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Ohio (01)

Outlook: Toss-up


This race is part of the Crystal Ball’s “Ferocious FIFTY” list of the 50 most competitive House races in the nation.

November 8, 2006 Update:

Rep. Steve Chabot (R) won reelection over John Cranley (D) with 52% of the vote.

November 6, 2006 Update:

In this disastrous year for Ohio Republicans, it’s easy to see why Republicans are nervous about Chabot’s prospects in this marginal district. City Councilman Cranley won 45% against Chabot six years ago and has improved considerably as a candidate in the years since. Chabot’s advantage is that the district was expanded into very heavily GOP territory in 2002 and he has won with more comfortable margins both elections since. We bet Cranley would win a rematch under the old district lines; under this decade’s lines, we give the tiniest possible advantage to Chabot, and we could easily be proven wrong tomorrow night.

September 27, 2006 Update:

With incumbent Republican Congressman Steve Chabot either trailing or neck-and-neck with his Democratic challenger and City Councilman John Cranley, this race is shaping up to be one for the books. Although Ohio’s 1st district is not close to any national borders, illegal immigration has become the most focused-on issue in the race. Republicans across the country, including Chabot, have been focusing on this issue, particularly as it relates to security. Chabot’s campaign has aired three television advertisements which draw attention to his record on immigration and paint Cranley as a weak democrat seeking to give amnesty to illegal immigrants. Cranley has since fought back with ads asking why the incumbent has done little or nothing about the problem of illegal immigration during his 12 years in Congress. Immigration is also likely to fire up the conservative base, improving the odds that it will vote in large numbers.

As the race heats up and November 7th gets closer, many eyes are focusing in on both parties efforts to mobilize votes. In previous elections the Republicans have built extensive networks of voters identified not only by their party affiliation but also according to one’s lifestyle, such as church membership or magazine subscriptions. However, the energy on the Democratic side appears hard to match this year. Cranley, for one, says claims that his district will “be the most targeted field campaign in the country” that he is constantly approached by voters claiming that their anger with the Republican Party will fuel them to vote Democratic in November.

Alexander Covington, Crystal Ball Mid-Atlantic Regional Correspondent

July 13, 2006 Update:

Cincinnati Democrats are quick to point out that their hopeful against six-term GOP Rep. Steve Chabot, 2000 district nominee Democrat John Cranley, placed first in a field of many candidates in the most recent at-large city council elections. What’s more, Cranley has proven a decent fundraiser yet again, banking over a third of the incumbent’s tally as of the end of the first quarter of 2006. But the Crystal Ball knows that Chabot has dispatched his share of well-funded and well-hyped Democratic contenders during his tenure, and at this point the race still leans to the otherwise-struggling Ohio GOP.


February 2006 Outlook:

The last time six-term GOP Rep. Steve Chabot won this Cincinnati-area district with less than 55 percent of the vote was in 2000, when he squared off against Democrat John Cranley, who was at the time the subject of an MTV special on young candidates. Now a city councilman, Cranley is making another go of it six years later with a thicker resume and a more robust warchest.

On the other hand, redistricting improved Republican performance in this district considerably since Cranley last ran, and even though Republicans have been down on their luck in Ohio lately, Chabot is no slouch on the campaign trail. Watch this race closely, but Chabot starts out with a clear edge.

Candidates

Steve Chabot (I) – Republican – Total Raised: $2,145,644.73 | Total Spent: $2,160,045.77
Website

John Cranley – Democrat – Total Rasied: $1,744,267.53 | Total Spent: $1,466,692.59
Website

Ohio (02)

Outlook: Toss-up


This race is part of the Crystal Ball’s “Ferocious FIFTY” list of the 50 most competitive House races in the nation.

November 6, 2006 Update:

The results of this race are contested. Rep. Jean Schmidt (R) holds a slight lead of less than 3,000 votes over Victoria Wulsin (D).

