Politics Extra
Enquirer reporters give the scoop on what your politicians are doing

Jessica Brown,
Hamilton County reporter

Jon Craig,
Enquirer statehouse bureau

Jane Prendergast,
Cincinnati City Hall reporter

Malia Rulon,
Enquirer Washington bureau

Carl Weiser,
Blog editor

Howard Wilkinson,
politics reporter

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Friday, January 13, 2006

Chabot gittin' to Gitmo

Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Westwood, is traveling next week to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to examine first-hand the conditions of facilities and treatment of about 500 suspected terrorists being held and interrogated at the U.S. naval base there.

Chabot is chairman of the House subcommittee on the Constitution, which is currently investigating the treatment of enemy combatants with regard to the U.S. Constitution and international practices. Media reports have claimed some people have been illegally detained and abused.

He also will travel to Colombia to meet with U.S. and local officials about the illegal drug trade. Chabot and Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, the top Democrat on the Constitution subcommittee, depart Monday.

Judges come, judges go

Two veteran judges have been tapped by the Hamilton County Republican Party to run for Appeals Court judgeships that open this year due to retirements.

Current Common Pleas Court Judge Patrick Dinkelacker and Domestic Relations Court Judge Penelope Cunningham have been endorsed by the GOP to replace the retiring 1st District Court of Appeals judgeships now held by Robert Gorman and Rupert Doan.

The GOP also endorsed its incumbent judges running for re-election – Common Pleas Court Judges Dennis Helmick and Steve Martin, Juvenile Court Judge Karla Grady and Appeals Court Judges Howard Sundermann, Jr., and Mark Painter.

Majority Leader race gets another candidate

West Chester Rep. John Boehner got another competitor for the job of House majority leader today.

Boehner and Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri are in a tight race to replace indicted former Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas.

On Friday, Arizona Rep. John Shadegg announced that too will vye for the No. 2 position in the House, under Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois.

In an interview this week with the Enquirer, Boehner said this about the possibility of Shadegg getting into the race:

"You know, there’s lots of people interested in getting in, but ... I’ve got commitments, Roy (Blunt) has commitments, it’d be very difficult at this point. But, who knows?"

In a news release sent out this morning, here's what Boehner said about Shadegg getting in:

"John is an important member of our Conference and a respected voice for reform. His entry into the Majority Leader race is further proof the Conference isn't happy with the status quo. Our Conference will only benefit from a truly open and competitive contest based on ideas, principles, and abilities, and I welcome him into the race. Between the two of us, we're going to make this race about reforming how the House does business and providing a real alternative to the status quo.

"I applaud his courage and sacrifice in making this run and look forward to seeing each of the other candidates' detailed plans for retaining and expanding our Republican majority. The campaign for House Majority Leader officially begins again today."

The election for the next House majority leader will be held behind closed doors on Feb. 2.

Hamilton County CEO?

Dusty Rhodes doesn't want Patrick Thompson to get a big head.

Rhodes, Hamilton County's Auditor, takes exception with an Enquirer graphic that noted Thompson, Hamilton County's new administrator, "will oversee about 5,000 employees."

"In fact, the County Administrator actually oversees only the office of and departments under control of the County Commissioners. They have 449 employees currently -- or about 7 1/2 percent of the county's total," Rhodes noted in a Friday press release.

Rhodes' stresses that Hamilton County has three elected county commissioners and eight other separately elected officials -- Auditor, Treasurer, Coroner, Clerk of Courts, Engineer, Sheriff, Recorder, Prosecutor-- with employees.

"The truth is that the independent elected officials and their employees do not report to the Commissioners or their Administrator and accordingly the County Administrator does not "oversee" their work.

Portman on TV this weekend

U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman, the longtime former congressman from Ohio's 2nd Congressional District, will be a guest on The McLaughlin Group this Sunday.

Portman, who lives with his family in Terrace Park, Ohio, is to be a guest on McLaughlin's "One on One" segment of the show, which airs at noon in Washington, D.C.

Check the show's Web site for information on viewing it online or on WCET (Channel 48) in the Cincinnati area. You also can watch a taped version of the show online on the McLaughlin site after it airs.

