Monday, February 25, 2008

Obama Dressed Up as a Somali

The Drudge Report first picked up on a photo of Sen. Barack Obama dressing up as a Somali elder, which included a traditional turban. Drudge has reported that the photo has been circulated via e-mail by the Hillary campaign. If this is true, perhaps the shame should be on the Hillary campaign and not the Obama campaign for some health care mailing that is basically true (see below).

In response to the Obama's camp condemnation, the Hillary campaign engaged in its usual spin that made little sense.

Another curious photo from that trip to Africa made by Obama can be found here.

These photos are meaningless but as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words and the Hillary campaign is undoubtedly exploiting that. A nuanced explanation of wearing traditional garb when visiting a foreign country is drowned out by the fact that Obama is wearing a turban. Think Michael Dukakis in a tank all over again.

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Analyzing the Obama Health Care mailings

In Cincinnati over the weekend, Hillary went sharply on the offensive by criticizing the Obama campaign for mailing out fliers that was highly critical of Hillary's universal health care plan. Before we get into the substance of the attack by Obama's camp, it's worth noting that Hillary's sincerity here should be questioned. These fliers are not new to the scene. During the debate in Texas, Hillary fawned over Obama and commented on how proud she was to be sharing the stage with Obama. By then, the "Karl Rove-like" mailings had been widely circulated by the Obama campaign. Earlier this month, on Feb. 2nd, Hillary was asked about Obama's mailings on ABC's "This Week." There was no shame put on the shoulders of Barack Obama and she certainly compare them to *gasp* Karl Rove. So this feigned indignation on Hillary's part may have more to do with her disappearing leads in both Texas and Ohio and little to do with the substance of Obama's attack on Hillary's health care plan.

But I digress.

Hillary has long been unwilling to compromise on universal health care coverage. In 1993, her health care proposal died in Congress in large part due to her unwillingness to compromise. David Brooks of the NY Times had an interesting piece on that 1993 health care debacle. The gist of it is Congressman Jim Cooper (D-TN) proposed an alternative health care plan to Hillary's not did not call for universal mandates. Cooper's plan had a much more realistic chance of passing through Congress but Hillary and The Clinton White House made sure it was dead on arrival. Without addressing the skyrocketing cost of health care in this country, Hillary wants (yet again) to mandate that all Americans must be covered--without much regard to their willingness or ability to pay for it. This is the substance of Obama's attack and it is essentially true.

Aside from the fact that Hillary has not developed any viable enforcement mechanism to ensure that everyone buys into her health care system, it's inevitable that everyone will not be able to pay for it. On ABC's "This Week," Hillary admitted that garnishing the wages of hard-working Americans is a definite possibility.

In that network interview, Hillary implicitly admitting that the substance of Obama's attack on her health care plan is exactly correct. People will be forced to join her massive health care bureaucracy, even if they cannot afford it or don't want it.

Hillary is making the same mistake she made as First Lady in the 1993-94 health care debate. For her, everything hinges on universal health care. Why that nebulous goal is her primary concern is difficult to ascertain. If her 35 years of experience was a learning experience, she'd drop this universal coverage mandate immediately.

Is it really progress when the federal government forces every single person to pay for health insurance? Perhaps individuals should make their own choices on health care, free of any government interference and massive bureaucracy.

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Ohio Poll: Clinton up by 8 (or 11) Points

A recent poll released by the University of Cincinnati shows Hillary Clinton leading her rival Barack Obama by 8 points, 47%-39%. A new Quinnipiac University poll shows Hillary with an 11 point lead over Obama, 51%-40%, down from a commanding 21-point lead that she held on Feb. 14.

The moral of the story here is clear. The more time Obama has to campaign in a given state and spread his "hope" or "excitement" or whatever it is he markets, the closer he makes the race with Clinton.

The same phenomenon is also being witnessed in Texas. The state was long held to be a Hillary stronghold but recent polls directly contradict that. One poll even has Obama with a commanding lead over Hillary, 57%-40%. If that poll is even half-true, Hillary is obviously in big trouble. She must win both states, Ohio and Texas, on March 4th. Anything less than commanding wins there will damage her campaign beyond repair. Remember, Obama has been winning all the states after Super Tuesday with decisive double digit margins of victory. If Hillary can't pull off that feat in Ohio and Texas, she'll be done in the delegate count. Not even the superdelegates will save her then.

And it doesn't look like double digits in either state will happen for Hillary. Hopefully the Democratic campaign wages on far beyond March 4th because that only helps Republicans in the end but everyone has to start wondering how much longer Hillary can last without many recent victories in her column.

