Friday, April 21, 2006

Abramoff Association Could Prove Fatal For One Prominent Ohio Republican

Looks like one of the Republicans Senator Tom Coburn alluded to earlier this week may go down in defeat this November for his ties with Jack Abramoff.

Congressional Quarterly has more on the story:

A close past association with now-convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff has put long-popular Republican Rep. Bob Ney at risk as he seeks a seventh term in Ohio’s 18th District.

The Democrats’ intent to aim squarely at Ney’s Achilles’ heel was inherent in a TV ad released Monday by Chillicothe Mayor Joe Sulzer — which says “a culture of corruption in Washington” has rendered the government incapable of curbing rising gas prices and the outsourcing of Americans’ jobs to other countries, issues troubling many voters in the mainly working-class 18th.

With an ongoing continuing federal investigation into Abramoff’s Capitol Hill contacts clouding Ney’s re-election prospects, has moved the 18th District race into its No Clear Favorite, or tossup, category, from Leans Republican.

Ney has strongly denied allegations by Abramoff and two of the ex-lobbyist’s former associates that they showered Ney with gifts and campaign donations in exchange for official actions on behalf of their clients. But Ney’s political security has clearly deteriorated since his 2004 re-election contest, which he won with two-thirds of the vote.

Sulzer, though, is not just focused on Ney’s problems. His ad also mentions President Bush, who dominated the 18th District by 57 percent to 42 percent over Democratic challenger John Kerry in 2004 but whose own poll numbers have since plummeted.

“Bob Ney, George Bush and the Republicans have failed us. It’s time for a change,” says the narrator, who promises that Sulzer will work to toughen ethics laws, protect veterans’ benefits and repeal trade pacts that Sulzer says are harmful to the district.

Sulzer told reporters that his ad “certainly does indicate that we truly believe that we are the Democratic candidate that will beat Bob Ney in November.”

Sulzer’s ad is airing on network television stations in Columbus, which is just west of the 18th’s boundary, and Zanesville, which is in the district’s geographic center. Sulzer said his ad was intended to reach the roughly half of the Democratic electorate that he said still is undecided about the race.

Ney spokesman Brian Walsh said Sulzer’s campaign is courting a voter backlash by attacking the congressman.

“Considering the vast majority of people in the district have never even heard of Joe Sulzer, I personally think it’s a questionable strategy to introduce yourself to voters with a purely negative and angry ad, especially when the perception people have of their Democrat leaders in Washington ... is anger and negativity,” Walsh said.

Sulzer faces three opponents in the primary: Zack Space, the elected law director in Dover; Jennifer Stewart, the vice president of the state Board of Education; and frequent candidate Ralph Applegate.

Space rejects any suggestion that Sulzer is the favorite to win the primary. He said in an interview Wednesday that his campaign has a “strong grass-roots network” and that he was “delighted with the reception that our campaign and our message have received throughout the district.”

Space, who is also emphasizing anti-corruption themes, said that the voting public has a lower tolerance for excesses by the Congress because so many people are struggling economically.

“Money is talking in Washington, D.C., and the voices of the people in this district are not being heard,” Space said. “And that’s a message that is being very well-received. People identify with that — they understand that intuitively. And I think it dovetails with the corruption issue.”

Space claimed some demographic advantages in the race. He noted that his base is in Tuscarawas County, the most populous of the 16 counties that are wholly or partly in the district. Sulzer’s home county of Ross is in the more rural southwestern part of the 18th.

Space said his campaign would go on television in the next day or two. He acknowledged campaign fundraising difficulties in a district that has no large city and where the median household income is the third-lowest among Ohio districts.

Updated campaign finance reports are due Friday and will cover the period between Jan. 1 and April 12.

Sulzer is expected to continue leading all Democrats in campaign receipts. He loaned his campaign $100,000 late last year, though Sulzer said Monday that his most recent report would not include additional personal loans.

Ney, meanwhile, faces Republican James Brodbelt Harris in the GOP primary. Ney is favored to win handily, but the returns will be watched to see if any GOP voters go to the polls to express disenchantment with the congressman.

Ney has promised an active campaign, and on Wednesday he released a list of more than 75 elected officials who are backing his re-election effort.

“From the moment I announced my re-election bid in January, I made clear that I would run a vigorous campaign and that I was in this race to win in November,” Ney said in a statement.

The Republicans created this culture of corruption in Washington D.C. and now they are paying for it.

The very least they could do is fix the mess, but John Boehner has already said that is not going to happen.

Until they do, their party will keep going down just as it will right now.

Looks like they will learn the hard way.

Read about Congressman Ford's actions on ethics reform here! (1 , 2, 3)

Read about John Boehner's views opposing ethics reform here!

Read about John Boehner's broken promises regarding ethics reform here!