Ohio plays key role in battle for Congress

Published: Saturday, September 15, 2012 @ 10:27 PM
Updated: Saturday, September 15, 2012 @ 10:27 PM

Local congressional races

District 10

District profile: All of Montgomery and Greene counties, northern Fayette County

Candidates: U.S. Rep. Mike Turner is running for his sixth term. His challenger is Democrat Sharen Neuhardt, a Greene County attorney. Libertarian David A. Harlow is also on the ballot.

Debate: WHIO-TV Channel 7, the Dayton Daily News and Newstalkradio WHIO are teaming up to host a debate in this race on Oct. 21. More details to come.

District 1

District profile: All of Warren County, part of Hamilton County. Warren was previously represented by Turner and Jean Schmidt. After the 2010 redistricting, all of Warren County was put in one district.

Candidates: U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati, is running for his eighth non-consecutive term. His Democratic opponent is Jeff Sinnard. The Green Party candidate is Rich Stevenson and the Libertarian candidate is Jim Berns.

District 4

District profile: One of the largest districts in the state. Includes all or parts of 13 counties including Champaign, Shelby, Auglaize and Logan.

Candidates: U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, chair of the Republican Study Committee, is running for his fourth term. His Democratic opponent is Jim Slone of Elyria. Libertarian Chris Kalla of Lima is also on the ballot.

District 8

District profile: All of Butler, Preble, Darke, Miami and Clark counties and part of Mercer County. Clark was previously represented by U.S. Rep. Steve Austria who decided not to run again after redistricting.

Candidates: Speaker of the House John Boehner is running unopposed in November.

Two years after Republicans swept away four Ohio Democratic incumbents and seized control of the U.S. House, Democrats are hoping to win back at least three seats this November, which would give the party control of seven of 16 congressional districts.

The party is also hoping Democrat Sharen Neuhardt somehow manages to defeat incumbent Rep. Mike Turner, R-Centerville, in the new 10th district which represents all of Montgomery and Greene counties and part of Fayette.

Just as Ohio figures into the presidential race, it has a key role in the battle over which party controls Congress. Although it may be difficult for the Democrats nationally to win the 25 seats necessary to topple House Speaker John Boehner, R-West Chester Twp., they are poised to spend millions of dollars in an effort to oust Republican incumbents Jim Renacci of Wadsworth and Bill Johnson of Marietta.

They also believe they have a chance to defeat Republican Bob Gibbs of Lakeville, particularly if President Barack Obama rolls up a strong victory in Ohio over Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Boehner is unopposed and Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, and Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati, are expected to win easily. Turner, too, is a heavy favorite, but Neuhardt has launched a spirited challenge, unveiling her first television commercial last week.

Former Democratic congressman Zack Space of Dover said three of the races “are competitive and the Neuhardt-Turner race could be competitive. If the Montgomery County vote comes in, Sharon Neuhardt has a shot,’’ Space said.

To Republicans, the Democrats are engaging in wishful thinking. Barry Bennett, a Republican consultant in Washington, said Democrats are “still smoking the funny stuff from Charlotte. If they spend a dime in Ohio, it’s wasted money. So spend all you want.’’

It will be the first time candidates have run in the new districts drawn up last year by the Republican-controlled legislature. Because Ohio’s population has not grown as fast as many southern states, the legislature had to eliminate two seats, giving the state just 16.

Based on voting patterns in past elections, Republicans hold the edge in 12 of those districts, including in the 10th.

Turner, elected to the House in 2002, rolled up comfortable re-election victories in his old district, which included parts of Montgomery and Warren counties and all of Highland and Clinton counties. During the last round of redistricting, Ohio Republicans folded Turner into the same district as Rep. Steve Austria, R-Beavercreek. When Austria chose not to seek re-election, Turner’s GOP nomination was assured.

