Monday 13 October 2008

Ohio - Key Races

Ohio will again be central to the Presidential result with its 20 Electoral Votes - but it will also be key to the makeup and party balance of the House of Representatives in the 11th Congress. Three of the districts could experience a turnover to the Democrats. Should support for the Democrats be stronger than expected the Open seat vacated by Dave Hobson (7th) might come into play.

OH 01

Steve Chabot, a seven term Republican, may be vulnerable. He won in 2006 with 52.2% against 47.8%. Bush won this district with 51% of the vote in both 2000 and 2004.

The district covers western Cincinnati and the suburbs - which takes in more than three-fourths of Cincinnati's residents. The black population is one of the largest amongst Republican-held districts. This part of the electorate (particularly in the Over-the-Rhine, Avondale and Bond Hill neighbourhoods) is key to the Democrats. The Republicans rely on the growing suburbs. Procter & Gamble; Federated Department Stores and the grocery retailers, Kroger - have their Corporate headquarters in the City.

Chabot (pronounced SHAB-butt) grew up in Cincinnati and served on the City Council. He took the seat from the Democrats in 1994. National Journal describes him as having "a generally conservative voting record in the House, but he has been a tight-spending maverick willing to split from his party and take political risks for principle". CQ says he is "a diehard from

OH 15

An open seat, which was won last time by Republican Deborah Pryce by just 1,062 votes. Representative Pryce is retiring after 16 years in Congress. Prior to the 1994 election she helped write "Contract with America". She had risen to the no 4 position in the House Republican hierarchy - serving as chair of the Republican Conference from 2002 to 2006.

The district is being contested by Mary-Jo Kilroy, the Democrat who came so close to unseating Pryce in 2006. She is the Franklin County Commissioner. http://www.kilroyforcongress.com/. Her Republican opponent is Steve Stivers, an Ohio State senator. http://www.stivers4congress.com/

The district is centered in Franklin County and the western part of Columbus, Ohio's capital. It also includes Madison and Union counties. The rural areas are major corn and soybean producing areas, while Columbus has many technology and research establishments. Ohio State University has the highest enrollment of any campus in the USA. Cook lists the district as a toss up.

OH 16

Ralph Regula, the veteran appropriator, is standing down after 36 years in the House. CQ describes him as "a master of the arcane rules and mores that govern passage of the annual spending bills".

Two State Senators are competing to replace Regula in this district which is currently regarded as a toss up. John Boccieri is the Democratic candidate, an Air Force veteran who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan - http://www.johnforcongress.com/. The Republican candidate is Kirk Schuring whose background is in the insurance industry - http://www.schuringforcongress.com/

A quarter of the district is rural, and Republican leaning - while the largest city is Canton - a left leaning blue collar city (80,806). Other cities in the district, which is in the north west of the State, are Massillon (31,325), Medina (25,139) and Wooster (24,811). Major industries include Steel, Manufacturing and Health Care.