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McCain Campaigning in Cleveland Today

Sen. John McCain, the Republican Presidential frontrunner, will be campaigning in the Cleveland area today. As I type this, he is in Rocky River at the Dom Hurley Civic Center on Hilliard Road. Later this afternoon at 4:45 PM, McCain will be at Colonial Eatery in Parma on Rodge Road. Tomorrow McCain will be campaigning in the Cincinnati area.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Political Robocalls from Hillary

Just a few minutes ago, I received a phone call at my home from 703-637-9323. I immediately recognized the area code as coming from Northern Virginia, and so I answered the call--thinking it might be a friend from the Washington, DC area. I answered but there was no one on the other end. I hung up but curiosity got the best of me so I called back the number that had shown up on my caller ID. I got the voice mail of a young lady explaining it was the campaign headquarters of none other than Hillary Rodham Clinton. The young staffer explained that if I wanted my number removed from their list that I needed to leave my number and the state I was calling from. I did so and left an unkind message explaining that no one in my household would be voting for Hillary Clinton anytime soon.

Apparently, many disgruntled voters from around the country have received unsolicited calls from the same Hillary number. And to paraphrase one the posters at that above link, Hillary and her associates are truly nuts if they believe that these unsolicited calls at 8:30PM on a Sunday night will lead to more votes.

The other curious aspects of these unsolicited Hillary calls is: where did her campaign get my number? I am proud to say no one in this household has ever voted in a Democratic primary (despite my own temptation to contribute to this year's defeat of Dennis Kucinich). And as we all know, the Ohio primary is closed. Independents and Republicans cannot vote in the Democratic primary. It's been this way for a while here. My home phone number has been on the Federal Do Not Call Registry since its inception (of course politicians in Washington conveniently excluded themselves from the ban). So, how did Hillary get my number? It was likely purchased from somewhere or taken out of the phone book. Either way, Hillary isn't helping herself with unsolicited phone calls.

These political robocalls have recently garnered the attention of the U.S. Senate. The proposed Senate bill would not allow political robocalls to mask their identity on caller IDs, make more than one call to a number per day, or call before 8AM or after 9PM local time. The restrictions would only be in place 30 days before a primary (60 days before the general election). The bill is being sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Arlen Specter (R-PA), and Daniel Inouye.

No word yet if Hillary will be taking a break from her flourishing Presidential campaign to co-sponsor the bill!

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Seeing Through the Ohio Sick Days Smokescreen

A group calling itself Sick Days Ohio has been pushing the Ohio Legislature to take up possible legislation that would mandate all Ohio employers with 25 or more employees to provide "full-time" employees with at least 7 sick days per year.

The first glaring problem with the poorly worded proposal is that it blatantly includes part-time workers--despite assertions claiming otherwise.

From the proposal,

"Employers shall provide each employee with not less than: (i) Seven days of paid sick leave for employees working 30 hours or more per week."

The last time I checked, a full-time work week is 40 hours a week, not 30. So, despite claiming the 7 day sick leave mandate would only apply to "full-time" employees, they've included part-time workers under their safety umbrella.

Hilariously, the third section of the policy proposal includes a list of approved uses of sick leave. As if workers with enough accrued paid sick leave will only use it for personal or family illness. Heck, if I had a hefty amount of paid sick days and I wanted to catch a Tribe game at the newly-Christened Progressive Field...well..Section 4414.03 of the Ohio Healthy Families Act is not going to stop me but its intended purpose will allow me to catch some afternoon Tribe games. Not that I would ever do that.

The entire case for supporting this sick day mandate is protecting families and their health. Emotional testimonials are made on their website claiming single mothers have nowhere to turn when their young children get sick. But the actual wording of the proposed bill includes a clause urging workers to notify their employers of an expected sick day 7 days before it is used. Huh?

"I think in a week's time I'm going to get the flu, I better notify my boss to comply with the Ohio Healthy Families Act!"

Please. This entire legislation is a thinly veiled attempt to rack up more paid vacation time for workers. It appears that Sick Days Ohio is being heavily backed by organized labor in Ohio--a group always trying to find political relevance as its membership continues to whittle away.

Organized labor's influence on this ill-conceived legislation is abundantly clear as the Ohio Healthy Families Act rolls on. Section 4114.08 is completely devoted to protecting Ohio workers' right to collective bargaining agreements. So, legislation that is advertised as nothing more than a straightforward plan of providing full-time workers with 7 annual paid sick days has turned into a pre-emptive protection of collective bargaining.

Unfortunately, Sick Days Ohio's website includes a YouTube video of a recent meeting with Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted, who committed to giving the proposal a committee hearing.

