Will Corporate America Heed Obama's Call to Responsibility?

"One day before his inauguration, millions of Americans answered President Barack Obama's call to greater service and responsibility," wrote International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers President Edwin D. Hill in the Newark Advocate.

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OH-Sen: Democrats Lead By 10-15 Points

Since Ohio Republican George Voinovich announced that he would not be seeking another term in the Senate, the assumption has been that the race to replace him would be quite close. Perhaps not, according to Quinnipiac polling.

In trial heats between the leading Democratic and Republican Senate candidates, [Democratic Lieutenant Governor Lee] Fisher defeats [former Bush administration official Rob] Portman 42 - 27 percent, with 29 percent undecided. Fisher tops [Republican State Auditor Mary] Taylor by almost an identical 41 - 27 percent margin. [Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer] Brunner prevails by smaller margins, 38 - 28 percent over Portman and 38 - 26 percent over Taylor.

"Ohio remains pretty blue these days, given Gov. Ted Strickland's high approval ratings in past polls and the fact that President Barack Obama carried the state easily, and it shows in the early Senate numbers," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "But Republicans should not be disheartened by these numbers. We are still in the Obama honeymoon period and both Fisher and Brunner are known almost twice as well statewide as Portman and Taylor.

The percentage of undecideds in all of these trial heats is very high, so these numbers should not read to suggest that the Democrats would have an easy walk to victory in Ohio next year. That said, it is nevertheless telling that the leading Democrats in this race lead by 10-15 points already at this early stage while the Republicans can't get out of the 20s.

There is some recent precedent for a similar Democratic victory in a Senate race in the state, most recently two cycles ago. But while Democrat Sherrod Brown's 12-point victory in 2006 over incumbent Republican Senator Mike DeWine was well within this range, that campaign didn't feel like a double-digit race until the very end, if then. The only recent race that comes to mind in which the party seeking the pick up led by a double-digit margin from day one through election day was the 2006 Pennsylvania Senate election, which Democrat Bob Casey won in a landslide -- and that's not the type of comparison that the Republicans are hoping for.

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Non-Existent Voter Fraud

Shocking:

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said he had allegations last fall of widespread voter fraud - allegations a special prosecutor reported Tuesday were wrong, noting the only voter fraud found was from a Connecticut man who told on himself.

"Ultimately," Special Prosecutor Michael O'Neill wrote in a report, "the investigators discovered `get-out-the-vote' practices, sponsored by community organizations, which took full advantage of this unique absentee-voting period, but no evidence these practices violated Ohio law."

"Told ya so," Tim Burke, chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party as well as chairman of the Hamilton County Board of Elections, said with glee of O'Neill's report.

"Do I think (Deters) was playing politics? Damned right."

Deters was Southwest Ohio regional chairman of Republican John McCain's presidential campaign, when he complained in October that some people were violating the so-called "golden week" that allowed anyone to register to vote and then vote at the same time.

For the record, Michael O'Neill, the Special Prosecutor who penned this report, is a Republican -- and he previously worked for Joe Deters, the prosecutor-cum-McCain supporter who screamed voter fraud in October 2008. Any attempt by the far-right zealots or hardcore Republican partisans to claim this investigation was a whitewash would clearly not be credible.

Yet again, more proof that voter fraud is simply not a genuine concern in this country. This isn't to say that Republicans won't continue to gin up unfounded worries about voter fraud in an attempt to suppress the votes of those they believe are likely to vote Democratic. It also isn't to say that the establishment media are finally going to learn the lesson that the voter fraud allegations made by Republican operatives during the heat of an election are bogus and thus stop blaring VOTER FRAUD across newspapers and televisions. But perhaps at some point, folks will finally begin to catch on that the real voting problem in this country is not voter fraud but rather the suppression of those who want to, and have every right to, vote.

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What "60 Minutes" Didn't Tell You About Wilmington, Ohio

Tonight, the TV newsmagazine "60 Minutes"did a story on the economic crisis facing Wilmington, Ohio, a town of 12,000 people nearly all of whom are being laid off by freight corporation DHL.  If you missed the heartrending segment, you can watch it here.

Here's what Scott Pelley of "60 Minutes" didn't tell you: there's a promising local effort to help the people of Wilmington -- and there are a few things you can do to help their plan become a reality without getting up from your computer.

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OH-Sen: Two-Time Bush Appointee Jumps In

What's the only thing better for the Republicans than running a Bush-appointee in the stead of a retiring GOP Senator who would have more likely than not won reelection in his swing state had he sought another term? Running a two-time Bush-appointee.

Former Republican congressman Rob Portman will announce that he is running for the Senate soon after Ohio Sen. George Voinovich's retirement announcement, according to multiple Republican sources.

Portman would give Senate Republicans an accomplished candidate who is likely to clear the primary field.

"He's great on both policy and politics, and you don't often find that combination," said Hamilton County Republican party chairman Alex Triantafilou. "His experience in government, his experience in Washington and his understanding of Ohio would make him a tremendous force in the Senate."

Portman would likely clear the Republican primary field, with other leading candidates unlikely to challenge him. A strong fundraiser from his days in the House, Portman is expected to have little trouble raising the millions necessary to mount a formidable statewide campaign.  (He also has over $1.5 million remaining in his House campaign committee, which he can transfer over for a Senate race.)

While Rob Portman will likely try to run as a former Ohio Congressman, the Democrats shouldn't have too difficult of a time tying him to George W. Bush, particularly considering that the President tapped Portman to serve as United States Trade Representative and Director of the Office of Management and Budget over the last three and a half years. Making the 2010 Ohio Senate election about George W. Bush won't be enough to put the Democrats over the top -- but it's not a bad start. And considering recent Democratic successes in the state (Barack Obama carrying Ohio last fall, the Democrats picking up multiple U.S. House seats in the past two cycles, and Ted Strickland and Sherrod Brown winning the 2006 Governor and Senate elections, respectively), as well as the strong Democratic bench in the state (including Reps. Tim Ryan, Zack Space and Betty Sutton, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, and others), this should be a top-tier race and a tossup.

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