“Southwest Ohio knows my record of fighting for Wright-Patt, growing new and innovative jobs in the region and as being a leader,” Turner said in a released statement. “When I travel throughout the community I hear directly from voters that they believe our government needs to focus on reining in spending and on job creation. My work and experience are focused on the issues important to our community.”

Neuhardt, an attorney from Yellow Springs, hopes to mount a stern challenge. She lost to Austria by 16 percentage points in 2008, but Austria’s old district was much more Republican than the new Dayton-area district.

She has about $200,000 in campaign money to finance her race and is airing a biographical commercial on Dayton TV stations. Michael McGovern, a Neuhardt spokesman, said that “we’re excited to be up and introducing Sharen to voters in the Miami Valley. We’ve had the resources to run this campaign.’’

Unless the Turner-Neuhardt race gets close, Ohio’s most spirited battle will probably be in northeast Ohio between two incumbents — Renacci and Democrat Betty Sutton of Copley Twp. When Ohio Republicans eliminated Sutton’s district, she opted to challenge Renacci, a first-term Republican elected in the 2010 sweep.

They are deeply divided on the same issues that have created such a furor in the presidential race. Sutton voted for the $787 billion economic stimulus package in 2009 that Renacci said “drove up our debt.’’

Senate Republicans scramble to save GOP health care bill

Published: Tuesday, June 27, 2017 @ 11:58 PM
Updated: Tuesday, June 27, 2017 @ 11:59 PM

In a surprise to many in his own party, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday postponed plans for a vote this week on a GOP health care bill, as internal divisions among Republicans burst into the open on the best way to overhaul the Obama health law, delaying any vote until next month at the earlies.

Here is what’s next on the health care front:

1. No vote until after the July Fourth break. The plan from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was to have a final vote on a GOP health bill by this Friday at the latest. Instead, the new plan is to come up with some deals and secure the 50 votes needed for passage in July. “I think this is a good decision,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), who expressed optimism that a vote could take place the week of July 10. “We’re so close,” Perdue added. But one thing I’ve learned over the years is Congress only feels the pressure to act right before a vacation break – and that happens July 28.

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2. Some not so subtle GOP messages. One thing that was striking were the statements issued by several GOP Senators – after the vote had been delayed – as several Republicans waited to publicly pronounce their opposition and concerns. For Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), it was the level of Medicaid spending. Maybe the biggest surprise was a tweet from Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) – who wasn’t on anyone’s radar – that he was opposed to the bill as it currently stands. To me, that’s a canary in the coal mine for broader GOP concerns about their health care bill.

3. Some Republicans sounding some odd notes. Along with the statement from Sen. Moran, another post-delay item deserves a note, from Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). “The first draft of the bill included hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts for the affluent,” Lee said in a statement, which sounded more like something that a Democratic Senator might say, rather than a very conservative Republican.

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4. Who can McConnell peel off on health care? While various GOP Senators said they opposed the Republican health plan, they also included the caveat that they don’t like the way it is right now. Things could change in coming days and weeks in order to get someone to vote “Yes.” But for Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), his message in a telephone town hall to voters back in the Silver State on Tuesday night was that he doesn’t expect major changes in how the GOP bill would deal with the Medicaid program. “I do not believe that Ronald Reagan would have supported this health care bill,” Heller said. I’ll put him down as a “No” for right now.

5. But don’t declare the bill dead just yet. Remember, the House came back from several near-death experiences on health care in March and April, and still managed to get something approved in May. So, just because the Senate has thrown a tire does not mean that the entire bill is going into the Legislative Ditch. Speaker Paul Ryan said a few hours before the Senate got the chain wrapped around the axle that he wouldn’t bet against his Senate counterpart. The Majority Leader will be tested now, and we’ll see how Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) performs in the spotlight.

Stay tuned.