On the flip side, Ohio Senate President Bill Harris has given no indication that the bill will be given time for debate in the Senate.

God bless Bill Harris. The last thing Ohio needs is more government regulation on small and independent businesses looking to provide Ohio with some much needed jobs.

Why would Ohio businesses be vigorously opposed to more paid sick days? Because inevitably, with more sick days, employees take more days off.

In Europe, the continental capital of paid sick days, a workplace study of sick days determined that countries that provide more paid sick days by law also experience employees taking more time off more illness (supposedly).

In Sweden, the land that prosperous capitalism left behind, generous sick leave packages cost the Swedish government an eye-popping $5.2 billion in 2002. Or 0.16% of Sweden's total GDP.

To put it mildly, I don't think Ohio is in an economic position right now to shave off 0.16% of its shrinking GDP so that I or anyone else can pull a Ferris Bueller and catch a afternoon Tribe game. And that's precisely what would happen if this legislation was passed, this isn't about a child's health. It's about organized labor trying to secure more paid vacation time for its members by disguising it with emotional appeals and sick children. Now that kind of politics is what is truly sick.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Marc Dann: Stopping Foreclosures and Screwing Taxpayers

This highly informative Bloomberg News piece lays out the latest legal strategy in thwarting home foreclosures. During the housing market boom circa 2003-2006, there was a hot secondary trading market for mortgage notes. Now that many homeowners have fallen behind on their monthly payments and banks are seeking to foreclose on the property, homeowners are going to the courts and claiming banks cannot foreclose on them because they do not have the proper paperwork definitively proving either: (a) that particular owns the property (and thus has the right to foreclose on it or (b) the new owner of the mortgage note is granting permission to that bank for the foreclosure to take place.

Bloomberg also mentions that our very own Attorney General, Marc Dann, has employed this legal tactic to prevent a whole host of home foreclosures in Ohio. In the article, a representative from Dann's office makes the claim that, "The best thing to do is to keep people in their homes and for everybody to take steps necessary to make that happen.''

The obvious question is: Why? As critics of the tactic and this faulty philosophy point out, homeowners who cannot obviously afford the property hurt everyone. Other residents in the neighborhood suffer from lower property values as a result of foreclosed residents hanging on to property and letting it rot or . And area taxpayers suffer because these residents usually owe thousands of dollars in back property taxes that they also cannot afford.

Indeed, it was this obvious conflict of interest that led a Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge to chastise Marc Dann for trying to prevent a foreclosure when the state of Ohio had a lien on the same property.

And again as a real estate attorney points out in the Bloomberg piece, big lenders don't print their own money. The original home mortgage was funded through someone's savings account, retirement fund, etc. That's where banks get money. The homeowner then defaulted on a loan they likely had little chance of ever repaying.

And Marc Dann wants to protect that reckless homeowner.

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Ohio Republicans Are Rooting For Hillary

No real surprise here. Ohio GOP Deputy Chairman Kevin DeWine and others are openly admitting that they are rooting for Hillary Clinton in March 4's Democratic Presidential primary because they believe she can unite the Republicans like no other opponent and be ultimately defeated in the general election due to her high negative ratings. As evidenced by the recent USA Today numbers that gave her a negative rating of 49%.

I'm not so sure this conventional wisdom is completely accurate. Obama appears to be a big gamble for Democrats. There is real hesitation among Hispanics toward Obama's candidacy and Obama is polling weakly in some key states, including Ohio. Here in the Buckeye State, SurveyUSA has Clinton leading McCain by 10 points, 52%-42%, while Obama only has a three-point advantage over McCain, 47%-44%. Obama fares far worse against McCain in places like Florida and mind-bogglingly, Obama is only two points ahead of McCain in....drum roll...Massachusetts!

Obama will either win big or lose in a landslide. It seems unlikely he can win in a fairly close election scenario. While Obama and his rhetoric are playing well among independents for now, the real test will come in the fall. Obama has been mediocre thus far in his debate performances against Hillary. Not that McCain is a collegiate debater with a cabinet full of trophies, but he is a better candidate than Hillary ever will be. And I still maintain Obama's numbers are bound to drop. The current love affair the media has with Obama now will end once Hillary is out of the picture for good.

So, Ohio Republicans may be supporting Hillary in the hopes of drawing the weaker candidate but be careful what you wish for. Hillary is still polling well among seniors (the most reliable voting bloc) and union voters. As Pat Buchanan has pointed out more than once, those are exactly the kind of usual Democratic voters McCain can peel away to win The White House--especially in a state with a demographic makeup like Ohio.

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Ameritrust Tower Saga Continues...

