A super-PAC - one of those committees that can raise and spending unlimited funds to influence voters - has announced it is backing Republican Josh Mandel for Ohio's U.S. Senate seat.
The group Reclaiming Freedom announced Thursday that Ohio is one of five states where it hopes to wrest seats away from Democrats.
Organized by Republican operatives, it has a goal of spending $10 million in this election.
Mandel is one of five Republican Senate challengers who are getting help from Reclaiming Freedom. The others are Tommy Thompson (Wisconsin), Linda Lingle (Hawaii), George Allen (Virginia) and Denny Rehberg (Montana). Also getting help is incumbent Sen. Dean Heller (R., Nevada).
The PAC said it released its virst video ad, titled "Dangerous Dysfunction,” which slams the Senate’s Democratic leadership as "rudderless, incompetent, and radical."
Brian the Auto Worker is a reluctant icon.
Brian Slagle is the star of an Obama campaign TV commercial airing in Ohio for the last two weeks.
Snippets of video show a pretty wife and Slagle throwing a ball with his young son.
While driving, Slagle, 32, ruminates that he was scared when he was laid off from his job when the Great Recession hit, but President Obama extended a hand and rescued the industry.
"He [Obama] wasn't going to let it die. I'm driving in this morning because of that," Brian is heard saying.
It's easy to imagine that the Obama campaign hoped Brian would be the liberal Joe the Plumber, like conservative Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher who is running for Congress.
Brian's not interested, though.
Slagle was picked by the Obama campaign because he was somebody in the United Auto Workers union who agreed to tell his story in an Obama commercial. The Obama campaign tells me he was not paid for his appearance in the commercial.
Slagle wants to return to anonymity. He even took down his FaceBook page.
We tried to reach Slagle for an interview. The only response we got was this email:
"Tom, I don't think I want to do anymore interviews. I'm just an ordinary guy and I'm not trying to be famous. There were thousands of people in the same boat I was. I just want to go back to my normal life. Thanks."
Unlike Slagle, Wurzelbacher, 38, of Springfield Township (same township where Brian Slagle works) welcomed the public spotlight, after he got used to it.
If fact, he has converted that fame into a career giving speeches to appreciative conservative groups and is now running as the Republican nominee for the Ohio 9th Congressional District against Democratic incumbent Marcy Kaptur (Toledo).
Like Wurzelbacher, Slagle was attacked immediately by political opponents.
After Wurzelbacher challenged Obama's plans to raise taxes on the wealthy in 2008 in a totally unplanned sidewalk debate in front of his working class residence in Springfield Township, Wurzelbacher was accused of not being a real plumber because he didn't have a plumbing license. (He worked for a licensed plumber and says he was a plumber in the Air Force.)
Slagle's story in the Obama commercial was attacked because the fact that he has worked at Johnson Controls since 2006 supposedly undercut his claim of owing his job to Obama.
It's a lame criticism, though. Slagle made clear in the commercial that he was "laid off" and now he's back at work because the 2009 auto industry recovery successfully saved the industry. (The exact same thing happened with Chrysler and GM workers). Nor is it claimed in the TV commercial that Slagle got his job because of "stimulus" funds that Johnson Controls received for its Holland, Mich. plant, one of the criticisms aimed at the "Brian" ad.
Johnson Controls makes car batteries. The fear in 2009 was that the entire car parts supplier industry would have been decimated if GM and Chrysler were forced into liquidation. Obama and Congress put up some $82 billion from the taxpayers to help the companies through an orderly bankruptcy reorganization.
It's a fair debate whether the taxpayers should have played that part, and whether UAW workers got the best part of the bargain. We're still short about $23 billion of that money.
But it's hardly debatable that the auto industry rescue had the desired effect. It appears to be working for Slagle, who is in the process of moving from the working class West Toledo neighborhood that appears in the Obama video to a suburban home in Waterville.
The independent political action committee Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, known as Crossroads GPS, is advertising in Ohio with an ad that targets President Obama as a promise-breaker.
Obama's Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, is not mentioned in this ad.
The Crossroads GPS "super-PAC" says it is spending $849,000 on the Ohio buy, and will spend in all $25 million to broadcast the attack ad in Ohio and nine other states.
The ad focuses on campaign promises Obama made to let people keep their own health care, not to raise taxes on incomes under $250,000, to cut the deficit in half by the end of his term, and help homeowners in trouble.
The spot claims all four are broken promises, although that's a debatable assertion for all of the claims except the one about cutting the deficit in half by the end of his term.
Other states to get the ad: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The commercial runs from Thursday through May 31. The spot can be viewed here.
The ad urges citizens to support the “New Majority Agenda” at www.newmajorityagenda.org.
Dennis Kucinich has decided against running in Washington State.
Kucinich (D., Cleveland) sent the following notice to his supporters today. Kucinich has been exploring moving to Washington to run in a Congressional district there after losing his primary race to U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) on March 6. (Kaptur's Toledo 9th District and Kucinich's Cleveland 10th District were merged by Republicans redistricting the state to lose two of Ohio's 18 members of Congress.).
I would like to thank you for your support, and thank the tens of thousands of concerned Citizens for Kucinich who in the past few months have written, emailed and called to discuss my running for Congress in Washington State.
At the end of this term I will have served sixteen years in the House of Representatives, leading the way for peace, to bring an end to the wars, for workers' rights, for health care for all, for monetary policy reform and to end the corrupting influence which money has on our political decision-making process. My staff and I have worked to deliver a level of constituent service to the people of Cleveland, which most agree is unmatched for results. As testimony to our efforts in the Cleveland area I received about 75% of the vote from my present constituents who were included in the newly redistricted area in which I ran in March.
Because of my love of public service, I have given a great deal of time and much thought to the advice and encouragement I have received from so many people of good will in Washington State. I certainly want to continue to be of service to our country and to the working men and women who have built it.
After careful consideration and discussions with Elizabeth and my closest friends, I have decided that, at this time, I can best serve from outside the Congress. My commitments to peace, to workers' rights and to social and economic justice are constant and are not dependent upon holding an office. They are dependent upon my continuing to stand up, to speak out, to organize, to motivate and to inspire our nation as to its deeper potential. This I promise I will do with great energy and heart.
I will complete my service in the U.S. House on January 2, 2013, with the same passion and devotion to duty with which I began it on January 3, 1997. And when I do, I shall think of you and all those who have given me encouragement to continue to be of service, and I will smile, knowing that we shall meet again in our celebration of the potential of citizen activists to change the world.
Please continue to encourage your friends and family to sign up at www.Kucinich.usbecause we will need to continue to work together for change outside Congress, as we have worked for it from within. This is just the beginning!
U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur's opponent for the 9th Congressional District is trying to push her into taking a stand for or against same-sex marriage - even though both of them seem to agree it's an issue for the states to decide.
A spokesman for Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher sent the media a statement from the candidate calling on Miss Kaptur to explain her position on gay marriage.
Kaptur, a 15-term congressman and a Democrat, is seeking re-election to represent the Toledo-Cleveland district in Congress. Wurzelbacher, the Republican nominee, is seeking to unseat her.
Wurzelbascher noted that Miss Kaptur's statement in The Blade last week failed to state her personal opinion about what constitutes a marriage, instead appearing to leave it up to the states to decide.
In her comment, Kaptur noted "society’s growing acceptance of various forms of marriage relationships and legal commitments," and said she expects that the states will continue to be the focus for deciding that issue. But she doesn't categorically rule out a federal intervention.
Wurzelbacher said that his opinion doesn't matter since it's not a federal issue and he's running for a federal office.
“I don’t think it is a federal issue in any way, shape, or form and it should be decided at the state level,” Mr. Wurzelbacher said. “Right now, I am running for a federal position so it doesn’t matter where I fall on [the issue.]”
Then he went a step further:
Reporter Ignazio Messina wrote: When pressed on the question, [Wurzelbacher] responded: “Marriage is defined as between a man and woman. That is my opinion. It needs to be a state issue and not a federal issue.”
Now Wurzelbacher wants Kaptur to go the next step - after saying that it doesn't matter where a candidate for federal office stands on the question.
The Blade forwarded Wurzelbacher's challenge to Kaptur spokesman Steve Fought on Monday. Still awaiting a response.
Here was Kaptur's written statement last week:
“I respect the President’s views and our society’s growing acceptance of various forms of marriage relationships and legal commitments desired by couples of the opposite as well as same sex. No person, or set of persons, should be denied equal treatment under the laws of our country. Since marriage and family laws are determined by the states, I would anticipate that our society will continue to weigh the various legal aspects of this issue and public policy will continue to evolve on a state by state basis.”
Here was Wurzelbacher's comment in response to Kaptur's statement:
“Just like every other career politician, Marcy Kaptur wants to talk out of both sides of her mouth while saying absolutely nothing. Marcy, can you just stand up and tell the voters of the 9th Congressional District how you feel? This is the perfect example of what is wrong with politicians today. They’ll issue carefully-worded statements with big words that actually say nothing. While Marcy Kaptur becomes the epitome of what voters hate about politicians, I’ll continue to be blunt and honest with the voters. They won’t have to question were I stand, because I’ll tell them.”
Fired Lucas County Board of Elections employee Michelle Dudley landed a $43,201-a-year job in the Department of Job and Family Services thanks to the strenuous efforts of County Commissioner Pete Gerken to get her on the county payroll, and without going through a competitive hiring process.
But when Dudley, former information technology manager for the elections board, applied through a competitive process for a lower-paying job at the Data Processing Board, she came in 10th out of the list of 59 applicants.
The Data Processing Board, which supplies computer information services to most county agencies, on May 3 hired Jeremy Burnat who earned the top score of 38.2, compared with 18 for Dudley. Burnat was appointed network technician II at $20 per hour, or $41,600 per year.
His score was based on his training, levels of certification, and experience.
“[Burnat] had the most certification in the areas that we support,” said Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez, who is secretary of the Data Processing Board. “He was walking in with the certifications. Many of our systems you have to receive certifications before you can work on them and get passwords and clearance.”
