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Hamilton County reporter

Jon Craig,
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Friday, September 15, 2006

Hastert on Ney

Speaker Hastert Comments on Bob Ney

(Washington D.C.) House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) released the following statement today upon learning that Congressman Bob Ney agreed to plead guilty to federal criminal charges:

"The illegal behavior that Congressman Bob Ney has admitted doing is unacceptable. I am glad he has recognized and accepted the consequences of his actions. My thoughts and prayers are especially with him and his family at this time."

Bush on Boehner

From President Bush's White House press conference today:

QUESTION: The Republican leader in the House this week said that Democrats -- he wonders if they are more interested in protecting the terrorists than protecting the American people.
Do you agree with him, sir? Do you think that's the right tone to set for this upcoming campaign? Or do you think he owes somebody an apology?

BUSH: I wouldn't have exactly put it that way. But I do believe there's a difference of attitude.
Take the Patriot Act, for example. Interesting debate that took place not once but twice. And the second time around there was a lot of concern about whether or not the Patriot Act, you know, was necessary to protect the country.
There's no doubt in my mind we needed to make sure the Patriot Act was renewed to tear down walls that exist so that intelligence people could share information with criminal people. It wasn't the case before 9/11. In other words, somebody had some intelligence that they thought was necessary to protect the people, they couldn't share that with somebody whose job it was to grab (ph) people out of society to prevent them from attacking. Just made no sense.
And so there was a healthy debate, and we finally got the Patriot Act extended after it was passed right after 9/11. To me, that was an indication of just a difference of approach.
No one should ever question the patriotism of somebody, you know -- let me just start over.
I don't question the patriotism of somebody who doesn't agree with me. I just don't.
And I think it's unwise to do that. I don't think it's what leaders do.
I do think that -- I think that there is a difference of opinion here in Washington about the tools necessary to protect the country, the terrorist surveillance program, or what did you call it...

QUESTION: Eavesdropping.

BUSH: Yeah, the illegal eavesdropping program you wanted to call it.

IEP, as opposed to TSP.


There's just a difference of opinion about what we need to do to protect our country. I'm confident the leader, you know, meant nothing personal. I know that he shares my concern that we pass good legislation to get something done.

DeWine 1, China 0

Mike DeWine probably won't be getting an invite to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Friday morning, the senior senator from Ohio stood out on Fifth Street in downtown Cincinnati with White House budget director and former U.S. trade representative Rob Portman for a press conference where Portman had some news from Washington.

His successor as trade rep, Susan Schwab, had just announced that the U.S. - with the backing of Canada and the European Union - was filing with the World Trade Organization what amounts to a lawsuit against China for discriminating against U.S. auto parts and discouraging Chinese automakers from using imported parts.

Portman, who said the action is a "big deal'' and could end up boosting Ohio' ailing auto parts industry, said DeWine first brought the problems to his attention in March, while he was still U.S. trade representative.

Meanwhile, DeWine's Democratic opponent, Sherrod Brown, continued pounding away at DeWine on trade issues with a new 30-second TV spot, this one saying that trade agrements supported by Republicans like Portman and DeWine have resulted in the loss of thouasnds of Ohio jobs.

Boehner on Ney

Boehner Statement on Plea Agreement with Rep. Bob Ney

WASHINGTON, D.C. - House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) today issued the following statement after Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) reached a plea agreement with the Justice Department and pled guilty to two counts of violating federal law:

"I have always known Bob as a skilled legislator and a good friend. Clearly Bob made mistakes, and he is now feeling the full weight of those mistakes. His actions violated the law, and he must be held accountable.

"I support him for recognizing that he needs help with his problem with alcohol, and for seeking it. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family."

Hartmann takes on Streisand. Yes, Streisand.

Every morning these days, we wake up wondering just how much more weird Ohio politics can become.

Then, on Thursday night, we found the answer. Infinitely weird.

Barbra Streisand is now an issue in the race for Ohio secretary of state.

The Family First PAC held a big fundraising dinner at the Montgomery Inn Banquet Center Thurday night; about 200 of the faithful showed up to hear Ken Blackwell and Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas decry abortion and promote "family values."

Out in the lobby was a table where Family First's endorsed candidates could leave their campaign literature. A stack of sheets from Hamilton County's own Greg Hartmann, the GOP candidate for Ohio secretary of state, caught our eye because of the picture of Streisand belting out a tune.

It seems Streisand, an ardent Democrat who spends a boatload of her money helping elect her party's candidates, gave $1,000 to Hartmann's opponent, Jennifer Bruner.