The Ameritrust Tower has been a permanent fixture of downtown Cleveland's skyline since it was built in 1971. The 29-story sat empty for years after the building's main occupant, Ameritrust Bank (originally the hometown Cleveland Trust) was bought out by (then) Society Bank (now Key Bank).

In 2005, the Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners purchased the tower for $29 million in taxpayers' money. The Commissioners (Peter Lawson Jones, Tim Hagan, and Jimmy Dimora) purchased the building with the intention of constructing a Cuyahoga County Taj Mahal of county offices, which all 3 of them would surely directly benefit from.

The Commissioners than had the audacity to approve another $33 million in county funds to be used to demolish the Ameritrust Tower and construct their precious county palace. But the plan soon became controversial and the Commissioners, ever mindful of public opinion, decided it would be in their self-interest to scrap their waste of taxpayer dollars and sell the property to a private developer.

As they shopped for a possible developer, it quickly became evident that only one developer would truly be interested. K&D, a locally-based developer, offered to turn the Ameritrust Tower into a mix-use property of a hotel, shopping, and restaurants.

But now the Commissioners voted to reject K&D's bid for the property. K&D was only willing to pay $20 million up front and then secure the other $15 million through a loan. But with banks unwilling to loan out millions of dollars amid the still-developing subprime mortgage crisis, K&D's loan fell up short in the eyes of Hagan, Dimora, and Jones.

And despite wasting so much time, money, energy, and effort on this ridiculous idea of consolidating county offices for no apparent reason, the Commissioners are still demanding $35 million for the property. Why? To make up for the $8.8 million in taxpayer money they've already wasted, of course!

This debacle over the fate of the Ameritrust Tower illustrates the consequences of one-party rule anywhere. Fearing no repercussions at the ballot box, the Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners arrogantly decided to waste public money on a project that would provide with cushy and modern office space.

Hopefully Cuyahoga County voters punish Tim Hagan for his hands-on complicity with this project this November and elect Bay Village Mayor Debbie Sutherland as their next Commissioner.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Quinnipiac: Clinton Maintains Healthy Lead in Ohio

Quinnipiac University has released its latest round of polling in the wake of Hillary's big losses in the Potomac states this past Tuesday. And despite Hillary's recent campaign woes, she is maintaining a healthy lead in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Among Ohio Democrats, women back Clinton,
56 percent to 30 percent for Obama, while men
back Clinton 52 percent to 42 percent, the poll found.

The Quinnipiac poll is basically in line with the previous SurveyUSA poll (see below). Quinnipiac has Hillary with a 56%-30% edge over Obama.

The pollster pointed out that Ohio possesses the perfect demographic for Hillary Clinton: blue collar Democrats with no college education.

In an Ohio general election matchup with the presumed Republican nominee Senator John McCain, McCain has a very slight lead against Clinton, 44%-43% and McCain had a bigger lead against Obama, 44%-40%. Both set of numbers are good news for McCain. His ability to win The White House is obviously strengthened if he manages to keep Ohio in the Republican column. Plus, the Quinnipiac poll also found that McCain is polling very well in neighboring Pennsylvania. McCain only trails Obama by one point in PA, 42%-41%, but does trail Hillary by a 6-point margin, 46%-40%.

This set of polls from battleground states like OH and PA should serve as a wake up call for Democrats. While Obama may be leading McCain in national polls by a slightly better margin than Hillary, he's performing considerably worse against McCain in these key states. It should be warning sign for Democrats everywhere, but I hope not.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Is Mayor O'Grady a Plant?

One of the dirtiest (and most brilliant) tricks often employed by the Richard Daley machine in Chicago was to plant candidates in primaries where a rising challenger was threatening the political career of an incumbent officeholder who was allied with Daley.

Could this dirty tactic be finding its way into Cleveland politics?

Cue North Olmsted Mayor Thomas O'Grady.

O'Grady is a Democratic primary candidate for the Congressional seat currently held by Dennis Kucinich.

Kucinich had to drop his (second) wild-eyed Presidential campaign and come back to Cleveland to beat back the credible challenge currently being waged by Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman.

There are 5 candidates in the race to the Democratic nominee for Oh-10: Kucinich, Cimperman, Barbara Anne Ferris, Rosemary Palmer, and O'Grady.

Palmer was the first to announce her candidacy, partially inspired to run after the tragic death of her son in Iraq.

Ferris is a perennial candidate who has made a recent career of running for Congress in this district.

Cimperman is the credible challenger to the longtime incumbent who is relatively young and ambitious--and smelled blood in the water while Kucinich was criss-crossing the USA in hopes of becoming President (gag me).

And O'Grady is a little-known suburban mayor who was late to the game.

