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Thursday, April 24, 2008

OH-18: No Sophomore Slump in Ohio

After the historic mid-term elections, the Republicans claimed they lost many of their seats not because of a bankrupt brand, failed policies or a widespread rejection by voters across the nation. Instead, they said their majority was lost because of a series of individual scandals. The "handful" of scalliwags, the thinking went, lost "safe" GOP districts: DeLay, Foley, Pombo and the litany of Abramoff-tinged congresscritters. They figured these districts would be easily recaptured in 2008, a presidential year when these districts would return to their red roots.

Well, it looks like one of those target districts, Zack Space's 18th District in Ohio, may be firming up for the Democrats. Due Space's strong fundraising and the Republican nominee's lack of resources, CQ Politics has changed it's rating in the race from "Leans Dem" to "Dem Favored." They write:

The typically strong conservative leanings of 18th District voters — President Bush took 57 percent of the vote there when he ran for re-election in 2004 — had Space perched precariously near the top of the GOP’s target list when this election cycle began.
But the Republicans still are struggling to recover from the damage done by the downfall of once-popular Republican Rep. Bob Ney, who dropped his bid for a seventh House term well into the 2006 campaign and then pled guilty to federal corruption charges related to his ties to convicted influencing-peddling lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Furthermore, the Republican nominated in the March 4 primary to challenge Space — Fred Dailey, a former state agriculture director — has a relatively low political profile, and a dangerously low amount of money in his campaign treasury. Updated campaign finance reports that both candidates recently filed with the Federal Election Commission show Dailey had just $36,000 left in his campaign account when April began, compared to the nearly $1 million in cash on hand reported by Space.

So, while Democratic turmoil continues at the presidential level, the downballot races continue to move toward building a stronger majority.

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