The Rob Portman Fan Club's winter meeting
Saturday morning's Northeast Hamilton County Republican Club pancake breakfast was one of the more lively GOP events we've seen around here since the November 2006 election, an event that gave Ohio Republicans a bad case of acid reflux.
Since then, we've seen a lot of Republican events where folks with hang-dog looks stood around looking at their shoes, like boys at a junior high school dance.
But the 300 or so Republicans who showed up at the Sharonville Convention Center Saturday morning were pretty energized and looking forward to another battle for Ohio this fall. Energized, yes; but not particularly unified - the presidential straw poll they conducted showed they are all over the map when it comes to the GOP presidential nomination. Mitt Romney took 27 percent, followed closely by John McCain at 24 percent and Fred Thompson with 23 percent.
They united, though, on one subject - their former congressman and hope for the future, Rob Portman, who made a late entrance (he had to coach his daughter's soccer game first) and delivered a rally-the-troops speech.
Portman has been delivering variations of the same speech a lot lately, traveling the state as the featured speaker at GOP events in parts of the state where he is not as well known (not to mention idolized) by Republican voters as he is in his old House district.
He's running for something. The only question is what he's running for. The smart money says governor of Ohio in 2010. Democrat Ted Strickland is riding pretty high right now, but politics is a business of peaks and valleys and who knows whether he will be vulnerable as a candidate for re-election two years from now?
Saturday morning, the Republicans from Cincinnati's northeast suburbs made it clear they'd vote for Portman for anything. Some of them were absolutely giddy over the prospect of Portman's return.
Sharonville Mayor Virgil Lovitt said Sharonvillle would be the place to come "to get your Portman 2010 bumper stickers. I don't know what office will be on those bumper stickers, but we'll have plenty of them."
Blue Ash councilman Rick Bryan trumped Lovitt by pulling out the biggest card in the deck: "Twenty years from now,'' Bryan told the assembled Republicans, "you'll be able to say, 'I once had pancakes with President Portman.'''