Streisand has had some things to say about how the 2004 presidential was handled in Ohio, suggesting, as have a whole lot of other people, that things might not have been on the up-and-up when it came to counting votes in Ohio.

A $1,000 check isn't going to get Brunner or any other statewide candidate very far and it is doubtful that, prior to the 2004 election, Streisand could have found Ohio on a map, but Hartmann seems to have worked himself into a lather over the Streisand Factor.

"Ohio cannot afford to have Barbra's extreme ideals influencing Ohio elections,'' Hartmann's campaign flyer says.

So, in order to keep Barbra Streisand from becoming the new Boss Tweed of Ohio politics, Hartmann is asking that 1,000 of his supporters to send him $1 to "send a signal to Barbra and my opponent that we do not want out of state conspiracy theories to be a part of our elections.''

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Wulsin fundraiser not a total bust

Democrat Victoria Wulsin was in Washington yesterday, as we mentioned earlier. And she held two fundraisers – in addition to meetings with folks all over town, including Democratic Party head Howard Dean.

And, yes, the Enquirer’s Washington bureau of one did swing by the event at Tortilla Coast, a restaurant that may not be at the caliber of Cincinnati’s former four-star eaterie Maisonette – or Washington’s new hot spot for Mexican food, Rosa Mexicana – but it’s far from being a “dive bar.” Put it this way: It’s no Common Share, Dan's, Harry's... all bigger dives in DC. And dipping into Cincinnati's dive scene, it's no Head First Sports Cafe either. Plus, the food is pretty good.

That said, here’s what we saw:

Wulsin was chatting with Rep. Jan Schakowski, D-Ill., and a couple other people, including someone she identified as a high school friend, when we walked in. There were about three other people in the far end of the basement room munching on finger food. A table with a big bowl of chips and some salsa was at the other end. Another table held cold beer and margaritas.

After a few minutes, an excited Wulsin came over to introduce herself and we got a second to chat. That's when Schakowski, one of 11 House Democrats who hosted the event, said goodbye to Wulsin. “I can’t wait to be your colleague,” Wulsin exclaimed, shaking Schakowski’s hand.

Wulsin described how she didn’t get as much attention during the primary election, but now, everything’s changed.

“It’s so exciting. My poll numbers are good, the money is coming in, the tide is turning,” she said, adding that it’s a shame that her opponent, Republican Rep. Jean Schmidt, has so far successfully eluded debating her.

“I think she’ll be shamed into debating me,” Wulsin said. “I think people want to hear from her.”
Asked if she is getting the sense that the party is ready to back her, Wulsin said: “The buzz is just beginning here. As people get to know me, they realize that Im not just an anti-Schmidt candidate, I’m a credible candidate.”

Then this: “I really think this race is mine to lose!”

At about that time, the chief of staff for Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, walked in to tell Wulsin that the congressman was on his way. He arrived shortly thereafter.

Ohio lawmakers razz Bush over OSU win

President Bush was on Capitol Hill today for a closed-door meeting with House Republicans about the war on terror. But what started off as a serious policy discussion erupted in laughter when a group of Ohio lawmakers decked out in school colors ribbed the former Texas governor for Ohio State’s 24-7 trouncing of UT last weekend.

“There’s nothing like poor winners,” Rep. Mike Oxley said he recalled the president saying. The game last Saturday had pitted the No. 1-ranked Buckeyes against the No. 2-ranked Longhorns in a game that drew national attention.

Oxley, an OSU law school alum from Findlay, and Rep. Pat Tiberi, an OSU alum from Columbus, burst into conspiratorial chuckles when asked how the meeting went.

“Show her your hat,” Oxley said to Tiberi, who pulled out a dark blue baseball cap with a big white ‘O’ emblazoned on it. “He's still bitter about Ohio State beating Texas,” Tiberi said.

Oxley said Rep. Deborah Pryce of Upper Arlington, also an OSU alum, wore a gray and scarlet suit with a necklace of buckeyes. Others in the delegation wore red and gray striped ties.

“It was well orchestrated. It was a conspiracy by the Ohio delegation,” Oxley said. Asked if the president noticed, Oxley laughed: “Oh yeah. It wasn't very subtle.”

He said the group presented Bush with an Ohio State flag and a pom-pom.

The president's reaction? “He said ‘Ohio State whupped us good,’” Oxley said. “I guess that's an old Texas saying.”

