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, March 07, 2008

Portune says he'll pitch well or not at all

Here's what Portune says about being asked to throw the first pitch:

"It’s very exciting, it’s a great honor," Portune said. "I pledge to do it well or not do it at all. It’s a good thing. It’s a neat thing."

He said Bob Castellini asked him to throw the first pitch "some time" ago but Portune kept it a secret until the Reds were ready to announce it.

He says he's not sure why he was asked but guesses it might have been one of the following reasons:

1) Portune is president of the county commission. The county commission oversaw the construction of the Great American Ball Park which was built on time and under budget.

2) Also, Portune has been an important player in getting The Banks riverfront development moving. Groundbreaking is set April 2. Castellini is head of the Banks Working Group and he, too, has wanted to get it done more than anyone. So he surely appreciates Portune's help.

3) Portune and Castellini have gotten to know each other pretty well in the past year and Castellini respects the way Portune has handled his disability, Portune said. "I don’t complain about it or draw attention to it. I just go about my work and don’t let it interfere with anything I try to do," Portune said. "Just that whole not letting it define you. He's seemed really impressed by it."

Portune was quite athletic in high school and college. He played knothole and baseball through his sophomore year in high school, then switched to football, track and cross country in college. He was even inducted into his college hall of fame for sports, he said.

"The arm is still good," Portune said. But he has other challenges now. Five years ago tumors on his spine paralyzed him from the chest down. Although he has progressed better than expected, graduating in 2006 from a wheelchair to a walker, he's not sure what kind of impact it will have on his ability to get one over the plate.

"I still have a more pronounced deficit in feeling in my left leg and very pronounced problems in my abdomen and back. I’m a right handed thrower, so the left leg is your lead leg and support leg when you through so having problems there, that eliminates my ability to step intio the pitch. With lower back and abdomen deficit, you need those areas," he said. "It (the pitch) will be all-arm for me. Which makes it much more difficult to do. "

Portune said he plans to get out to Great American Ball Park and practice to make sure he can do it.

"I recognize its important to do this right or not do it at all. I will practice and work out to make sure it works out."

Dems: Will you still love me in November?

The flood of Ohioans going to the polls Tuesday and asking for Democratic ballots has Ohio Democrats convinced that this year’s presidential election will be the one where Ohio goes “blue” for good. Will it?

Howard Wilkinson has the story here

Portune to throw first pitch

Hamilton County Commission President Todd Portune is going to throw the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day.

He's got his work ahead of him to make it as.....um....memorable as last year's first pitch thrown by fellow politician, Mayor Mark Mallory.

Remember 'Washingtonienne?'

The Associated Press reports:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A former staffer of then-U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine of Ohio can continue his lawsuit against a publisher that released a 2005 book based on an online sex diary that included the staffer as fodder, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.

The opinion by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis asks a lower court to allow Robert Steinbuch to search for specific evidence held by Hyperion Books. Particularly, the court said Steinbuch needs to prove Hyperion had “continuous and systematic” contact with bookstores in Arkansas to show his lawsuit against the publisher has merit.

Hyperion published “The Washingtonienne” in 2005, written by former DeWine aide Jessica Cutler. The book relied heavily on Cutler’s blog of the same name, which highlighted her sexual relationships with several men while living in Washington, D.C.

In her blog, Cutler referred to Steinbuch as “R.S.” and noted his interest in spanking and using handcuffs during sex. Her later novel, a work of fiction, does not refer to Steinbuch by name or by his initials, the court said in its opinion written by Judge Diana E. Murphy.

Steinbuch later sued Hyperion, which is owned by Disney Publishing Worldwide. Steinbuch also named Time Warner Inc., which distributed the book, and Time Warner subsidiary Home Box Office, a cable network that purchased the rights to develop a television series based on the book.

U.S. District Judge William R. Wilson Jr. initially dismissed Steinbuch’s lawsuit. On appeal, the 8th Circuit noted that Hyperion sold at least 50 copies of the novel in Arkansas, where Steinbuch moved after leaving DeWine’s office. The court also said the publisher likely had some sort of marketing campaign wrapped around the book that could include Arkansas bookstores.

“Although Steinbuch is a relatively new resident, Arkansas has an interest in protecting his privacy rights as it is the forum where he would appear to suffer the most direct effects of Hyperion’s activities,” the court wrote.

The 8th Circuit upheld the dismissal of Time Warner and HBO from the suit.

Steinbuch, who now teaches at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock’s law school, said Thursday night he had received a copy of the court’s opinion.

“I’m glad that we will be able to move forward against Hyperion,” Steinbuch said.
A spokeswoman for Hyperion did not return a call seeking comment.

Steinbuch also filed a separate lawsuit against Cutler and another blogger, seeking more than $20 million in damages. Cutler was fired when the blog was discovered. She later moved to New York and posed for a Playboy magazine spread, but filed for bankruptcy after Steinbuch’s lawsuit began.

The lawsuit is being watched by online privacy groups and bloggers because the case could help establish whether people who keep online diaries are obligated to protect the privacy of people they interact with offline.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Attention Republicans and Independents

Did you vote in Tuesday's Democratic primary? If so, Howard Wilkinson would like to hear from you about why, and what that might mean for your vote in November.

Please email hwilkinson@enquirer.com

Please include your name, age, hometown, and contact info.

Thank you

City Manager: I Found $800,000

In a memo to the mayor and city council members, City Manager Milton Dohoney outlines the funds from which he has collected the $800,000 needed to study the next step in the streetcar project - the route to Uptown. The study's necessary before moving on to asking for money to fund the project.

The monies are "no longer needed for their original intended purposes," the memo says, and will be earmarked for the new Uptown Streetcar Alternatives Analysis/Environmental Assessment Study. The list was developed, it says, after discussions with and suggestions from representatives from affected departments. Some of the funds are leftover from previous years, as far back as 2002.

Some of the amounts are small, like 40 cents from something called the "Comm/Ind. Revolving Loan Fund" and $102.42 from Defibrillator Replacement 2005. The biggest amount: $213,378.91 from the street improvement bond fund for Columbia Parkway, Celestial to Bains.

Read the whole list, plus the city's total list of capital projects, here.

Turnout a record, though below predicted

Voter turnout Tuesday was 44.5 percent statewide - actually below Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner's prediction of 52 percent.

- 44 % in Clermont County,
- 43.8 % in Warren County.
- 42.5 % in Hamilton County;
- 36.3 % in Butler County;

Statewide turnout was the largest for a primary since percentages were kept since 1980, and will likely climb slightly once provisional and overseas ballots are counted. The previous high was 34.9 percent in March 2000.

Brunner had projected a turnout of 52 percent.

"What put a damper on that projection was literally the weather,'' she said, noting 10 counties reported severe flooding, two had bomb scares and at least two others suffered power outages.

Brunner: Didn't want to use 'tea leaves'

Jon Craig reports from Columbus

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner said Wednesday that Clermont County, and other counties, did not order enough ballots.

But she said she could not fault individual county Boards of Elections because there was record primary turnout and high rates of crossover voting by Republicans and independents.

Brunner's staff has begun to call counties to find out how many crossover voters there were and how many 10x forms were filled out by pollworkers if someone switches parties within two years.

"Once we start to gather the figures of what rate of crossover was, then we can start to dig into . . .what some of the motivations were."

Brunner said it would have been wrong, and partisan of her, to direct counties to order extra Democratic primary ballots at an additional cost based on public-opinion polls, commentators and news reports.

''That would have been a directive by tea leaves if I had done that,'' she said at a Wednesday news conference.

County boards already have to report to county commissioners on keeping costs reasonable, and are required to keep presidential ballots for 22 months -- so never want to produce an excessive number of blank ballots.

"There's a point where the secretary of state becomes more of a meddler than a help in the operation of the Boards of Elections,'' Brunner said.

"Were I to issue a directive like that based on reading the tea leaves, which is really all it would have been, I think it would have really been more irresponsible and would have been viewed as extremely partisan for whoever was in my position. . .That's why we have bipartisan Boards of Elections."

She does plan to ask counties for statistics and details on voters who signed forms attesting that they switched political parties.