As the nation's trade representative, it's Portman's job to negotiate trade deals that open foreign markets to U.S. producers. This week, he scored a victory with the signing of the Bahrain Free Trade Agreement.

Jones for Lieutenant Governor?

Democratic gubernatoral candidate Ted Strickland has endorsements from 26 county party organizations around Ohio, but he picked up an endorsement Thursday from a single Ohio Democrat that might carry more weight than all of those counties put together.

Two Cuyahoga County commissioners - Tim Hagan and Peter Lawson Jones - said Thursday they are backing Strickland's bid to become the Democratic nominee for governor, a dual endorsement that can't be good news for fellow Democrat and Cleveland area state senator Eric Fingerhut, who is expected to announce his gubernatorial run next week.

Having an endorsement from Hagan is a good thing for Strickland - he is a popular Cleveland politician and, after all, one of every four Democratic voters in Ohio lives in Cuyahoga County.

But picking up the backing of Jones, a former state legislator and well-known African-American urban Democrat may be even more help for a candidate like Strickland, a small-town, southern Ohio politician who is little known among black voters in Ohio's largest cities.

Jones may end up offering more to the Strickland campaign than just an endorsement. Many Ohio Democrats believe that if Strickland is the party's candidate for governor next fall, he will need a black running mate - someone who can gin up some enthusiasm among black voters, particularly if Republican primary voters make Ken Blackwell Ohio's first African-American gubernatorial candidate.

Jones has running mate experience. Back in 1994, when Republican governor George Voinovich was running for re-election, most Ohio Democratic politicians fled for their lives when the Democrats' unknown and under-funded gubernatorial candidate, Rob Burch, approached them about becoming his running mate.

But Jones accepted the offer; and campaigned like a good soldier in what turned out to be one lop-sided gubernatorial contests in Ohio history.

Jones may well want to try it again - this time with a candidate at the top of the ticket who actually has a chance of winning.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Probable cause against ex-congressman

A panel of the Ohio Elections Commission found probable cause Wednesday, by a 4-0 vote, that Bob McEwen improperly used the term congressman in front of his name in radio and television campaign ads as well as literature during the primary election last spring.
A complaint was filed against McEwen Dec. 29 by Thomas W. Blumer of Mason.
Philip Richter, executive director of the commission, said a hearing to review the evidence against McEwen and consider possible enforcement action will be held as soon as possible.
McEwen, a former congressman from Anderson Township, is considering another Republican Party primary challenge May 2 against newly-elected Rep. Jean Schmidt.
The complaint also alleges that McEwen's main residence is in Fairfax Station, Va.
McEwen could not be reached for comment this afternoon.
There are no automatic fines for making false statements in campaign ads.

DeWine to be petitioned

Friday, civil rights and religious leaders plan to deliver 33,000 petitions signed by Ohioans against Judge Samuel Alito's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court to the Columbus office of U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine.

Shaun Tucker, spokesman for People for the American Way, said the petitions urge DeWine to vote against Alito's confirmation.

Among those speaking about their opposition to Alito at a noon Statehouse news conference Friday will be Sybil McNabb, president of the Ohio Conference of the NAACP; Roger Madison, interim president of the Columbus Urban League; the Rev. Lee Anne Reat, senior pastor at St. John's Episcopal Church and former president of B.R.E.A.D.; and the Rev. Vincent Frosh, senior pastor of First A.M.E. Zion Church.

New Indoor Speed Record for ... City Council

The first Cincinnati council meeting of the new year was one the shortest in history.

Wednesday's council meeting lasted all of 12 minutes. "That's never happened before," council veteran and Vice Mayor Jim Tarbell said.

About half of the 12 minutes was eaten up by an announcement by Councilmember Laketa Cole, talking about the upcoming Neighborhood Summit Feb. 4.

But it's not like council did nothing. The board worked through an agenda packed with 50 items, moving past each in the speed of sound. All items were approved unanimously, and with nary a word of debate, discussion or arguement.

Back on the Boehner, Blunt front

Missouri Republican Roy Blunt claimed to be nearing the number of supporters needed to lock up the House Majority Leader race.