(Thanks to Kathy Kiely of USA Today for passing along this story!)

Liberal blogger coming to town

If you read this blog, you probably also read Daily Kos.

The man behind the Daily Kos, Markos Moulitsas, will be in Cincinnati on September 29th at noon. He's speaking at the Mercantile Libary.

Details here

Ted will probably want to keep his speech short....

...because the 42nd president of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton, is the featured speaker Saturday at a Strickland-Fisher fundraising luncheon at a downtown Cleveland hotel, and, once he starts talking, it's likely to go on for a while.

It's Clinton's first foray into the Ohio gubernatorial race, although his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, has been in to help raise money for Ted Strickland and U.S. Senate candidate Sherrod Brown.

The Strickland-Fisher campaign is asking for a minimum $100 contribution for the luncheon at the Intercontinental Hotel, although the ticket order form on the campaign web site has boxes for donors to check ranging from $100 to $2,500.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Portman! To the rescue!

In case of emergency, break glass. Then call Rob Portman.

Mike DeWine has been taking a beating from Sherrod Brown's 30-second TV ad saying that, by voting for trade agreements like CAFTA, DeWine has been responsible for sending a lot of good Ohio manufacturing jobs south of the border, where workers are paid a few bucks a day.

DeWine's campaign is hitting back, bringing in the former 2nd District congressman for a Friday press conference downtown where, no doubt, Portman - now White House budget director and formerly U.S. trade representative - will be asked to set the record straight on the matter. He and DeWine, the campaign says, will "discuss the advantages of free and fair trade for Ohio businesses.''

DeWine is not the only Republican candidate locked in a tough fight that Portman will help this week - he's the headliner at a Ken Blackwell fundraiser Thursday evening in Anderson Township.

No two left feet for this right-winger

When accused of dancing around political issues, Phil Heimlich places any blame on his maternal grandparents – Kathryn and Arthur Murray, (pictured) inducted in July into the National Museum of Dance Hall of Fame.

Heimlich, seeking re-election as Hamilton County Commissioner, received the news that his famous grandparents were inducted in a letter from Eleanor Lachman, the owner of three Cincinnati Arthur Murray Dance Studio franchises.

In their heyday in the 1940s and 1950s, the Murrays – whose daughter Jane Murray Heimlich is Commissioner Heimlich’s mother – were world famous, having a television show for more than a decade, 433 dance studio franchises and were known for their business acumen by owning the second oldest franchise company in the world.

That induction, Commissioner Heimlich suggested, would be the closest he would get to a personal connection to the Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Dance Hall of Fame.

“The apple apparently fell relatively far from the family tree and I had to go for remedial work,” Heimlich said.

His two left feet left him so awkward when trying to trip the light fantastic, Heimlich said, that he actually took lessons at an Arthur Murray studio so as not to bring shame on his dancing heritage.

“I did it to at least be respectable so I could live up to the family name,” Heimlich said.

Heimlich’s Democratic opponent, David Pepper, was impressed with the Murrays' induction.

“The Heimlich’s have us beat in that category,” Pepper said of the dancing ability. “Kudos to them.

“But my mom (Francie) plays a mean accordion.”

Wulsin in DC, Cranley not

The Ohio Republican Party sent out a press release this morning blasting several Ohio Democrats - John Cranley, Charlie Wilson, Mary Jo Kilroy and Zack Space - for being invited to Washington today to “schmooze” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and “liberal special interest groups.”

“These Democrats are showing their true colors as they mingle with Nancy Pelosi and other liberal leaders at fancy fundraisers in Washington,” Ohio Republican Party spokesman John McClelland said.

But Cranley's campaign manager, Elliott Ruther, said that isn't so.

“Like a lot of things, the GOP has it wrong again. John is in the 1st District,” he said in an e-mail. Cranley, a Cincinnati city councilman, is running against Republican Rep. Steve Chabot. City Council meets today at 2 p.m.

We aren't sure whether Wilson, Kilroy or Space are in Washington or Ohio today. But we do know that Democrat Victoria Wulsin, who is challenging Republican Rep. Jean Schmidt in the 2nd District, is in Washington today.

According to Wulsin's campaign, the Indian Hill doctor has several meetings in Washington today, including a sit-down with Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean, and two evening fundraisers.

UPDATE (because you asked):

Wulsin will be at Tortilla Coast on Capitol Hill from 5-7 p.m. tonight for a fundraiser hosted by 11 Democrats, including Ohio Reps. Sherrod Brown and Ted Strickland, who are running for the U.S. Senate and governor. Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., whom Schmidt called out on the House floor in a fiery "cowards cut and run, Marines never do" speech, also is a host. Cost: $200-$1,000.