Brunner said she still would like to see the entire state scanning paper ballots on Nov. 4.

"Paper ballots actually saved the day in a number of counties,'' she said. "Had we not had them, the problems would have been much more severe."

Butler County and 56 other counties use electronic touch-screen machines and Brunner is seeking legislative approval to spend more than $60 million to replace them with optical scanners.

"I think we've gone from being in intensive care to walking on crutches. And I think by November we're going to be walking normally on the street like anybody else, and (media and critics) will probably be looking at some other states."

Rhodes: Don't blame the messenger

Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes posted this friendly reminder on his Web site:


We often receive calls questioning our office about higher taxes after voters pass tax levies. All property tax levies approved by the voters on Tuesday will be effective with the first tax bill next January. That means there will be significant tax increases in those districts – as a result of the voters’ decision.

SW Ohio now officially Democratic

Greg Korte reports:

Southwest Ohio - the corner of the state whose big margins for George W. Bush helped seal his re-election in 2004 - now has more registered Democrats than Republicans.

Read the full story here

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Youth vote way up in Ohio, Texas

Nearly 84 percent more Ohioans under the age of 30 turned out for Tuesday's primary election than did so during the 2000 primary election, according to a non-partisan analysis of exit polls.

The analysis by the non-profit Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at the University of Maryland also found that the turnout of Texans under 30 more than trebled since 2000.

Statewide, Ohio's primary turnout of all voters was about 45 percent, up 12 percent from the March 2004 primary election and 10 percent from March 2000.

“In an unpredictable primary season, the one constant has remained the rising youth vote,” said Sujatha Jahagirdar, director of Student Public Interest Research Group's New Voters Project, the nation's largest youth voter mobilization program.

Exit polls also found voters under 30 typically favored Sen. Barack Obama over Sen. Hillary Clinton.

A total of 259,960 Ohioans under 30 voted in the 2000 primary, according to CIRCLE. An estimated 479,418 Ohioans under 30 voted in Ohio on Tuesday, the analysis found.

Among young Ohio Democrats, 16 percent turned out for Tuesday's primary election compared to 10 percent of those Democrats under 30 in 2004. Whole numbers of under-30 voters for the Democratic primary were not immediately available, Jahagirdar said.

In Texas, 172,228 voters under 30 turned out in 2000 compared to an estimated 620,384 yesterday. 2004 figures were not available for Texas.

Jahagirdar said Student PIRG paired "old fashioned pavement-pounding with technology to link up with the increasingly wired world of the young voter. . . From ‘bring your own phone’ phone banks to classroom ‘text out the vote’ announcements to tables set up on campus quads, student leaders recruited and trained by the project have engaged young voters in more than 20 states this primary season."

Portune's ode to Brett Favre

Brett Favre announced Tuesday he's retiring. Upoin hearing the news, Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune wrote this impromptu poem. An ode to the quarterback.

"There is No Joy in Lambeau.

From Lombardi and Starr, to Hornung and Gregg

Brett Favre has left fans, to plead and to beg

One more scramble, one more touchdown,

One more winning two minute drill

His exploits, the Hall will now journal

For the mighty Brett, is now over the hill. "

Kay who?

Amber Ellis reports from Butler County:

Within hours of Kay Rogers’ resignation, all signs of her photograph, name and 12-year history with the office had been removed from the Butler County auditor’s website.

The website, which alerts visitors that it’s under construction, now bears information about interim director Michael Tilton, a 28-year employee with the department and current director of its real estate division.

Tilton, of Hanover Township, will be sworn in by county commissioners Wednesday during a special session. He’ll fill in until the Butler County Republican Party’s central committee appoints a permanent replacement. That could take up to 45 days.

Following a family tradition, Tilton will become a third-generation auditor. His grandfather, A.R. "Ray" Tilton, served four terms in the position before being replaced by his son, James A. Tilton, a three-term auditor in Butler County.

Rogers tendered a resignation letter late last week, apologizing for her actions and saying she’d step down Tuesday. The former auditor pleaded guilty in December to federal bank and mail fraud charges related to a fiber optics scandal that exploded in 2005. Rogers also pleaded guilt to an unrelated charge of filing a false income tax return. She could face up to 33 years in prison for her role in the conspiracy, though federal sentencing guidelines suggest a prison term of 51 to 63 months.


'Yes we can' - well, actually, no.

"Yes we can, yes we can. Yes we will," chanted Marcy Phillips, from New Jersey, wearing a hand made Barack Obama dress.
Photo by Carrie Cochran.

Still waiting for Clermont results

Update: Clermont County results officially posted at 2:03 a.m.

Clermont County has not completed its count as of 1:55 a.m. No recent update on when to expect them.

Hamilton was complete at 12:25 a.m. , Butler at 1:23 a.m. and Warren at 1:46 a.m.

Wulsin's official victory statement

Victoria Wulsin's campaign issued a formal victory statement around 12:30 a.m., about two hours after the candidate claimed the win to a gathering of supporters. (It quotes poll results from around that time, when 70 percent of precincts were in. With 98 percent of precincts in, vote totals are 54,540 for Wulsin and 27,244 for Black.) Here's what it says:

Dr. Victoria Wulsin declared victory tonight at 10:25, showing decisive majorities across all seven counties of the Second District. Minutes later, her opponent, Steve Black, called to concede.
With 70% of precincts reporting, Wulsin had won 38,665 votes to 31,927 for Schmidt. Wulsin’s margin over her nearest opponent was significantly wider – 17,652 to 11,498.
“The voters rejected the kind of negative tactics my opponent used, and they trust me to represent them,” said Wulsin. “The message is clear – the people of Southern Ohio want a representative who will put their families first.”
Wulsin quickly turned her attention to Schmidt, signaling a tough campaign to come. “Jean Schmidt has voted against the interests of this district time and again,” said Wulsin. “From health care for children to veterans issues, student loans and more, Jean Schmidt has stood with President Bush. The voters want a representative who will listen to them, and that’s what I’ll do."

Why the AP hasn't called Ohio

From the AP:

The AP has withheld a call in Ohio because of concerns about fluctuations in Cuyahoga County, which apparently will not finish counting for hours. We are also checking on provisional votes in Ohio.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Clinton talks to boisterous crowd

Surrounded by more than 500 supporters at the Columbus Athenaeum, Sen. Hillary Clinton, at 11:15 p.m. declared, "Thank you Ohio. You know what they say, as Ohio goes, so goes the nation."

"Well, this nation is coming back and so is this campaign."

A man interrupted the New York senator by shouting, "It's a Hillary state."

"Yes she will. Yes she will," the crowd shouted.

"Ohio has written a new chapter in the campaign,'' Clinton said, "and we are just getting started."


Black concedes defeat

From Cliff Peale:

Steve Black has conceded defeat in the 2nd Congressional District Democratic primary. A little while ago, he told about 30 friends, family and supporters that he had called Democratic opponent Victoria Wulsin to congratulate her.
"At this point, all we can do is hope and pray that the Democratic party will prevail this fall, both at the presidential level and the congressional level," he said.
Black said earlier in the evening that he was confident the Democrats can beat Republican incumbent Jean Schmidt.

'Ohio we love you'

"Ohio, we love you,'' said Gov. Ted Strickland, before leading the Columbus crowd in cheering O-H-I-O.

Strickland was joined on stage by former U.S. Sen. John Glenn, Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher.

"Ohio represents the whole United States of America,'' Glenn said.

"I am so proud of the greatest state of Ohio,'' Strickland said. "When Ohio speaks, America listens."

And now Hillary Clinton has come on stage at 11:15 p.m. as Springsteen plays and multi-colored confetti drops from the roof.

Schmidt declares victory

Rep. Jean Schmidt declared victory tonight at a TV studio in the basement of the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Her audience? Chief of Staff Barry Bennett, another staffer, a cameraman, this Enquirer reporter and a photographer.

On Bennett's cell phone, however, Schmidt gushed to her supporters, gathered at a victory party back in southern Ohio:

"Guys, we pulled this off! You guys are awesome. You're the best.

