Tomorrow is special-election day in Ohio's 5th district, and while the odds certainly favor the Republicans, they sure aren't looking like a party that's passionate about winning.
The [GOP] Members are running around saying, 'What just happened?'" said a Washington Republican with knowledge of the district. "To put it bluntly, they're pissed off. People are angry that Bob Latta hasn't devoted himself better on the campaign trial to connect with northwest Ohio voters and given an opportunity to an opponent who was so far off the radar and actually made it a race." [...]
"It's like the Latta campaign is trying to write a handbook on how to lose a Congressional campaign in 60 days or less," said the Republican.
Perhaps that's why John Boehner, House Minority Leader and proud representative of the neighboring 8th district, is bravely staying away from this race. Boehner, the House's most powerful Republican, has eschewed campaigning here, electing to spend his time campaigning in a different special election, in Virginia's 1st District.
Never mind, of course, that his district is right next door; never mind that Democrats have gone all-in on this district and that there's a legitimate risk that the GOP may lose this seat. Boehner is too busy, it seems, hanging in Virginia (although Democratic counterparts Governor Ted Strickland and Senator Sherrod Brown are only too happy to help out Robin Weirauch).
Well, if Boehner won't help Latta out, perhaps Fred Thompson will? Unfortunately, Thompson shows about the same energy and vigor for campaigning in this web ad as he does in his own campaign (which is to say, none).
The Republicans have done what they can to try and raise money on the Intertubes, but unfortunately, they appear to be having some troubles guiding people to Slatecard, the GOP's pathetic counter to ActBlue. Seems, also, that there's more than a bit of Latta apathy online as well as offline. At last report, Latta had pulled in the lofty total of $1,908 on Slatecard, from all of 21 donors.
Compare that with the $92,616 Weirauch has raised on ActBlue (including $15,604 from Blue Majority; congratulations to you all), and we get a decent idea of Latta's online support vis-a-vis Weirauch's.
But perhaps of greatest concern for the Republicans facing tomorrow's election is the possibility that turnout may be unusually low. The Republican primary in this district was exceptionally ugly, and Latta only won with 44%, to 40% for his opponent Steve Buehrer. Latta has apparently had a difficult time smoothing over his differences with Buehrer's old supporters, as the Lima News reports:
Following a negative, divisive and close primary in which the Ohio Elections Commission reprimanded Latta and fellow candidate Ohio Sen. Steve Buehrer for lying about each other, Buehrer supporters haven’t gotten behind Latta.
"You had four in 10 Republican voters supporting Buehrer. If they are disgusted by the negativity of that campaign or the outcome, and they stay home, it could really change the outcome of the election," Miller said.
Buckeye State Blog has a piece on the GOP's turnout concerns, which surely will not be alleviated by the weather (it's expected to rain, with temperatures in the 30s).
In the face of the discontent with the Republican candidate in the district, the Republicans, naturally, are doing the only thing they know how to do; they're spending boatloads of money (which, for once, they can't afford to spend), on ads designed to make people afraid of the monsters under the bed (in this case, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, brown people, and Daily Kos. Wow, didn't see that coming).
This is going to be a very difficult race to win. Simply put, we just don't win districts this red very often. We currently have elected Democrats in exactly six seats with a higher Cook PVI. Latta has outraised Weirauch through the race (although she's done very well for a Democrat in this district), and the Republicans have thrown vats of money into this district: they're in for nearly $430,000, so despite the fact that they're having trouble drumming up excitement for their candidate, they're pulling out the stops to keep this district.
But, at the very least, we have a fighting chance in this district, and we have a candidate we can truly be proud of.
The GOP sees a chance they might lose a safe Republican district, and they've got a candidate who leaves them shaking their heads.
Update: Check out this diary from lpackard for reports from the campaign and information on phonebanking for Robin Weirauch.