House Dems Could Look to Ohio for More Pick-Up Opportunities

Florida isn't the only target rich state for House Democrats this cycle (in addition to the aforementioned 24th district, where Tom Feeney is catching flak for his Abramoff ties, there are ten other seats in which the Republican incumbent won with 55 percent of the vote or less and/or the district leans five or less poins more Republican than the nation as a whole, according to the Cook Partisan Voting Index). In months past I have noted that Pennsylvania and Michigan present the Democrats with a more than decent number of pick-up opportunities as they attempt to extend their margin in the House of Representatives. Now, over at, Greg Giroux and Matthew Spieler take a look at yet another state that could potentially treat the Democrats well in 2008: Ohio.

It is difficult to identify many Democratic setbacks in the House elections of 2006, when the party gained 30 seats and captured the majority after 12 years of Republican rule. But if Democratic House campaign strategists had to pick one state where they hoped for a better outcome, it would be Ohio.

Democrats' expectations for House gains were high in Ohio, where the difficult national political atmosphere for Republicans was darkened further by corruption scandals that reached high into the ranks of the state GOP.

Yet even as the Democrats took over a Senate seat and the governor's seat from Republicans, they won only one of the four GOP-held House seats for which they had seriously challenged, and it was the lowest-hanging fruit: that of former Rep. Bob Ney, who resigned his 18th District seat in disgrace after pleading guilty to corruption charges in the scandal surrounding convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

The three districts the Democrats seriously challenged but were not able to win in 2006? Districts 1, 2 and 15, each of which I will get back to in a moment. But left unsaid by Giroux and Spieler is that there are a number of Republican-held districts in Ohio that did not receive as robust of a challenge as was probably merited in 2006 but could be ripe for such a challenge in 2008. In fact, there are four seats, in addition to the three mentioned above, where the Democrats might reasonably believe they could be competitive: OH-03 (R+3), OH-12 (R+1), OH-14 (R+2) and OH-16 (R+4).

District 12 stands out in particular. In 2006, the Democrats ran Bob Shamansky, who, although being a former Congressman and thus having relatively high name recognition and fundraising capability, was nearly 80 years old on election day against the incumbent Republican Congressman, Pat Tiberi. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, Tiberi was able to secure another term by a healthy margin. In 2008, however, he should not be so lucky.

Districts 1, 2 and 15, which the folks at note, should also be also prime targets for House Democrats next fall. In CD 2, as we know, "Mean" Jean Schmidt will be going up against her 2006 challenger, Vic Wulsin, a race she only barely won despite the Republican tilt of her district. Suffice it to say, Schmidt remains extremely vulnerable -- not the least of which because she has just $17,000 in the bank but well over $300,000 in debts. CD 1, where Steve Chabot won reelection by a fairly tight 52 percent to 48 percent margin in 2006, could also be home to a tight race in 2008. Already the Democrats have recruited state Rep. Steve Driehaus, the minority whip of the state House and who appears on the surface to be a strong candidate, to run against Chabot in this district that tends to vote only about a single point more Republican than the nation as a whole in presidential elections. Additionally, GOP Rep. Deborah Pryce appears endangered in district 15, which skews about a single point towards the Republicans, as her 2006 challenger, Franklin County commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy, gears up for another run in 2008 and another county commissioner, Paula Brooks, also looks at the race.

As you can plainly see from this post and some of the others I have written in recent months, there is no dearth of targets for the Democrats to look at as they seek to increase the size of their majority in the House this cycle. Truthfully, despite the warnings of the Beltway pundits, there's good reason to believe that the Democrats could pick up even more seats in 2008 rather than losing back some or all of their majority. Yet for the Democrats to achieve what they can, they must recruit and fund challengers across the country, not only in these districts which clearly have the potential the be competitive but also in the districts overlooked by the campaign watchers (myself included).

