Friday, December 23, 2005

ANWR Drilling Defeated, DeWine Sides With Democrats

Sen. Ted Stevens' (R-AK) amendment to add the allowance of drilling in the Artcitc National Wildlife Refuges (ANWR) to a defense appropriation bill for ongoing operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere was defeated. Senate Democrats denounced Stevens' tactics, citing Senatorial courtesy and tradition that controversial amendmends are not added to defense appropriation bills. But Stevens was handing down all Senators an ultimatum on the issue and seeking out the passage of the bill as amended as a personal favor to the powerful Chairman of the Senate Appropiations Committee. Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) joined 4 other GOP Senators in siding with the Democrats and voting against the amendment.
From the article, "Five Republicans defected on the deficit-cutting votes, including Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Gordon Smith of Oregon and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. Snowe, Chafee and DeWine face re-election next year. Also in opposition were all 44 Democrats and Sen. James Jeffords, the Vermont independent."

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Suit Filed Against Taft, Petro

A Columbus area attorney, Kevin O'Brien, claims a Jim Petro campaign staffer by the name of Amy Gravengaard offered O'Brien a position as special counsel to the Attorney General in exchange for a campaign contribution. Another Columbus area attorney claims the Ohio Republican Party created loopholes around the $1,000 donation cap that enabled him to exceed donations of $1,000 to the various GOP officeholders and the party itself. Gravengaard replaced Kyle Sisk on Petro's staff after Auditor Betty Montgomery complained in 2003 that Sisk was strongarming state employees for campaign contributions to Petro's candidacy. Another part of the lawsuit claims in 2001 when both Petro and then State Treasurer Joe Deters were running for Attorney General, attorney Lee Smith shipped donations of $5,000 to each candidate via county parties that favored each candidate and in turn handed the $5,000 over to Petro and Deters, illegaly.
It should be noted that Kevin O'Brien is a Democrat and his ex-wife works for Attorney General Jim Petro.

Noe on the Offensive over State Coin Investment

Toledo coin dealer Tom Noe, the target of much political scandal and concern over the past year, is now fighting back his critics. Noe made a rare and probably only public appearance with his attorney at his side yesterday to counter the claims made by mainly Ohio Democrats that the $50 million investment by the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation was a total failure. Noe and his attorney claim the investment will net the Ohio BWC with a profit of $11.9 million this year. Noe did not explain how this projected profit fits with the state's assertion that the fun will end the year with a $13 million shortfall. Meanwhile, an investigation spearheaded by Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro continues into reports of Noe stealing up to $4 million from the Bureau of Workers' Compensation fund. Noe is also cooperating with law enforcement in regards to 119 coins (at a value of $93,000) that are believed to be property of the state of Ohio but ended up in the home of a suburban Colorado man. St. Sen. Marc Dann (D-Youngstown) accussed Noe's attorney of attempting to taint a potential jury pool and found the profit claim without merit.

Tom Noe

Ohio Faces Loss of 2 US House seats come 2010

According to a new AP article, Ohio could loss as many as 2 Congressional seats (and 2 electoral votes in the Presidental election) after the 2010 census and redistricting takes effect for the 2012 elections. If current projections of population loss stands, only New York and Ohio would be states set to lose 2 Congressional seats. Several other states face the loss of single House seats. The US Census Bureau is set to release its projections for 2010 today and the results will reportedly show that the Nevada is now the fastest growing state in the union, particularly the Las Vegas metro area. The entire US population grew by 0.9% over this past year to now 296.4 million people.
From the article: "In 1940, Northeastern and Midwestern states had a total of 251 seats in the House, compared with 184 for states in the South and West.
Today, Southern and Western states have the edge, 252-183."

