The PJ Tatler

(Some of) What to Watch for in Ohio

As usual, Ohio, in the words of an old state slogan, seems to be “the heart of it all.”

In the presidential race, the big question in my view is whether Rick Santorum’s huge advantages in rural counties and the ex-urbs will be enough to offset Mitt Romney’s smaller advantages in the more populous cities and nearer-in suburbs. It’s truly a toss-up.

I’m aware of two congressional races we should watch. The first is on the Democratic side, where longtime congresspersons Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich are facing off because of redistricting. Logic would indicate that Kaptur has the upper hand, as Kucinich is considered the outsider by most. But these are Democrats, and Kucinich, whose career was thought over decades ago after his dismal mayoral term in Cleveland, could pull off an upset.

The other congressional race is in a district (OH-02) in which I no longer live (I didn’t move; the district did). Incumbent Jean Schmidt, who first won her seat in August 2005 in a race against Paul Hackett which received major national attention, has been challenged in a primary every time since. This year, she’s up against Brad Wenstrup, who is somehow trying to out-conservative an incumbent who has a mile-long list of 100% ratings from pro-growth and family values organizations. I don’t think it’s working, but Wenstrup seems to have found a ton of money from somewhere for TV and radio ads, and from what I can tell Schmidt hasn’t campaigned aggressively. An upset seems very unlikely, but not impossible.

Separately, even though he was the only name on the ballot, I did not vote for incumbent OH-01 congressman Steve Chabot, simply because despite requesting an answer at least five times, I was never told why my “new” congressman co-sponsored the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), or why (if it’s even true) he withdrew that co-sponsorship.

More mundane but important to Ohioans are the State Central Committee races. State GOP Chairman Kevin DeWine, who believes he is the most important Republican in Ohio, has been openly feuding with Governor John Kasich, who obviously really is the most important Republican in Ohio. Kasich staffers, presumably with the Gov’s blessing, are attempting to run challengers to DeWine crony Central Committee incumbents hoping to force DeWine from his chairmanship. My guess is that the effort probably won’t work, largely because DeWine is unconscionably spending a lot of money which should be spent in the fall on defeating Barack Obama, Sherrod Brown, and other Democrats on mailers and other media on behalf of his Central Committee faves — pretending, as was the case in 2010, to have “Tea Party Values.”

That act alone should cause Republicans across the state to demand DeWine’s resignation, but he told me personally several weeks ago that he has no intention of doing so, despite the possibility that his stubbornness may lead to an Obama win in the fall.