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RealClearPolitics Politics Nation Blog

 

Blog Home Page --> House -- Ohio -- 07

Neuhardt's Wishful Thinking

Democrat Sharen Neuhardt is running for the open seat in Ohio's Seventh District, but subconsciously, she may wish she were somewhere else. Notice anything funny about results of a Google search of Neuhardt's name?

Sharen_Neuhardt_Google_Results.jpg

That's right, Neuhardt, running in the Buckeye State, may prefer to be running in more Democratic-friendly territory in the neighboring Hoosier State. Although the Indianapolis-based Seventh District in Indiana isn't necessarily a safe Democratic district, Rep. Andre Carson, who won the March special election to fill his late grandmother's seat, is in a district Barack Obama is likely to win in November, unlike the south suburban Columbus-based Ohio Seventh.

"That is just a silly mistake," Neuhardt campaign manager Jim Alexee said, laughing when asked about the typo. "That's never happened. It must be a problem with the code."

Republican Rep. David Hobson, who has represented the district Neuhardt is actually running in since 1990, never won with less than 61% of the vote, and President Bush won with 57% in 2004. This year, Republican Steve Austria is vying to keep the seat in GOP hands, and is seen as one of Republicans' top recruits. And despite the good environment for national Democrats, Austria would surely be a shoe-in if Neuhardt took off for Indianapolis.

-- Kyle Trygstad

Is OH 07 A Race?

In three special elections this year, Democrats have knocked off Republicans in districts that voted overwhelmingly for President Bush. Could those be just the tip of the ice berg? Democrats hope so, and a new poll conducted for a political neophyte shows the party might just have a chance at bagging a sprawling Ohio district left open by the retirement of nine-term Rep. David Hobson.

The survey, conducted by the Democratic firm Cooper & Secrest on behalf of attorney Sharen Neuhardt, was taken 5/27-6/2 among 504 likely voters, for a margin of error of approximately +/- 4.2%. Neuhardt and State Senator Steve Austria were tested.

General Election Matchup
Austria............41
Neuhardt.........35

Generic Dem...46
Generic GOP...33

Republicans in the district, which encompasses the southern exurbs of Columbus and the city of Springfield, due west of the state capital, got lucky in recruiting Austria if the generic ballot situation is as bad for them as it looks. Austria is the State Senate Majority Whip, and he comes to the race with a solid electoral base.

But if the party truly has trouble keeping the seat in their hands -- Hobson never had a problem winning the seat, and President Bush won it by 14 points in 2004 -- the national landscape will get a lot worse for the party before it gets better.

Austria had a big cash advantage, but through the March 31 FEC filing deadline he had managed to spend $424,000 and retained just $51,000 in the bank. Neuhardt had raised $172,000 and kept $49,000 on hand.

Previewing Ohio Primaries

While Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton battle for the Democratic nomination in Ohio on March 4, several congressional primaries are raging in the background. With three open seats, one filled by special election, and a few vulnerable incumbents, the make-up of the state's congressional delegation in 2009 is up in the air.

Republican Reps. David Hobson, Deborah Pryce and Ralph Regula are retiring at the end of the 110th Congress, leaving a couple competitive seats the GOP will need to fight to retain. In the 5th District, Rep. Paul Gillmor's death in September brought on what was thought to be a competitive special election, though Republican Bob Latta easily won the seat.

In the 2nd District, Republican Rep. Jean Schmidt is one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the country, even though President Bush carried the district with 64% in 2004. Since coming to Congress through a 2005 special election, Schmidt has yet to carry an election by more than 5 points. Schmidt defeated Democrat Paul Hackett in 2005 by 4,000 votes. In 2006 she won the Republican primary by a similar margin, and then defeated Democrat Victoria Wulsin in the general election by just 2,500 votes, despite outspending her 2-to-1.

Schmidt caught a huge break a month ago when former Hamilton County Commissioner Phil Heimlich dropped his bid for the Republican nomination. By the end of 2007 Heimlich had more than $250,000 cash on hand, twice that of Schmidt. But the recent entrance to the race by State Rep. Tom Brinkman forced Heimlich to reconsider his chances due to the likelihood of a splintered vote.

However, if Schmidt wins the nomination, she will certainly face a tough and well-financed challenger in the general election. Wulsin, who also lost to Hackett in the 2005 Democratic special primary, is running again and in a heated primary race with attorney Steve Black, who last week loaned his campaign $195,000. Wulsin had raised $500,000 by the end of 2007 and had about $350,000 in the bank.

In the 16th District, no one under 35 years old was around when anyone but Regula represented them in Congress. State Senator Kirk Schuring is the favored candidate in the GOP primary in the district, just south of Cleveland, having received the incumbent's endorsement and a host of other local and state officials. Schuring, who has spent by far the most money of the Republican candidates, is in a three-person battle for the nomination.

The Republican winner will face the well-financed State Senator John Boccieri in the general election. Boccieri does not live in the district, and while he reportedly plans to move within district lines when the school year ends, he can expect to hear carpet-bagging attacks. The district leans Republican, as President Bush won 54% here in 2004, though in 2006 Regula garnered his lowest winning percentage since first coming to Congress in 1972. National Democrats are excited by Boccieri's chances, and they believe they have a real shot at the seat.

In the sprawling 7th District, Hobson has thrown his support behind state Senator Steve Austria, who raised about $300,000 more than any of the three other Republicans running for the nomination. The safely Republican district, which stretches from the southwest to the southeast of Columbus, gave President Bush 14-point margins in both his elections, and Democrats do not appear to be seriously contesting the seat. None of the six Democrats running were able to raise more than $10,000. The winner of the GOP primary figures to keep this traditionally Republican district in GOP hands.

Among the open Republican seats, Pryce's 15th District, just north of Hobson's and west of Columbus, is the most vulnerable to a Democratic challenge. President Bush won here in 2004 by some 2,000 votes, and in 2006 Pryce won by an even smaller margin against Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy.

A number of potential Republican candidates had declined to run following Pryce's August 2007 retirement announcement until State Senator Steve Stivers stepped into the ring in November. Kilroy had announced her candidacy almost immediately after conceding the close 2006 race.

Both candidates raised large sums of money through the end of 2007, with Kilroy topping $600,000 cash on hand. Stivers reported having $400,000 in the bank. Neither candidate will face a competitive primary, so both are already looking ahead to November.

Keep an eye on 1st District Republican Steve Chabot, whose district is based largely around Cincinnati. Chabot held off a well-financed challenge in 2006, and will face another tough general election race this year against State Rep. Steve Driehaus, who had some $400,000 cash on hand at the end of last year. Chabot, however, is in good shape financially, with $1 million in the bank.

6th District Democrat Charlie Wilson, whose massive district spans from Youngstown along the border with Pennsylvania and West Virginia to the southern reaches of the state, could also face a difficult election. The freshman congressman won a write-in contest in the 2006 primary after a snafu kept him off the ballot.

-- Kyle Trygstad

Hobson Makes It Three In Ohio

Congressman David Hobson, a nine-term member representing a swath of central Ohio just south of Columbus, became the third Republican from Ohio to announce his retirement today. Hobson joins Republican Reps. Deborah Pryce and Ralph Regula in stepping down after the 110th Congress.

The district will prevent fewer challenges to Republicans than Pryce's seat or Regula's seat. President Bush took 57% here in 2004 and 55% in 2000. Hobson has not faced a serious challenge in his career, though emboldened Democrats may take a shot if they think Ohio will prove fertile territory.

No obvious contenders on either side have emerged yet, though they will in coming days.