Redfern Elected New Ohio Dem Chairman

Ohio House Democratic Leader Chris Redfern of Catawba Island was handily elected the new Ohio Democratic Chairman on Monday night. Redfern collected 88 votes to Dayton Democratic Party Chairman Dennis Lieberman's 31 votes. A delay in the vote occurred to determine how the process should proceed but in the end Redern won overwhelmingly.
Hamilton County Democratic Chairman Tim Burke was given a note by Jerry Springer to read at the meeting, announcing his intent not to run for Ohio Governor next year. But the meeting was quickly adjourned and Springer had to release the announcement via e-mail to Ohio media outlets.
Chris Redern's election was to serve the remainder of former Chairman Denny White's term, who resigned as Ohio Democratic Chairman effective November 23. Another election for a full term will occur next spring or summer of '06.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Jerry Springer Out of Race for Governor

Not that he was ever really in the race for Ohio Governor in 2006, but former trash TV talk show host Jerry Springer has formally taken his name out of the Democratic Primary for Ohio Governor in 2006. He endorsed Congressman Ted Strickland for Governor. Springer also said he was "dead serious" about his professional radio career and was not using the show as a springboard. Springer merely confirmed what evryone had known for months, Springer was not about to jeporadize his re-entry into politics with a divisive and contentious primary against a current Congressman who already had the backing of the Ohio Democratic establishment.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Portune Out for Ohio Dem Chairman, Election Tonight

Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune took his name out of the running to lead the Ohio Democratic Party over the weekend. With the election to pick the new Ohio Dem Chairman schedule for tonight 12/19, my money is still on House Minority Leader Chris Redfern, Rep. and '06 Governor candidate Ted Strickland's personal choice. Redern also apparently got the backing of Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory and Redfern supposedly already has 80 votes (only 68 are needed to win the majority of 137).

Is Mallory's Replacement a loyal Democrat?

  1. Eric Kearney, former CEO of a newspaper publishing company, attorney, and Dartmouth College graduate, was chosen to succeed Mark Mallory last month in the State Senate after Mallory resigned to assume his new elected position of Cincinnati Mayor. But there has been local mumbling about where Kearney's political loyalities really lie, given his campaign contributions in the past. Kearney has donated to Ken Blackwell's Secretary of State and Treasurer campaigns and Joe Deters' State Treasurer campaign. Apparently, Kearney has also never voted in a Democratic Primary election before. Indeed, Kearney's first run for public office was for Cincinnati City Council in 1993 and he ran as a Charterite, not a Democrat. This has made some Cincinnati Democrats uneasy with the choice and led to Senate Minority Leader CJ Prentiss (D-Cleveland) writing an op-ed in the Cincinnati Enquirer defending the choice. Kearney's appointment spells doom for former Vice Mayor of Cincinnati Alicia Reece, who is still looking for a way to advance her political career. Kearney has already drawn one primary opponent in St. Rep. Catherine Barrett, but I'd have to give the edge to Kearney at this point. Kearney's relative youth, nice personality, and likeability should carry him through. If Kearney fends off Barett's challenge in the primary, he will most likely face former Cincinnati City Councilman Charlie Winburn (R) in the general election.

Commentary: Given Winburn's outspoken social stances, I'm not sure who I would personally support in such a matchup. Kearney has an impressive resume and is not like the other Cincinnati politicians who are only concerned about holding an elected position at all times (a la Pat DeWine and Alicia Reece). I suppose only time and Kearney's voting record in the next year will tell. Leslie Ghiz anyone?

Legislature Passes 'Ohio Patriot Act,' and Election Reform Is Tabled

The Ohio General Assembly passed what its critics called the "Ohio Patriot Act" last week by a vote of 69-23. The bill gives law enforcement agencies greater discretion in questioning terrorist suspects and also makes it a misdemeanor for a witness of a crime not to report certain information to law enforcement. Agencies also have greater authority to check IDs and ask pribing questions at aiports and checkpoints throughout the state.