So why is O'Grady running? He and everyone else knows he has no chance of winning the primary. No one outside his hometown of North Olmsted even knows who he is. And he has no money to spend to close that gap. Through the last quarter of 2007, he's only collected funds from 22 people!

And in the recent candidates' debate, O'Grady took very few jabs at Kucinich. Nearly all of his time was spent talking up his international experience and military career, ad naseum. Admirable, certainly, but not the things winning campaigns are made of.

O'Grady's campaign web site is a very simple endeavor that is noticeably thin on details--especially for a man who seemed to like talking at the debate. The issues on his web site are jobs, health care, education, being a military career officer (?), and restoring the American dream (what a courageous platform!). Each of these issues is given a small paragraph of explanation without details such as policy ideas or--say--possible legislation he would introduce as a member of Congress.

Not that Cimperman or even Kucinich lay out the intricacies of rising health care plans in a detailed presentation or anything. But O'Grady's campaign web site could be whipped up in a matter of minutes.

O'Grady smells like a plant but no one can ever be sure.

One thing is for certain, O'Grady will definitely help split up the anti-incumbent (Kucinich) vote.

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Survey USA: Hillary leading Obama 56%-37%

Finally some good news for Hillary coming from here in Ohio. One of the most reputable polling firms in the country, SurveyUSA, has her beating Barack Obama by a very healthy margin, 56%-37%.

It's no doubt great news. Especially since the media has been portraying (and the Hillary campaign has freely admitted) that she must win both Texas and Ohio on March 4 to remain in the hunt against Obama.

I'm sticking with my prediction of a Hillary win in Ohio by 51%-47%. But while she may win the battle in Ohio, I think she's destined to lose the war. Obama has racked up huge margins of victory in various states up until now and he looks poised to win Wisconsin and Hawai'i next Tuesday. And with the Democrat's system of awarding delegates proportionately to the candidate's share of the vote, Hillary will not be able to gain any clear advantage in the delegate count. With that reality setting in after March, it looks likely that Hillary's superdelegate advantage will begin to erode as Congressmen and Governors look to jump off Hillary's sinking ship.

Hillary's last asset was her strong support among Latinos but now even that advantage is questionable. Obama actually won the Latino vote in Virginia this week (though lost it 55%-45% in MD to Clinton).

As for SurveyUSA's poll, I have no reason to doubt it but March 4 is still a long time from now in political terms. Assuming Obama amasses even more victories in Wisconsin and Hawai'i, Ohioans will switch to Obama in larger numbers. Plus, the more time Obama has had to campaign in primary states and let this message be heard--he was on over the Democratic voters and won the primary. Again, I think he'll come up short in Ohio, but just barely. And that alone could be interpreted as an Obama victory.

That said, Obama is not in the same territory as McCain. It is now mathematically impossible for Huckabee to catch up to McCain. It cannot happen, ever. Hillary and Obama, on the other hand, are neck and neck (as any evening news program will tell you). The Obama campaign is trying to go after McCain and ignore Hillary in the process, but they do that at their own peril. The "aura of inevitability" it was got Hillary in trouble in the first place.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Breakdown of GOP Presidential Race in Ohio by Congressional seat

By popular request, I've also done a breakdown of the Republican Presidential primary in Ohio by Congressional district. Despite Huckabee's latest "surge," if it can be qualified as that, this race is far less close (and consequently less exciting) than its Democratic counterpart. Nevertheless, there are some Congressional seats and pockets of rural Ohio where Huckabee could perform well.

OH-01: McCain.Whatever amount of urban area Republicans exist in Cincinnati will support McCain in large numbers. The Butler County portion of this district could tilt toward Huckabee, however.

OH-02: McCain. Although a safe GOP district (usually), the makeup here is primarily suburban Republicans and I just don't see them going toward Huckabee. On Super Tuesday, many of these suburban Republicans supported Romney because of his economic views. I suspect them to now go to McCain by default.

OH-03: McCain yet again. Dayton should be kind to McCain, especially when considering Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is located there. Military servicemen and women have been behind McCain from the beginning.

OH-04: Finally we get to a district Huckabee has a realistic chance of winning. I'll say Huckabee wins here by a few points.

OH-05: Combination of rural counties plus Toledo suburbs (Wood County). In recent special election here, attacking the Democrat on illegal immigration and abortion played well. Social conservatives will come out for Huckabee here but I think the more populous counties go to McCain. I say McCain here by about 5 points.

OH-06: Rural Republicans. This is the perfect demographic for Huckabee. I say Huckabee here by a healthy amount.

OH-07: More suburbs of Dayton and Columbus spells good news for McCain. McCain will win here by a healthy margin with strong suburban support.

