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This Is Our Moment: Paul Hackett, Jean Schmidt and the Blogosphere's Chance to Make a Real Difference
July 12, 2005
By Stephen Yellin
(Written for the DCCC)

I first want to thank Ann Driscoll of Mydd.com for alerting me (indirectly) to this Congressional race. Without her tireless efforts to promote Paul Hackett's vitally important campaign, I wouldn't be writing this article today. I hope her example of research and frequent, yet unobtrusive updates will serve as inspiration to me and others online as we promote our candidates as well.

Read This Article, And Find Out Why We NEED to Raise $25,000 for Paul Hackett by July 25th.

Now, onto this campaign, a campaign that could cement the blogosphere's reputation as king-makers for the Democratic Party. What's that, you say? Aren't we still stuck with establishment leaders who can't stick their ostrich necks out of the sand long enough to see the GOP in the quicksand? The answer, unfortunately, is yes-and that's why we, the activists-we, the grassroots-we, the people of our party- have to take up this duty. The special election in Ohio's 2nd Congressional District is not being targeted by the National Democrats-yet. If we put our strength to the wheels of the Hackett wagon, we can-no, will-get a bandwagon started that will end up, on August 2nd, electrifying the party and the nation. Now let me tell you why this race matters.

Congressman Rob Portman, a typically bland and ultra-loyal Republican was appointed in March to a higher-paying government post, leaving his seat vacant. Governor Bob Taft (a scion of a longtime political dynasty) ordered a special election set for August 2nd, with the winner going immediately to Congress for at least 17 months. The Bush Administration naturally assumed that, since Dubya had won OH-02 with 63% in 2004, the seat would be easily held by some local Republican, who then could join the GOP ranks as if nothing had happened. Well, that was the plan at least.

Then came Coingate. We all know how Thomas Noe was exposed as a thief and a fraud, how the Ohio GOP government served as a funnel for illegal pay-to-play schemes, how $50 million belonging to Ohio's struggling citizens were doled out to campaign donors and other fat cats. Bob Taft (he of a 27% approval rating) is facing calls to resign, all three Republican candidates for Governor (SOS Ken Blackwell, AG Jim Petro and Auditor Betty Montgomery) have been found to have taken money from the fraud, polls show the Democratic candidates for Governor leading the field without Democrats listed in the poll (see http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/7/7/18324/85595 for more) and the Ohio Republicans have collapsed.

Meanwhile, the 2nd District Republicans proceeded to beat each other up in the primary, with one candidate (Pat DeWine, son of Senator Mike, who may lose himself in 2006) found guilty of family flaws and another (Bob McEwen) of ethical flaws. Neither won, and so the GOP nominee is now Jean Schmidt, who would be a lovely addition to the GOP ranks in Congress. Ms. Schmidt, a former State Representative has plenty of ethical flaws in her resume as well, along with an ultra-conservative record for any Republican to be proud of. Ann Driscoll (the Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of our story) has detailed extensively Schmidt's ethical lapses and campaign nastiness that make her totally unqualified for Congress. Among some of the qualifications she has for the Tom DeLay corruption club are:

*The Ohio Joint Legislative Ethics Committee is investigating Schmidt's co-sponsorship of a cystic fibrosis bill backed by Chiron, Inc. A month before, Chiron had taken Schmidt and four other GOPers on a jaunt to a Bengals game and a fancy restaurant worth $5,000. Conflict of interest? You betcha!

*In a bid for State Senate last year, she used a variety of smear tactics and undercover ploys to try and beat her primary opponent (she failed).

*Larry Householder, the now-disgraced ex-House Speaker worked closely with Schmidt's Senate campaign to raise money for the campaign. Some of their tactics included intimidating lobbyists into giving money to Schmidt or else get unfavorable legislation for their projects. At least six lobbyists testified to this treatment to the investigation, based on Secretary Blackwell's report. Householder and his two aides, one of whom is Schmidt's campaign manager also worked on a 109-page memo to uncover scandals regarding Blackwell and thus end his political career (this memo, which was leaked to the investigation was completed before November 2nd, 2004, unfortunately). So crooks are investigating crooks-lovely, isn't it?