Another important piece of legislation that came out of the State Senate last week was a contentious election reform bill that requires voters to present identification when voting at the polling place. Some Senate Republicans voted against the provision because it included a $200 cap on how much money local elected officials (county comissioners, county prosecutors, sheriffs, etc.) could receive in campaign contributions from their own employees. The Ohio House soundly rejected the $200 contribution cap and the ID provisions and the differences in the two versions will not be resolved until the new year.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Petro Claims Dead Heat with Blackwell

After a $1 million TV ad campaign, Attorney General Jim Petro has claimed a statistical dead heat with Secretary of State Ken Blackwell but only in a two-race that does not include Auditor Betty Montgomery. In a two-way match, Petro and Blackwell are tied at 33%-33%. In match of Blackwell vs. Montgomery, Blackwell leads 40%-27%. In the three-way race, Blackwell still leads Petro and Montgomery 30%-35%-12%, respectively. But among those who have claimed to see Petro's recent TV ads, Petro leads Blackwell 40%-26%. The poll was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies 12/06-07 with a margin of error +/- 4.38%.

The Public Opinion Strategies constrasts considerably with the Columbus Dispatch poll conducted 09/22-10/08. That poll showed Blackwell with a hefty lead over Petro and Mongtomery at 32%-18%-16%, respectively.

While the Public Opinion Strategies poll was conducted for the Petro campaign, it's certain that the recent TV ads have had a positive effect on his numbers and name ID. Blackwell will have to respond soon to counteract the trend.

NOTE: This blogger proudly endorses Jim Petro for Ohio Governor.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Neo-Nazis March in Toledo Again

A Neo-Nazi group that demonstrated in Toledo in October returned to the same neighborhood this Saturday to protest the police's handling of the event. In October, demonstrators against the Neo-Nazis began rioting which led to local vandalism and many arrests. Fortunately the protest this Saturday only brought out 100 counter-demonstrators in the cold winter weather. According to the group, the original October demonstration was organized by Neo-Nazis because of increased crime in a neighborhood that has seen a recent influx of African-Americans. Security checkpoints were set up by the City of Toledo to ensure safety in the demonstrating area that was formed by court order.

Cranley for Congress, 48 hours later

Newly elected Cincinnati City Councilman John Cranley (D) announced his intent to challenge Rep. Steve Chabot (R) again (he first challenged Chabot in 2000, losing by 5 points) less than 48 hours after being sworn into his third term as a Cincinnati City Councilman. Executive Director of the Hamilton County Republican Party Brad Greenberg has some harsh words for Councilman Cranley, "John Cranley must have set a record for the shortest amount of time between being sworn into one office and announcing plans for the next office. To wait only 48 hours is disrespectful to the voters of Cincinnati. John Cranley cares more about his own advancement than fulfilling his duties on City Council."

Greenberg's counterpart in the Hamilton County Democratic Party shot back, " Since Chabot is in his sixth two-year term, when will he announce that he won't seek re-election?Or does Brad Greenberg think Steve Chabot cares more about advancing his own career than keeping his promises to Ohio's First Congressional District?Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. John Cranley has officially run for two offices during his distinguished career. Elected three times, with over five years of service on City Council, John Cranley has added more police to the streets, fought blight in neighborhoods, reinvested in the urban core, and balanced biennial budgets."

Analysis: In a Chabot v. Cranley rematch for OH-01, Chabot should win by about 10 points. While Cranley has more name recognition by being in this third term as a Cincinnati City Councilman, OH-01 is considerably more GOP than it was in 2000. Best prediction at this point is 55-45, Chabot elected to a seventh term.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Dann On the Offensive Over Tax History

State Senator Mark Dann (D-Youngstown) took the offensive over growing criticism and Republican demands for him to release his tax records. Soon after announcing his candidacy for state Attorney General, Dann's tax history was put under scrutiny. Dann has been the subject of interest by state debt collectors dating back to 1997 and just 17 days ago the state of Ohio filed a collection of $561.71 in back taxes against Dann. Dann called the news of his tax history Republican "smear tactics" and that he never abused the power of this office, like leading Republicans in the state. But Ohio GOP Chairman Bob Bennett offered a different prespective on the State Senator who has been a leading critic of the Noe scandals, calling Dann a "hypocrite" who was "throwing rocks from a glass house."