November 6, 2006 Update:

Victoria Wulsin (D) will unseat Rep. Jean Schmidt (R). Is there a congresswoman in the country more polarizing within her own district than “Mean Jean” Schmidt? We highly doubt it, and although we thought we had seen the last of this district’s competitiveness in August 2005 when Schmidt won this open seat in an unexpectedly close special election, Schmidt’s congressional tenure in the months since has been marked with controversies. Her tactless jab at Democratic Rep. John Murtha on the floor of the House last year drew loud boos and is now the subject of a Wulsin spot that makes the incumbent look foolish. Schmidt has clearly run an inept campaign, and critics have pointed out her plagiarism of a local newspaper opinion piece on Medicare. One thing is clear: if Democrat Paul Hackett were running again, he would win easily. Instead, Wulsin is an even bet to win a district she should have no business running in as a liberal doctor. The district’s extremely strong GOP underpinnings may ultimately save Schmidt once again, but we’ll call the upset for Wulsin anyway.


Candidates

Jean Schmidt (I) – Republican – Total Raised: $918,437.19 | Total Spent: $812,774.88
Website

Victoria Wulsin – Democrat – Total Raised: $587,966.98 | Total Spent: $434,850.81
Website

Ohio (06) (Open Seat)

Outlook: Likely Democratic


This race is part of the Crystal Ball’s “Watch List” of the next 25 House races worth keeping an eye on.

November 8, 2006 Update:

Charlie Wilson (D) defeated Chuck Blasdel (R) with 62% of the vote.

November 6, 2006 Update:

Charlie Wilson (D) will defeat Chuck Blasdel (R). It is hard to believe that this swing district was originally supposed to be the ultimate toss-up open seat of 2006, but thanks to the impending Strickland landslide in Ohio’s gubernatorial contest, Blasdel can’t even hope to come close anymore.

September 27, 2006 Update:

After a long-shot victory as a write in candidate in the May primary, Democratic state Senator Charlie Wilson has increased his lead over GOP State Rep. Chuck Blasdel. One recent poll places as much as 16 percentage points between the two. One of these two candidates will win the tough job of representing some of the poorest communities in Ohio, and their main campaign issues reflect this. Blasdel has said that he would explore reinstituting tariffs to help protect businesses in the 6th, while Wilson has said that he would push for a stricter U.S. trade policy. The two disagree more on national issues, such as the War in Iraq: while Wilson supports redeployment out of “danger zones”, Blasdell supports the president and would support ‘staying the course.”

The importance of this race has been shown in the list of prominent visitors the 6th district has recently had, including Vice President Dick Cheney and House Speaker Dennis Hastert. However, as it stands now, Charlie Wilson doesn’t seem to be too far away from victory.

Alexander Covington, Crystal Ball Mid-Atlantic Regional Correspondent

June 29, 2006 Update:

Democratic State Sen. Charlie Wilson may have had to wage an expensive write-in campaign to win his party’ s nomination after failing to file enough petition signatures, but his surprisingly strong primary showing – he garnered many more votes than the GOP’s nominee! – may have actually proven the effort a useful exercise in boosting Wilson’s recognition across the district. And considering the national GOP used some of its best lines of attack on Wilson pre-primary to little apparent avail, it’s hard to see how Republican State Rep. Chuck Blasdel has a good a shot at this open seat as Wilson, who will also be helped by the presence of outgoing 6th District Congressman Ted Strickland on Ohio’s gubernatorial ballot. We now lean this race towards a Democratic hold.


February 2006 Outlook:

With moderate Democratic Rep. Ted Strickland‘s entrance into the gubernatorial contest, Ohio Democrats have an embarrassment of riches in the field of 2006 candidates for governor, especially compared to situations in past years. But now they also have an extremely marginal open House seat to defend in the Southeast Ohio hills.

Democrats have always known that they would have to run a blue dog centrist in order to retain this famously blue collar district post-Strickland. State Sen. Charlie Wilson, who fits the description, has thrown his hat into the ring will win his party’s nod. That said, younger Republican State House Speaker Pro Tem Chuck Blasdel is at least an equally strong candidate, and he has committed to the race as well. Republicans insist they will be able to point to skeletons in Wilson’s closet, namely an incident in which Wilson in his capacity as a regional wastewater trustee improperly fired a sewage plant superintendent. For their part, Wilson’s supporters claim that Republicans have tried to advance the issue in past campaigns to no avail. So far, the race in this sprawling Ohio River valley district, which takes about eight hours to drive from end to end, has all the makings of a pure tossup.

