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Ohio: Parties Battle It Out Early in the 6th District

You could excuse voters in Ohio's 6th District for thinking the November elections are right around the corner. With 20 days left before the the state's May 2 primary, both national parties are spending heavily in the southern Ohio district.

All of the dollars are aimed at Democratic state Sen. Charlie Wilson, who was forced to run a write-in candidacy for his party's nomination after failing to collect enough signatures to qualify for the primary ballot. Wilson is hoping to win the nomination over two little-known and poorly financed Democrats. Republicans face a primary of their own with state Rep. Chuck Blasdel the heavy favorite.

Seeing an opportunity to win a toss-up seat in May rather than November, the National Republican Congressional Committee has unleashed a series of television ads designed to raise questions in voters' minds about Wilson. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has struck back with ads -- television and radio -- of their own designed to rebut the GOP charges.

The latest Democratic gambit is a radio ad -- more of a country song, really -- that went up in the district today. Produced by media consultant Saul Shorr, the jingle contains lines like, "The second of May is election day/Charlie Wilson wants to be your Congressman," and "George Bush will feel the pain/When you write in Charlie's name." (Listen to the whole song here.)

The DCCC is also sponsoring a television ad in the Youngstown (Ohio) and Wheeling (West Virginia) markets that says Republicans are attacking the Ohio Democrat "because Wilson fought the big oil and gas companies and because Charlie Wilson won't yield to President Bush and Republicans who are taking us the wrong way." The ad is running at 900 gross media points (meaning the average viewer will see it nine times in a week) in both markets and is costing the committee $100,000. The committee has pre-bought television time in the district through the primary, according to sources familiar with the buys.

The NRCC is currently airing a second ad attacking Wilson for serving on a commission that oversaw the dumping on raw sewage into the Ohio River.

The Republican committee ran into some trouble last week when it began airing a follow-up ad alleging that the FBI had conducted an investigation into the dumping. The Wilson campaign and Democrats insisted that was not the case and produced a letter from the bureau that said no such investigation had taken place.

To hear Democrats tell it, the ad was pulled due to inaccuracy. Republicans insist it was simply swapped out for another ad that did not contain the FBI allegation. According to independent expenditure reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, the NRCC has spent approximately $194,000 on its ad campaign to date.

Should Wilson emerge as the Democratic nominee, he would begin the general election with a slight edge over Blasdel, who has received his share of bad press lately.

By Chris Cillizza  |  April 12, 2006; 3:18 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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Next: W.Va.: 12-Term Democrat at Center of Ethics Storm


I was appalled when I first read about Wilson not getting 50
correct names on his nominating petition! In Cincinnati,
candidates for just city council have to get 500, and they all do it,
even the lesser lights.
Since then, I have heard that Mr. Wilson gave the job to his son,
who did not know the district lines has changed after the census
of 2000. So much for nepotism! I hope he learned his lesson--
details matter!
The Democratic House Committee is wise to put six-figure money into this open seat race, because it is theirs to lose.
This banana-shaped district includes the Dem-rich Youngstown
and Athens areas. It would be a shame to lose it because of
one bit of stupidity.

Posted by: Ohioan | April 15, 2006 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Why would the GOP be spending big bucks to attack Charlie Wilson during a Democratic primary if they weren't threatened by him? It's common sense, folks. Charlie is and has been the favorite to win the seat from the very beginning. Blasdel shot himself in the foot by allowing the Dick to stump for him in Hanoverton.

The times, they ebb and flow....and the GOP has had its day for the time being. It sure is fun to watch 'em squirm, though.

Posted by: senecablood | April 14, 2006 12:49 AM | Report abuse

Neocon fantasy land is a strange place.

Put down the kool aid for a second and read this Vivian.

"A survey conducted early this month by Suffolk University in Boston gave Strickland an 18-point lead over Blackwell and an 11-point advantage over Petro."

Factual enough for you?

And for the OH-06 race to replace Strickland, another poll (a little old from January, but still relevant):

A January 11-12 Cooper & Secrest (D) poll of 505 likely OH06 voters gives Democrats something to celebrate about for 2006's prospects:

Party ID
Dem: 50%
GOP: 32%

Rather elect to Congress?
Dem: 52%
GOP: 28%

Rather support a Congress person who...
...would "act as a balance to the Bush Administration's policies that are hurting this area and the country": 57%
...would "support the programs and policies of President Bush": 32%

Bush job approval
Positive: 37%
Negative: 62% (poor: 44%)

Direction of the country
Right direction: 30%
Wrong track: 62%

Bob Taft approval
Positive: 18%
Negative: 80%

OH Governor
Ted Strickland (OH06): 65%
Ken Blackwell: 24%

OH06 race
Charlie Wilson: 42%
Chuck Blasdel: 24%
Undecided: 34%

WOW - Charlie Wilson ALSO has an 18-point lead over his opponent. Just goes to show that the only hope for the repubs is for them to somehow keep Wilson from getting on the ballot. It would seem that OH-06, like the rest of the state and country for that matter, is ready for change.