"Thanks a lot for sticking through this horrible weather to get me across the victory line. You guys are the best."

A woman on the other line said: "It's still raining here."

To which Schmidt responded: "I owe you big time!"

Then, she started in on her questions about the other races: "Who's leading in the commissioner's race?" she asked.

A few minutes later, after discussing several local races, Schmdit said: "Listen, guys, go get some sleep. You guys are wonderful. Thank you all so much."

And that was it. Asked if that phone call meant she had declared victory, Schmidt gave a smirk.

"Oh YEAH," she said. "And my best victory yet."

This was Schmidt's 5th race in the 2nd District since 2005.

She won an 11-way Special Election GOP primary and tough general election against Democrat Paul Hackett in 2005 to replace former Rep. Rob Portman. In 2006, she won another tough GOP primary against former Rep. Bob McEwen and then a close race against Democrat Victoria Wulsin.

Hillary's Here After All

Well, sort of. There's a life-size cutout of the presidential candidate standing behind the bar at O'Bryon's, the O'Bryonville bar where local Clinton supporters just celebrated CNN's projection that Clinton won the primary in Ohio.

The photo's from back in her longer-hair, pearl-wearing, First Lady days.

Supporter Ann Shikahny, 21, a Kenyon College political science student from Mt. Lookout, got the reward she was hoping for when she got up at dawn today to stand outside Crossroads Church and urge people to vote for Clinton. What a way to spend Spring Break. Her friends went to sunny places.

She said Clinton "uses a lot less platitudes" that Obama, but that the former First Lady is much more experienced in foreign affairs and working with both parties in Congress.

Wulsin declares victory

"Tomorrow the work begins to unseat Jean Schmidt," Victoria Wulsin said – the exclamation point of her victory speech on the indoor patio at Arnold’s on Eighth Street.

People cheered.

At 10:25 p.m. Wulsin and her campaign claimed victory for the Democratic nomination for the 2nd Congressional District of Ohio, one that stretches across six counties along the Ohio River.

This race was the one this season that contained the most mud slinging between Wulsin and her opponent Steve Black.

"(Voters) have rejected my opponent’s negative tactics," Wulsin said.

"Voters have said put families first," Wulsin said. She said she will focus on health care, making Ohio less dependent on oil and bringing the troops home from Iraq.

Carrie Whitaker

'Only thing we didn't get today were locusts'

This report from Columbus reporter Allison D'Aurora:

Ten counties experienced flooding today and two reported bomb threats -- Lake and Trumbull counties, according to Patrick Gallaway, spokesman for Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner.

"There was a small interruption as the threats were investigated and the 'all clear' sign could be provided from the authorities," Gallaway said.

Brunner added, "I've said the only thing we didn't get today were locusts."

Brunner said there was a "crossover problem" in Akron and elsewhere in Summit County where many Republicans and non-enrolled Ohioans voted in the Democratic primary, causing the Democratic ballots to run out quickly.

In Darke County, there were power outages, forcing its board of elections to tabulate votes using a generator. And there were reports of electronic touch-screen voting machines failing in Montgomery County.

Clinton crowd loudest yet

As Clinton is the announced winner in Rhode Island and now one percentage point behind Obama in Texas, their Columbus supporters are chanting "Hillary, Hillary. . .Who's house? Our house. Which house? White House."

Schmidt on Brinkman

From Malia Rulon in Washington:

Not long after she called supporters at Clermont County GOP headquarters in Batavia to thank them for her solid primary win, Rep. Jean Schmidt shrugged off the challenge she faced from Tom Brinkman. Brinkman, who entered the primary only in December, is a strict conservative. For instance, he sponsored a bill in the Ohio legislature to make all abortions felonies.
"It's a free country," Schmidt said. "He's a fringe candidate."

"Yes she will. Yes she will."

Clinton supporters are cheering, "Yes she will. Yes she will," as CNN's Wolf Blitzer announces Sen. Clinton closing is on Sen. Obama in Texas, at 50 percent to 48 percent, and leading in Ohio, 57 to 41 percent.

And the live blues band plays, "Hang on Sloopy, Sloopy hang on. O-H-I-O, O-H-I-O."

There are about 400 people jammed into the Columbus Athenaeum now, anticipating Hillary Clinton's arrival.


Black follows the numbers

Cliff Peale reporting from Steve Black's election night headquarters:

The crowd of about 30 people at Black's campaign party here at the Holiday Inn Eastgate went silent for the first time at 9:46 p.m. when Jean Schmidt, the incumbent and a potential Republican opponent this fall, appeared on the big screen for a television interview.

Black, competing for the Democratic nomination in Ohio's 2nd congressional district, drew applause when he arrived at 9:08 p.m. As the first campaign results trickled in from Adams and Brown counties, the pattern emerged with Democratic opponent Victoria Wulsin earning about 50 percent, and Black and lesser known candidate William Smith splitting the other half.

"I'm a little disappointed by the results in the outlying counties," Black said. "It looks like William Smith is siphoning off some votes that might have been mine."

Despite some of the bitter back-and-forth charges traded between Black and Wulsin, Black said he would have no problem urging Democrats to unite this fall against Schmidt.

"It's important for us to turn out Jean Schmidt," he said. "If she wins this time, she'll be all the more entrenched."

Wulsin 'feels great'

From Carrie Whitaker:

The band playing at Arnold's (Victoria Wulsin's HQ) is calling themselves Second District tonight. The saxophone player, Bryan Hofmann is an intern for Wulsin’s campaign.

Wulsin showed up to Arnold’s around 9:30 p.m. dressed in red, with one of our four sons, Wells, and husband in tow. With a smile from ear to ear to ear she made her way around the room shaking nearly everyone’s hands.

“I feel great,” she said. “It’s very exciting.” She spent the day in Hamilton County while her son visited four precincts in Clermont County.

Wells, 28, said people on both sides of the political fence are attracted to his mom’s campaign.

“She stands up for values and character,” he said.

McCain calls into Butler County GOP hqs

Amber Ellis reports:

Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain called into Butler County Republican Party headquarters Tuesday night, thanking members for their ongoing support.

The call came at about 9 p.m. – the time results were supposed to be released statewide after delays in northern Ohio – and lasted about five minutes.

"Now the real campaign is going to begin," McCain said to the group of about 30 people who met in a conference room at Hamilton headquarters.

McCain said he’d talk about his strategy more in the days to come. For tonight, he said he was going to savor his victories and his recently confirmed Republican nomination. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee conceded the race to McCain moments ago.

Results from Ohio and Texas will likely determine whether McCain will face Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, or Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, in November.

Lawsuit filed by Obama campaign

This just in from Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner:

Brunner received notification five minutes before the close of polls that the Obama campaign had filed an action in federal court in Cleveland to keep polling locations in Cuyahoga, Clermont and Franklin counties open until 9 p.m.

The campaign withdrew the Clermont County request.

A judge denied the Franklin County request.

The Cuyahoga County request was pared by the court down to 21 precincts in the City of Cleveland. The Secretary of State's office received Judge Tim Oliver's order at 9:05 p.m., after the time the Obama campaign asked for polls to remain open - 9:00 p.m.

Polls closed in Cuyahoga County at the scheduled time of 7:30 p.m. The board undertook the necessary efforts to reopen the 21 polls until 9 p.m.

Boards have also begun to submit results as they were directed with the closing of Sandusky County polls at 9 p.m.

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Crowd is chanting Hillary, Hillary

As CNN announces Sen. Clinton is the projected winner in Rhode Island by a 60 to 38 percent margin.

The Dave Chisholm Blues Band is singing, "The polls have closed in Ohio. Let the good times roll. Let the good times roll.


At the Wulsin party

Carrie Whitaker reports:

A jazz band made up of Xavier students serenaded the crowd of about 50 Victoria Wulsin supporters in the vaulted covered courtyard of Arnold’s on Eighth Street as they waited for the 2nd District congressional candidate.

Wulsin is expected to arrive around 9:45 p.m. No vote tallies have yet been released. The atmosphere is relaxed, with people drinking and eating a spread of appetizers. The front of the bar and restaurant are nearly empty.

