The Magazine

A Faltering Big Red Machine

Republicans may lose their hold on Ohio's second district.

Oct 20, 2008, Vol. 14, No. 06 • By DAVID WOLFFORD
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The "I'm better than Mean Jean" strategy may work. Some local Republicans question whether she's the best person to represent OH-2, given her public image and her past close races including two challenges in Republican primaries. But while Schmidt is despised on the left and not beloved by all in her party, she is an acquired taste. The Cincinnati Enquirer has endorsed Schmidt on the eve of her past congressional elections, even while acknowledging her "tendency to step in it." Anyone who has met her sees her determination and passion for families.

"Dynamite comes in small packages," Terry Johnson, the Scioto County GOP chairman, says of Schmidt. The county party endorsed her in the primary. "She's our congresswoman. She's a beacon of conservative values. She's paid a lot of attention to us as a representative, and we really appreciate that," Johnson adds. Scioto is a swing county that often determines the outcomes of statewide elections in Ohio. Schmidt has also got quite a following in her home county of Clermont, though the number of registered Democrats there is on the rise.

The Democratic party has had its eye on OH-2 ever since Portman stepped aside. During the summer of 2005, the party sent resources and manpower into the district. Murtha has appeared in commercials in the past and will stump with Wulsin. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has added the district to its "Red to Blue" list of priority races, and we can expect advertising from both congressional campaign committees soon.

As far as presidential coattails go, Schmidt will presumably ride the district's overwhelming preference for McCain. Ohio could go either way, but this district wants McCain over Obama by 19 points. With that advantage and support from the party, Schmidt may well defeat Wulsin on November 4. Whoever wins, after November 4, the losing party will likely seek out a stronger candidate and prevent round three.

David Wolfford is a government and politics teacher and writer in Cincinnati.