Eight Vie to Lead Ohio Democrats

Since former Chairman Denny White's resignation over the Thanksgiving holiday, eight candidates have declared their intent to vie for the position of Chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. The candidates include: House Minority Leader Chris Redfern, Former Rep. Dennis Eckert, Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune, 2004 Congressional Candidate (against Rep. Mike Turner) Jane Mitakides, Erie County Democratic Chairman David Giese, Athens County Democratic Chairwoman Susan Gwinn, and former state party Executive Director Bill DeMora. For now, House Minority Leader Chris Redfern appears to be the frontrunner, as he was endorsed by Rep. and leading candidate for Governor Ted Strickland. But the campaign for White's replacement continues.

Chris Redfern

Taft Cousin Defeated by One Vote

Incumbent City Councilman Rick Taft, cousin of Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, was declared the loser in a city council race in the upscale Cleveland suburb of Pepper Pike. Rick Taft had won a coin toss to determine the winner of the race after the results showed the race to be a perfect tie. But a recount on Thursday showed challenger Richard Bain had won by a one-vote margin, 1,124 to 1,123. The result of the race may not be over and a another recount may be necessary, as the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections confirmed on Thursday that the determining vote may be a chad issue.

Rick Taft

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Race to Replace Sherrod

With U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Elyria) having formally announced his candidacy for US Senate (see below), the race to replace Brown in the House has already begun.

Analysis: Brown currently holds the 13th Ohio Congressional district, which is essentially a seat gerrymandered to be overwhelmingly Democratic. The district streteches from the shores of Lake Erie in Lorain south to Medina and finally east into the heart of Akron. The two largest metropolitan areas of the district are Lorain and Akron, with Akron having the edge in population. There are Republican portions to the district, especially the I-71 corridor. Strongsville, Medina, Brecksville, and Brunswick are quickly becoming upper-middle class Cleveland suburbs that are definitely trending GOP more and more. Brown is a Lorain native (now living in the suburb of Elyria) and has avoided a contentious primary with courting the Akron labor union crowd and voting much in line with the blue collar tilt of the district.

Akron and Lorain are nearly an hour away from one another but their blue collar Democratic politics are nearly identical. But in a Democratic primary where candidates largely agree on the issues, name recoginition will be the key. Former Akron Mayor and US Rep. Tom Sawyer has already thrown his hat in the ring and announced his intent to run for the seat. Another Akron Democratic bigwig, Former St. Rep. and current Chairman of the Summit County Board of Elections Wayne Jones is also considering the race. If both these candidates run, the Akron vote will effectively be split and open the way for a Lorain-based candidate to win a three-way primary fight. For now, the Lorain standard bearer appears to be Lorain County Commissioner Ted Kalo. Rep. Steve LaTourette's (R-Madison-on-the-Lake) 2004 challenger, Capri Cafaro, is also considering a run but her effect would be marginal at best. She is not from the district, being a Youngstown resident and would not have the name reciginition to equal Akron and Lorain pols. With the current field of candidates, the edge should be with Kalo.

Capri Cafaro Tom Sawyer Ted Kalo

Monday, December 05, 2005

Sherrod Brown Makes Senate Run Official With 4 Stop Tour

U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Elyria) has made his US Senate bid against incumbent Sen. Mike DeWine official with a 4 stop tour that began in Avondale on Sunday with a stop Pastor Fred Shuttleworth's church. While there, Brown delivered a fiery speech in which he compared the policies of the Bush Administration to the racial segregation in the south of the 1950s and 1960s. Brown exclaimed, "Whether we're embarrassing segregation or embarrassing a president of the United States who has wrongfully and deceitfully taken us into war, or embarrassing someone who uses his power against the poor and against working families unfairly..." Less than 20 people showed up for Brown's speech, supposedly due to inclement weather. Today Brown took his campaign kickoff tour to Columbus to officially announce his candidacy in the state's capital city.