Posted by: Ohio guy | April 13, 2006 1:15 PM | Report abuse

As for the difficulty in getting write-ins, the current 6th district representative is on the ballot for his own primary and all he has to do is tell his machine to write in Charlie Wilson for Congress when they go to vote for him for Governor.

I mean "machine" in the nicest sense possible.

Posted by: Brittain33 | April 13, 2006 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Once again thank you for your information.
OG is hallucinating and says Stirckland is up 18 points. Light up another one.

It would appear that the race for Ohio governor in November is far from over and that it will be a true contest between Blackwell and Strickland.
Clearly Flannery and Petro are dead and don't know it.

Posted by: vivabush04OH | April 13, 2006 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Latest polls

Survey USA Primary
April 4

Strickland 60%
Flannery 15%

Blackwell 46%
Petro 32%

Rasmussen Head to Head
March 28

Strickland 50%
Blackwell 40%

Strickland 47%
Petro 34%

Stickland 46.6%
Blackwell 40.6%

Strickland 45.6%
Petro 30.5%

Akron Beacon Journal/Bliss Inst.
March 25

Strickland 51%
Flannery 8%

Blackwell 39.3%
Petro 32%

Head to Head
Strickland 37.9%
Blackwell 32.8%

Strickland 32%
Petro 28.3%

Posted by: RMill | April 13, 2006 8:41 AM | Report abuse



E-VOTING 2006: The Approaching Train Wreck
Our Elections are Now Officially 'A National Disaster in the Making'


Our Elections are Now Officially 'A National Disaster in the Making'

By John Gideon, VotersUnite.Org and VoteTrustUSA.Org Normally this space is taken with my ideas of what are the "Top 5" voting news stories for the week. Today I am going...

By John Gideon, VotersUnite.Org and VoteTrustUSA.Org

Normally this space is taken with my ideas of what are the "Top 5" voting news stories for the week. Today I am going to use this space to talk about what I see as the beginning of a disaster in the making with our elections. This isn't the election fraud that some point to when they talk about the vendors and some elections officials. It's not about recounts or audits. This is a real, get your hands around it, happening problem that will disrupt our election process if we do not do something about it now. While we have been involved in all of our issues about Direct Recording Electronic (DRE or "touch-screen") voting machines or paper ballots the electronic voting machine vendors have been wreaking complete havoc across the country.

So far this year two states have conducted primary elections. In Texas there is at least one candidate who has stepped forward and has challenged the election because of anomalies in vote counts and known voting machine failures. One county's machines counted some votes up to 6 times which resulted in approximately 100,000 more votes being counted than were cast. Though the vendor, Hart Intercivic, initially blamed the problem on human error, they finally had to admit that it was a programming error and not poll workers or voters who had erred. In Illinois some county officials are threatening to withhold final payment of funds on contracts with Sequoia Voting Systems because of failures with their machines that ended with results in the primary not being known for over a week after the voters went to the polls. In both states the involved vendors were very successful in the media with deflecting the blame from their machines to "human errors" or "glitches". However, when you listen to people who were there and who saw and worked through the problems you get a very different picture...

As these primaries were being conducted Summit County Ohio announced that over 70% of the memory cards for their precinct based optical-scan machines would not work. The vendor, ES&S, announced that their memory card contractor had made mistakes on some cards and they would be replaced. Memory cards for electronic voting machines store vote tabulations amongst other things.

Apparently ES&S does not consider 'Quality Control' to be a worthwhile corporate value because they never bothered to check those cards. They replaced the bad cards and 20% of those cards failed. Now, this week, the newest batch of cards were delivered after being tested twice by ES&S. They were tested by the county who found that 4% of those cards failed. In the meantime all 1000 memory cards delivered to the state of North Carolina were replaced because of a large percentage of failures. There is no report, yet, of how many of the 1000 memory cards are bad and will need replacement except that local counties still have not received their cards.

Meanwhile early voting began in Indiana and Nebraska. 69 of the 93 counties in Nebraska have no paper ballots from their vendor, ES&S, and no ballot programming for their voting machines. 11 counties in Indiana have the same problems and they are threatening lawsuits. Prebel County Ohio reported they had not gotten their paper ballots. On March 29 the Texas Secretary of State sent an urgent memorandum to all county clerks, elections administrators and county chairs noting that many officials had not received electronic programming or paper ballots for primary runoff elections to be held on April 11.

