McEwen wins pancake poll
Rep. Jean Schmidt might as well have stayed home Saturday.
Schmidt got up early Saturday morning, ran six miles in the snow near her Clermont County home, showed up early at the Northeast Hamilton County Republican Club's annual pancake breakfast at the Sharonvnille Conventionn Center, shook hands with folks at the gun and knife show going on upstairs, walked among the pancake-eating Republicans in a red apron, serving coffee -- and still lost the straw poll.
Former congressman Bob McEwen might not have been such a whirling dervish early Saturday morning, but he walked away from the convention center with the kind of prize any challenger to a sitting incumbent dreams of to jump-start his campaign - a early straw poll vote among party faithful that might show signs of trouble for the incumbent.
McEwen didn't win by much - he took 86 votes to 76 for Schmidt, a 53% to 47% split, but it was enough to give him bragging rights and a bit of what the 41st president of the United States used to call "Big Mo.''
The straw poll is an annual feature of the Northeast GOP club's pancake breakfast - that is, in years where there are actual contested primary fights on the Republican side.
This year, there are some doozies - the 2nd District contest between Schmidt and McEwen and the Ohio GOP gubernatorial tussle between Ken Blackwell and Jim Petro.
Petro and Blackwell were both at the Sharonville Convention Center working the crowd. For Petro, though, it was a suicide mission - he had to have known full well that Blackwell wasn't going to lose a straw poll in his home county. In the end, 64% of the pancake-eaters cast a straw poll vote for Blackwell.
The voters are all Republicans from heavily-populated northeast quandrant of Hamilton County - places like Blue Ash, Montgomery, Sharonville, Madeira, Indian Hill. All places where their are not only lots of Republican primary voters, but lots of Republican campaign dollars to be had.
Based on the special primary election last June in which Schmidt prevailed by rolling up big numbers in her home county of Clermont, everybody knew that McEwen was strong in the small town, rural areas of the 2nd District.
Then, the former congressman won the counties of Warren, Brown, Adams, Scioto and Pike, with the Hamilton County portion of the district - which makes up about one-third of the total GOP registration in the 2nd - going to Schmidt by a small margin.
In an 11-candidate field last June, she won Hamilton County, but took only about one of every four votes in the GOP primary.
If the straw poll Saturday is any indication, Schmidt may have her work cut out for her winning those other three this time around.