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, July 07, 2006

Cranley pledges to support voting rights

Today, Democrat John Cranley signed a pledge to the people of the 1st Congressional District that he would fight for voting rights.

Cranley, who is running against Republican Rep. Steve Chabot, was joined by civil rights leader Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala., and former vice mayor Alicia Reece at a news event to commemorate the signing of his pledge.

Cranley explained that the pledge is more than a promise to support the Voting Rights Act, which is pending in Congress - as stated in yesterday's blog entry. It's to stand up against anything that hurts people's voting rights, such as a bill supported by Chabot that bars nonprofits from getting federal funding if they engage in voter education or get-out-the vote drives.

Here is the text of his latest pledge:
Whereas, the right to vote is a hallmark of American freedom; and

Whereas, the right to vote has not always been readily available to all Americans; and

Whereas, recent elections and actions by Congress have revealed that there are still forces within our country who will go to considerable lengths to make it more difficult for some Americans to exercise the right to vote; and

Whereas, every branch of government, and especially the United States Congress, should take whatever steps necessary to ensure that no American will ever be unfairly denied the right to cast a vote, and whereas Congress should take steps to prevent anyone from being discouraged from voting;

Therefore, I hereby proclaim that as an elected official, I will continue to work to uphold the precious right to vote and remove any and all barriers intended to discourage Americans from exercising that right; and

Further proclaim that, upon election to the United States House of Representatives, I will always vote to uphold the Voting Rights Act and support efforts to make it easier for Americans to take full advantage of the right to vote.

Proclaimed today, on the Seventh Day of July, 2006 by:

John Cranley, Candidate for the United States House of Representatives from Ohio's First District.

Now, about all those pledges...

“There will be more,” Cranley said Friday. “I’ll be signing a number of pledges during this campaign so that people know exactly, on specific issues, how to hold me accountable.”

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A battle of the whips?

Today, while former Kentucky Rep. Ken Lucas was hosting Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, Lucas' GOP opponent, Rep. Geoff Davis was busy hosting Republican Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri.

Blunt is the 3rd ranking GOP leader in the House, just under House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-West Chester, who beat Blunt out for the No. 2 spot.

Still wondering what a whip is? C-SPAN's glossary of congressional terms explains it here. Basically, it's the person who counts votes for a bill and "whips" up support for the measure by pressuring lawmakers of the same party to vote for it.

Back to Kentucky's battle of the whips...

Blunt was in Kentucky today to visit the Boone County Sheriff's Department and the Newport Independent Pre-School's NIS Early Childhood Initiative with Davis. The two planned to hold a forum on local issues, such as illegal drug crime and dealing with online sexual predators.

Hoyer, meanwhile, held a fundraising event for Lucas.

Another Cranley pledge coming up

Voters might need a binder to keep track of all of the pledges Democrat John Cranley is making in his battle to oust six-term Republican Rep. Steve Chabot in Ohio's 1st Congressional District.

First, Cranley signed a pledge not to accept a pay raise until the federal budget is balanced.

Then, today, he signed a pledge not to vote to privatize Social Security.

Tomorrow, he's planning an event at Integrity Hall on Seymour Ave. with Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala., in which he'll sign another pledge!

This one is on the Voting Rights Act, which expires this year. A bill to continue and update this act is pending in Congress. Oh, it's also co-sponsored and partly written by Chabot.

Hoyer: Cranley-Chabot makes the Dem top ten list

Rep. Steny Hoyer, the Maryland Democrat who is House minority whip, came to Cincinnati Thursday with a message that would seem to dispel the rumors that the national Democratic party has been losing interest in John Cranley's campaign to unseat Republican Steve Chabot in the 1st Congressional District.

"This is one of the top 10 races for us in the country,'' said Hoyer, who spent time with Cranley Thursday at the Laborers Hall in Evanston and at fundraising reception in the downtown law office of Hamilton County Democratic Party chairman Tim Burke.

"We've got a great candidate and we are going to win this,'' said Hoyer, a former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Hoyer said Cranley's challenge will be "make the people of the district see know that re-electing Chabot means more of the same.''

After touting Cranley on the Ohio side of the river, Hoyer crossd over into the Commonwealth of Kentuckyto attend an event for Ken Lucas, the former Democratic congressman who is trying to unseat Rep. Geoff Davis.