OH-8: Another rural district. It would seem like a good pickup opportunity for Huckabee but I'm not so sure. Urban sprawl has brought some of the Cincinnati exurbs into Butler County and likewise for Dayton exurbs. I say McCain here, but barely.

OH-09: This one is hard to predict. It includes Toledo (good for McCain) but also some rural areas along Lake Erie. With McCain as the obvious frontrunner, I say he wins. Ohio Republicans like to support the winner.

OH-10: McCain and it won't even be close. Bedroom communities won't identify with a preacher from Arkansas.

OH-11: McCain by a lot, again. These safe Democratic districts all go for McCain. Remember Super Tuesday and the California primary. One reason McCain beat Romney by so much in California was because he carried all the safe Democratic districts in a rout (think LA, SF Bay). The same will hold true in Ohio and elsewhere around the country.

OH-12: Another suburban district for McCain.

OH-13: McCain.

Oh-14: McCain. Wealthy suburbs of Chardon, Pepper Pike, Gates Mills, Kirtland Hills, etc. will be supporting the establishment candidate in landslide.

OH-15: McCain, Huckabee won't play well in inner city Columbus or on OSU's campus.

OH-16: McCain, but not by much. He'll rack up big margins in places like Canton, Massillon, and Medina. That's enough to win the whole seat.

OH-17: McCain. Huckabee won't break 30% here.

OH-18: This could be Huckabee's strongest showing in Ohio. Rural counties will like Huckabee. I say he could conceivably win here by 10 points.

Statewide: 60%-35% McCain. A clear win for McCain but maybe not as impressive as some would imagine. Doesn't matter, he's got a clear path to the nomination. Huckabee should have dropped out before Romney. Then again, I would have preferred he never ran in the first place.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Scalia was on Bob Dole's Short List

On Feb 5th's episode on Hannity & Colmes on the Fox News Channel, Bob Dole mentioned that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was on his short list for Vice President:

DOLE: Great choice, yes. There are others. You could start making a list. And maybe Huckabee would be on the list. I don't know. I had Judge Scalia on my list. Probably shouldn't –
COLMES: Judge Scalia was on your list to be VP?
DOLE: I never contacted him.
COLMES: Is that right?
DOLE: Yes.,2933,328525,00.html

It's a revelation by former Senator Dole that hasn't received much press coverage but it's very interesting, nonetheless. One thing is obvious enough, Dole was trying to make a splash with Veep pick back in '96. Jack Kemp never really measured up. Dole would have been better off pulling a Mondale and picking a women or minority that would have made history to generate news coverage and gain positive momentum from it. Scalia doesn't fit that bill but it'd be a first in the sense of a sitting U.S. Supreme Court Justice vying to become Vice President. Justices are supposed to appear (at the very least) as apolitical. So it probably wouldn't have looked had Scalia been vying for the very political job of Vice President. And plus, I'm not so sure Scalia would have give up his lifetime gig on the land's highest federal bench. Nevertheless, it's a fun "what if" to think about.

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Breakdown Hillary vs. Obama by Ohio Congressional Districts

OH-01: Obama. Cincinnati gives Obama a nice urban base of support of African American and urban liberals (plus UC and Xavier campuses).

OH-02: Hillary. This is largely a wealthy, suburban district that is also heavily Republican (or should be, you wouldn't know it with Jean Schmidt's recent performances there). Obama's performance in that straw poll not withstanding, this district holds that kind of demographic Hillary needs to carry.

OH-03: Obama, though it will be close. Dayton and Middletown should put Obama over the top.

OH-04: Not many Democrats in this rural district. This is an area EdwSpards would have carried had he stayed in the race. I'll guess Hillary but it's anyone's to grab.

OH-05: Same as OH-04 though it includes Bowling Green. Probably Safe for Obama.

OH-06: Combination of rural Democrats and union Democrats. Likely Hillary country.

OH-07: Sprawling district of rural area, Dayton suburbs and Columbus suburbs. I'm going to say slight Hillary here but it does include Wittenberg's campus.

OH-8: Rural district with few Democrats. Miami University's campus should give Obama the advantage.

OH-09: Toledo and the Lake Erie coast would suggest fertile ground for Hillary. This district also includes parts of Lorain with significant Hispanic populations. All good news for Hillary.

OH-10: I expect Hillary to carry OH-10 comfortably. The blue collar communities should serve her well: Parma, Brooklyn, West Park, Lakewood, etc., etc.

OH-11: Obama.

OH-12: Wealthy Columbus suburbs. Hillary with a slight edge but she needs to carry these areas to win.

OH-13: Interesting district. Obama will carry Akron proper and Hillary probably everything else. It's probably hers.