He issued a statement Thursday saying he has more than 100 backers in the race, prompting West Chester Republican John Boehner to claim he has the support of 86 lawmakers.

With 231 Republicans in the 435-member House, Boehner or Blunt needs just 116 votes to declare victory.

All that and Arizona Republican John Shadegg was getting closer to deciding whether he’ll jump into the race, which will be decided during a secret vote on Feb. 2.

The winner would replace outgoing Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, who was indicted last year on campaign finance charges.

Thor thunders, on the web

Thor Jacobs, Democratic candidate for Ohio’s Second Congressional District, will unveil his campaign website, www.jacobsforcongress.org, today.

“I’m running for Congress because I believe that America not only can do better, but must do better,” said Jacobs. “The rampant corruption in Washington, unprecedented budget deficits, and a highly flawed ‘war on terror’ as exemplified by Iraq, must be addressed with a sense of urgency.”

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Coincidence or good timing?

A day after former Rep. Bob McEwen told the Enquirer that he'll challenge Rep. Jean Schmidt in the May 2 primary election, Schmidt’s campaign released a poll showing that she’s got a 20 percent lead over McEwen.

The poll, from Alexandria, Va.-based Tarrance Group (the same firm used by Schmidt’s predecessor) shows Schmidt leading McEwen 54 percent to 34 percent with 12 percent undecided.

(Of course, Tarrance Group was also the same polling firm that predicted Hamilton County Commissioner Pat DeWine would win the 11-person GOP primary! Schmidt won it with 28.37 percent to McEwen's 26.63 percent and DeWine's 12.45 percent.)

Some 400 registered Republican voters who say they will vote in the GOP primary were interviewed by telephone on Monday and Tuesday of this week for the poll, which has a margin of error of 4.5 percent.

The poll also showed that 95 percent of respondents know who Schmidt is, an unusual accomplishment for a freshman lawmaker that her campaign attributes to the national attention (good and bad) she got for telling Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., a decorated former Marine, on the House floor that “cowards cut and run, Marines never do.”

According to the poll, 60 percent of respondents approve of the job she is doing and 83 percent backed her position during the Murtha ruckus.

Schmidt Chief of Staff Barry Bennett: “A huge majority of the electorate is standing with Jean and against the liberal anti-war movement. Jean is one of the most well positioned incumbents in Congress as she prepares for re-election”

Also in her release: She’s been endorsed by Speaker Hastert, the National Republican Congressional Committee, the Republican National Committee, the White House, the Ohio Republican Party and various county party committees throughout the 2nd Congressional District.

More Bennett: “These numbers make challenging Congresswoman Schmidt in the primary a fool’s errand.”

FYI, McEwen still hasn’t filed an updated “Statement of Candidacy” with the Federal Election Commission.

Portman on a free trade roll

U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman, who until last year represented Greater Cincinnati in Congress, scored another victory for the Bush administration today with the signing of the Bahrain Free Trade Agreement.

Bahrain is an island nation off the coast of Saudi Arabia. It’s the second free trade deal that Portman has gotten through Congress since he became the president’s chief trade negotiator last year. His first trade victory was getting the much-criticized Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) passed.

Read what President Bush had to say about the Bahrain deal.

Read what Portman had to say about Bush signing the deal.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

McEwen: "Probably next week."