Lucas isn't quite as high up the list as Cranley apparently. Hoyer said the Lucas-Davis "ranks in the top 20'' of House races for the Democrats.

Cranley stomps on grave of dead issue

1st District congressional candidate John Cranley - with Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., the second-ranking House Democrat at his side - signed a pledge in front of the Laborers Union Hall in Evanston to never vote for any Bush administration plan to "privatize'' Social Security.

Not that anyone in the Bush White House has been itching to pick that fight again, after the president's plan to create individual savings accounts crashed and burned a year ago.

But, Cranley said, you never know.

"Who's to say that if (Bush) and the Republicans get through the election this year, that they won't come back and try again?,'' said Cranley. "He didn't have a mandate the first time, but he campaigned around the country for it anyway.''

Only if the Republicans are still in charge.

Chabot wants Voting Rights Act reauthorized, too.

In reaction to Wednesday's Politics Extra item, Todd Lindgren, press secretary to U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, reminded us that the congressman has "been a leader in the movement to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act,'' as chairman of the House Constitution Subcommittee.

Chabot held 12 bipartisan hearings over eight months -- beginning last year -- on the Voting Rights Act, listening to witnesses from the American Civil Liberties Union, NAACP, Center for Equal Opportunity, Justice Department and others.

The Westwood Republican also helped to draft the legislation to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act for another 25 years, according to Lindgren.

The bill currently has 152 House co-sponsors and 48 Senate co-sponsors. Chabot helped lead the bill through the Judiciary Committee markup and expects Congress to pass the reauthorization well before it expires in 2007, Lindgren said today.

"Raising our States" conference in Columbus

What do Roseanne Barr, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Sen. Hillary Clinton and former Sen. and vice presidential candidate John Edwards have in common?

They're among the speakers invited to Columbus Sunday and Monday for this year's national conference of ACORN -- the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

Liz Kropp, a Cincinnati-based spokeswoman for Ohio ACORN, said 2,500 members of "the nation's largest grassroots community group" will meet at Ohio State University for workshops beginning Saturday. It is the 36-year-old organization's first national convention in Ohio.

Sharpton and comedienne Barr are guest speakers at a Sunday evening banquet in the Columbus Convention Center.

Edwards, a North Carolina Democrat, speaks at 1:30 p. m. Sunday at OSU's Mershon Auditorium, Wexner Center for the Arts.

Clinton, a New York Democrat, speaks Monday at 9:45 a.m., also at OSU, after a video prepared by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Massachusetts.

Kropp said key speeches will be webcast live at www.acorn.org

Monday, delegates will join U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Cleveland, on a march to the Statehouse for a 12:30 p.m. rally in support of increasing the minimum wage, a statewide issue expected to appear on Ohio's Nov. 7 ballot.

At the workshops, Kropp said delegates will hear presentations on post-Katrina Hurricane organizing, immigration reform and be asked to promote the minimum wage ballot initiative.

ACORN is the nation's largest community organization of low- and moderate-income families, with over 200,000 member families organized into 800 neighborhood chapters in more than 100 cities across the country, including Cincinnati.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

John Edwards to visit Cincinnati

Former Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards will help gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland raise campaign money Saturday at the Indian Hill home of former congressional candidate Paul Hackett.

While the event is a Strickland fund-raiser, it could also be an opportunity for Edwards to introduce himself to some Democratic campaign donors who might support an Edwards race for president in 2008.

Edwards, the former senator from North Carolina, has already made some forays into Ohio, which could become an important state for presidential contenders two years from now. Last summer, Edwards stumped in Cleveland and Columbus for the minimum wage increase amendment that could be on this November’s statewide ballot.

He is not the only potential Democratic presidential contender to discover Ohio this year – Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton did campaign fund-raising events in Ohio last month for Strickland and U.S. Senate candidate Sherrod Brown.

Ohio voting rights talk of the Nation and elsewhere

Fallout from last month's Rolling Stone article on Ohio's 2004 voting problems barely cooled. . . and along comes the July 17 edition of The Nation featuring an article on Ohio's past and future voting concerns.

Titled, "The Coming Ballot Meltdown," the article by Andrew Gumbel foretells problems in upcoming elections. Peg Rosenfield, a former Secretary of State employee who has served as an elections specialist for more than 20 years with the League of Women Voters of Ohio, offered this assessment on why chaos ensues locally on election day: "It's not that anyone will be out to steal the election necessarily,'' Rosenfield told The Nation. "They don't need to -- we can screw it up all by ourselves.''

