Schmidt's Campaign Tanks in Ohio
by Jonathan Singer, Fri Mar 10, 2006 at 12:38:11 PM EST
In just seven short months, Jean Schmidt has successfully disgraced her office, her constituents and her party through a combination of politically unwise actions and uncouth and disrespectful comments. Now, she appears more beatable than ever -- if she is able to make it out of the GOP primary.
Schmidt, as we all remember, barely eked out a victory in a special congressional election in August, edging out Iraq War vet and blogosphere hero Paul Hackett. Within two months, Schmidt had made her now infamous comments suggesting she believed Congressman Jack Murtha, a military veteran with an impressive record of serving his country in war, was a coward for putting forward a plan to extricate America from the situation in Iraq.
The last week has not treated Schmidt any better, politically. On Tuesday, as Jackie Kucinich reports for The Hill, Schmidt was asked by Rep. Tom Tancredo, the leader of the anti-immigration movement in the U.S. House, to remove his name from the list of endorsements on her campaign website.
The office of Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) yesterday afternoon removed a claim on her website that Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) had endorsed her after Tancredo's office said it was not true.
Early in the afternoon yesterday, Schmidt's homepage touted that Tancredo was publicly backing her: "Rep. Tom Tancredo -- Chairman of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus endorses Congresswoman Jean Schmidt and thanks her for her hard work to end `illegal' immigration and protect American jobs."
But Tancredo never endorsed Schmidt in her bid for reelection this year, said his spokesman, Will Adams.
Turns out Schmidt wasn't only fabricating the support of Tom Tancredo. As The Cincinnati Enquirer's Malia Rulon reports, Schmidt has been riling some of her fellow Ohio Republicans by incorrectly claiming their support for her reelection campaign.
Rep. Jean Schmidt's campaign Web site lists several political endorsements, including one from fellow Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Westwood.
There's only one problem.
Chabot says he didn't endorse Schmidt, who faces a primary challenge May 2 from Republican Bob McEwen, a former congressman from southern Ohio.
But that was not all for Jean Schmidt. Kucinich did some more digging and reporting on Wednesday and penned an article for Thursday's issue of The Hill detailing the contents of an interview Schmidt granted The Enquirer during the 1984 GOP Convention, where she was a delegate.
As a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1984, Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) expressed her contempt for a future colleague and allegedly likened young Republican activists to Hitler, according to an interview published by the local paper at the time.
Schmidt, who was 32 at the time, provided evidence for this assessment during her time with the reporter, who quoted her taking issue with future Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.), who was then President Reagan's transportation secretary. During her tenure at Transportation, Dole wanted to impose a nationwide drinking age of 21.
"I hate that woman," she told the reporter. "I just can't stand her. Anyone who wants to force an increase in the drinking age to 21. ... She can send our boys off to fight wars when they're 17 and 18 but won't let them drink till they're 21."
She added, "That stinks."
The article also details her "booing" during a Dole appearance at the convention.
Schmidt is clearly weak at this juncture, but the greatest risk for the Democrats, at this point, is that Schmidt will not garner the GOP nomination in Ohio's second congressional district this year. Former Rep. Bob McEwen, who narrowly lost to Schmidt in the Republican primary last year, is running again this year and has a real shot at knocking Schmidt off this year. But as we saw this week in Texas, as current Rep. Henry Cuellar, somewhat of a turncoat Democrat, defeated the progressive former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez in the Democratic primary, it is not so easy for former Members of Congress to reconnect with voters -- even if the current Representative is not popular with the base.
So if Schmidt makes it out of the GOP primary this year, which remains a distinct possibility, the Democrats should have a decent shot at picking up her seat. Sure, the Cook Political Report (a .pdf) does not see this race as potentially competitive at this point, and George W. Bush handily carried the district in 2004. But with all of Schmidt's missteps, making her party and her constituents look like fools for sending her to Congress, the tikme is ripe for a Democratic victory in Ohio's second congressional district. For continuing coverage of the race and all of it's intricacies, check out the Ohio 2nd Blog, which is a prime example of the locally-focused political blog that will be of increasing importance in the coming months and years.