Former U.S. Rep. Bob McEwen accepted a new job at a Cincinnati law firm Tuesday, but he said in an interview he still plans to challenge U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt for the 2nd District seat this year.
McEwen, a Republican from Anderson Township, joined the Washington and Cincinnati law offices of Greenebaum, Doll & McDonald, where he will focus on governmental affairs, a release from the firm said.
“Bob’s vast experience as a public servant, both at the state and federal level, will greatly contribute to our already prominent government affairs practice,” said Ray Stewart, a firm representative from the Washington office.
Reached by phone, McEwen said he has worked with the firm before and he’ll be helping in its new Washington office.
The new job comes after McEwen accepted a position last month to lobby for Pasadena, Calif.-based Guidance Software. He also is a registered lobbyist with the Washington lobbying firm Advantage Associates.
McEwen has hinted that he’ll challenge Schmidt, R-Miami Township, in the GOP primary on May 2, although he has yet to officially declare that he’s running. He said Tuesday that “it won’t be long” before he makes the announcement.
“Not this week,” he said. “Probably next week.”
If he runs, McEwen said, he won’t step down from his new job.
“I would continue to meet whatever family and business obligations I have through the course of the campaign,” McEwen said.
McEwen came in second behind Schmidt in an 11-person GOP primary in June to replace former U.S. Rep. Rob Portman, now the U.S. trade representative. The seven-county district runs from downtown Cincinnati east to Portsmouth.
Schmidt’s chief of staff, Barry Bennett, said the new congresswoman isn’t concerned about facing McEwen again, even after her much-criticized “Cowards cut and run, Marines never do,” statement on the House floor.
“We don’t’ fear him at all,” Bennett said. “This would be his fifth attempt to get back to Congress, all of which have been unsuccessful and underfunded. ... Jean will do just fine.”

Meeting of the Mayors

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, a former state senator, will return to Columbus Wednesday for a New Mayors Conference at Gov. Bob Taft's mansion.

Mallory will be joined by newly elected mayors from three other major cities: Frank G. Jackson of Cleveland, Carleton S. Finkbeiner of Toledo and Jay Williams of Youngstown.

The meeting is an all-day affair, but Mallory said he'll leave early so he can drive back to Cincinnati in time for Wednesday's City Council meeting.

At a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Mallory made a few additional announcements:

--He will honor the bet he made with Pittsburgh Mayor Bob O'Connor before the Steelers convincing 31-17 win over the Bengals Sunday, and travel to the steel city for a day-long tour. "I want to look at what they've done well, namely their riverfront development. They're building a new convention center, and they are making that a green building. I want to hear more about that. I also want to tour their theater and arts district. We have a whole list of things to talk about." Mayor O'Connor's office has it's own list -- namely showing Mallory the Steelers' four Super Bowl trophies.

-- He will meet with Baptist ministors Thursday, because the Baptist National Convention will come to Cincinnati in August. "It never hurts to have 8,000 members of the clergy coming to your city."

--The mayor's "State of the City" address will come a little later in the year than normal this year, probably in late February or early March. "I'm the first person elected to the office in 70 years that hadn't served on City Council."

Meanwhile, in Bluntville...

From the office of Rep. Roy Blunt, who is fighting West Chester Republican John Boehner to be the next Majority Leader in the U.S. House

WASHINGTON --- The following Members of the Republican conference are actively working in support of House Majority Whip Roy Blunt's bid for Majority Leader. Representing a broad ideological and geographical cross-section of the conference, these Members have agreed to make their names public and to work on Blunt's behalf. This list is in no way comprehensive but exemplifies the diversity of Blunt's support:

Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO)
Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-LA)
Rep. Richard Baker (R-LA)
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-TX)
Rep. Jo Bonner (R-AL)
Rep. John Boozman (R-AR)
Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL)
Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI)
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito
Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK)
Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL)
Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA)
Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL)
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)
Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO)
Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-NJ)
Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL)
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ)
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)
Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO)
Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL)
Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R-MO)
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA)
Rep. Bobby Jindal (R-LA)
Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-CT)
Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA)
Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL)
Rep. Jim Leach (R-IA)
Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI)
Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC)
Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-GA)
Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL)
Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA)
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
Rep. Clay Shaw (R-FL)
Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT)
Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR)
Rep. Jim Walsh (R-NY)
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA)
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC)

Polling is a Matter of Perspective

A horse-race political poll is nothing more than a snapshot in time, the political pros say; and, if so, candidates and their campaigns never hesitate to do their own Photoshop work to alter that snapshot to their liking.

Take the latest poll on the Ohio gubernatorial contest from Rasmussen Reports, a New York City polling firm that tracks state and national races.

Rasmussen's Jan. 3 survey of 500 likely Ohio voters showed Democrat Ted Strickland ahead of all three of the declared Republican candidates for governor.

Strickland, the poll said, holds a four per cent lead over Ohio Secretary of State , Ken Blackwell, a five percent lead over Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro, and a whopping 16 percent lead over State Auditor Betty Montgomery.