The full article appears here:

New reaction to Robert F. Kennedy's article, "Was the 2004 Election Stolen?" including by former President Clinton, and word of a lawsuit to be filed by RFK and others is posted here:
and here:

Meanwhile, a coalition of civic groups said it will announce legal action on new Ohio voter registration requirements Thursday at a Cleveland news conference, at 10 a.m. on the front steps of the Carl B. Stokes Federal Courthouse.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Project Vote, ACORN, People For the American Way Foundation, Communities of Faith Assemblies Church and Common Cause Ohio. All the groups conduct voter registration drives they say are hampered by new state requirements.

The voting rights debate also has heated up in Congress and at the Statehouse.

In the race for Ohio's 1st District, Democrat John Cranley will be joined at a Friday news conference by U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, who represents Birmingham and Selma, Ala., in the 7th District. Also speaking at the 11 a.m. news conference at Integrity Hall, 2081 Seymour Ave., Bond Hill, will be the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and former Cincinnati Vice Mayor Alicia Reece. According to campaign spokesman Elliott Ruther, Cranley plans to take a "voting rights" pledge. Reauthorization of the federal Voting Rights Act is being debated by Congress.

At the Statehouse, meanwhile, Democrats today urged Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act.

State Senate Democratic Whip Teresa Fedor of Toledo sponsored the Ohio resolution. Congressional Republicans recently prevented the federal act, formally titled, "The Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendment Act of 2006" from being reauthorized, insisting on changes.

State Rep. Lance T. Mason, a Shaker Heights Democrat, said he plans to introduce a similar voting rights resolution in the Ohio House.

The federal Act was first passed in 1965 to ensure voting rights of African Americans. Before its passage, many African Americans were subjected to literacy tests, poll taxes and other scare tactics to keep them away from the polls.

When then-President Johnson signed the federal act, he said, "There is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem. There is only an American problem. . .Every American citizen must have the right to vote. . ."

"I believe that America still has a problem," Fedor said in a prepared statement. "Ohio still has a problem. We have had more than our fair share of voter suppression tactics and schemes just in the past few years. While our men and women are overseas trying to help Iraqis win the right to vote, it is shameful that Republicans at home would prevent renewing the Voting Rights Act."

"Ohio and other states are returning to schemes reminiscent of poll taxes, literacy tests, and other Jim Crow-like behavior," Fedor said. "The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was historic. Unfortunately, 41 years later we still have a lot of work to do in ensuring every eligible American has the right to vote. Without question, America still has a problem, and that is why I am urging Congress to reauthorize this Act."

Ex-gov returns from Colorado to stump for bro

Former Ohio governor Richard F. Celeste will be in Grandview Heights Saturday at a "family-themed" fund-raising party for his brother, Ted, Democratic candidate for the Ohio House of Representatives.

Now president of Colorado College, Dick returns to Ohio for what Democrats are calling one of their most promising election years since 1982 -- when Celeste topped the ticket in a Democratic sweep of statewide offices. Ohio's 64th governor served until Jan. 14, 1991.

Ted Celeste, a Grandview Heights businessman, is trying to land a seat in the 99-member House, controlled by Republicans the past 12 years. Republicans currently hold 60 seats. The former candidate for U.S. Senate is challenging incumbent Republican Geoff Smith for the 24th House District.

Bill Peirce's hat trick

Can anyone imagine Gov. Bob Taft or any of the other gubernatorial candidates -- Ken Blackwell, Ted Strickland or Bob Fitrakis -- wearing a three-cornered hat? (If they have, please send us photos!)

Well, Bill Peirce, on the Nov. 7 ballot as an independent candidate for governor, had the ^&*#&#s to wear one Tuesday with his wife, Nynke, marching by his side at a Cleveland-area Fourth of July parade.

In a news statement, Peirce wrote: "The 4th of July is the special day for celebrating the great vision of theDeclaration of Independence. That is the vision of free individuals, endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights including Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness, who band together to form a government whose function is to protect and defend those individual rights.
In Liberty,"
Bill Peirce

That reminds me. In a 1999 year-end interview with the governor, Taft showed off a photograph of himself wearing a white 10-gallon cowboy hat, joking he looked a bit like Akron magnate David Brennan, owner of charter school operator White Hat Management.

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