When you walk into the court yard you’re likely to be greeted by volunteer Nellye Bowen of Clermont County, Wulsin sticker in hand.

"Dr. Wulsin is the kindest, most compassionate person I’ve ever met," said Bowen, who is on the executive committee of the Clermont County Democratic Party. "When you work with her you feel lifted up – like a current."

I’d say the majority of the people here are 40-60 years old, with some younger supporters sprinkled through the crowd. The youngest are the band on stage. The saxophone player is one of Wulsin’s volunteers.

CPS cheered by early report, but they got wrong one

Ben Fischer reports:

UPDATE: CPS supporters now say they heard the original report wrong. Those numbers are inverted. It's 59.4 percent AGAINST in the early counts... (OOPS)

From a source CPS supporters have at the Board of Elections: Approximately 17,000 votes counted, with 59.4 percent voting "yes" and 40 percent voting "no."

That's considered good news, because usually absentee voters are slightly less friendly to tax hikes than the general populace. When those results were announced, the CPS levy party erupted in cheers.

"I dont know what this is at this point," said campaign coordinator
Jan Leslie. "We know we saw a lot of people voting early, and we know it was record absentee as well. We were telling people, and the Obama people were telling people to vote early. We're cautiously optimistic."

Campaign manager for Black a new face in town

Cliff Peale reports:

Steve Black's campaign for the Democratic nomination in Ohio's 2nd congressional district has brought at least one new face to town.

Campaign manager Dan Herkert first met Black in December. A native of Calhoun County in southern Illinois, near St. Louis, Herkert is a political junkie who connected with Black through a direct-mail firm.

The 26-year-old says his first political memory was walking a precinct with his father for Michael Dukakis in 1988.
He says he's "nevermet a better candidate" than Black.

"Having met him, I couldn't turn him down," Herkert says.

As for what happens after the campaign, he's non-committal but says he hopes to be working with Black until November.

"When this is over, I'll go back to Illinois and see where the next campaign leads me," he says.

Before politics - we must dance!

Lori Kurtzman reports that Republican 2nd Congressional District candidate Tom Brinkman hadn't shown up at his election-night party at Million's in Mount Lookout as of 9 p.m.

Turns out he and his wife, Cathy, had a Tuesday night dance class at Community Methodist Church in Hyde Park. Their lesson: rhumba

His supporters said they had a good week, sending out 450,000 mailings in the final days before the election. Brinkman apparently picked up most of the cost himself with a late $50,000 donation, according to a Federal Elections Commission report filed Saturday.

At the Hillary party in Columbus

Jon Craig reports there's a jazz band playing to at least 300 supporters. Hillary is holed up somewhere and Secret Service and TSA agents including bomb sniffing dog are all over the place.

There are two huge red, white and blue banners that proclaim "Solutions for America. www.hillaryclinton.com"

The crowd cheers every time CNN releases new exit poll numbers with Clinton leading Obama.

Candy Crowley of CNN can barely hear while reporting from the podium as the supporters scream.

Obama campaign: Stay in line

From the Obama campaign

COLUMBUS, OH — With reports of lines at polling stations all over the state, the Obama for Ohio Campaign is urging voters to stay in line and vote.

Any voter who was in line by 7:30 and remains in line will be able to vote, no matter how long it takes to get through the line.

“Every vote counts in Ohio and we want to ensure that every voter has a chance to be heard,” said Ohio State Director Paul Tewes.

“We will continue to monitor the polls to ensure that all Ohioans who choose to participate in today’s election are able to do so regardless of who they choose to vote for.”

At the Obama party...

Carrie Whitaker reports:

Brothers Mike and Ryan Welch and family friend Andy Sutthoff got to Cadillac Ranch on Sixth Street downtown -- where Obama supporters were gathering -- around 5:30 p.m. on election night and scooped up one of the best seats in front of a big screen TV tuned to MSNBC.

A little more than a half an hour before the polls closed in Texas and zero percent counted in Ohio, the three men in their late 20s and 30s wore Obama stickers and watched patiently.

Obama is "a breath of fresh air," said older brother Mike, 31, from West Chester, who got turned on to Obama when he was running for Illinois senator.

"I bought an iPod and strangely enough, Barack was the only senator with a Podcast," Mike said. "I like that he doesn’t sound like a politician and he doesn’t line up with lobbyists."

Sutthoff, 26 of Monfort Heights said he like the prospect of "having a president who can string three words together."

Cadillac Ranch was steadily getting more crowded around 8:30 p.m. Blue Obama signs hung everywhere and sat as place markers on tables. The crowd ranges from teenage and college-aged patrons to middle-aged men in business suits.

From the Clinton Party in O'Bryonville

The top floor of O'Bryon's on Madison Road is filling up with Hillary Clinton supporters. Among them: City Councilwoman Roxanne Qualls; Hamilton County Commissioner David Pepper, with his father, John; City Councilman John Cranley; and Shawn Baker, aide to Councilman Jeff Berding.

They're watching for returns on CNN and wondering how long Mike Huckabee to finish his "I quit" speech. Someone near the bar yelled, "Shut up!"

Also here: Jeff Sinnard, candidate for state representative in the 34th District. He's waiting for local results. Even though he's unopposed, he said he still wants to see his name with actual results on a screen - "Then I'll know I'm good."

Brunner: "Obama campaign is cherrypicking counties"

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner just told Enquirer reporters Michelle Bollman and Allison D'Aurora that the Obama campaign "is cherrypicking counties" in an attempt to allow voters more time to vote in certain counties, including Cuyahoga County.

Brunner is appealing an order by Judge Tim Oliver in Cleveland allowing polls to stay open there until 9 p.m.

Oliver ordered polls left open another 90 minutes in 21 precincts, Brunner said.

"There are no reports of voters turned away,'' Brunner said.

The available ballots are running low, she said, causing longer lines, but no disenfranchisement.

A Clinton aide criticized the Obama strategy, which he said was aimed at delaying results until 2 a.m. so a decisive victory could not be announced on prime time news.

Jean's day: run 5 miles, re-elect self

Rep. Jean Schmidt got up at 4 am this morning and ran 5.2 miles before voting.

"I kissed my husband goodbye, who was passing out literature for me, and went to Union Township," she said.

She also hit Montgomery, mass at St. Gertrude and the polls in Madeira.

She arrived in DC at 4:45 and went to bed sick with the flu and a temperature. After a visit to a doctor, she went to vote at the Capitol.

As to how she feels about the election, however, she said: "I feel good. I'm ready for the fall."

CPS campaign talking big

On paper, it might seem like the CPS tax levy is a tough sell. After all, it was only four months ago when voters rejected the levy by a 58 percent to 42 percent margin.

But now, with polls closed in the district, CPS backers now gathering at pro-Issue 10 campaign headquarters in Spring Grove Village say they're legitimately excited about their chances tonight.

"I do believe the wind's at our back," said school board member Susan Cranley.

Cranley was among a group of board members who at first opposed going to the
March ballot, feeling their odds of success were low. But that's changed
dramatically since then, she said, noting the high turnout among Democrats
because of the white-hot presidential primary campaign.

"Those circumstances, which no one could have foreseen, that was not what anybody
thought was going to happen when we made our decision," Cranley said.

CPS Board president Eve Bolton predicted a victory by a wide margin -- a 53
percent "yes" vote.

Despite a late start, the pro-CPS campaign picked up steam in the campaign
homestretch, engineering a major radio advertising buy in the final week.

At an election night gathering at Million's Cafe on Mt. Lookout Square, Jason
chairman of anti-tax COAST, said CPS is going down badly tonight. His prediction is 55 percent "no."

"Hamilton County property owners have already reached their limits as far as being overtaxed," he said, according to Enquirer reporter Lori Kurtzman.

The CPS gathering place (an old Turner Construction office space on Este Ave.) is quickly filling up with CPS officials, volunteer parents and other levy supporters. At the moment, American Idol is on the big-screen TV, and the beer and wine supply is mostly untapped. For now.

