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Thursday, September 14, 2006

OH-18: The Next CA-50?

Posted by James L.

In the 50th Congressional District of California, an entrenched Republican incumbent (Duke Cunningham) pled guilty to corruption charges.

In the 18th Congressional District of Ohio, it appears that another entrenched Republican incumbent is about to do the same:

Ohio Republican Rep. Bob Ney has agreed with the Justice Department to plead guilty to at least one criminal charge in a deal that could be announced as early as Friday, Capitol Hill sources said Thursday.

Charlie Cook ranks CA-50 as having a Partisan Voting Index of R+4.6 (that is, the district voted an average of 4.6% more Republican in the last two presidential contests than the national average).

Charlie Cook ranks OH-18 as having a PVI of R+6.1

In CA-50, Duke Cunningham's "early retirement" (ie. prison term) allowed another experienced Republican politician to assume his place on the ballot against a Democratic challenger with a thin-to-minimal political resume (Francine Busby).

In OH-18, Bob Ney's announcement that he would not seek another term allowed another experienced Republican politician (State Sen. Joy Padgett) to assume his place on the ballot against a Democratic challenger with a thin-to-minimal political resume, Dover Law Director Zack Space.

In CA-50 special election, Busby ran a campaign entirely focused against the Republican culture of corruption, and emphasized that she would take no 'gifts, trips or secret meetings' with lobbyists.

In OH-18, Space is running a campaign primarily focused on rooting out corruption, promising to accept "no gifts, meals or trips" from lobbyists. (For an example, check out this almost laughably boisterous ad.)

In the CA-50 special election, Busby fell short of Bilbray by less than 4 points (49.3-45.5).

Will Zack Space fare any better in a district that leans even more to the Republicans? At first glance, one would have to be pretty skeptical of such a scenario. But there are a number of factors that should complicate an easy victory for Republicans in this district. First off, Padgett was Ney's handpicked candidate, a line of attack that Space has already opened on her. Bilbray did not have the curse of being associated with Cunningham. Secondly, Padgett endorsed Ney's re-election bid even after his ethical "lapses" came to the fore. Thirdly, her political career has evolved from her close relationship with Gov. Bob Taft (the least popular Governor in the nation with a whopping 79% disapproval rating). If Space can consistently tie Padgett with the Bobs (Taft and Ney, that is), he may be able to succeed where Busby failed.

Posted at 10:55 PM in 2006 Elections - House, Ohio, Scandals | Technorati

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I can't see Space winning here, although I don't know much about Padgett. One thing that could save Space is that even though his district is statistically more Republican than CA-50, it's a whole different culture of Republican in eastern Ohio than suburban San Diego, and Joy Padgett is not the top-tier challenger that Brian Bilbray was. I had lower expectations for Busby prevailing in CA-50 than I do for Space squeaking one out in OH-18, for whatever that's worth.

Posted by: Mark [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 15, 2006 12:22 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Charlie COOK made a great point regarding the age of prognosticators and their willingness to think 2006 will be a GOP wipeout.

In years where congressional races are truly nationalized (not Tip O'Neil all politics are local elections years)I have seen 12 point leads evaporate almost overnight in the last few weeks of the campaign season costing incumbents no one thought would lose their seats.

Younger political wonks are actually being much more conservative about their projections because they really only remember all politics are local elections.

2006 will not be an all politics are local election. All signs argue against it being so.

In that type of political climate I could see Joy PADGETT losing by 8 or more points very easily. STRICKLAND is nearly 20 points ahead of BLACKWELL in some polls and in that environment elections that might normally remain staid can over night become volatile and unpredictable.

Think about it. Dems way ahead when public asked which party they want to see control Congress. It is the 6th year of a presidential administration which all by itself causes heart burn for the majority party, and the President is more likely to be called the worst President ever by Americans than called competent. Plus we are fighting a war that even Joe Six Pack now understands is not linked to the war on terror.

Personally, I think CHABOT, PRYCE and PADGETT will all three lose in Ohio, at a minimum. The 6th will go Dem easily, and nearly every under 40 prognosticator will underestimate the size of the anti-GOP tide in 2006.

If BUSBY-BILBRAY was anything other than a special election it likely would have flopped parties.

Posted by: walja [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 15, 2006 07:02 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

If the Republicans spend more trying to defend this seat than we do trying to take it, we win, even if we lose. That's why every seat like this is good news. If they have to spend money on even a few R+6 seats, they are going to be broke by Halloween, and November could go poorly for them.

Posted by: thesleepthief [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 15, 2006 04:21 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Problem is that we're spending money on the seat, too. So it's more of a wash than anything...

It'd only be a net positive if the NRCC dumped money into this district while the DCCC pulled out. (Which I'm NOT advocating here.)

Posted by: James L. [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 15, 2006 04:31 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I tripped accross Charle Cook's take on age groups and prognosticating on DK and enjoyed reading the responses, like I'm a "fuddy duddy" in the realm of Mr. "Internet Tubes" Sen. Ted Stevens. Hell he's 83 yo and I'm a mid-boomers 50's. He's the parental generation of the boomers. (guess the kid couldn't do the math..lol). So, I concur with "walja"'s take that 2006 may surprise alot of people. So, even though I'm in the age group for predicting stronger Dem gains, I'm also patently cynical and pessimistic, but not about our chances this year at this point. I'm cynical & pessimistic about Diebold and the gopee dirt machine and those impacts. In the meantime, I'll stick with my optimistic projections that we will take both the House and the Senate based on the current political climate, our wealth of great candidates and our fundraising successes. Everything in life is cyclical, especially politics and this seems to be our cycle. I'm not surprised younger pundits might be less optimistic about our chances, after all, look what they have experienced in the last decade. I, on the other hand remember quite clearly 64, 66, 72, 74, etc. and know that the voting public can and will throw out the party in power, if so moved, even in the face of hi-tech redistricting (gerrymandering).

Posted by: Predictor [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 16, 2006 02:04 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Great point, Predictor. I was actually thinking about posting something about Cook's age observation.

As for me, it may horrify you, but I wasn't even alive in 1974... and frankly, I wasn't even paying attention in 1994. I fit firmly in the mold of Cook's "cautious youngster" model.

Posted by: James L. [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 16, 2006 02:57 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Why is NEY still on the TAXPAYERS payroll? He earns $400 a day plus the best BENEFIT PACKAGE in the world. DEMS should be demanding he go TODAY.

Posted by: ca democrat [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 16, 2006 03:10 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

James, LOL. Not quite horrified, just makes me feel all the more ancient that you weren't born till after I got my undergraduate degree. So,keep up the good work "young'n"... ;-)
That Cook article is entitled "Old Enough for Deja Vu?" dated 9/12/06: http://www.cookpolitical.com/

Otherwise in CA, Angelides is still getting slammed in the Ad war (if you can call it that sans seeing any ads from the Angelides camp) the latest round from "Latinos are hotheads" Shwarzenegger accuses Angelides of supporting child molestors because it took him too long to come on-board supporting "Jessica's Law".
Low blow Arnie./gopee. What's next from the gopee distortion mill?

Posted by: Predictor [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 17, 2006 02:14 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment