincinnati and western suburbs). Cook PVI R+1. Bush won 50% of the vote in 2004. In 2006 incumbent Steve Chabot (R) defeated second-time challenger Councilman John Cranley (D) by 53% to 47%. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 55.4% Democratic. DCCC Red-to-Blue program.

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood) defied pundits and polls by holding off a hard-charging challenger last cycle. State Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Price Hill) is thought to be a stronger opponent because his base is in the suburbs rather than the city, and like Cranley before him he has moderate-to-conservative positions on social issues that should have cross-over appeal in this swing district. Chabot was the target of independent attack ads over his votes against expanding SCHIP during the past year. Independent Rich Stevenson (I) is also in the race.

2nd District SW Ohio (includes part of Cincinnati and eastern suburbs, Lebanon, Portsmouth). Cook PVI R+13. Bush won 64% in 2004. Incumbent Jean Schmidt (R) defeated Dr. Victoria Wulsin (D) by less than 3,000 votes (51% to 49%) in 2006. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 57.2% Democratic.

Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) has embarrassed herself on the floor of the House with her assault on Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA) and by plagiarism in a constituent newsletter and exaggerating her credentials, but she is probably in a stronger position now than 2006 because she has completed a full term in office. Dr. Victoria Wells Wulsin (D-Indian Hill) emerged victorious from a bruising primary in which she endured withering (and unsubstantiated) attacks on her medical ethics. Wulsin takes heart from having outgained Schmidt in their respective primaries (54,965 to 40,891) and from having gained more Democratic votes and coming closer to winning in 2006 than any previous Democratic candidate since 1980. She is an experienced campaigner after two previous outings. Independent David Krikorian (I) is reportedly gathering signatures to join the race.

Tier Three: Likely Republican

14th District NE Ohio (includes northeast suburbs of Akron, Willoughby, Mentor, Ashtabula). Cook PVI R+2. Bush won 52% in 2004. Incumbent Steve LaTourette (R) defeated law professor Lew Katz (D) by 58% to 39% in 2006. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 64.9% Democratic.

Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Chagrin Falls) has his toughest opponent since he defeated incumbent Eric Fingerhut (D) 14 years ago. Vietnam veteran and former appellate judge William O’Neill (D-South Russell) has good name recognition from his appellate judicial races and 2006 Ohio Supreme Court bid, has raised serious money (although he is still far behind LaTourette), and has a direct, plain-spoken personality (softened by his remarkable second career as a pediatric ER nurse) that should serve him well in this suburban-to-rural swing district. LaTourette’s biggest assets have been his ability to bring home federal dollars, which is blunted by being in the minority, and his reputation as a moderate, which is questionable. LaTourette is somewhat tainted by links to Jack Abramoff and Bob Ney, breaking a promise to vote against CAFTA, and his divorce and affair with a staffer whom he latter married. Unfortunately O’Neill underwent heart bypass surgery recently that will slow him down for another month or so, but he is a determined and formidable candidate who could elevate this to a top tier race.

Tier Four: High Probability Republican

7th District. South Central Ohio (includes southwest suburbs of Columbus, Lancaster, Xenia, Circleville, Springfield). Cook PVI R+6.0. Bush won 57% in 2004. Retiring incumbent Dave Hobson defeated repeat challenger Bill Conner (D) by 61% to 39% in 2006. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 52.9% Democratic.

This race has upside potential because it is an open seat. Corporate attorney Sharen Neuhardt (D-Yellow Springs) emerged from a six-way primary through hard work and a skillful direct mailing campaign. She is a first-time candidate but she has displayed excellent potential for fund-raising, has brought aboard first-rate campaign staff, and is dedicated to taking the necessary steps to run a seriously competitive campaign. I am hoping that she will work on displaying more passion in her public speaking, which on the occasion I heard her was somewhat low-key. State Sen. Steve Austria (R-Beavercreek) is photogenic and has the support of the incumbent but hasn’t particularly distinguished himself as a state legislator.

3rd District. SW Ohio (includes Dayton and southern suburbs, Kettering, Miamisburg). Cook PVI R+3. Bush won 54% in 2004. Incumbent Michael Turner (R) defeated former federal prosecutor Richard Chema (D) by 59% to 41% in 2006. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 60.2% Democratic.

This should be a swing district based on the strong performance here by Gov. Ted Strickland in 2006. It was held by Democrat Tony Hall from 1981 to 2003. Unfortunately, incumbent Rep. Michael Turner (R-Centerville) benefits from having been Mayor of Dayton, where most of the Democratic votes are located. Nevertheless, business woman and long-time political activist Jane Mitakides (D) gave Turner a fairly stiff challenge in 2004 (gaining 37.7% of the vote) and figures to improve in her second campaign and with an electorate yearning for change. Questions have been raised about Turner’s ethics, including a no-bid contract that benefited his spouse, and this could give Mitakides something of an opening if she is willing to exploit it.

12th District Central Ohio (includes part of Columbus and northeast suburbs, Dublin, Delaware). Cook PVI R+0.7. Bush won 51% in 2004. Incumbent Pat Tiberi (R) defeated former Congressman Bob Shamansky (D) by 58% to 42% in 2006. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 56.6% Democratic.

Businessman and political novice David W. Robinson (D) won a tough primary and is an intriguing candidate with possible crossover appeal. He has interesting credentials like a Ph.D. in theology and philosophy, a cross-country bicycle fund-raising trek for Alzheimers research, and working as a Presenter for Al Gore’s Climate Project initiative. If he had the benefit of political experience I’d move this race up to the next tier. [After some reflection I decdied that this race belongs in Tier Four because of the relatively even PVI and the challenger’s strong showing in a tough primary.] Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R-Westerville) is not a distinguished member of the House but held onto his seat in 2006 with nasty attack ads against his challenger.

Tier Five: Safe Republican

4th District West Central Ohio (includes Mansfield, Findlay, Marion, Lima, Bellefontaine, Sidney). Cook PVI R+14. Bush won 64% in 2004. Freshman Jim Jordan (R) defeated attorney Richard Siferd (D) by 60% to 40% in 2006.

Steelworker and labor union activist Mike Carroll (D-Mansfield) deserves a lot of credit for taking on freshman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana), and this district has the second highest percentage of blue collar workers in Ohio, but it is the reddest district in the state and hasn’t elected a Democrat since 1936.

8th District. West Ohio includes northern Dayton suburbs, Troy, Hamilton, Fairfield). Cook PVI R+12. Bush won 64% in 2004. Incumbent (and House Speaker) John Boehner defeated political novice Morton Meier (D) by 64% to 36% in 2006.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-West Chester)  has enormous campaign resources. Political activist and USAF veteran Nick Von Stein (D-Mason) is a personable and promising young candidate but this hill looks too steep to climb.

5th District. North Central Ohio (includes Norwalk, Bucyrus, Tiffin, Defiance, Bowling Green, Fremont). Cook PVI R+10.1. Bush won 61% in 2004. Rep. Paul Gillmor (R), who defeated repeat challenger Robin Weirauch by 57% to 43% in 2006, died in September 2007 and State Rep. Bob Latta (R) defeated Weirauch by the same margin in a special election in December.

Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) is safe against tanning salon and karaoke entrepreneur George F. Mays (D-Norwalk), formerly a member of the fringe Reform Party.

Democratic-Held Seats

There are no open Democratic seats and at this point there aren’t any Democratic incumbents seriously at risk.

Tier One: Leans Democratic

18th District East Central Ohio (includes Chillicothe, Zanesville, Mt. Vernon, Newark and New Philadelphia). Cook PVI R+6.1. Bush won 57% in 2004. In 2006,  disgraced incumbent Bob Ney (R-Heath) resigned late in the campaign and Dover Law Director Zack Space (D) defeated replacement candidate State Sen. Joy Padgett (R-Coshocton) by 62% to 38%. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 72.5% Democratic.

Just about a year ago this was considered the NRCC’s number one target nationwide. Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) has greatly increased his chances of holding this seat by raising over a million dollars and engaging in a remarkable series of high-visibility events throughout this far-flung district. He gets great local press and does strong case work through three district offices. He has staked out relatively conservative (and infuriating)  positions on guns and immigration that help him with conservative voters and buttress his claim to be a political independent. His opponent, former Ohio Director of Agriculture Fred Dailey (R-Mt Vernon), is not a top-notch challenger. He got 39% of the vote in a four-way GOP primary, is not considered an exciting personality or hard-working campaigner, and has lingering problems with some farmers for giving environment-damaging factory farms a free pass while running the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The NRCC and 527’s will probably pour resources into this race to try to take Space out, but he nevertheless seems to be in fairly good shape.