Short on votes, Senate Republicans delay vote on GOP health bill

Published: Tuesday, June 27, 2017 @ 2:50 PM
Updated: Tuesday, June 27, 2017 @ 2:50 PM

Unable to muster enough votes, Republican leaders in the Senate said on Tuesday that they would not force a final vote on a GOP health care bill this week, trying to get extra time to negotiate a plan which could win the backing of 50 Republican Senators, as a vote seemed like to slip into the month of July.

“It’s a big complicated subject,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who downplayed GOP troubles, vowing not to give up on changes to the Obama health law.

“Legislation of this complexity almost always takes longer than anybody would hope,” McConnell added, as GOP Senators were to meet later in the day with President Donald Trump at the White House.

Kasich calls for bipartisan talks on health care in Congress

Published: Tuesday, June 27, 2017 @ 11:27 AM
Updated: Tuesday, June 27, 2017 @ 11:27 AM

As Senate Republicans struggled to forge a deal on a bill to overhaul the Obama health law, Ohio Gov. John Kasich publicly called for both parties to sit down and negotiate a deal in the Congress, arguing that there are more than enough existing health care coverage problems which need to be addressed by the two parties.

“I think if both parties can get together, I have very little doubt in my mind that they can both come up with a workable solution,” Kasich said in a joint news conference in Washington, D.C. with Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat from Colorado.

While Kasich repeatedly expressed concerns with details of the GOP health bill now being developed by Senate Republicans, the Ohio Governor also sought to put some pressure on Democrats, saying they should join in health care negotiations.

“If the Democrats don’t want to participate, shame on them,” Kasich told reporters, who also doled out some tough love to his own party as well.

“What’s happened to Republicans is that for seven years they’ve run around bashing Obamacare, and they are the dog that caught the car,” Kasich said.

“Now they don’t know what to do,” as Kasich made clear the latest review of the GOP plan from the Congressional Budget Office should make clear that a new start is needed.

“You got 22, 23 million Americans who lose health insurance, and they think that’s great? That’s good public policy? What, are you kidding me?” Kasich said.

Republicans struggle to move forward on Senate health care bill

Published: Monday, June 26, 2017 @ 10:39 PM
Updated: Monday, June 26, 2017 @ 10:39 PM

Hours after the release of a Congressional Budget Office review of a Republican health care bill in the Senate, GOP leaders on Monday night found themselves on the defensive, as a small group of Senate Republicans indicated they might not even vote this week to start debate on the GOP health bill, let alone support the final product.

“CBO says 22 million people lose insurance,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who made clear the GOP plans to reduce Medicaid spending by $772 billion over ten years was unacceptable in her home state.

Collins was joined by several other Republicans in publicly saying that without changes, they are not ready to begin debate this week:

Also ready to vote against the “motion to proceed” to the health care bill – Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), and Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV).

Democrats meanwhile used speeches on the Senate floor – and social media outside on the steps of the Capitol – to make their argument that the GOP bill should be shelved immediately.

The original plan had been for the Senate to vote on Tuesday to begin debate on the GOP health care bill, with a final vote expected on Thursday or Friday – but that timeline seemed to be on hold for the time being.

Earlier on Monday, the Congressional Budget Office found that the plan would mean 22 million fewer people would have health insurance by 2026, not much different than the estimates for a similar bill that was approved by the House in early May.

The CBO report found that of the 22 million – 15 million would lose insurance coverage from changes to the Medicaid program, while another 7 million people would lose coverage because of changes in the nongroup and individual insurance marketplaces.

The CBO review had good news on the money front for the GOP, as the plan would save an estimated $321 billion over ten years on the federal deficit, spending $1.022 trillion less than current law, while reducing federal tax revenues by $701 billion from 2017-2026.

The White House derided the CBO report, arguing their estimates have never been close; meanwhile, the President was doing what he could do from the sidelines to try to sway Republicans to his side.

“He made several calls to multiple Senators to hear their concerns and get their ideas, and understand where they’re at and what needs to get done,” said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

But with Republicans only able to lose two votes, GOP leaders were struggling to keep the GOP health bill on track in the Senate.