*The non-profit PAC Ohio Taxpayers Association spent $120,000 running smear television commercials against Schmidt's opponent,  claiming that he was "anti-tax payer" and that Schmidt was "pro-tax payer."  The ads hypocritically used Brad Neihaus (the opponent)'s  voting "to raise sales, income, gas and cigarette taxes." As weapons of choice.  But voting records show that Schmidt voted identically on those exact same taxes.  The Enquirer acknowledged in their endorsement for Schmidt in the District 2 primary that the ads "distorted the two candidates' records on taxes."  Scott Pullins, the head of the Ohio Taxpayers Association admitted that Householder and Sisk raised money for the group and that at least some of that money was used to produce the ads.      
All this and more can be found in Ann Driscoll's article, http://www.mydd.com/story/2005/7/12/12835/7314 .

As Schmidt eked out a primary win, the Democrats rallied behind Paul Hackett, a moderate Democrat who served in Iraq. A former town Councilman, Hackett left his job to volunteer for active duty in the Marine Corps (he was in the reserve previously). He returned to Ohio in early 2005, and now is running for Congress. Hackett is not a liberal, mind you-but he's a Democrat, and right now we need Representatives who will fight for all sides of our party. Most importantly, Hackett is not afraid to criticize the government (which the GOP controls currently) for its flaws, as the following quotes shows:

 "I don't need Washington to tell me how to live my personal life or how to pray to my God." (This was from the Schmidt-Hackett debate on July 7th)  

"Look, I'm a Marine Corps combat vet.  I'm not soft on defense.  I'm not soft on terrorism.  Hell, I've looked in terrorism in the eye, and I've vanquished it.  But I'm hard on an Administration that has not had the courage to put forth an Iraq terrorism policy that reflects reality."  (Same as above-thanks to Ann Driscoll for both quotes)

In the debate that took place (see http://www.mydd.com/story/2005/7/12/113830/237  for more) Hackett also went toe-to-toe with Schmidt on "dangerous" issues for a Democrat in a conservative district-abortion and gay rights. Ann Driscoll reports:

"Hackett, seizing upon Schmidt's hesitancy to assert the vehemence of her anti-abortion stance, reached the peak of his momentum.  He propounded the need to fund preventive education and stated that, until there are no unwanted pregnancies, abortion should remain legal, safe, and rare.  Hackett managed to make the pro-choice position seem macho and obvious, dominating a debate that Republicans almost always rhetorically win."

As well as:  `The pro-choice Hackett wasn't sure how he'd vote on the Supreme Court nominees, but he spoke eagerly about that other hot-button social issue: homosexuality. "That's how God made them." If one of his kids came out to him, he said "I'd love `em just the same."'
Paul Hackett's a genuinely good and decent human being, and one that can make a big difference if elected. Jean Schmidt's another GOP hack in a long line of such politicians, and would be just another face in the crowd if elected. No to mention that electing a Democrat in this district would send a clarion message to the Democrats in Washington: We're making a difference, damnit, and we want you to do your part. This challenge would not be ignored, especially if Congressman Paul Hackett is there to give it to them. The Republicans will be shell-shocked (we saw how concerned they were when Ben Chandler and Stephanie Herseth won specials in 2004), and we will have scored a major victory for our party, for our ideology, for America.

So, how do we make the most of our moment? Go to Paul's website, http://www.hackettforcongress.com and give them cash, first off. If the Hackett campaign is going to take advantage of this GOP donnybrook, they'll need to have enough money to run a few TV ads so people know who they ought to vote for instead of "same-old, same-old". They need volunteers-if you live near the district or if you want to fly over there to help, Cincinnati is not far away at all from Hackett's HQ. And they need attention-call the DCCC, the DNC, and (if you're from Ohio) write letters to Ohio newspapers, and tell them to get on the race now.

I'm proposing a Challenge to All Members of the Blogosphere: Can we raise $25,000 in two weeks to get Paul Hackett elected? We did it in 2004 with Ginny Schrader in a week, and this race is no less important. And when I threw the first pebble into Ginny's wave of money, I knew that her race mattered. So does Paul Hackett's in Ohio-02. So let's get started!

Originally posted to stephenyellin on Tue Jul 12, 2005 at 10:59 AM PDT.

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