Tier Two: High Probability Democratic

6th District. SE Ohio (includes Athens, Marietta, Steubenville, East Liverpool). Cook PVI D+0.4. Bush won 50% in 2004. In 2006 State Sen. Charlie Wilson (D) won the Democratic primary as a write-in candidate (he had filed defective nominating petitions) and cruised to an easy general election win over former Ohio House Speaker Charles Blasdel (R) by 62% to 38% to replace Gov. Ted Strickland in this Appalachian district. 2008 congressional primary turnout was 74.6% Democratic.

Popular Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-St. Clairsville) should prevail easily over Deputy County Recorder Richard Stobbs (R-Dillonvale) in a district that has trended strongly blue due to the popularity of Gov Strickland.

10th District. NE Ohio (includes part of Cleveland and southern and western suburbs). Cook PVI D+6. Kerry won 58% in 2004. In 2006 incumbent Dennis Kucinich (D) defeated former U.S. government official Mike Dovilla (R) by 66% to 34%.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) would have had a serious primary challenge from rising political force Joe Cimperman (D) if there hadn’t been three other Democrats in the race, but he should be fine against former state representative Jim Trakas (R-Independence) and independent candidate Paul Visokaj (I). [After some reflection I decided that this race belongs in Tier Two because the challenger has campaign experience, the primary revealed significant (although not over powering) dissatisfaction with the incumbent, and the PVI is not as strong as in most of the safer districts.]

Tier Three: Safe Democratic

13th District. NE Ohio (includes part of Akron and eastern suburbs, Cuyahoga Falls, Lorain, Elyria, Brnswick, Strongsville). Cook PVI D+6. Kerry won 56% in 2004. In 2006 former state representative and labor attorney Betty Sutton (D) won a close Democratic primary and handily defeated Lorain Mayor Craig Foltin (R) by 61% to 39% in the general election to replace Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon).

The GOP took their best shot when this was an open seat last cycle and lost by a country mile. Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Township) isn’t at risk to political newcomer David S. Potter (R).

9th District North Central Ohio (includes Toledo, Sylvania, Sandusky). Cook PVI D+9. Kerry won 58% in 2004. In 2006 incumbent Marcy Kaptur (D) defeated electrician Bradley Leavitt (R) by 74% to 26%.

No chance for Bradley Leavitt (R-Toledo) in his rematch against the Dean of the Ohio Congressional Delegation and labor favorite Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) in this heavily blue-collar district.

17th District NE Ohio (includes Youngstown, Niles, Warren, Kent). Cook PVI D+14. Kerry won 63% in 2004. In 2006 incumbent Tim Ryan (D) defeated Don Manning (R) by 80% to 20%.

No worries for Pelosi protege and potential 2010 U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Niles) over teacher Duane V. Grassell (R-Mogadore).

11th District NE Ohio (includes part of Cleveland and eastern suburbs). Cook PVI D+33. Kerry won 81.39% in 2004. In 2006 incumbent Stephanie Tubbs Jones demolished car salesman Lindsey String by 83% to 17%.

No sweat for Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland) over political unknown Thomas Pekarek (R) in Ohio’s bluest congressional district.

Cross-posted at Ohio Daily Blog

OH-05 When is a “D” not a Democrat?

HUGE h/t to Ron at Crossposted to OhioDailyBlog -EB

In Ohio, we don’t have “registered” Democrats or Republicans (or socialists or communists or anything else.) Rather, when voters go to the polls for a partisan primary, they request a ballot from the GOP or the Democrats or any other party that is on the ballot and having a primary. Other states do things differently but that’s the way we roll in the Buckeye state.

In 2006, George Mays of Norwalk, OH tried to run for the U.S. Senate. He did not run as a Democrat. Rather he tried to qualify for the ballot as an independent and claimed to be “Endorsed by the Reform Party of Ohio, The New Frontier Coalition, and the Libertarians of the Northeast Region.”