Brown has decided to focus his attention on the supposed failure of President Bush and Republican policies in general. But he does face a Democratic primary challenge in Paul Hackett, who was not hesitant in crticizing Brown as a Washington insider. Hackett himself is a fiery candidate who last week, on MSNBC's "Hardball" show, claimed President Bush used cocaine as a young adult, despite the lack of evidence available.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Mayor Coleman Out for Governor

Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman has ended his bid for Ohio Governor, leaving the Democratic nomination solely in the hands of US Rep. Ted Strickland of Lisbon. When Coleman first threw his hat in the ring this past summer, he was assumed to be the frontrunner and only credible candidate the Democrats would field in 2006. But the recent scandals and constant unpopularity of Gov. Bob Taft led to Strickland entering the race and quickly becoming the favorite among the establishment within the Ohio Democratic Party. Coleman citing family troubles and his current job as Mayor of Columbus, OH that precluded him from running.

St. Sen. Eric Fingerhut (D-Shaker Heights) claimed the field was now wide open and said he would be making a decision soon as to whether or not he would be entering the Democratic Primary for Governor in 2006.

Schmidt Could Face Primary Challenge(s)

Jean Schmidt's comments on the floor of the US House concerning Jack Murtha's plan to pullout of Iraq within 6 months and labeling him a "coward" as inspired many Republican political figures to weigh a run against Schmidt in the OH-02 Republican Primary next May. State Rep. Tom Brinkman (R) has already expressed his sentiment that someone should challenge Schmidt, though he would not signal whether or not he will enter the race. Former Rep. Bob McEwen may be getting into the mix as well, after showing up uninvited to newly elected Cincinnati City Councilwoman Leslie Ghiz's celebration party. McEwen has also announced that he will not be running against incumbent US Sen. Mike DeWine in the Republican primary next year, again leaving the possibility open for another US House run in the 2nd District.

On the Democratic side, Housing executive Thor Jacobs has announced his intent to run in the OH-02 Democratic Primary next year.

Mallory Sworn in As Cincinnati Mayor

Former St. Senator Mark L. Mallory took the oath of office as Mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio today, succeeding longtime Mayor and Cincinnati politician Charlie Luken. The ceremony was largely celebratory, except for the notable exception of Councilman David Crowley (D). Crowley was outraged that Mayor Mallory had stripped him of a Chairmanship in the City Council dealing with public access to the happenings at Cincinnati City Hall. Mallory made a surprised pick for Vice Mayor of the City by reaching across party lines and choosing Charterite City Councilman Jim Tarbell. Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) made an appearance at City Hall to swear in fellow Republican and newly elected Councilwoman Leslie Ghiz. Ghiz's choice of Schmidt is puzzling not only because of the timing coinciding with Schmidt's controversial remarks on the floor of the US House concerning Jack Murtha's Iraq War pullout plan, but also because Schmidt's politics are considerably more conservative than Ghiz's. More on Schmidt and her troubles above.

State Rep. Seaver to Retire

When elected in 2000, Derrick Seaver (R-Minster) was the youngest person ever elected to the Ohio Assembly at age 18. Seaver originally ran as a Democrat in an overwhelmingly Republican district and beat his Republican opponent, Dave Shiffer, by only 242 votes. After the 2004 election, Seaver changed his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican, citing growing rifts with the Democratic caucus, particularly on social issues. With only one term left to serve after 2006, Rep. Seaver has decided to retire. Declared candidates in the race to find his replacement include former Rep. Bob McEwen's campaign Manager Wes Farno, among others.

Bob Taft's Disapproval Reaches New Low

According to a Zogby Online Poll, Gov. Bob Taft (R-OH) has an approval rating only in the single digits at 6.5%. And only 3% rate his job performance as either"good" or "excellent." The poll also found that 61% of respondents felt Taft should have resigned his office after the Tom Noe scandal surfaced and when Taft was convicted of failing to report golf outings with donors to his re-election campaign in 2002. The latest SurveyUSA poll of US Governors released on 11/29 shows Taft's approval/disapporval standing at 18%/77%, respectively. Still a fairly dismal outlook for the final year of Taft's Administration.

As an aside, the same Zogby Online Poll showed President Bush's approval rating in Ohio at 46%.