Schmidt won't switch

Malia Rulon reports from Washington

Some radio talk show hosts - and even campaigns - have been urging GOP voters to switch their party so they can vote in this year's Democratic presidential primary, which is still undecided between Sens. Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Clinton of New York.

And apparently being a member of Congress didn't make Rep. Jean Schmidt off limits to such suggestions when she voted in Clermont County this morning.

"One of the pollworkers asked me if I wanted to switch my party and I said, 'Are you crazy? I'm on the ballot!" Schmidt said tonight at her Washington office.

She added that some Obama campaign workers had come to her house while going door to door in Miami Township and tried to give her husband some campaign literature. She said her husband, Peter, told the workers that it was highly unlikely that she'd switch her party - since she was a congresswoman and all.

Other voters, however, had nothing stopping them.

"I had at least 15 people tell me that they were switching their party," said Schmidt, who spent much of this morning talking to people at polling places throughout her district. "Most were for Hillary. Some for Obama."

A not so good day for Steve Black

Cliff Peale reports from Steve Black's party:

It's already been a rough day for congressional candidate Steve Black as he vies for the Democratic nomination in Ohio's 2nd district.

Black's 26-year-old son Charlie went to a local hospital earlier today with a collapsed lung, campaign manager Dan Herkert said. Black was there earlier so was late getting to the Eastgate Holiday Inn for a party with campaign workers and supporters.

Charlie Black apparently will be fine and the family is on the way to the hotel now, Herkert said.

Steve Black started his day by voting and then visiting polling places around Hamilton County to talk to voters.

Doors at the Steve Black party opened at 7 p.m. and the first few people trickled in about 45 minutes later.

Obama campaign has sued Cuyahoga County

This report from Statehouse intern Allison D'Aurora:

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner just said that the Obama campaign has filed a lawsuit Cuyahoga County over voters being turned away there.

But Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Nance and Attorney General Marc Dann, who are monitoring the election from Cleveland, deny any voters have been disenfranchised there, according to Brunner.

Meanwhile, Brunner said Sandusky County election officials have been given permission to photocopy blank paper ballots to allow an estimated 300 to 400 Ohioans to cast their votes. Polls were kept open until 9 p.m. to allow them to vote, Brunner said.

Brunner said earlier problems of Clermont County voters being turned away have been rectified.

Labels: ,

No counts released until at least 9 p.m.

March 4, 2008
For Immediate Release

Columbus, Ohio - Late this afternoon Secretary Brunner was informed by the Sandusky Board of Elections of the need to keep polling locations open past the 7:30 pm closing time.
The attached letters were issued and sent to Sandusky County after the issuance of the court order from Judge James R. Sherck.

As a result, the remaining 87 county boards of elections across the state may process and tally results but may not release results until 9:00 pm.
Official correspondence will follow.

"This room is for Traveling Press"

Ohio may be vital to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama tonight, but unless you are a reporter from out-of-state -- or overseas -- forget about filing stories from the roomier room with live television feeds.

"Are you with the traveling press?" an aide to Sen. Clinton said to one local reporter. "You're in the other room," which looks like a wood-paneled basement. "I think there are seats left."

To be fair, local press also got booted from the roomier tables Sunday at Obama's Westerville event -- again to make room for "traveling press."


Democratic voters turned away?

We're getting reports from several Clermont County precincts that Democratic voters are being turned away because polling places are out of Democratic ballots.

The Board of Elections there says that shouldn't be happening, and more ballots are on the way.

If you experience anything similar, post a comment here or e-mail jlbrown@enquirer.com

Shakeup coming in local GOP

Kimball Perry reports

Within a week, Hamilton County’s Republican Party expects to lose a judgeship while gaining a new leader.

The current head of the GOP, lawyer George Vincent, was named in January as the managing partner of one of Cincinnati’s most prestigious law firms, Dinsmore & Shohl.
Joe Deters, the current Hamilton County Prosecutor and former co-chair of the Hamilton County Republican Party, said Tuesday a March 11 GOP meeting is planned to name Vincent’s successor.
It almost certainly will be current Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Alex Triantafilou, Deters said but added “Alex has not agreed to it.”

If he does, he’ll have to step down from his judgeship.

Ohio law prevents judges from being political party chairs, so Triantafilou would have to step down from judge to take the job.

If that happens and Triantafilou, 36, of Green Township, falls off of the November ballot, both the Republicans and Democrats can place candidates for that judicial seat on the November ballot, Deters said.

If Triantafilou steps down, his replacement – at least until the November election – will be named by Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, who almost surely will name a Democrat to replace the Republican Triantafilou.

Now, 15 of the 16 Hamilton County Common Pleas Court judges are Republicans. (William Mallory is the lone Democrat.)

Both Vincent and Triantiflou refused comment Tuesday.

Vincent, a part-owner of the Cincinnati Reds, has been party chair since 2005 when Mike Barrett stepped down to take a federal court judgeship.

Triantafilou is a graduate of Oak Hills High, University of Cincinnati and Chase College of Law who was an assistant Hamilton County prosecutor from 1997 until 2003 when he became a Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge a job he held about two years before taking the Common Pleas Court bench.

Triantafilou also was administrator of the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts before becoming a judge.

Final results - on the Busken cookie poll

Brian Busken reports that in the bakery's annual cookie poll, folks bought 951 Barack Obama cookies and 617 Hillary Clinton cookies.
From the Busken folks:
“We’ve never been accused of leaving a single hanging-crumb,” said Page Busken, 3rd generation owner of the 80 year old Cincinnati bakery. “Our results in past election years have been anything but half-baked,” notes Busken. He’s referring to his 1992 and 2000 election cookie polls that produced results that astonished everybody, coming within two percentage points of the nationwide ballot-box tally!

Rumor control: Polls WILL NOT stay open 10 days

Patrick Gallaway, Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner's director of communications, just put out this news message:

"CNN had reported incorrect information earlier today on their website concerning the situation in Jefferson County, stating that voters could extend voting provisionally for 10 days. This was a misunderstanding on the part of CNN."

"The issue with CNN has been resolved, but it is important that all Ohio voters understand that provisional voting is NOT being offered statewide,'' Gallaway said.

Jefferson County voters can vote today only and only provisionally at the board of elections location, Gallaway said.

Here is CNN's updated report:


The gang's all here. . .

(The downtown Columbus Athenaeum conference center before TV trucks arrived.)
Polls don't close for more than two-and-a-half hours, but television satellite trucks -- at least two dozen of them -- already circle Columbus' political ground zero for Election Night.

Huge TV trucks line East Broad Street just outside Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner's offices, as well as the Columbus Athenaeum, an old brick banquet hall where Sen. Hillary Clinton plans to camp tonight to view election returns.
Crabby reporters were stranded in a cold drizzle for about 45 minutes as Secret Service and police did their security sweep at the Athenaeum.

"I've never seen Columbus like this,'' said one passerby.


Casino backers collect signatures

Developers of a proposed casino resort in Clinton County dispatched more than 1,100 paid petition-gatherers today to get voters' signatures outside polling places across the state for a Nov. 4 ballot issue.

The $600 million casino is proposed at State Route 73 near Interstate 71 outside Wilmington.

MyOhioNow.com must submit 402,275 valid signatures from registered voters in all 88 counties and file the constitutional initiative by Aug. 6 to get on the fall ballot.

"It was important that we assemble a large enough team statewide to take full advantage of this historic primary,'' said Rick Lertzman of MyOhioNow. "Even with the bad weather, we are receiving great support statewide."

Dr. Bradford Pressman, the group's co-founder, said today's record turnout -- projected at about 4 million Ohio voters -- will enable MyOhioNow to finish their petition drive "far ahead of schedule. Although we have to submit the signatures by August, we will be finished with the signature drive far earlier."

The full text of the initiative and more information about the project is available here:

Real flood meets flood of voters

Jon Craig reports: Voters in Adams and Perry counties have been given permission to vote provisionally at their county boards of elections because of severe flooding at polling locations.

Other counties have made requests for similar emergency court orders, too.

If you saw Saturday Night Live on Saturday...

Turns out a Blue Ash company was featured in this Obama cartoon...