"We recognize that this kind of service from our certified voting systems vendors is completely unacceptable and disturbing," the memo states. "We will be pursuing all appropriate remedies from a state level that are available to us."

In Pennsylvania ES&S has become the main provider of voting systems and they are not able to deliver all machines that they are contracted to deliver to the counties in time for the primary. They are asking counties to accept a small percentage of the machines they need to conduct elections. In some instances counties may be left with fewer machines than they need to satisfy the accessibility mandates of HAVA and they will have to find another means of meeting that requirement.

Why don't the states or counties speak out? Just this week Marion County Indiana held a county council meeting and demanded that the local ES&S representative attend. Marion County's ballots for a school board position were received with no instructions printed for the voters. Instead ES&S sent an attorney with orders not to say anything except that the representative was involved in a conference call that began 15 minutes before the council meeting and that he would not be able to attend.

Johnson County Clerk, Jill Jackson had this to say about their experience with ES&S:

"I guess what bothered us the most is that it's like it's no big deal that they missed a statutory deadline," Jackson said of ES&S. "They're a big company and it's like they don't care, that they'll get (the ballots) to us when they get them done, and that's not acceptable. I'm extremely disappointed in the vendor."

What is reported above is only what has been in the media. We now have reports from Nevada County, California that ES&S has missed its deadline for delivery of paper ballots to the county. They were due to be delivered on April 6. On April 7 the county registrar received Democratic ballots only and those were filled with errors and will need to be returned to ES&S. The county also has not had their ballot programming done, as promised.

In Wake County, North Carolina they have 218, just tested, ES&S M-100 precinct based optical-scan machines. ES&S acceptance tested the 218 machines to their standards and failed 11 of those machines. The remaining 207 machines were delivered to a county contractor, InfoSentry, who tested those machines and failed 5. ES&S then delivered 11 machines to replace the machines they had failed and InfoSentry failed 2 of those. This represents a 7.8% failure rate or 18 failures out of 229 machines received. Where is the quality control?

Why is this happening? It is very apparent that some of the voting machine vendors over-extended their ability to meet their contracts for machines and for ancillary services like paper ballot printing. These companies saw an opportunity to make a lot of money at the expense of the tax payers and they saw a deadline of 1 January 2006 that fit right in with their plans to get as much money as possible this year. The vendors are raking in the money through deceptive practices and shoddy workmanship.

Dennis Vadura is the former CEO of AccuPoll, a voting machine vendor that has filed for bankruptcy. He has this to say about the industry (emphasis added):

"I am not happy about the outcome, or the state of the industry. I think that something needs to be done. I'm not sure what it is, it probably doesn't include AccuPoll at this point, but I do not feel that any of the vendors has a system that voters can trust. I think that vendors outright misrepresent the robustness, stability, and security of their systems. You just have to look at the litany of problems and it points at one thing, bad fundamental design, and not enough checks and balances. I also wonder why the other vendors were so adamant in fighting a VVPAT [Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail] system requirement. They spent much more in fighting it than in implementing it."

Yesterday I heard a speech from my county auditor who is the head election official in my county in Washington state. She said that those who are raising concerns about voting and elections are just undermining the confidence of the voting public. What a naïve statement to make. We all need to be aware of what is happening to our elections. We all need to talk to our counties, states, and federal officials and let them know that we are headed for a disaster nationally. Maybe your county is in good shape but this is a national issue and a national disaster in the making.

The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 should have been changed to extend the dead-line for another year. Many of us argued for this but our arguments fell on deaf ears. Now our local elections officials are being held-up by vendors who know they have them over a barrel and that the counties must do something right now or face penalties from the Department of Justice.

This issue has nothing to do with security of voting machines or accuracy or voter verified paper ballots or some vendor CEO having ties to a political party. It is just about contractors who are out to grab every dollar they can get and they don't seem to care that our elections are going to suffer for their actions or inactions. And imagine, this is only the first year. Counties have HAVA funds to spend this year. What happens next year when those counties get the bills for technical assistance, ballot printing, maintenance, ballot programming, and machine storage? ES&S certainly doesn't care about that. They show that every day.

I often get asked, "What can I do?" Well, the time for action is now. Pass this article on to your local, state and federal elected officials and ask them to do a little reading of the media reports included in this article. They are far from being the only articles on this subject. Ask them how they are going to handle these problems when it comes time for their primaries. Don't let them tell you it won't happen there because it very easily can happen there or here or the next state over. We, you and I, need to take action on this now for the sake of our elections. We are headed for a train wreck.