The Strickland campaign, as might be expected, put out a press release crowing that the Democratic congressman from Lisbon could clearly lick any one of the GOP contenders.

That was followed a day later by a release from the Blackwell campaign saying the Rasmussen poll numbers showed clearly that Strickland's four percent lead was proof positive that Blackwell was the strongest possible candidate the Republicans could field for governor - despite the fact that Petro was only a percentage point behind.

With a margin of error of 4.5 percent, Blackwell's numbers were just inside the margin and Petro's numbers just outside, indicating that either one of them would give Strickland a run for his money.

The gubernatorial election is 10 months away and, of course, none of the above-mentioned candidates are assured of winning the May 2 primary. Neither the Strickland nor the Blackwell campaigns pointed out another old maxim of politics - the only poll that counts is on election day.

Boehner update

Rep. John Boehner has issued a manifesto detailing his plans to reinvigorate the GOP majority in Congress.

Here are the House Republicans who are backing Boehner so far:

Gresham Barrett (SC)
Charles Boustany (LA)
Steve Buyer (IN)
Paul Gillmor (OH)
Melissa Hart (PA)
Dave Hobson (OH)
Sam Johnson (TX)
John Kline (MN)
Ray LaHood (IL)
Tom Latham (IA)
Thad McCotter (MI)
Anne Northup (KY)
Devin Nunes (CA)
Steve Pearce (NM)
Jim Ramstad (MN)
Jim Saxton (NJ)
Pete Sessions (TX)
Mike Simpson (ID)
Pat Tiberi (OH)
Ed Whitfield (KY)
Howard "Buck" McKeon (CA)
Steve Chabot (OH)
Mike Oxley (OH)
Mike Castle (DE)
John Porter (NV)
Gary Miller (CA)

Public input on public money for public projects

When Hamilton County's commissioners met Monday and discussed trying to get $10 million from the Ohio Capital Budget fund they believe is still owed from the $81 million the state promised in 1998 for the stadiums, Commissioner Todd Portune had another concern.

Portune wondered why the local request to Gov. Bob Taft for local community projects had input only from the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, the Cincinnati mayor, the commissioners and various business groups. Today, state Rep. Tyrone Yates, D- East Walnut Hills, agreed. Yates will hold two public hearings so citizens can give input. No dates have been set.

For immediate release: Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2006

Yates expresses concern about Capital Budget

State Representative Tyrone K. Yates – the only Hamilton County Democratic House Member who serves on the powerful House Finance
& Appropriations Committee - said today he shares Hamilton
County Commissioner Todd Portune’s concerns about the way the community is coordinating requests for the forthcoming state capital budget.

Rep. Yates, D-Cincinnati, said he is now planning a pair of public hearings in Cincinnati in order to gather a wider range of opinion on what priorities
should be set for Hamilton County in the state capital budget.

The Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce has held great sway over the process of coordinating requests; Portune has said this leaves taxpayers and smaller communities shut out of the process.

“The Chamber of Commerce is an important constituency in Cincinnati. But it is by no means the only constituency,” Yates said. “I believe we need to get as much input as possible from Hamilton County citizens. That way, we will have the strongest possible list of priorities to
present to Governor Taft and the General Assembly, one that reflects the needs and wants of the entire community.”

The state capital budget is approved every two years, typically in
even-numbered years. It contains construction dollars for all state agencies and typically includes some dollars that can be spent on local community projects, such as the Great American Ball Park and the
Cincinnati Convention Center.

McEwen gets ... another lobbying job?

Apparently former Rep. Bob McEwen doesn't mind being called a "Washington lobbyist." He's signed on to lobby for another firm: Greenebaum Doll & McDonald.

Last month, McEwen agreed to lobby for Calif.-based Guidance Software.

So ... Does this mean he's not running for Congress?

Read today's release here.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Who's supporting Boehner?


Rep. John Boehner, R-West Chester, has been busy asking fellow lawmakers to support his bid to replace Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, as majority leader in the U.S. House. His main opponent is Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.

The tenative date for the leadership election is Feb. 2.

Here’s a running list of who Ohio and Northern Kentucky lawmakers are backing for majority leader:

Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Miami Township – Undecided.

Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Westwood – Supporting Boehner.