Local Blue Ash Company Featured In Saturday Night Live Animated Sketch

Pet Stop/Perimeter Technologies, Inc. part of Barack Obama comedy satire

BLUE ASH, OH (March 5, 2008) – The Reverend Al Sharpton found out this past weekend just how effective Pet Stop/Perimeter Technologies Inc. containment systems really are.

At least that was the case during the most recent broadcast of Saturday Night Live.

In an animated sketch and spoof called “The Obama Files,” the Illinois Senator and presidential candidate was cast as doing everything in his power to distance himself from Reverends Sharpton and Jesse Jackson as they tried unsuccessfully to join the Obama campaign.

At one point Sharpton’s wish of becoming part of the campaign is finally granted with one condition: That he becomes fit with an “honorary collar” to show that he is a “special member” of the team.

That collar was a “Pet Stop” collar which ultimately kept him at an intentionally safe distance from Obama.“What’s Pet Stop?” Sharpton is heard saying as he is fit with the collar.

Pet Stop is one of the largest pet containment companies in the country. It is owned by Perimeter Technologies Inc., a developer and manufacturer whose corporate headquarters are in Cincinnati, Ohio with manufacturing facilities in Morgantown, Pa.

The company has 185 dealers across the United States and Canada. Perimeter Technologies is dedicated to developing and patenting products that are safer by design.Additional information about Pet Stop can be found at www.petstop.com.

Clinton, Obama folks trade accusations

The Hillary Clinton campaign today accused the Barack Obama campaign of potentially "troubling" and "innapropriate behavior."

The Obama campaign responded by accusing the Clinton campaign of trying to "depress turnout."

The Enquirer's Howard Wilkinson reports there's not much evidence locally for either claim.

Here are the dueling releases, in the order they were received:


Voters Can Call (888) 472-9470 To Report Irregularities At The Polls

COLUMBUS, OH - Ohio for Hillary State Director Robby Mook issued the following statement regarding Obama Campaign tactics:

As Ohioans head to the polls this morning, we're seeing high turnout across the state despite bad weather. It is inspiring to see so many Democrats turning out to vote today, and we encourage everyone to make their voice heard in this election.

While we expect voting to run smoothly, we have heard troubling reports of irregularities and inappropriate behavior by Sen. Obama's campaign across the state.

We continue to monitor the situation closely to ensure that all voters' rights are preserved.

In Akron, a certified Obama poll watcher was removed by the presiding judge from Akron's 4M precinct for aggressively challenging voters.

In Cincinnati, we have numerous reports that Obama poll watchers have been reprimanded after wearing campaign paraphernalia into polling places, in clear violation of election law.We encourage all of our supporters to head to the polls today, as we continue to work with local election officials and the Ohio Democratic Party to ensure that no voter is disenfranchised.

There is too much at stake in this election for Democrats to stay home.Voters who witness inappropriate behavior or other voting irregularities are asked to call (888) 472-9470 or log on to www.hillaryclinton.com and report their experiences


“Our campaign’s goal today is to ensure that any registered voter in the state of Ohio can go to the polls and cast their ballot for their candidate of choice without interference. We understand that the Clinton campaign may want to depress turnout because Barack Obama has closed a 20-point gap over the course of this month as voters across the state got to know him.”

“It has been the hallmark of the Democratic party to educate and protect the rights of voters. If the Clinton campaign disagrees with that principle, they should say so today.”

“We have received reports from around the state of independents and Republicans who chose to vote in the Democratic primary receiving issue only or Republican ballots instead of the Democratic ballot they were entitled to. We have also had reports that the voter ID requirements have been misstated at various locations, causing some voters to be turned away. “

“ We will take action when necessary to ensure that all eligible voters are able to cast their votes and to have their votes counted.”

“We will continue to monitor the polls to ensure that all Ohioans who choose to participate in today’s election are able to do so regardless of who they choose to vote for.”

McCain: "I've been tested"

Republican Sen. John McCain reminded Ohioans to vote today in a pre-recorded telephone message in which he calls himself a true Reagan conservative.

"I will keep you safe from radical Islamic terrorists,'' McCain promises in the robo-call, along with "extending the Bush tax cuts."

"I've been tested."

Candidate results-watching parties tonight

For those who like to put the party in Democratic party primaries, here's where to go, starting around 7:30 p.m.:

Barack Obama folks are gathering at Cadillac Ranch, 38 Fountain Square. Mayor Mark Mallory - aka Superdelegate Mark - will be there, as will Sen. Eric Kearney.

Hillary Clinton fans are gathering at O'Bryon's Irish Pub, 1998 Madison Road in O'Bryonville

And if you're a zoo fan...

The Friends of the Zoo Campaign Committee is hosting an ELECTION NIGHT WATCH event at the Cincinnati Zoo from 7 - 11 p.m. tonight at the Harold C. Schott Education Center.

Play pundit: Make your predictions

Step right up and make your predictions for any races: president, 2nd Congressional district, CPS levy, otherwise obscure judicial races...

Talk about today's vote

We want to hear from you. Who did you vote for and why? Anything funny, unusual, disconcerting happen to you at the polls? We invite you to post your comments here.

Please note that the Enquirer has set up a voting hot line where you can report voting problems. Please call 513-768-8521 or e-mail reporter Sharon Coolidge. We prefer you do that rather than report them here - we'd rather have a conversation here - but go ahead if you want.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Meanwhile, on the west side...

The Kentucky Enquirer's own Patrick Crowley did this preview for National Journal, a respected Washington magazine:

West Side Story: Chabot, Driehaus Talk Up Local Roots

CINCINNATI -- Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, doesn't get passes.

Since winning southern Ohio's 1st Congressional District seat in 1994, Chabot, a former city and county official, has been targeted time after time and beaten back every challenge.

Some of the wins were big, such as a 65-35 victory over Democrat Greg Harris in 2002, but often they are squeakers, such as his 53-47 percent victory over Cincinnati Mayor Roxanne Qualls in 1998 or his 52-48 percent win over Cincinnati City Council member John Cranley in 2006.

But this year, with state Rep. Steve Driehaus as their candidate, Democrats believe they have their best chance to take Chabot out.

"We've thrown some good people at Chabot over the years," said Tim Burke, Democratic Party chairman in Hamilton County, which the district takes in along with parts of neighboring Butler County. "And he's managed to survive every one of them.

"Steve is the strongest candidate we've ever thrown out there," Burke said.

Democrats are optimistic that their popular governor, Ted Strickland; a strong presidential candidate in either Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., or Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.; help from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and a viable contender will provide the tailwind to finally topple Chabot.

The district includes urban sections of Cincinnati, heavily Roman Catholic neighborhoods on the city's west side, older suburbs and booming communities that typify sprawl.

President Bush carried it 51-49 percent over Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., in 2004 and 51-46 percent over former Vice President Al Gore in 2000.

Julie Shutley, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Democrats had their chance in the district in 2006.

"If a Democrat wouldn't win [in 2006], a Democrat can't win this time," Shutley said.

Median household and per capita incomes for the district are slightly lower than the national average. It has one of the largest percentages of blacks -- 27 percent -- of any district in the country represented by a Republican, Burke said.

Driehaus is in his fourth term in the Ohio House. He says he provides something new against Chabot in that he can appeal to the old-line Democrats who have lived in the district for years along with the more conservative voters who have favored Chabot and Republicans in the past.
"My strength is that I cross over," Driehaus said. "In my statehouse races, I've won the city and the west side suburban voters. Combine that with the high Democratic turnout we'll have in the presidential election and it will be the time for a Democrat to win this district."

Chabot said voters know him and where he stands from his years of representing the community in Congress, a member of the Cincinnati City Council and the Hamilton County Commission.

"People know I've always put the families of this district first," said Chabot. "I've consistently voted to lower taxes. I'm one of the most fiscally prudent members of Congress.

"And I know the people of this district from having grown up here, from playing high school football here, from having my law office here and from being this community's representative in city, county and the federal government," he said.

Chabot's comment about his connections to the district is one of the major themes in the campaign. Both candidates tout their roots and often refer to the district as "the west side."
Chabot is known for campaigning at the district's many church festivals by handing out plastic drinking cups bearing his name. When asked if he knows Driehaus well, Chabot said, "I know who he is; I've seen him at festivals."