Oh-14: The wealthy snowbelt. Hillary.

OH-15: Obama. Downtown Columbus + OSU = Obama

OH-16: Hillary.

OH-17: Hillary. Obama will carry KSU and some precincts in Youngstown.

OH-18: Rural district, almost entirely. Hillary.

Statewide: 51%-47% Hillary. Everything can change from here on out, especially if Obama builds up enough momentum. But that's where I see it standing right now.

Battle Royale Continues within Summit County GOP

On Friday, the Secretary of State's office ruled that three candidates for the Republican Central Committee in Summit County can stay on the ballot. I doubt Arshinkoff and his goons were amused. The candidates were recruited by State Senator and rising star Kevin Coughlin (R-Cuyahoga Falls) in his attempt to rid the County Republicans of current Chairman Alex Arshinkoff. Usually Republicans should stick with Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment of "Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican." But Summit County presents a rare case where the Chairman of the County Republicans should be ousted. Akron area Republicans have had their own version of Tammany Hall for decades now and it's time to put an end to Alex Arshinkoff's tenure as the boss.

In a county as strongly Democratic as Summit County obviously is, it is beyond belief that Republicans would keep Arshinkoff in charge. In every regard, Arshinkoff is a total liability. He has made numerous threats to elected leaders, including the President of the Hudson City Council. Hints and allegations of corruption by Arshinkoff persist. And beyond the usual political corruption of party bosses, Arshinkoff's private life has also been scrutinized--including allegations of a male college student being touched by Arshinkoff in his Audi.

No matter if Arshinkoff is gay or not, Summit County Republicans need to welcome new members and promising candidates to the party, while also cutting out elements of corruption.

Good riddance Alex Arshinkoff.

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Plain Dealer Endorses McCain, Obama

No big surprise here. Practically every major U.S. newspaper has endorsed John McCain and Barack Obama.

The big question is of these major newspaper endorsements will translate into increased support. The endorsement of every relevant newspaper in California certainly didn't help Obama secure that state in his column. Media endorsements provide good bragging rights against your opponent but that's about it. Voters are unlikely to base their individual vote on how many newspaper endorsements some candidate was able to rack up in a given state.

As for the Ohio Presidential primary itself, Hillary appears to still have the edge. Between now and March 4, however, Obama has the clear advantage. This Tuesday, Feb. 12, the Potomac Primary (Maryland, DC, Virginia) will hold their primaries and Obama is favored to sweep all three states. So, the momentum could clearly shift between now and March 4. Hillary's strategy should be to build up Texas and Ohio as firewall states to halt any momentum Obama has racked up sweeping the primaries/caucuses last night (Saturday, Feb. 9) and his likely sweep this Tuesday. If Hillary can win the big states of Texas and Ohio, she's back in the thick of it. If not, Obama has likely won the nomination.

As for the varying calculations of the delegate count, superdelegates (Congressmen, Governors, big city Mayors, union leaders, etc.) should not be counted in at this point. Whomever wins the most votes and goes into the Democratic convention with the most votes and/or delegates will secure the nomination. Superdelegates are purely political creatures who fully realize that nominating a candidate who received less votes than another is tantamount to political suicide. Plus, the party that felt cheated out of the 2000 Presidential election in Florida is unlikely to give their nomination away to someone who was beaten at the polls.

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Turn Around Ohio.....with Club Keno!

In 2006 as a candidate for Ohio Governor, Ted Strickland vigorously opposed an amendment on the fall ballot legalizing casino gambling. The Earn-and-Learn Initiative would have sent a portion of the funds raised from casinos to fund Ohio public schools. I have long been a proponent of casino gambling. The tangibles benefits in instant revenue, jobs, tourism, hotels, restaurants, etc. are very significant. And a struggling state like Ohio needs any and all economic activity it can develop. Ontario, Michigan, Pennsylvania, riverboats on the Ohio River, and now Kentucky have realized this truth. All have or are in the process of legalizing gambling.

For his part, Strickland is trying to wipe away Ohio's widening budget deficit with a video gambling game called Club Keno. It's like a mini super lotto game where players pick numbers while placing a wager, and numbers are drawn every few minutes or hours. But for some reason, Strickland is still claiming he is opposed to casino gambling. Why? Strickland is making a distinction without a difference. The Toledo Blame ran an unusually scathing editorial of a Democrat because of this Club Keno plan--going so far as to call it "hypocritical" of the anti-gambling Strickland to propose it.

I applaud Strickland for bringing some form of gambling to the table in Ohio. Ohio Republicans have shamefully been opposed to any form of gambling for reasons of family values. Gag me.