Rep. Geoff Davis, R-Ky. – Declined to say.

Rep. Mike Turner, R-Centerville – Supporting Boehner.

Rep. Dave Hobson, R-Springfield – Supporting Boehner.

Rep. Bob Ney, R-Heath – Supporting Boehner.

Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Genoa Township – Supporting Boehner.

Rep. Deborah Pryce, R-Upper Arlington – Declined to say.

Rep. Paul Gillmor, R-Old Fort – Undecided.

*NEW Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-Madison – Supporting Boehner.

*NEW Rep. Mike Oxley, R-Findlay – Supporting Boehner.

Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Navarre – Not known.

*NEW Other lawmakers supporting Boehner include:
Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich.
Rep. John Kline, R-Minn.
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.
Rep. Jim Saxton, R-N.J.
Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho
Rep. Melissa Hart, R-Pa.
Rep. Gresham Barrett, R-S.C.
Rep. Anne Northup, R-Ky.
Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky.
Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa
Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La.
Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas

Need for name recognition?

The Hamilton County Board of Commissioners today installed their new officers for 2006. Because they are the same as they were for 2005, it didn't take long.
Commissioner Phil Heimlich unanimously was re-named president and fellow Republican Commissioner Pat DeWine was re-named vice president.
The third commissioner, Democrat Todd Potune, added a moment of levity at today's organizational meeting when he was asked if he would vote for Heimlich as commission president.
"Well, I don't know, Phil," Portune said with a wicked grin, hesitating on his vote long enough to make Heimlich laugh.
While the titles don't carry much real meaning -- the president presides over board meetings -- the tradion has been for the presidency to go to the commissioner who is up for election.
Heimlich's commission seat is up for election this fall, but he instead is running for lieutenant governor under gubernatorial candidate Jim Petro, the current Ohio Attorney General.
That in spite of rumors that Heimlich -- who can't run for two offices at the same time -- will instead choose to seek re-election as a commissioner rather than lieutenant governor, or that Petro may give up the race.
"That is a ridiculous rumor that I expect is being circulated by our opponents," said Bob Paduchik, chairman of the Petro/Heimlich campaign.
"These are being spread by campaign operatives. This is kind of the underside of politics.
"We expect to get the (Republican) nomination for governor for the Petro/Heimlich (ticket)."

DeWine holds narrow lead

U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine maintains a narrow lead over both of his potential Democratic opponents in this year's race, according to a new survey, but the race remains hotly competitive.
The Republican from Cedarville enjoys an edge of 43 percent to 39 percent over Cincinnati-area lawyer Paul Hackett, and 45 percent to 40 percent over U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown of Lorain. The latest independent poll by Rasmussen Reports surveyed 500 likely voters on Jan. 3.
Rasmussen polls in mid-November and early December found DeWine running neck and neck with both Democratic contenders. In the fall, Hackett led DeWine by a single percentage point, while Brown trailed him by only two. The margin of sampling error in each of the polls is plus or minus 4.5 percentage. points.

Read Boehner's letter to Republicans

Here is the text of the letter Rep. John Boehner, R-West Chester, sent to fellow Republicans Sunday announcing his run for majority leader:

I'm writing to seek your support for the opportunity to help lead our Conference
as Majority Leader. I'm seeking your support because we need a Conference with
the courage and confidence to tackle our nation's problems.

I want to start a conversation within our Conference - a conversation about renewal. Renewal in spirit, renewal in principles, renewal in commitment.

We are inherently a party that believes far more in our constituents outside the Beltway than in the institutions within the Beltway. The vision that brought us to majority control of the House reflected that: a vision of smaller, more accountable government and of a society deeply rooted in principles of personal responsibility, faith in the future, and freedom. That's the vision that inspired me to enter public
life, and I think it's pretty consistent with what motivates a vast majority of
our Conference, and our party as well.

But it's a vision that requires faith and profound commitment, particularly when those who believe in it are in control of Congress. It's easy to keep in your mind and heart when you're in the minority. When I was a freshman serving in a Democrat-controlled Congress, it was relatively easy to expose corruption in the House bank; or as a sophomore, to help dismantle Hillary Clinton's health care plan. Operating behind the enemy lines of the Beltway was easy, because the traditional forces driving Washington weren't paying attention and we had no real chance for driving a legislative agenda.

