Senate 2010: Voinovich Ripe for a Challenge in Ohio

I was going through the monthly approval ratings SurveyUSA puts out from a handful of states around the country the other day, and one set of numbers jumped out at me -- the anemic approval rating of Ohio Republican George Voinovich, who has represented the entire state either as Governor or Senator (the position in which he currently serves) for the better part of the last two decades.

According to SUSA's numbers for the month of May, just 46 percent of Ohioans approve of the job Voinovich is doing as Senator while 43 percent disapprove. Believe it or not, this is Voinovich's best net approval score this calendar year and his highest approval rating during this period as well (it marks an improvement from his 42/48 spread in February). Over the last five months, Voinovich's average approval rating is 44.2 percent, his median approval rating 45 percent. For someone with such a long track record of winning elections in Ohio, particularly statewide ones, these numbers just aren't strong.

So with a potential opening for the Democrats, who might step forward in the event that Voinovich tries to undertake the task of running for reelection in 2010 (or even if he doesn't). At least some talk appears to be pointed in the direction of Congressman Tim Ryan, who at age 34 is already in his sixth year representing Ohio in the House of Representatives.

Democratic leaders deputized him to campaign for other candidates around the country in 2006, which helped his party regain a House majority. In 2007, they gave him a plum Appropriations Committee assignment that allowed him to send more than $26 million to his district in 2008 spending bills. He even traveled to Iowa this month to campaign for Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd in the state's Democratic presidential caucuses.

"He's been given all the gifts to go as far as he wants to go here," says Pittsburgh-area Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle, who calls Ryan especially effective at "speaking the language of those of us who grew up in blue-collar areas."

"He's gonna get better and better and be a major player here in the years ahead," foresees Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown.


Concord Township Republican Rep. Steve LaTourette calls Ryan a "backslapper who can tell a good joke" and says he's well liked.

"He is really going to be a force to be reckoned with over the years," LaTourette predicts. "All eyes need to be on him to run for Senate in 2010. I'm sure he's destined for greater things."

Ryan is a strong progressive (he scores an 89.93 mark from progressive punch) who is not at all afraid to speak his mind. Although he only has about $366,000 in the bank, which he would need to do serious work to build on if ramping up for a Senate bid, it seems likely that Ryan's political skills should be able to help him put together a top-notch organization, were he interested in making a run.

To be clear, there are other names being tossed around with regards to this race, including other Democratic members of Congress. But whether it's Ryan or someone else, like state Treasurer Richard Cordray or Congresswoman Betty Sutton, it appears that Ohio Democrats have a real shot at sending another one of their own to join Sherrod Brown in the Senate next cycle.

Tags: OH-Sen, Ohio, Senate 2010 (all tags)



Re: Senate 2010: Voinovich Ripe for a Challenge

Ryan would make an excellent Senator.  Along with Sherrod Brown, you'd have a couple of really strong progressive voices from Ohio in the Senate.

by bosdcla14 2008-06-10 08:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate 2010: Voinovich Ripe for a Challenge in

I think Voinovich will retire...his age is showing (i.e. he forgot what the Fairness Doctrine was in an interview with Sean Hannity.)

In that case I'd say the most dangerous potential Republican challengers (in other offices, too) would include statehouse Reps. Kevin Coughlin from Cuyahoga Falls and Tom Brinkman from Cincy (the latter is on the cusp of breaking through to higher offices, as he almost successfully primaried Mean Jean Schmidt in March '08.)

by BlueEngineerInOhio 2008-06-10 08:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate 2010: Voinovich Ripe for a Challenge in

I think that Voinovich will retire as well...  He hates what Republicans have become and the republican base hates him just as much.  He's way too reasonable most of the time.  Did you know that as governor, he raised taxes?  A couple times!  And he was lauded for it!  Can you imagine the Republican party every allowing that type of behavior nowadays?  You may remember that he was the lone holdout republican with Bush's tax cuts.  If it wasn't for him, the cuts would have been much deeper!

He's from a different age...  a Republican before Newt Gingrich radicalized the party... a guy whom you could actually count on serving your interests once in awhile... His office personally intervened with someone I know who desperately needed SS disability benefits.  What Republican would do that?