The Driehaus name is well known on the west side and in local politics.

"I have a large, extended family," Driehaus said. "We go back generations. We've always given back to the community and people know us for that."

Chabot's campaign points out that Driehaus' district makes up just 15 percent of the population of the 1st District.

The candidates are also quick to say where they went to high school. Chabot graduated from LaSalle in the district's suburbs; Driehaus went to Elder, a sports powerhouse with legions of fans and alumni throughout the district.

While that might not matter in some places, it does in the Cincinnati area, Burke said.
"There's a big difference between going to LaSalle and going to Elder, and that's definitely part of this race," Burke said.

Driehaus was recruited to run by the DCCC in 2006, but begged off. Chabot is vulnerable this year, he believes, because voters are generally unhappy with the direction of the country, the economy and the perceived mishandling and mismanagement of the war in Iraq by the Bush administration.

The mortgage crisis has become an issue in the race.

Driehaus, the statehouse minority whip, is serving on a state foreclosure prevention task force. Foreclosures in Hamilton County increased 18 percent last year. He chides the federal government for waiting too long to recognize and react to the problem.

"Too little, too late," he says.

Chabot responds by talking about a bill he co-sponsored with Judiciary Chairman Conyers to give bankruptcy judges more discretion in dealing with foreclosures. He says he is one of the few Republicans supporting the bill.

Chabot is enjoying the incumbent advantage in raising money. According to the most recent federal campaign finance reports, Chabot raised $1.2 million and had just over $1 million in the bank compared to Driehaus, who raised $517,000 and had $430,000 in the bank.

By Patrick Crowley

Complaint filed in "payday lender" race

Sheila McLaughlin reports:

Fighting what he calls a “last-minute smear campaign” in Ohio’s 35th House District, Republican candidate John Rabenold filed an 11th hour complaint Monday with the Ohio Election Commission against his opponent Ron Maag.

Among the nine allegations is that Maag’s recent television ads and mailers wrongly characterized Rabenold as a predatory lender because of his job as vice president of government affairs for the company that owns Check ‘n Go.

At least $100,000, or about half the money Rabenold raised for his run at public office, came from the payday lender industry, campaign finance records show.

Rabenold also contends that Maag misrepresented him as a “Columbus lobbyist” because he’s not registered as a lobbyist in that city or in Ohio.

Rabenold, however, has registered as a lobbyist for the company in other states.

Rabenold said Maag also misrepresented an endorsement and made false allegations in mailers that Rabenold did not vote Republican from 1996 to 2004.

The Ohio Elections Commission won’t consider the complaint until after the primary election. By that time, voters will already have made their decision: Rabenold, Maag, or Grace Kendrick of Symmes Township.

One reward for voting

From Joseph-Beth Booksellers:


Obama to air two-minute spot tonight

The Barack Obama campaign will air a two-minute ad statewide tonight.

Here's what the campaign sent out:

In the two-minute spot, Obama makes his closing argument to Ohio voters, outlining his plans bring an end to the divisive, calculated politics in Washington that have stalled progress on the great challenges facing our nation.

“For the past four weeks, Barack Obama has met with Ohioans in every corner of the state, discussing ways in which we can bring back good paying jobs to Ohio, make health care affordable and accessible for all Americans, and make our trade agreements work for working Americans,” said Paul Tewes, Ohio State Director. “ Ohio voters will judge candidates based on who has been consistent about standing up to special interests and who is capable of uniting and mobilizing Americans of different viewpoints and backgrounds to finally bring the change this country desperately needs.”

“Leader" will be broadcast statewide. You can watch it HERE.

SCRIPT: “Leader”

OBAMA: I’m Barack Obama and I approve this message.

For years, we’ve watched politicians divide us, seen lobbyists put their interests ahead of ours, and heard our leaders tell us what we want to hear, instead of what we need to hear.

The question you have to ask yourself is this:

Who can take can take us in a fundamentally new direction? I'm running to finally solve problems we talk about year after year after year.

To end the division, the obscene influence of lobbyists and the politics that value scoring points over making progress. We can't afford more of that -- not this year, not now.

I've spent my life working for change that's made a real difference in the lives of real people. That's why I passed up a job on Wall Street -- to fight joblessness and poverty on the streets of Chicago when the local steel plant closed.

That's why I turned down the corporate law firms to work as a civil right lawyer -- to fight for those who have been denied opportunity. That's why I fought for tough new ethics law in Illinois and Washington -- to cut the power of lobbyists -- and I won.

That's why I brought Democrats and Republicans together to provide health care and tax relief to working families. And that's why I opposed this war in Iraq from the start. It wasn't popular, but it was right.

This country is ready for a leader who will bring us together. That's the only way we're going to win this election. And that's actually how we'll fix health care and make college affordable, become energy independent and end this war.

I'm reminded every day that I'm not a perfect man. And I won't be a perfect President. But I can promise you this: I will always tell you where I stand and what I think. I will listen to you when we disagree. I will carry your voices to the White House and I will fight for you every day I'm there.

On Tuesday, help change Washington; let’s bring Democrats, Republicans and Independents together, not just to win an election, but to transform a nation.

Ohio polls all over the map

With less than 24 hours to go before polls open in Ohio, polling of Ohio Democrats is all over the map, but the consensus is that Hillary Clinton will pull out a win over Barack Obama in the Buckeye State tomorrow.

UPDATE, 11:30 a.m. New Quinnipiac Poll out.

From Quinnipiac:

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton's margin over Sen. Barack Obama among Ohio likely Democratic primary voters has shrunk to 49 - 45 percent on the eve of the state's March 4 balloting, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

This compares to a 55 - 34 percent Sen. Clinton lead in a February 14 poll by the independent Quinnipiac University and a 51 - 40 percent lead February 25.

Sen. Obama has made gains in the last week especially among men and black voters.

The gender gap is a key factor in this latest survey, as women support Sen. Clinton 55 - 39 percent, while men back Sen. Obama by a mirror image 55 - 39 percent margin. Clinton's strength among lower income voters, 50 - 44 percent, and among older voters, 55 - 39 percent, also gives her an edge over Obama.

The Illinois Senator leads 58 - 37 percent among voters under 45. He also gets 90 percent of the black vote, while Clinton leads 60 - 34 percent among whites.

"The profiles of the Clinton voter and the Obama voter in Ohio are almost mirror images," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Men are for him; women for her. Those higher on the socio-economic scale are for him; those lower for her. Older people are for her; younger voters for him.
"The big unknown is turnout. It's not just whether it is higher than normal, which everyone expects it to be. The key question is whether turnout is disproportionately higher among some demographic groups than others."

Read more on that poll here

Monday morning, the University of Cincinnati’s Institute for Policy Research released a new Ohio Poll showing Clinton with a lead of 51.3 percent to Obama’s 42.3 percent. Six percent said they would vote for John Edwards, whose name will be on the ballot.

The Ohio Poll also had John McCain leading Mike Huckabee among Ohio Republicans by 30 percentage points.

The Ohio Poll interviewed 624 likely Democratic voters and 330 likely Republican voters between Sunday and Thursday. The margin of error in the Democratic poll is plus or minus 3.9 percent and 5.4 percent in the Republican poll.

A poll completed Sunday by Suffolk University had Clinton ahead in Ohio by an even larger margin – it showed Clinton with 52 percent to 40 percent for Obama.

But a Reuters/Cspan/Zogby poll released Sunday night showed the race a virtual dead heat, with Obama taking 47 percent to Clinton’s 42 percent.

Cincinnati media watch

From the Associated Press

The eyes of Texas are upon them and the eyes of Ohio, Vermont and Rhode Island.

Presidential candidates know the importance of the remaining primary states, and those four are the next on the calendar, casting ballots Tuesday. As the hopefuls try hard to introduce themselves, folks in the Lone Star, Buckeye, Green Mountain and Ocean states work to make known their own distinctiveness.

So, what then makes these states tick what kind of people are the voters there, what's the place really like, what must the candidates absolutely not overlook? Here are four sketches.