Candidates

Charlie Wilson – Democrat – Total Raised: $1,188,193.03 | Total Spent: $1,357,963.20
Website

Chuck Blasdel – Republican – Total Raised: $833,541.73 | Total Spent: $724,044.09
Website

Ohio (12)

Outlook: Likely Republican


November 8, 2006 Update:

Rep. Pat Tiberi (R) won reelection over Bob Shamansky (D) with 58% of the vote.

November 6, 2006 Update:

Rep. Pat Tiberi (R) will win reelection over Bob Shamansky (D). We are told that parts of Columbus will be voting so heavily Democratic this year that even typically safe Tiberi could be endangered, but we are disinclined to believe it. He will likely have his closest race since he first won the seat six years ago, but a Shamansky win here would represent a truly unmitigated disaster for Ohio’s GOP. We don’t think it will happen.


Candidates

Ohio (13) (Open Seat)

Outlook: Solid Democratic


November 8, 2006 Update:

Betty Sutton defeated Craig Foltin with 61% of the vote.


Background

It is hard to imagine that a competitive contest would develop in this strongly pro-Kerry district in 2006, but popular Democratic Rep. Sherrod Brown‘s decision to seek the Democratic nomination for Senate this year has spurred strong candidates from each party to enter the race to succeed him in the House. Democratic former State Rep. Betty Sutton was one of the earliest entrants and has been touted as one of the strongest contenders, though she lives just slightly beyond the oddly shaped district’s eastern boundaries. She has been joined in the primary by Elyria Mayor Bill Grace and former Akron Rep. Tom Sawyer, who lost renomination in the 17th District in 2002 after several costly anti-labor votes.

The GOP got a boost recently when their strongest possible candidate, Lorain Mayor Craig Foltin, decided to toss his hat into the ring. Foltin, who has a reputation for performing well in Democratic areas, could be especially competitive if Democrats host a nasty primary. We give the Democrats an early edge, but don’t be surprised to see this in the “Dirty Thirty” at a later point.

Candidates

Betty Sutton – Democrat – Total Raised: $1,116,824.34 | Total Spent: $1,116,824.34
Website

Craig Foltin – Republican – Total Raised: $518,334.32 | Total Spent: $502,301.00
Website

Ohio (15)

Outlook: Toss-up


This race is part of the Crystal Ball’s “Ferocious FIFTY” list of the 50 most competitive House races in the nation.

November 8, 2006 Update:

Rep. Deborah Pryce (R) holds a slight lead over Mary Jo Kilroy (D). The race is still beiung contested.

November 6, 2006 Update:

Mary Jo Kilroy (D) will unseat Rep. Deborah Pryce (R). That may be the moral of the story in this, the other Columbus-area district, where we believe Pryce is now the underdog to win reelection in spite of her prominent role in the GOP leadership. The role may actually be her downfall against county commissioner Kilroy, whose supporters are better organized and poised to take advantage of the pro-Democratic political atmosphere. Pryce has been very aggressive, but in many respects her rustiness as a campaigner has been visible. We predict a Democratic gain here with low-to-moderate confidence.

June 29, 2006 Update:

Both parties continue to take this race seriously, and in light of this district’s fast-changing demographics and Ohio’s harsh atmosphere for Republicans, we have moved this contest into the Dirty Thirty. Still, longtime GOP Rep. Deborah Pryce retains a solid edge over Democratic challenger Mary Jo Kilroy.


February 2006 Outlook:

Seven-term GOP Rep. Deborah Pryce, the House Republican Conference Chair, has seen her Columbus-area district trend more and more Democratic in recent years: in 2000, Bush carried it by eight points, in 2004, it was virtually tied. It is this pattern that has encouraged Democrats to get behind Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy this year, and though Pryce has always won her share of crossover votes in this otherwise “swing” district, the political climate in Ohio of late has been poisonous for the GOP. Pryce enjoys a substantial financial edge, but don’t be surprised to see us upgrade this race if it heats up closer to the fall.