Governing in a manner consistent without our fundamental vision, on
the other hand, is hard. It's hard because Official Washington is driven by an
innate suspicion of what a free American people can really achieve. And it's
hard because there's a cynical refusal to acknowledge the seriousness of the
problems we need to solve if our children are to enjoy the kind of bright,
promising future we owe them. Moving forward with a vision that represents
freedom and responsibility while the forces of Washington's status quo push for
control and denial isn't just hard; it's exhausting.

So I think we need to engage in a bit of renewal, as a Conference. This isn't easy, either. After I lost a leadership race in 1998, I had to renew myself - confirm whether the principles that led me to Congress were still relevant, whether the substantive goals I'd wanted to accomplish were still feasible, and - above all - whether I was willing to make the necessary commitment.

And I did. I sought the counsel of my closest friends and allies, gathered my team, made my commitment, and immersed myself in the day-in, day-out work of my committees. I did what I
could to help my colleagues and help the Conference. And two years later, the
Republican Conference rewarded me with the chairman's gavel of the Education
& the Workforce Committee.
As Chairman, I got a chance to apply some
lessons and learn some more. I learned that without a clear and thoughtful
strategy, the only consequence of hurling a lot of bodies at a difficult goal
will be heavy casualties. I learned that we truly are strongest when we work as
hard at being a team as we do reaching our policy goals. I learned that if your
vision is bold and compelling, and you advance it with confidence, you'll always
win the fights that really count. Above all else, I learned leadership isn't
just about talking, it's about listening, and then applying what you hear toward
a common goal.
These strike me as useful lessons for the present time. We've
had a tough run recently, some of it of our own making. We're concerned about
the future of our majority. But I also believe that if we are able to renew our
energy and our commitment to our basic principles, the best is yet to come.
I'd like to help drive that renewal as your Majority Leader.
Renewal does
not mean neglecting short-term needs. We absolutely need to make sure we are in
the best tactical position possible to win in November - that's a given. But I
would argue that this starts with agreeing on a common vision, identifying an
agenda that reflects that vision, and working together in a concrete, confident
manner to achieve it. If we show voters what we believe in and provide them with
policies based on those beliefs, I'm convinced we'll prevail.
What else does
renewal entail? Most importantly, it means acting and thinking with the
confidence we owe our constituents and our country - a confidence to think
boldly, to be candid about challenges we face, and to undertake all the work
necessary to achieve our goals. If we work together, with candor, dedication,
and imagination, there truly is no limit to what we can achieve.
I look
forward with talking with you personally in the next few days about this
important subject. I hope that you share my optimism, and that you'll support my

Poll: Strickland leading all candidates for Gov.

A poll released Saturday found U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, a Democrat from Lisbon, leading all three major Republican Party candidates in the race to become Ohio's next governor.
The survey by Rasmussen Reports (www.RasmussenReports.com), in which 500 likely voters were called Jan. 3, found Strickland ahead of Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, a Republican from Cincinnati, 44 percent to 40 percent.
Strickland led Attorney General Jim Petro, 43 percent to 38 percent. Strickland also led Ohio State Auditor Betty D. Montgomery, 49 percent to 33 percent. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
Strickland was viewed favorably by 54 percent of respondents, higher than any of the Republicans, according to the survey. Blackwell was favored by 49 percent, Petro by 48 percent and Montgomery by 45 percent.
However, more respondents had a "very favorable" impression of Blackwell, at 21 percent. Strickland received that rating from 17 percent of the respondents, Montgomery from 15 percent and Petro from 13 percent.
Blackwell also enjoyed greater support from evangelical Christians than either of his Republican Party primary opponents (61 percent to Petro's 53 percent and Montgomery's 43 percent) and among Bush supporters.
At least 12 percent of the respondents said they were not sure who to vote for in each general election matchup. More than 5 percent said they'd prefer another candidate.
For details, go to: http://www.rasmussenreports.com/2006/State%20Polls/January%202006/Ohio%20Governor%20January%204.htm

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