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OH-05: GOP "Pissed Off" With Latta's Campaign

by: James L.

Mon Dec 10, 2007 at 1:40 AM EST

When you're the Republican nominee in a district that Bush carried by 22 points in 2004, and you're squaring off in a special election against a candidate whose only prior political experience was losing the seat twice by wide margins, it seems that you don't make a lot of friends when the debt-addled NRCC is forced to bail out your sagging campaign with $428,000 in independent expenditures.

Roll Call has the dirt:

Although the candidates and party committees weren't releasing any polling late last week, both sides agreed the race could be fairly close - and many Republicans were flabbergasted.

"The [GOP] Members are running around saying, 'What just happened?'" said a Washington Republican with knowledge of the district. "To put it bluntly, they're pissed off. People are angry that Bob Latta hasn't devoted himself better on the campaign trial to connect with northwest Ohio voters and given an opportunity to an opponent who was so far off the radar and actually made it a race." [...]

"It's like the Latta campaign is trying to write a handbook on how to lose a Congressional campaign in 60 days or less," said the Republican. "When Bob Latta lost the first Congressional race back in 1988 to then-Ohio Senate President Paul Gillmor, he was a young kid with no electoral experience. He came close and people always expected he would be back. But if Bob Latta loses this race to Robin Weirauch, a candidate who Gillmor defeated twice with barely a sweat, it will be an enormous embarrassment to Latta personally."

Now, I don't deny that Republicans could be angry with Bob Latta.  GOP strategists have every reason to be blowing a fuse over the NRCC's hefty expenditures in an R+10 district.  At the same time, though, this kind of grumbling could be equally driven by a desire to game expectations so that a win by Latta will be seen as a greater feat for Republicans.

In reality, despite a bruising primary followed by a weak campaign by Latta, the deck is still stacked against Robin Weirauch here.  For one thing, there are only six districts in the nation that are more Republican leaning than OH-05 and are held by Democrats: MO-04 (Ike Skelton), ND-AL (Earl Pomeroy), TX-22 (Nick Lampson), MS-04 (Gene Taylor), UT-02 (Jim Matheson), and TX-17 (Chet Edwards).  These are all seats held by very exceptional and very experienced campaigners.

The other factor is money; while Weirauch has benefited from a tidy sum of DCCC expenditures ($243,748.14, to be exact), the NRCC has spent more.  Additionally, Latta's coffers have been flooded with big dollar donations in recent days, including over $150,000 on Friday and Saturday, and that's coming off some other similarly large fundraising reports from Latta in recent weeks.  From a quick glance at Robin Weirauch's FEC filings, she has collected over $200,000 in large dollar donations since the primary.  A very strong showing for a Democrat here, but one that has been outpaced by Latta.

Make no mistake, for Weirauch to even come close on Tuesday would be beating the odds here.  But the chance of an upset, even if it's a long shot, is still reason enough for the GOP to be grumbling over Bob Latta.

James L. :: OH-05: GOP "Pissed Off" With Latta's Campaign
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Funny that the GOP members are blaming Latta,
when they're the ones who put the reputation of the GOP Congress in the tank.  The millstone around his neck was created by them: the terrible national reputation of the GOP.  I suppose he may be a bad campaigner too, but if these guys hadn't completely destroyed their Party's image, then even a terrible GOP campaigner would win this particular district in a walk.

They created this problem way more than State Rep Latta did.

28, gay guy, Democrat, CA-08

Bob is sooo clueless
The last competitive campaign that Bob Latta ran was the primary that he lost to Gillmor which set off YEARS of internecine fussin' and fuedin' between the two camps that made the Hatfields and McCoys local like a tea party.

Since then, he has loafed to victory in a series of General Assembly seats where the GOP is so entrenched that Bob couldn't lose if he tried.

With Paul Gillmor sitting in Congress, Bob Latta and Randy Gardner have taken turns switching back and forth between Ohio House District 6 and Ohio Senate District 2. (Which proves how useless term limits are when accompanied by partisan gerrymandering.) Randy is 100X the campaigner that Bob is, and basically Bob has just been riding Randy's coattails.

As "pyschprof" always points out to me: "The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior." Bob's campaign in the GOP primary was just a mass of lies, distortion and slander, and now he's doing it again.

Bob might very well get elected, but it will be a costly victory. Not just literally, but in the damage that he is doing to GOP prospects in Ohio going forward. Basically, he's handing the GOP "playbook" to the campaigns of O'Neill (OH-14,) Kilroy (OH-15) Driehaus (OH-01) and Boccieri(OH-16.)

And one final note: If the GOP tries these tactics against Major John Boccieri, he's gonna tear 'em a new one... Picture Paul Hackett with legislative and electoral experience. (Plus he's been outraising the GOP FIELD and Wes Clarke has his back.)

So remember: this is just Round One.

Let's get this party started!

I noticed
You left of Vic Wulsin in OH-2, intentional or is this one just so different because it is R+13 (I think).

Any word out of OH-12  or OH-3 btw?

26, Male, Democrat, TX-26

[ Parent ]
OH-02 Contested primary
I just didn't want to be presumptuous and yes, it's a big hill to climb.

We'll have to see how things go as we approach the January 4, 2008 filing deadline. After over a decade of scorched earth GOP tyranny, we have much work to do to rebuild our bench. In some of these districts, we'll be fortunate to have a name on the ballot.

I'm concerned that we need to mount active campaigns in a lot of Ohio General Assembly districts (particularly in the Ohio House) that have gone fallow over the years. The result is the need for a lot of good candidates and a lot of resources in a lot of races. The GOP has enormous cash resources to spend on controlling the legislature.

But if we can rebuild our presence in Columbus, that means that we'll have experienced contenders for Congress in the future (and ultimately, more competitive districts.)

[ Parent ]
Most similar
The two most similar districts held by a Democratic are South Dakota At Large (also R+10, won in a special election) and IN-8 (R+9, Brad Ellsworth, won lost year against an eccentric "bad" candidate).  Democrats also won seats from Republicans last year in one R+8 district and 3 R+7s.  

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