According to his website at that time, he stated:

“I will unveil a simple plan to ensure the financial security of America and eliminate all Federal taxes…”

His effort to qualify for the ballot failed. Again, from his website:

“We simply did not get enough petition signatures. … Most of my disappointment is in the lack of help from Reform Party and Libertarian members. I truely wish that you had given me a chance. … So, I will run for my Congressional Seat in 2008. …”

(emphasis added.)

Here is a picture from the current Reform Ohio party website:

If you look in the upper left hand corner, you can see a poster for Mr. Mays.

It would appear that Mr. Mays has never requested a Democratic ballot in a partisan primary, until he decided to run against Robin Weirauch in the primary for the special election here in OH-05 following the death of Rep. Gillmor.

But in order to get on the primary ballot last fall for the special election, as a “Democrat” all that he had to do was to pay $85 and submit nominating petitions with the signatures of fifty registered voters, who don’t have to be Democrats. Of course, he got stomped in the primary election.

But he’s back again this year and has successfully entered the primary as a Democrat. The problem is that no one else has filed to be on the ballot! Which means that he will win the primary election and this fall, his name will be on the ballot as the candidate of the Democratic Party.

This has happened to both parties in Ohio. With our gerrymandered districts, sometimes it is impossible to get candidates to take on kamikaze missions. Instead, wackos game the system and wind up on the ballot.

In the end, it doesn’t make much difference, because they always lose. The problem arises when the media offers candidates opportunities such as televised debates or candidate forums. There was such a forum once where the unendorsed GOP standard bearer called a US Representative a “lesbian socialist.” The look on the faces of the GOP politcos in attendance was priceless.

Another issue is whether to grant these ersatz candidates access to Party resources such as calling lists. Do you want this guy to have your address and phone number?

Republican Congressional Fundraising Sucks — It’s Great To Be A Democrat

The National Republican Congressional Committee was technically in the red, even before they spent over $400,000 (about 15% of their cash on hand) to help Bob Latta win a special election in Ohio — in a district that Bush carried by a whopping 22% in 2004.  John Boehner, House Minority Leader — the one who thinks American lives are a "small price" to pay for victory in Iraq — explains the money woes of Congressional Republicans thusly:

“Now the money sucks for two reasons,” Boehner said in a Politico interview. “People are mad at the president; they are mad at the party. And then [there is] this whole immigration fight. People just turned off the spigot.”

Boehner is bringing in image consultants and trying to "re-brand" the Republican party.  It's great to see the other guys wasting money (that they don't have) on  image consultants and flimsy attempts to re-brand or re-create their party.  Note: Boehner didn't mention actual policy changes, just a PR campaign.

Here in Alabama, word is out that George Wallace, Jr. is sniffing around the 2nd Congressional District race.  He would join Republicans Jay Love, Greg Wren, Harri Anne Smith and  David Grimes who are already in the AL-02 raceCome on in George, the water is fine!  The more the merrier, especially since Republican fundraising "sucks."  Y'all go ahead and spend a lot of money in an expensive primary — the NRCC will be there to bail you out next October.  Not!

Of the 202 Republican held seats in Congress, about 90 are districts with a partisan voting index (PVI) or R+10 (like OH-05) or greater.  If the NRCC has to spend $400K per race to hold the other 112 Republican held districts that are as, or less, Republican than OH-05, it will need over $45 million.  That's just to hold the current Republican minority — in a cycle where Republican fundraising "sucks" — starting from a negative $1 million balance only 10 1/2 months before the general election.

This is a good time to be a Democrat — even in Alabama. 

Cross-posted from Left in Alabama.


Look, I’m probably as bummed out about Weirauch’s loss as the rest of you are (even though I never once expected a win here), but there’s one key number we need to be taking away from the OH-05 and VA-01 special elections today: $537,038.24.

That’s the grand total that the NRCC flushed into both of these races over the past couple of weeks.  To put it in another formulation, that’s 21% of their available cash-on-hand at the end of October.

I hope Republicans are finding the taste of victory to be sweet tonight, because that’s one hell of a high price to pay to win a pair of 60% Bush districts.

OH-05, VA-01: Results Open Thread


9:33 PM ET (David): AP calls it for Latta.

9:03 PM ET: About a third of precinct are now reporting and Latta is maintaining a 55%-45% lead.
8:42 PM ET: 11% of precincts are now reporting in Ohio and Latta has a 56%-44% lead over Weirauch. As a side note, it appears that the SOS' RSS feed is updating a bit quicker than the main site as it was displaying these results a few minutes earlier.
8:30 PM ET: I think we can officially put a nail in Forgit. With 93% of precincts reporting, he's still at 35%.
8:21 PM ET: With 2% reporting in Ohio, Latta is up 53-46.
8:07 PM ET: 75% of precincts are reporting in VA-01 and Forgit is still holding steady at 35%.
7:51 PM ET: Results are starting to trickle in for OH-05. With what appears to be a single precinct reporting, Latta is up 75-69.
7:41 PM ET: With just over half of the precincts reporting, Forgit's still sitting at 34%. Even Kerry was able to garner 39% in this district.
7:30 PM ET: Polls just closed in Ohio; we'll know shortly whether Weirauch was able to seal the deal.
7:27 PM ET: With about a quarter of the votes in, Forgit is still down by a 2-1 margin. Looks like it won't be a long night in Virginia.
7:17 PM ET: Early returns (10% reporting) show Republican Rob Wittman up 2722-1330 over Democrat Phil Forgit.

Polls should be closing shortly as voters in Ohio and Virginia choose replacements for Republican Reps. Paul Gillmor (OH-05) and Jo Ann Davis (VA-01). Unfortunately, James is still in transit and unable to join us tonight, but I'll try my best to fill his liveblogging shoes.

Up above, I've posted links to sites that should update with results throughout the night. But if they don't come through for us, I'll update accordingly. If you happen to find a better results page, let me know in the comments.

It'll probably be a while before any votes actually get counted, so treat this as your final chance to lock in predictions.

OH-05: Baseline Numbers

In 2006, Robin Weirauch earned a respectable 43% of the vote in OH-05, while Paul Gillmor took 57%. As you watch the returns coming in this evening, keep these county-by-county results handy:

County Weirauch ’06 Gillmor ’06
Ashland 1,895 (45%) 2,350 (55%)
Crawford 6,715 (42%) 9,405 (58%)
Defiance 5,851 (45%) 7,192 (55%)
Fulton 6,754 (43%) 8,939 (57%)
Henry 4,917 (43%) 6,468 (57%)
Huron 7,583 (43%) 10,093 (57%)
Lucas 3,197 (48%) 3,465 (52%)
Mercer 1,094 (32%) 2,348 (68%)
Paulding 3,349 (45%) 4,099 (55%)
Putnam 4,628 (33%) 9,350 (67%)
Sandusky 9,481 (42%) 12,942 (58%)
Seneca 8,054 (40%) 11,892 (60%)
Van Wert 3,689 (36%) 6,586 (64%)
Williams 5,650 (44%) 7,101 (56%)
Wood 21,692 (49%) 22,258 (51%)
Wyandot 1,406 (37%) 2,410 (63%)

In the comments a few weeks ago, Sean ran the numbers:

The key to winning this district

Is to win by about 57%-43% in Wood County, which is a swing county and casts about 18% of the vote. Robin got 49% here in 2006, when she won 43% district wide. She then has to run about even in nominally Republican Sandusky county, which casts about 10% of the vote. The other county that she must win by about 53%-47% is Huron county, which casts about 8% of the vote. She got 43% here in 2006. The last is Seneca county, which is leans Republican, but not heavily. She needs to get about 55% here. Finally, she has to do reasonably well in the rest of the district, where she must hold Latta to no more than 54%.

Definitely something to make note of as we watch the returns.

OH-05, VA-01: Predictions Open Thread

Today’s the day.  Polls are open in the special elections to replace the late Reps. Paul Gillmor (OH-05) and Jo Ann Davis (VA-01).

Unfortunately, I have to catch a plane in a few hours, so posting will be slower today.  However, once the polls close, we should be rolling with liveblog coverage.

If you have predictions for the results in OH-05 or VA-01, now’s your chance to post them in the comments and claim bragging rights when the returns come in exactly as you called it.

OH-05: Weirauch (D) Ahead of Latta (R) By Four Points!

In an amazing report tonight, The Politico quotes a GOP source as saying that a poll taken by the campaign of State Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) last week showed him trailing Robin Weirauch (D-Napoleon) by four points.