Candidates

Deborah Pryce (I) – Republican – Total Raised: $3,604,962.59 | Total Spent: $3,356,237.22
Website

Mary Jo Kilroy – Democrat – Total Raised: $2,102,082.87| Total Spent: $1,380,529.40
Website

Ohio (18)

Outlook: Leans Democratic


This race is part of the Crystal Ball’s “Ferocious FIFTY” list of the 50 most competitive House races in the nation.

November 8, 2006 Update:

Zack Space (D) defeated Joy Padgett (R) with 62% of the vote .

November 6, 2006 Update:

Zack Space (D) will defeat Joy Padgett (R). Republicans have only themselves to blame for frittering away this district to a candidate who would never be competitive under ordinary circumstances. Democrats have a simple message here: Heard of Bob Ney? Meet his ethically-challenged handpicked replacement, Joy Padgett! Enough said, except, of course, the rejoinder: Democrats, meet your new probable one-term wonder, Zack Space.

September 23, 2006 Update:

As is so often the case these days, the officeholder implicated in scandal here called it quits on his own terms before the voters could render judgment. Ohio GOP Rep. Bob Ney’s exit stage right has allowed the GOP to rally around his preferred successor, state Sen. Joy Padgett, who will very likely be able to carry her party’s banner in the November race against attorney Zack Space, who is not a particularly strong candidate. The 18th District voted for President Bush by 14 points, but Padgett’s ties to Ney and to hugely unpopular GOP elements of state government do give us some pause, and we still rate this contest a tossup, with perhaps a tiny edge for Padgett.

June 29, 2006 Update:

With former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay calling his reelection bid quits in Texas, Ohio GOP Rep. Bob Ney is now the Democrats’ poster boy for incumbent Republican congressional scandal. And Ney seems to be sweating: just last week, his hards words in a text message to a Copley News Service reporter found their way to press. If Democrats had found a more credible nominee than Dover attorney Zack Space, this race might well have already been over. As it is, Ney stands no better than an even chance of winning reelection.


February 2006 Outlook:

If August 2nd’s unexpectedly close special election outcome between GOP state Rep. Jean Schmidt and upstart Democrat Paul Hackett served as a wake-up call to Ohio’s Republican establishment, GOP Rep. Bob Ney‘s sleep that night must have been cut especially short. Voters in the Buckeye State, already on heightened alert to issues of public corruption thanks to the misreported golf outings and rare coin investment misadventures of the incumbent Republican administration led by massively unpopular Gov. Bob Taft, seem eager to send many of the state’s politicians a message in 2006. Now Ney’s implications in wrongdoing tied to the activities of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff have taken a major toll on his political prospects back home.

Indeed, Ohio’s Republican officeholders are crossing their fingers, hoping that they have already hit rock bottom and that the prevailing voter anger will subside by the fall of next year. But in Ney’s case, the likely electoral fallout from scandals within the state will be compounded by constituent reaction to his widely reported ties to Abramoff, who accompanied Ney and Rep. Tom DeLay on overseas golf outings. Democrats allege that Ney improperly inserted special language into a key piece of legislation in order to boost the financial prospects of one of Abramoff’s Native American tribal clients, and Ney’s alleged malfeasance has so far provided the impetus for one Democrat, Chillicothe Mayor Joe Sulzer, to mount a challenge to the incumbent in this east-central Ohio distsrict next year.

Ney has not let the charges against go unanswered, however, and he has been working the district extra hard in recent months. Despite a short-lived call by the Ohio GOP chair for Ney to call it quits in 2006 if he is indicted, the incumbent seems insistent on moving ahead with reelection plans regardless of legal proceedings.

Given his challenger’s relatively small base and the fact that 2002 redistricting made this of the safest Republican districts in the state, Ney started out the favorite, but the steady drumbeat of national news surrounding the Abramoff scandal and Ney’s involvement have turned this race into a bona fide toss-up.

Candidates

Zack Space – Democrat – Third Quarter Raised: $419,283.34 | Cash on Hand: $146,677.63
Website

Joy Padgett – Republican – Total Raised: $689,177.69 | Total Spent: $512,767.42
Website