Quite honestly, he'd be a pretty good Democrat, although I doubt he's switch in this point in his career... He's probably going to retire... why not?  It's just going to really suck to be a Republican senator from now on.

by LordMike 2008-06-10 09:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate 2010: Voinovich Ripe for a Challenge in

Totally agree. Deserved or not, Voinovich was considered a centrist by many Ohioans during his governorship. Because of a term limit he had to go on to something else and was easily elected to the senate.

But then, as LordMike said, the Gingrich era set in, and then I think even more, the Bush-Rove-DeLay era estranged the Republican party from Voinovich even more.

Yes, I think he will retire; I'm pretty sure he doesn't want to be a part of an obstructionist minority scrabbling to keep 40 seats.

by OH Mark 2008-06-11 04:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Senate 2010: Voinovich Ripe for a Challenge in

Some other Republican names I've heard floated: House Minority Leader John Boehner (OH-08) and former Congressman Rob Portman (OH-02) and former director of the Office of Management and Budget. Both of these would be formidable candidates.

But people in Ohio are still angry about the Coingate scandal that enveloped Republicans and the miserable policies of former Governor Taft and especially former Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell.

Under the domination of Republicans in Ohio and nationally, the state's economy is severely hurting and the prime mortgage disaster has devastated our cities. People are angry and frustrated that nothing is being done.

I expect Voinovich to retire and I expect Republicans will have a hard time holding his seat.

by RandomNonviolence 2008-06-11 05:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Senate 2010: Voinovich Ripe for a Challenge in
also ..
here in CO we will replace Salazar with a real Dem in 2010..
by nogo postal 2008-06-10 08:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate 2010: Voinovich Ripe for a Challenge in

No you won't. You have no bench of anyone with the political clout to do so.

Give me a name and I may change my mind. Until then, your comment really is laughable.

by Trowaman 2008-06-10 10:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate 2010:

Voinovich will almost certainly retire.  Tim Ryan is certainly a solid statewide candidate, and probably has a leg up on the competition should he run.  Ohio is going blue big time.

by Skaje 2008-06-10 11:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate 2010: Voinovich Ripe for a Challenge in

I'm not against making long-term predictions in general, but anything could happen between now and 2010. Iraq, the economy... with a possible Democratic trifecta in 2009, there could be a wholesale shift in the political winds. The pendulum could swing the other way in states like Ohio. Anything is possible.

by nstrauss 2008-06-10 11:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate 2010: Voinovich Ripe for a Challenge

Cordray is now the apparent choice to fill the Attorney General position recently vacated by Marc Dann.  According to the Columbus Dispatch...

Gov. Ted Strickland today will endorse state Treasurer Richard Cordray for attorney general in a move intended to clear the Democratic field for Cordray.

With Strickland's blessing, Cordray is viewed as a virtual shoo-in to become the party's nominee for attorney general when the Ohio Democratic Party's central and executive committees meet June 21.

The governing bodies of both parties are scheduled to meet June 21 to select candidates to run Nov. 4 for the remaining two years of the term vacated by former Attorney General Marc Dann, who resigned May 14 after an investigation of sexual harassment and other problems in his office.

Even before Dann resigned, Cordray had emerged as the early favorite among Democrats. His ambition to be attorney general survived a crushing 1998 general election defeat by then-incumbent Republican Betty D. Montgomery. Montgomery won 84 of 88 counties and outspent Cordray $3.2 million to $997,353 en route to a 24 percentage-point victory.

Democrats view Cordray as a win-win candidate. If he wins the attorney general's race, Strickland can appoint a new treasurer to serve the remaining two years of Cordray's term. If he loses, Cordray will remain treasurer.

by KTinOhio 2008-06-11 05:28AM | 0 recs
there isn't a chance.

but... maaaan would I like to see Paul Hackett in that seat.

Schumer and Emmanuel killed his desire to run for anything else though I think.

by neutron 2008-06-11 07:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Senate 2010: Voinovich Ripe for a

I'm sorry but no no no. Too pro-life. He's not moderate on the issue he's strident on it. Brown is as pro-choice as can be and he beat an incumbent. There's no need to pander to pro-lifers.

by whothere 2008-06-11 10:48AM | 0 recs


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