On the ground in Ohio, we’ve been hearing that internal polls showed a close race, and there was an exciting rumor last week that Weirauch’s pollster said she was only down by three points. This race seemed like it was amazingly close for a R+10 district, but still a long shot. Now, with this leak about Latta’s poll, victory looks like a very real possibility tomorrow.

More after the flip.

The story in The Politico also reports that the campaign manager for State Sen. Steve Buehrer (R-Delta) in the GOP primary, Jim Banks, concedes that “there’s an effect from a primary that’s been carried over” and “no one can deny it was a very nasty and physical election.” He also told The Politico that Weirauch “appeals more to the union and working-class voters – the people who are struggling the most and that want the most change,” and that the bread-and-butter issues on which Weirauch has focused “polled at the top of voter concerns during the primary.”

In contrast to Weirauch’s hard-hitting populist campaign, a GOP source reported to The Politico that Latta’s campaign “was unprepared to handle the race’s newfound attention” and the NRCC “had to dispose resources to respond effectively.” The Politico’s source called the Latta’s ground game “lackluster” and said “the NRCC has become the campaign by proxy.”

Robin Weirauch has busted her butt in this campaign and made great use of the resources and volunteers that she never had in her prior two bids for this seat. She has displayed tremendous message discipline, hammering the jobs and working-class values message over and over, along with her theme of “shaking up Washington.” I will be blogging from Weirauch headquarters in Bowling Green tomorrow, where the energy is reported to be sky high and the GOTV effort is cranking along at top speed. Check Ohio Daily Blog for updates.

OH-05: GOP “Pissed Off” With Latta’s Campaign

When you’re the Republican nominee in a district that Bush carried by 22 points in 2004, and you’re squaring off in a special election against a candidate whose only prior political experience was losing the seat twice by wide margins, it seems that you don’t make a lot of friends when the debt-addled NRCC is forced to bail out your sagging campaign with $428,000 in independent expenditures.

Roll Call has the dirt:

Although the candidates and party committees weren’t releasing any polling late last week, both sides agreed the race could be fairly close – and many Republicans were flabbergasted.

“The [GOP] Members are running around saying, ‘What just happened?'” said a Washington Republican with knowledge of the district. “To put it bluntly, they’re pissed off. People are angry that Bob Latta hasn’t devoted himself better on the campaign trial to connect with northwest Ohio voters and given an opportunity to an opponent who was so far off the radar and actually made it a race.” […]

“It’s like the Latta campaign is trying to write a handbook on how to lose a Congressional campaign in 60 days or less,” said the Republican. “When Bob Latta lost the first Congressional race back in 1988 to then-Ohio Senate President Paul Gillmor, he was a young kid with no electoral experience. He came close and people always expected he would be back. But if Bob Latta loses this race to Robin Weirauch, a candidate who Gillmor defeated twice with barely a sweat, it will be an enormous embarrassment to Latta personally.”

Now, I don’t deny that Republicans could be angry with Bob Latta.  GOP strategists have every reason to be blowing a fuse over the NRCC’s hefty expenditures in an R+10 district.  At the same time, though, this kind of grumbling could be equally driven by a desire to game expectations so that a win by Latta will be seen as a greater feat for Republicans.

In reality, despite a bruising primary followed by a weak campaign by Latta, the deck is still stacked against Robin Weirauch here.  For one thing, there are only six districts in the nation that are more Republican leaning than OH-05 and are held by Democrats: MO-04 (Ike Skelton), ND-AL (Earl Pomeroy), TX-22 (Nick Lampson), MS-04 (Gene Taylor), UT-02 (Jim Matheson), and TX-17 (Chet Edwards).  These are all seats held by very exceptional and very experienced campaigners.

The other factor is money; while Weirauch has benefited from a tidy sum of DCCC expenditures ($243,748.14, to be exact), the NRCC has spent more.  Additionally, Latta’s coffers have been flooded with big dollar donations in recent days, including over $150,000 on Friday and Saturday, and that’s coming off some other similarly large fundraising reports from Latta in recent weeks.  From a quick glance at Robin Weirauch’s FEC filings, she has collected over $200,000 in large dollar donations since the primary.  A very strong showing for a Democrat here, but one that has been outpaced by Latta.

Make no mistake, for Weirauch to even come close on Tuesday would be beating the odds here.  But the chance of an upset, even if it’s a long shot, is still reason enough for the GOP to be grumbling over Bob Latta.