Saturday, August 8, 2009

GOP Looking to Pounce!!

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By Laura A. Bischoff, Staff Writer
6:42 PM Saturday, August 8, 2009
COLUMBUS — After years of being down and out, Ohio Democrats hit a winning streak: capturing the governor’s office and a U.S. Senate seat in 2006, and winning control of the Ohio House and delivering Ohio for Barack Obama in 2008.
But a sour economy, two potentially expensive primaries and internal squabbles could hurt the Democrats going into the 2010 election cycle, according to key people on both sides of the aisle.
Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern is worried that potentially bitter primaries could hurt the Democrats’ chances in 2010.
“I think primaries tend to ... diminish resources,” he said. “In a period of time when we should be focusing on the other side, we’re looking inward. That’s never helpful for a party.”
Ohio Republican Party Chairman Kevin DeWine said, “It gives us a great opportunity. Nobody is handing us anything. We’re not taking anything for granted, but it gives us a great opportunity.”
Here are some of the issues the Democrats face:
• Gov. Ted Strickland’s popularity is tumbling as Ohioans are starting to pin the struggling economy on him. Quinnipiac University polls show 46 percent of Ohio voters approved of Strickland’s job performance as of June, down from 63 percent in February.
• So far, party leaders failed to avoid a costly primary that pits Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner against Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher for U.S. Senate.
• Democrats will have a primary in the secretary of state’s race. Franklin County Commissioner Marilyn Brown — Brunner’s friend — and state Rep. Jennifer Garrison, D-Marietta, are both running.
• Garrison got into the race last week, leaving her House seat vulnerable for the GOP to pick off. The Democrats control the House by a razor-thin four-seat margin.
• Attorney General Richard Cordray is being challenged by well-known former U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, who lost his re-election bid in 2006.
• The state party gave Treasurer Kevin Boyce $225,000 — 44 percent of his fundraising — to run for election. His opponent, state Rep. Josh Mandel, R-Lyndhurst, raised $1 million without a check from the GOP.
“We feel very good about Kevin Boyce’s candidacy. We know with some additional attention and resources he’ll be elected to a full, four-year term,” Redfern said. And he added that the party has at least two promising candidates interested in running for Garrison’s seat.
Both parties will make a full-court press for governor, auditor and secretary of state, who each sit on the Apportionment Board, which redraws legislative district lines after the U.S. Census. The political party that controls the Apportionment Board can draw the districts to its advantage for years to come.
“The way things are lining up for 2010, it looks like a pretty competitive election,” said University of Akron political scientist John Green. He added that if the economy still looks grim in the fall of 2010, it could be tough on incumbents.
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