OHIO, by Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus

Welcome to Ohio, presidential hopefuls. Stay as long as you'd like we need people. One newspaper called us the "incredible shrinking state" thanks to Census predictions showing a population drop by 2030.

We're also losing manufacturing jobs hundreds of thousands in the last decade. We never fully recovered from the last recession. Our unemployment rate is stuck at 1 percentage point above the national rate. Two of our big cities, Cleveland and Cincinnati, are on a list of the country's top five poorest urban areas.

But enough gloom and doom. We've got plenty going for us.

Our gross domestic product is $440 billion. If we were a country, we'd have the world's 25th biggest economy. And how about this favorite stat for state deal makers: Ohio companies are within 600 miles of 60 percent of the country's population.

Here are a few other essentials you should know.

Eight in 10 of us 11.5 million Ohioans are white, with the remainder mostly black along with a growing Hispanic population. We're a Great Lakes state up north, Appalachia down south and farm country in between.

We love football (even if our beloved Ohio State Buckeyes are 1 for 3 in national championship games) and we love our special foods. Eat some pierogi in Cleveland, some chili in Cincinnati, and don't even think about hitting Toledo without a stop for Tony Packo's Hungarian hot dogs.

We're a political tossed salad: We re-elected President Bush in 2004 and two years later dumped almost all Republican statewide officeholders.

Ride a jet ski along the Ohio River near Cincinnati and your wake will hit docks in Hamilton County, one of the most conservative parts of the state, more likely to send convicts to death row than other Ohioans are.

Don a wet suit 248 miles to the north and surf Lake Erie some winter plenty of hearty souls do and your board will come to rest on the liberal shores of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, where U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich remember him from your early candidate debates? promotes a Department of Peace when he's not eyeing aliens with Shirley MacLaine.

Democrats hold all major Ohio cities, Republicans flourish in the 'burbs and exurbs.
Why is it so important to know who we are and what we like?

Well, without winning Ohio, no Republican has won the White House in more than a century, and only two Democrats have done so. So there.


Sunday, March 02, 2008

Deters vs. Cunningham in judge race

You may remember that Bill Cunningham is making phone calls on behalf of Kathy King.

Meanwhile, Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters is helping out Pat DeWine:

From the DeWine for Judge committee:

As Prosecutor, it's my responsibility to keep your family and our streets safe. That's why I'm supporting Pat DeWine for Judge.

Pat will bring a brilliant legal mind to the bench. His service as a county commissioner has also prepared him to serve the justice system - and the taxpayers - well.

Pat graduated from Miami University with top honors and went on to graduate from one of the nation's most highly-ranked law schools in the top 10% of his class. He served a clerkship for a Ronald Reagan appointee to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and has practiced with one of Cincinnati's leading law firms for the past 12 years. He's well-versed in complex legal areas including mass tort bankruptcies, appellate practice, and constitutional law.

As our county commissioner, Pat served us with distinction on issues of fiscal responsibility, public safety, and open government.

To keep our streets safe we need a judge who'll give criminals sentences they deserve. To keep our judicial system in order, we need a proven, fiscally responsible leader. That's Pat DeWine.

If you're concerned about crime, please join me in supporting Pat DeWine for Judge.

Iran Mobile plans stops in Cincinnati

Democrats drove this "Iran Mobile" outside Barack Obama's rally in Westerville on Sunday.

Monday, they plan to drive the replica of a missile carrying Republican Sen. John McCain past at least two events in Cincinnati as part of a statewide tour sponsored by ProgressOhio.org and NotAnotherWar.org. (That ugly yellow car pulling the "rocket" has green Vermont plates.)

Brian Rothenberg of ProgressOhio said the activist groups want to bring attention to McCain's hawkish misstatements including: "That old Beach Boys' song 'Bomb Iran. Bomb, bomb, bomb'. . .last April here:

Monday's stops include a noon "get-out-the-vote" rally at McMicken Hall, University of Cincinnati, and 4:45 p.m. "honk and wave" event near the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. (Time updated.)

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Ohio is center of attention once again

With less than 48 hours to go until the primary, both Democratic candidates for president were in Westerville today, underscoring the importance of Ohio in Tuesday's election.

“The last days leading up to Tuesday are the ones we really need you. . . .This election is going to be one of the most consequential in our nation’s history,’’ Sen. Hillary Clinton said to about 3,000 supporters at Westerville North High School.

“This is a wartime election. We have two wars going on. We have to end the war in Iraq and win the war in Afghanistan,’’ Clinton said.

“Ohio is once again the center of attention for a reason,” she said.

Clinton also spoke at rallies today in Akron, Cleveland and Youngstown. She plans to be back in Ohio Monday at a rally in Toledo.

“Change is going to happen whether we do anything or not,'' Clinton said. "The question is, 'Are we going to make progress together?' "

Sen. Barack Obama spoke about four hours later, two miles away, at Westerville Central High School after a campaign stop in Athens County. (The crowd is warming up to chants of "We will, we will Barack you. We will, we will Barack you." There are about 2,500 supporters here now, although hundreds had to be turned away for lack of space.)

Obama was introduced by U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who said the senator from Illinois understands both foreign policy and military policy. “This country has been crying out for somebody who could bring us together,’’ the West Virginia Democrat said.

We’ve vastly neglected homeland security, Rockefeller said, “which he will not do. . . I want him to be our president. We need him to be our president.”

Shortly after Obama walked in to rousing cheers, someone shouted, "We love you."

"I love you, too," Obama said.


Frances Strickland Live

First Lady Frances Strickland introduced Sen. Hillary Clinton before today's speech at Westerville North High School.

Referring to the Democratic presidential candidate's late night television appearance, the governor's wife said, “I swear Hillary, I believe they watched Saturday Night Live last night. Who would have thought that Saturday Night Live would be the one to get it right?”

The show included a skit depicting MSNBC's Brian Williams and Tim Russert lobbing softball questions at Sen. Barack Obama, while grilling Clinton.

The SNL "debate" and Clinton's response, can be found here:

“You’ve been spending a lot of time with my husband,'' Mrs. Strickland joked. "Since you announced for the race, he has not even looked at anyone else.”

Clinton praised Gov. Ted Strickland for his political support and such policy decisions as ordering the freeze on state college tuition in Ohio.

Read more about the presidential candidates' Ohio visits in Monday's Enquirer.


Anti jail tax group endorses CPS tax

From the press release:


No Jail Tax PAC, the organization that led two successful fights against a tax to build a new county jail, announced that it is supporting the passage of the levy for Cincinnati Public Schools.

"We urge people to vote Yes on 10," said Carolyn Park, a spokesperson for the organization.

"The education I received from Cincinnati Public Schools has opened up a world of opportunities for me and so many other CPS graduates. Supporting our schools is the key to building a healthier, prosperous and more competitive Cincinnati," said Justin Jeffre, a spokesman for No Jail Tax.

Jeffre was a member of the grammy-nominated band "98 Degrees" and a Green Party candidate for city council.

Carolyn Park, an Instructional Assistant in the CPS says, "I think people need to remember that somebody paid levies and millages so that they could attend quality public schools, and our children today deserve the same sort of support. This is an operational levy; it's not the same as the building levy. The district can't use building funds for its operations, that is, for curriculum and programs for children or salaries for teachers."

No Jail Tax PAC issued a statement saying: Unlike the regressive and unnecessary sales tax behind the jail tax designed to punish the citizens of Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Public School levy will help all of Cincinnati's citizens, most immediately those who depend on the public schools, and in the long term will help the community as a whole.

The final push

Howard Wilkinson reports: The stretch run in what is surely the most intense, most thrilling and, by far, most expensive Ohio presidential primary in history began Saturday with one of the most tried-and-true of campaign tactics - a good, old-fashioned ground war.

From Cincinnati to Ashtabula, in every big-city neighborhood and rural route in the state, thousands of volunteers for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton fanned out in search of every single vote they could find.

In campaign shorthand, it's called GOTV - Get Out The Vote.

Read the full story here

Also read interesting stories about black Republicans and crossover voting

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