But make no mistake about it, Club Keno is most definitely a form of gambling. Just because it doesn't include Blackjack tables or Russian roulette, doesn't mean it isn't gambling. Strickland is certainly being disingenuous with this plan and needs to call it what everyone already knows it as--gambling. Strickland's main objection to legalized gambling appears to be the fear of rampant addiction and blowing an innocent kid's college fund. But the risk of addiction to Club Keno is as possible as addiction to Craps or Poker. (As is the potential for addiction to Ohio's SuperLotto or on Ohio's horse tracks).

And while Strickland is trying to solve Ohio's budget woes with increased use of gambling, he might as well bring full scale casino gambling to Ohio. Every year Ohio loses out on a great economic opportunity to keep gambling and associated tourism here in Ohio. Ohioans constantly travel to Detroit, Windsor, or West Virginia for gambling. And in the short term, the building and operation of big casinos could take a bite out of Ohio's 6% (and growing) unemployment rate. Another lost opportunity in Ohio.

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Brunner's Cleveland Election Gamble Falling Apart

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner's decision to require Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) to scrape their multi-million dollar electronic voting machines for no real reason has caused quite a stir. The New York Times politics blog has picked up on the saga.

Brunner's last minute decision to rid Ohio of touch-screen voting machines is reckless and a move done only to appease a fanatical base of liberal supporters who think Diebold, Halliburton, and Dick Cheney will rig every election. Brunner claims touch-screen voting provides no paper trail for ballots. False. In Butler Coutny, as one example, Diebold machines printed a paper receipt of each voter's ballot. Before printing, the machine had the voter verify their votes for each candidate and issue before tabulting the vote. Then the receipt is printed by the machine and the voter can see the receipt before leaving the polling place. Touch screens not only provide a paper trail but they keep ballots more secure. The use of paper ballots opens up vulnerabilities to tampering and illegal tabulation that Brunner is plainly ignoring.

Now individual counties, like Union County, are fighting in the courts to keep the touch-screen system and Brunner has a mess on her hands. If the touch-screen system had to be replaced, it should have been done after the 2008 primary--at the very least. Jeers to Jennifer Brunner.

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OH-02 Labelled as One of the Worst

Washington Congressional pundit Stu Rothenberg has labelled the Congressional race being one of the worst in recent history. Incumbent Congresswoman Jean Schmidt barely hung on against Dr. Victoria Wulsin in 2006. Wulsin is running for the Democrats again this year and Schmidt has drawn a Republican primary challenger in state legislator Tom Brinkman. Brinkman has grabbed headlines for his unsuccessful lawsuit against Miami University in which he claimed the school's domestic partner benefits violated Ohio's ban on gay marriage. Pure idiocy. Schmidt is not well liked by the Republican establishment or by voters in her own Congressional district. Her own poll from last month shows she doesn't have majority (50%+1) support among Republicans.

Wulsin, for her part, is not better. She recycled a campaign TV advertisement from the 2006 election and constantly talks in circles. Rothenberg provides an entertaining case in point at the end of his article. Apparently Wulsin considers herself a liberal AND conservative. What issues does she take a conservative stance on? Well, apparently she loves marriage and families! I had no idea such stances were only taken by conservatives. My bad.

In all seriousness, Rothenberg has this race handicapped perfectly. Schmidt has given no reason to re-elect her but Wulsin provides nothing to be elected in her own right. And despite this Congressional district being one of the most Republican districts in the state of Ohio, it's likely to be a barn burner yet again. Sigh.

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Plusquellic's Sewer Plan Sets Right Course for Akron

Akron Mayor Donald Plusquellic has announced a plan to sell the Akron City sewer system to finance a plan to send Akron high school students to college for free-specifically to area institutions of higher learning such as the University of Akron. According to city estimates, the sale could bring in anywhere from $100 million to $400 million.

It's encouraging to see Ohio Democrats finally coming around to the innovative idea of selling or leasing infrastructure to generate the funds necessary to rebuild Ohio's future. Remember the 2006 gubernatorial election when Ken Blackwell proposed leasing the Ohio Turnpike for 99 years and Democrats acted as if it would the equivalent to proposing beating baby seals to death? For all of Blackwell's numerous faults, that turnpike leasing plan would have provided a much needed $6 billion revenue stream to rebuild roads, interstates, and bridges. Strickland opposed that plan basically because Blackwell was the first to propose it. Strickland claimed he feared higher tolls but of course higher tolls are inevitable for the Ohio Department of Transportation to maintain the turnpike currently.

How far we have come in less than 2 years. Cheers to Plusquellic. Hopefully more Ohio Mayors follow his innovative example.