House Dems Could Look to Ohio for More Pick-Up Opportunities
by Jonathan Singer, Tue Apr 24, 2007 at 09:35:12 AM EDT
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 CQPolitics.com, 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 CQPolitics.com 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).