Thursday, January 19, 2006

McEwen to Challenge Schmidt in OH-02 Primary

Former Congressman Bob McEwen (R) made the official announcement last night, 01/18, in Anderson Township that he would be challenging incumbent Congresswoman Jean Schmidt in the Oh-02 Republican primary in May. McEwen, who also ran in the Republican primary for the same seat last year in the special election following Rob Portman's resignation, was a Congressman in the US House from Hillsboro for 6 terms before redistricting and a bitter primary with Congressman Clarence Miller in 1992 led to his ultimate yet narrow defeat against Democrat Ted Strickland in 1992. McEwen flirted with the possiblity of challenging incumbent Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) in the Republican primary but ultimately decided against that. McEwen also briefly considered running as Secretary of State Ken Blackwell's Lt. Governor and running mate. This will be McEwen's third attempt to represent the OH-02 district in Washington, DC. McEwen ran also in the 1993 special election but lost the Republican primary to Rob Portman. After his failed 1993 campaign, McEwen moved permanently to the Washington, DC metro area and became a Congressional lobbyist. McEwen moved back to Ohio shortly after it became clear that Rep. Rob Portman was going to be accepting a position in the Bush Administration as US Trade Representative and his House seat would be opening up. McEwen is originally from Hillsboro, a city outside of OH-02 district, but much of his old Congressional district has since been merged with the OH-02 that Schmidt currently represents. McEwen faced an unlikely primary battle in 1992 against Clarence Miller mainly because of his involvement in the house banking scandal and supposedly bouncing checks repeatedly. He has since made amends for that and promised such practices would never happen again.

Rep. Jean Schmidt has come under fire recently for characterizing Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA) as a coward on the House floor, but her defense was that she was merely quoting a constituent of hers, St. Rep. Danny Bubp, a former US Marine. St. Rep. Tom Brinkman made it clear a few weeks ago that someone credible would need to challenge Schmidt in the Republican primary but it's unclear whether or not Brinkman meant himself specifically or another challenger like McEwen. Brinkman is currently grabbing headlines with his lawsuit against Miami University of Ohio (Oxford) over the institution's domestic partnership health care package. Brinkman and his lawyer contend it violates the state Constitution's amnedment that was added by voters overwhelmingly in 2004, which defines marriage in the state of Ohio as between a man and a woman. Miami's domestic partnership program allows any couple (same-sex or otherwise) that has been together for more than 6 months to earn certain health care perks (dental particularly) if they sign an affidavit affirming their relationship. This lawsuit has garnered much attention for Brinkman and leaves open the possiblity for his entry into the Republican primary.

Analysis: Schmidt now has marginal incumbent advantage in a Republican primary but McEwen should be able to eat into her solid conservative support that led her to victory last summer in the special election primary. McEwen is already characterizing himself as an elder statesmen who will bring "dignity and experience" back to Congress, a clear allusion to Schmidt's controversial remarks regarding Rep. Murtha a month ago. But Schmidt's style of politics has always been aggressive and "in your face." McEwen has already lost one key endorsement in the primary that he garnered in the special election primary last year, that of Rep. John Boehner. Boehner now finds himself embroiled in a hot race for US House Majority Leader and his staffer made it clear that in any possible primary the Boehner camp would be supporting Boehner's colleague, Jean Schmidt. Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, who briefly considered McEwen as his running mate for Lt. Governor, said he considered both McEwen and Schmidt "good friends" and probably will not make an endorsement of either candidate over the other.

This blogger is personally pulling for McEwen simply because Schmidt has garnered far too much unwanted publicity, that is bad publicity. McEwen is a solid conservative with identical stances on the issues as Schmidt but approaches politics with a much different style and is well regarded by many power brokers in Washington.


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