Tuesday, October 10, 2006

So much for GOP pickup opportunities...

If you would care to jump in the way-back machine with me, and think back to early January or February of this year. You'll recall that when U.S. Reps Sherrod Brown and Ted Strickland announced they would abandon their congressional seats to run for the U.S. Senate and Governor seats, respectively, that were up for election this year, the GOP proclaimed that they had an excellent opportunity to pick up both Congressional seats. They recruited State Rep. Chuck Blasdel, the house speaker pro tem, to run for Strickland's seat in the 6th District, and Lorain Mayor Craig Foltin, the Republican mayor of a heavily Democratic city, to run for Brown's seat in the 13th.

However, the political headwinds faced by the GOP this year due to the war in Iraq, high gas prices, bungled Katrina response, etc., have forced the National Republican Campaign Committee to shift their money to defending seats held by GOP incumbents instead of picking up Democrat-held seats. This has allowed State Sen. Charlie Wilson, the Democratic nominee in the 6th district, and former State Rep. Betty Sutton in the 13th, to build solid leads. Reflecting this, CQPolitics.com changed its rating on both races to its somewhat-competitive Democrat Favored category. The 6th district had been rated in CQ's ultra-competitive No Clear Favorite category, while the 13th district had been in CQ's very competitive Leans Democratic category.

CQ today also changed the rating on the 2nd Congressional District to Republican Favored from Safe Republican, due to the NRCC investing money in attack pieces in defense of U.S. Rep Jean Schmidt, who insulted U.S. Rep John Murtha (D-PA) a U.S. Marine veteran of the Vietnam war, on the floor of the House of Representatives. Murtha is scheduled to appear at a fundraiser in support of Schmidt's Democratic opponent, Victoria Wulsin, and will also be featured in Wulsin's first TV advertisement.

Now, its time for CQ to get its pencils out and change its rating on Ohio's 12th Congressional District race. Democratic nominee Bob Shamansky is a wealthy real estate investor who is self-funding his campaign. His first TV ad featured former U.S. Senator John Glenn giving Shamansky his endorsement, and the Republican incumbent, Pat Tiberi, was scared enough to crank out an attack ad criticizing the 79-year-old for owning three houses, only one of which is in the district. Despite Tiberi's lock on the district in the past, it was very competitive in the 2004 Presidential race, with a 51-49 Bush/Kerry split, and could be in play this year. We will have to see. As a resident of the 12th, I know I plan on voting for Bob Shamansky, and I have to think lots of other Columbus-ites are going to consider it.

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