She'll then head to a private home for a 7-8:30 p.m. fundraiser. Cost: $50 to $200.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Brown to speak at MoveOn.org event

Rep. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat challenging Republican Sen. Mike DeWine, is unveiling a plan called "Health Care for All" at a 12:30 p.m. speech in Washington tomorrow as part of MoveOn.org's new Progressive Vision speech series.

Here is what an e-mail from MoveOn says about Brown: "Rep. Brown is a fiery progressive champion and a fantastic speaker. He's battling in a close Senate race in Ohio and is fast emerging as one of the most inspiring progressive leaders in the country. This will be an event to remember!"

According to MoveOn, the speech will be broadcast nationally. It's unclear what station it will be broadcast on.

What's the Progressive Vision speech series all about?

According to MoveOn: "This summer, over a hundred thousand MoveOn members came together in house parties and online to choose the top three big, positive goals for the country that MoveOn will fight for in the months to come: Health care for all, clean energy, and a democracy restored. This is the next big step—three major progressive leaders speaking to MoveOn members and the nation to show how bold progressive leadership can make this vision a reality. Think of it as the opening salvo in our next big campaign for a better America."

Here's what Republicans had to say about Brown's upcoming speech:

"Thank you, Congressman Brown, for reminding Ohio voters how out of the mainstream you are by agreeing to speak to a group like MoveOn," said National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Dan Ronayne. "If a 15-year career of championing the far left in Congress wasn't enough evidence for Ohioans that Brown is an out of touch liberal, this appearance should put any doubts to rest."

For more on Rep. Brown, check out this blog post he wrote called, "Why I'm a Progressive."

DeWine collects ice cream

Sen. Mike DeWine today collected the ice cream he won in a bet with Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison over last Saturday’s football game between No. 1-ranked Ohio State University and No. 2-ranked University of Texas.

OSU beat the Longhorns 24-7. The victory keeps the Buckeyes (2-0) in perfect position for a run to a national title and snaps Texas’ 21 game winning streak.

“The Buckeyes’ convincing victory over Texas confirms that Ohio State is the number one college team in the country,” DeWine said in a release. “I thank Senator Hutchison for agreeing to offer up this delicious ice cream that my staff and I will be enjoying as we revel in Saturday night’s victory. Go Bucks!”

Learn Math, the Sanders Way!

Nobody ever said you had to be able to count to serve in Congress.

Good thing, too, if the e-mail press release from Charles W. Sanders' campaign is any indication.

Sanjay Mahajan, campaign aide to Sanders in his many attempts to get elected to the U.S. House, sent out a release touting the endorsement of Highland County Democratic chairwoman Dinah Phillips in Friday's special Democratic congressional primary.

With "major endorsements" in Highland and Clinton counties, Mahajan said, Sanders is confident he will win both counties "which compose 50% of the counties in the district," and, thus, win Friday's special primary.

Indeed, there are four counties in the the 3rd Congressional District (most of Montgomery and part of Warren are the other two); and two is defintely 50% of four.

What the Sanders campaign seems to have missed, though, is that Highland and Clinton counties together made up only 10% of the votes cast in the May Democratic congressional primary - a primary in which Sanders finished second.

No less than 81% of the Democratic votes in May came from Montgomery County - where the county party and Dayton Mayor Rhine McLin have endorsed Sanders' opponent in Friday's primary, former assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Chema.

50% of the counties. 10% of the vote.

But who's counting?

Bush coming back to Cinci - Sept. 25

President Bush is coming to Ohio again for another fundraiser for Sen. Mike DeWine, a Republican from Cedarville who faces a difficult re-election campaign against Democratic Rep. Sherrod Brown of Lorain, Ohio.

POTUS has already attended a Feb. 23 funder for DeWine at the Indian Hill home of Mark and Margie Hauser and a June 30 event for DeWine in at a private home near Columbus. First lady Laura Bush has even campaigned for DeWine, holding an Aug. 16 event in Kettering.

UPDATED: Bright orange invitations HAVE gone out! We just got a copy.

The Sept. 25 event will be held at the Indian Hill home of John & Eileen Barrett. Those who want to take a photo with the president are invited to a 4:30 p.m. event; the dinner reception starts at 5 p.m. A photo costs $10,000 each; attending the reception is $5,000 each. The money raised is for both DeWine and the Ohio Republican Party.

