The GOP’s Resurgence In Ohio

Ben Cannatti and Ford O'Connell
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Posted: Sep 13, 2010 11:15 AM

Ohio, the GOP’s most pivotal swing state in 2004, is proving once again to be fertile ground for Republicans in 2010. Despite the attention the current administration is lavishing on Ohio – President Obama has visited the state nearly a dozen times since taking office – Buckeye State Democrats are losing ground, and time is running out.

Just last week, the Columbus Dispatch reported that “Republican candidates have grabbed double-digit leads in the races for governor (John Kasich) and the U.S. Senate (Rob Portman), and the swelling red tide could lead to a GOP sweep of statewide offices,” according to a poll conducted by the paper. The Dispatch also noted that supporters of Republican statewide candidates are nearly three times as enthused as their Democratic counterparts. This situation led the Dispatch’s Darrel Rowland to surmise that “[i]f Ohioans' sentiments favoring Republicans extend to legislative and congressional races, that could mean the GOP will retake control of the Ohio House.”

Unwinding the Democrats’ current 53-46 majority in the Ohio House chamber has been a long-standing goal of the Ohio Republican Party and earlier this summer, the Republican State Leadership Committee included the Ohio House in its inaugural REDMAP Report as one of four legislative chambers it predicted as definite GOP pickups in November. With all 99 seats up for election and the significant enthusiasm gap reported in the recent polls confirming the GOP’s early confidence, the party looks to be in an excellent position to net the four seats needed to reclaim the majority.

One seat that will be crucial to the impending GOP House takeover is in the 19th District where former Westerville Mayor Anne Gonzales is challenging first-term Representative Marian Harris. Based on the current political climate, the Columbus Dispatch has labeled this race a likely pick-up opportunity for Republicans. “With so many seats to defend, the question will be how much money House Democrats can afford to spend on this Westerville/eastern Franklin County district, one of the most Republican-leaning seats in their possession,” the Dispatch reports. Ohio Republicans “say they have a sure-fire winner this time in Anne Gonzales, the high-octane Westerville councilwoman/mayor who has impressed party officials with her work.”

In 2008, Harris won by fewer than 1,000 votes, and she has shown herself to be a less than committed campaigner this time around. According to The Plain Dealer, Harris has cited “the scorching summer” as an excuse for not knocking on voters’ doors in 2010. “What I do is call people instead,” Harris told the paper, claiming she has “the common sense to stay indoors…instead of come out and visit.” In contrast, Gonzales seems to intuitively understand the dangers of down-ticket candidates expecting to coast on the strength of the candidates at the top of the ticket, as highlighted in the Dispatch’s poll analysis. A quick review of Gonzales’s campaign Twitter feed demonstrates that she has gone the extra mile and has been active doing door-to-doors during the summer months in addition to greeting voters at numerous other events. It’s always refreshing to see a candidate who doesn’t take the voters, or their votes, for granted.

Gonzales began her career in public service by serving on the Westerville Telecommunications Commission and the Westerville Re-Investment Housing Council. In 2001, she was elected to the Westerville City Council. In her eight years on the Council, she has served in a variety of capacities including as Westerville’s Mayor. A fiscal conservative, who values the contributions of small businesses, and a staunch advocate of educational reform, Gonzales presently serves as Westerville’s Vice Mayor. To learn more about Anne Gonzales’s bid in Ohio, visit www.annegonzales.org.