Posted by: CHE | April 13, 2006 3:49 AM | Report abuse

I hate to break to this to you Viva but the last poll I saw had Strickland with an 18-point lead over Blackwell. Is that factual enough for you? Now, do YOU have any basis for your claim that black voters are going to vote for Blackwell? Probably not, since this is the 10th time we've had this discussion and each time you never answered - not b/c of a lack of facts I'm sure.......
Has it ever occurred to you that if people vote for Blackwell simply b/c he is black that some who usually vote republican might vote for Strickalnd instead simply b/c he is black? It goes both ways. This might help explain why if Blackwell really is winning a lot of the black votes why he is 18 POINTS BEHIND.

Oh yeh , and smooth move Blackwell made....buying stock in Diebold before he awards them a state contract (thankfully he got caught and was forced to sell at a loss), that won't look bad in a commercial at all.

Posted by: Ohio guy | April 12, 2006 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Although Wilson has two primary opponents, neither has money or name recognition. Plus, the people who vote in primaries are usually the base of the party & are the most knowledgeable voters. Therefore, it won't make a difference whether voters must write in or touch a screen to vote, I predict Wilson will win easily next month.

Posted by: Andrew | April 12, 2006 8:07 PM | Report abuse

The neo's of the Bush Admin love Israel so much they should haul down Old Glory and hoist the blue and white Israeli rag over the White House.Anyone who hasn't already figured it out would finally get a clear definition of American foreign policy in the Middle East.

Posted by: Xagent | April 12, 2006 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Did he just say Taft isn't up this year?? In his own state even!!!! Mind Boggling. He may not be up for election but his seat is definetly in play and his legacy will play a part. Looks like republicans ARE just talking parrots. LOL Atleast this one is.

Posted by: Rob Millette | April 12, 2006 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Why did you not mention that Blasdel is $54000 in the hole to the STATE OF OHIO for back taxes in the article rather than just insinuate it and link to it?? Seems like there was some bias in mentioning Wilson's link to the supposed dumping but not Blasdell's tax problems outright

Posted by: Anonymous | April 12, 2006 6:17 PM | Report abuse

It's little wonder that the Dems are in the minority status now given the logic of Kev.
Hate to tell you this but Bush and Taft aren't up this year. You had your chance at Bush in 2000 and 2004 and couldn't beat him then. If he was such an albatross then why didn't Busby win in CA50?

And this one... Republicans will stay home if Blackwell wins? Hello? How do you think Blackwell is beating Petro by double digits now? Must be aliens answering those polls. Petro is dead man walking.
I assure you, Republicans will not sit home and not vote for Ken Blackwell. Even Petro will vote for him. And don't forget the Black vote, votes that would be going for Strickland.
Careful what you wish for.

Posted by: vivabush04OH | April 12, 2006 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Viva, your president is doing such a fine job - almost as good as your wonderful Governor - What is it now? 10%approval rating? better hope Petro wins the Republican Gov primary bc there Blackwell has a no chance.....most Republicans will stay home if he is the candidate.

Posted by: kevlenson | April 12, 2006 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Charlie makes the ballot for November. Then the real battle begins.

Posted by: Adult | April 12, 2006 4:58 PM | Report abuse

I think Ohio guy's posts make a lot of sense and are very well articulated.

Posted by: Jason | April 12, 2006 4:35 PM | Report abuse

"smear campaign?" Oh boo-hoo hoo.
You guys can dish it out but you can't take it.

And speaking of smearing, how about the number you just pulled on me and Tammy?
Republicans? Yep, we're just mindless parrots void of any intelligence or morals. Aren't you capable of discussing issues and facts? But Ohio G never offers any facts.
Asked and answered.

Posted by: vivabush04OH | April 12, 2006 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Vienna, GA you were wrong - Viva beat Tammy to spouting said republican talking points. Seems know-nothing republicans can't wait to see who can be the first among them to say something stupid these days. I wonder how many of the parrots like Viva who take the position that Charlie won't make it on the ballot will come back and admit they were speaking out of ignorance when he does make it on the ballot.

I won't hold my breath.

Republicans know if Charlie does get on the ballot he will win so they will do everything they can to smear him. Good news for Wilson is that it only gets easier for him after the primaries.

Posted by: Ohio guy | April 12, 2006 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I will say that adding names for write in in touch screen is much easier than it was with the punch card system. It is a tough uphill battle for Wilson with primary opponents.

Posted by: RMill | April 12, 2006 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Wrong Quiz Kid, it's VivaBush04OH

The talking points are this: Wilson got trouble in River City. With two candidates on the ballot where all can see their names, how many will actually go through the red tape and touch screen to write in his name?

I do not care for those odds. You?

Posted by: vivabush04 | April 12, 2006 4:05 PM | Report abuse

1. Look up Republican talking points on the web. Check.

2. Anxiously await "Tammy" to log in here and parrot said talking points like a trained monkey in

Posted by: Vienna, VA | April 12, 2006 3:38 PM | Report abuse

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