Hosts for the event include Barrett, head of Western & Southern Financial Group and brother of former Hamilton County Republican chairman - now federal judge - Michael Barrett.; insurance firm owner Mark Hauser; Cincinnati businessmen Carl Lindner & Carl Lindner, Jr.; Cintas Corp. Chairman Dick Farmer; Reds CEO Bob Castellini; Office of Management and Budget Director Rob Portman; Cincinnati developer Bob Rhein; Cincinnati businessman and Reds partner Larry Sheakley; Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman George Vincent; Reds partner Tom Williams.

Oversight? Rep. Jean Schmidt, the Miami Township Republican who represents the 2nd District, where the fundraiser is being held, is NOT listed among the event hosts.

New poll shows Blackwell gaining

From the Blackwell campaign:


COLUMBUS - The Wall Street Journal Zogby Interactive Poll today indicated gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell is closing the gap on Congressman and former prison psychologist Ted Strickland. The survey shows the race has narrowed to 5.7 points with Blackwell now receiving 41.8 percent and Strickland receiving 47.5 percent. The poll was conducted from August 29 to September 5 and has a 3.5 percent margin of error. Previous surveys have shown Strickland with a double-digit lead.

Blackwell’s campaign attributed the improvement to the start of pro-Blackwell advertising, which began August 19, and the traditional post-Labor Day spike in voter interest in political campaigns.

“Voters are catching on to Strickland’s stale ideas, empty platitudes and liberal pro-tax voting record,” said Blackwell campaign chair Lara Mastin. “And voters are responding positively to Ken Blackwell’s bold solutions to Ohio’s challenges. They are rallying around his steadfast leadership.”

“Strickland lacks the vision and leadership necessary to move Ohio forward,” added Mastin. “Ken Blackwell has substantially gained ground on Strickland and will soon be in the lead.”
Zogby International, one of the nation’s most historically accurate polling firms, touts its interactive poll as the “wave of the future in survey research.” In the 2004 presidential election, the survey accurately predicted the winner in 85 percent of the states that it polled within 4 points on average. In 2005, the poll accurately predicted the results of both the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial contests, with poll results within 2.5 points on average.

Following is a link to the poll: Wall Street Journal Zogby Interactive September Poll.

Republicans take a hike on Ken

Here's why Ohio Republican Party leaders go to such great lengths to avoid contested primaries for statewide offices, as they tried to do this spring with Ken Blackwell and Jim Petro:

Because they end up with organizations like "Republicans for Strickland.''

Ted Strickland's gubernatorial campaign will get a boost this afternoon from a group of Republicans from around the state who have decided Blackwell's hard-right politics is not to their taste.

At a Statehouse press conference this afternoon, they'll pledge their loyalty to the Democratic candidate for governor.

One of the best-known among them will be Rocky Saxbe, a high-powered Columbus lawyer and former state representative whose father, William Saxbe, was a U.S. senator from Ohio and Nixon's fourth and final attorney general.

The only Cincinnati area Republican we know of who has signed on the Strickland campaign is former Mason mayor Betty Davis.

Saxbe, who ran for Ohio attorney general in 1982 and losst, backed Petro in the primary (Petro, as a young lawyer, once worked for the elder Saxbe) .

Strickland campaign spokesman Keith Dailey says the campaign has recruited about 130 registered Republicans from around the state to spread the word to their fellow republicans.

Evidence submitted in 2004 punch-card ballot case

Exhibits of punch-card ballots in six counties including Hamilton County and other 2004 voting records from other counties can be found at this Internet web site.


U.S. District Court Judge Algenon L. Marbley's opinion and order issued Monday in the lawsuit to preserve all voting records from the 2004 presidential election is here:


Monday, September 11, 2006

Ghiz lets lawsuit go

Cincinnati city council member Leslie Ghiz on Monday dropped a personal lawsuit she filed against sponsors of a gambling initiative in Ohio.

Ghiz filed the lawsuit in July against the Ohio Learn and Earn Committee, which is sponsoring a state-wide ballot initiative that would allow slot machine parlors at seven race tracks and two stand-alone sites in Cleveland, but none in downtown Cincinnati.

Ghiz led a counter ballot initiative that would have brought slots parlors to those sites, plus one at Broadway Commons near the Hamilton County Justice Center, but that effort failed. Ghiz filed her suit after it became clear the Cincinnati initiative would never make the ballot.

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