Lopez also said that Dudley was seeking a salary of $60,000 when she applied for the data processing job. Dudley didn’t get the 5 points for being “within budget,” whereas Burnat did.
Gerken said the reason he wanted to help Dudley land a job was because she is a constituent and because she has “quite a number of certifications.”
Dudley was hired for the vacant position of technology-based trainer I in Jobs and Family Services on May 1 by the Lucas County Board of Commissioners.
"The commissioner presented her resume, and no we didn't talk to anyone else," said Deb Ortiz-Flores, who oversees Job and Family Services and Child Support Enforcement Agency.
She said Dudley was a good hire because she is certified in OnBase software, and that she will have a 180-day probation.
Gerken has taken a keen interest in the Lucas County Board of Elections ever since Republican Jon Stainbrook was appointed to the board last year. Unlike previous Republican members of the board of elections, Stainbrook has had open partisan disputes with his Democratic colleagues. He contends his predecessors let Democratic board members and staffers have their way with the board of election, to the detriment of Republican candidates.
Stainbrook said he didn't want to comment on Dudley landing a job elsewhere. He said, however, that he plans to continue fighting for what he called "transparency and integrity" on the elections board.
"We are watching every step that Democrats are taking and that does not sit well with the Democratic machine that runs Lucas County from top to bottom," Stainbrook said.
Stainbrook and his Republican ally on the board Tony DeGidio went after Dudley, a Democrat, in December after former Republican director Ben Roberts accused her of hacking into the email accounts of Republican board employees.
Dudley survived that investigation, but was fired after the next director, Meghan Gallagher, gave the board a report in April saying that Dudley had walked way from her job testing voting machines with the result that test votes were left on the machines when the March 6 primary election occurred. Dudley was fired by a 4-0 vote of the board, with the two Democrats in agreement.
That’s when Gerken stepped in and emailed and called around to other county officeholders to get her hired.
Lopez said Gerken asked her if she had a job for Dudley, but Lopez said she had no vacancies.
Gerken said he doesn’t have an opinion on whether Dudley was fired fairly or unfairly from the elections board.
“I have no opinion on that. She’s an at-will employee, so you can get fired from the board of elections for cause or no cause,” he said.
The executive director of the Ohio Republican Party has been promoted by the Republican National Committeee to regional political director for the 2012 presidential election cycle.
Darren Bearson will be the RNC's regional political director for Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The appointment is similar to one Bearson had in the 2010 elections.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Bearson and the other six regional directors will coordinate "ground operation and voter contacts across the country to ensure Republican victories in the House, Senate and White House this fall. They will work side by side with Mitt Romney's team and the campaigns for our Republican candidates up and down the ticket."
Bearson is the second Ohio GOP staffer to leave the office within weeks of Bob Bennett replacing former chairman Kevin DeWine as state chairman. Last week, the Ohio GOP's communications director, Christopher Maloney, joined the Mitt Romney campaign as Ohio communications director.
It is also the second time in as many weeks that someone with working knowledge of Ohio politics is tapped to help Romney's election. To be elected president, Romney has to win Ohio, considered by some to be the most important swing state in this election.
The RNC said Bearson has 16 years of party and campaign management experience with the Republican National Committee, the White House, and the Republican Party of Minnesota. He was political director for the RNC for eight central states in the 2010 midterm elections.
U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) hopes to "democratize" the Federal Reserve Board in a bill she introduced last year and was the subject of a hearing set for Tuesday (May 8).
The bill cuts the term of Federal Reserve Board members from 14 years to seven years, among other things.
The bill was on the agenda of the House subcommittee on domestic monetary policy and technology chaired by Republican presidential candidate and Fed critic Ron Paul (R., Texas).
Kaptur has been a critic of the over-centralization of the banking industry, and her legislation is aimed at making the Fed more responsive to the public.
The bill, House Resolution 1401, does the following, according to Kaptur's office:
1. cuts in half the 14-year terms in office of members of the Fed's board of governors.
2. increases from two years to four years the period in which Board members cannot work in any member bank after they leave the Fed.
3. changes the way the Federal Reserve Board is elected (and deletes New York City's automatic Fed board position) and creates a role for Congress to nominate board member candidates if the President fails to fill a seat in a certain period of time.
According to Kaptur spokesman Steve Fought, Kaptur's bill is coming up now because the Republican leadership allowed Ron Paul to have a hearing. Kaptur's is one of the bills he put on the agenda.
Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher is taking his campaign for Ohio's 9th Congressional District seat to a new level - 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
A video just released by Wurzelbacher's campaign shows him walking across the street to the visitor entrance at the White House in order to "continue the conversation" with Barack Obama that took place in front of Wurzelbacher's house in Springfield Township in October, 2008.
The effort was unsuccessful, Wurzelbacher says in his video.
Wurzelbacher's opponent is incumbent Democrat Marcy Kaptur of Toledo.
He seems to be wearing the same gray T-shirt (Pardon the fuzzy reproduction below. The shirts look more similar in the video on Wurzelbacher's Web site.):
2008 (AP photo)