Tags: Democrats, House 2008, Ohio (all tags)



Re: House Dems Could Look

Isn't OH-16 (Regula) a likely open seat in 2008?

by Adam B 2007-04-24 09:46AM | 0 recs
Re: House Dems Could Look

There have certainly been rumors -- though there have been rumors about Regula dating back even to the last cycle. An open seat would certainly be easier to pick-up, but this district is vulnerable even if Regula runs.

by Jonathan Singer 2007-04-24 10:05AM | 0 recs
Re: House Dems Could Look to Ohio for More Pick-Up

I am also wondering about Steve LaTourette.  This guy is simply a piece of shit.  He dumped his wife, mother of his four children, after fucking a younger lobbyist.  Yet, this little scummy turd talks family values all the time.  The last candidate did not push this approach, which I simply did not understand.

by dataguy 2007-04-24 10:03AM | 0 recs
Re: House Dems Could Look to Ohio for More Pick-Up

LaTourette also voted for CAFTA after saying he would not in this district that still has a large labor contingent.

I thought Lewis Katz, the Case Western law professor who challenged LaTourette last time, ran a pretty good campaign given that he had virtually no money and no easy media access and that he was pretty old.

But, apparently Katz will not run next time, instead deferring to state Court of Appeals Judge William O'Neill. O'Neill plans to raise $1 million and it appears he has a pretty good chance of beating LaTourette.

by RandomNonviolence 2007-04-24 10:15AM | 0 recs
Re: House Dems Could Look to Ohio for More Pick-Up

Won't having a new Democratic Secretary of State in Ohio help?  No more Blackwell shenanigans.

by msstaley 2007-04-24 10:10AM | 0 recs
Good Highlight

We really underperformed in Ohio last time.  But, then, the Democratic Party there has been quite lacking for a good long time.  Hopefully, this is changing even as we speak.  I think it's fair to say that Ohio is probably the key state in the union right now.  If we can take it out of play as a battleground state--and locking in the Congressional delegation is a vital part of doing that--then the GOP is going to be at a big disadvantage, even with the redistricting gains to red states in 2012.

Of course, as an advocate of the national compact to give electoral votes to the popular vote winner, that won't matter if I get my wish.  But it damn sure will still matter in the House.

On the big-picture level, this is part of the drive to turn the GOP into a regional Southern party, by driving them out of the Northeast first, then the West Coast and Midwest, followed by the Mountain West and Great Plains.  From that POV, winning the Maine Senate seat and 3-5 Ohio House seats are topline goals.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-04-24 11:19AM | 0 recs
Schmidt's Debt

is almost all to herself, so it really shouldn't be considered a factor.

One of her get out of jail free cards has been that she's been able to lend herself money whenever the GOP wells have run dry.

by ignatzmouse 2007-04-24 12:37PM | 0 recs
Re: House Dems Could Look to Ohio for More Pick-Up

Check out this technical discussion on today regarding the redirection of the Ohio Secretary of State's website to a block of IP addresses controlled by the RNC on election night 2004: /04/24/1735213.shtml

by chrisp 2007-04-24 06:21PM | 0 recs
2, 15 are the top picks


Schmidt and Pryce are vulnerable, and have left around lots of ammo for use by Dems.

Schmidt has been a lock-step BushCo drone, the ads really can almsot write themselves. Vic Wulsin got within striking distance, and could very well take "Mean" Jean down this time.

Deb Pryce also left ammo laying around. She took far too much contribution cash from payday loan and subprime lobbyists. Those chickens have come home to roost in Ohio, where Cuy. County has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation. (Pryce's District does not include Cuy) The sole reason she skirted by in 2006 was the shitstorm around Bob Ney and John Boehner.

LaTourette is just plain slippery. He sings one song in Washington, then comes home and puts on his "Gosh, me?" grin. His District is suburban-rural, and has faired okay in the shitty economic weather. The problem hasn't been so much LaTourette's popularity as the weakness of his opponents (see 2004, Capri Cafaro). The "family values" schtick apparently isn't enough to rouse Dems and turn off Reps. Vulnerable, yes, but his challengers better be ready to dump some serious cash into the race.


by GuyFromOhio 2007-04-25 08:23AM | 0 recs


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