I haven't posted here in a long time, in part because I've been busy working on the ground for a Democratic victory in New Jersey. But I want to bring to your attention that a Republican Congressman, Mike Turner of Ohio, in one of the key areas that Barack Obama needs to win the state, is trying to win reelection by passing himself off as a Democrat. More specifically, Turner and his supporters have been handing out literature outside polling places in the heavily African-American city of Dayton (the heart of his district), identifying him as the endorsed candidate of the Democratic Party and as part of Barack Obama's "ticket". Furthermore, on Saturday Turner illegally entered polling places in Dayton five times to campaign for votes...and I have the photo to prove it.
Disclaimer: I am a friend of Jane Mitakides, the real Democratic nominee for Congress in Ohio's 3rd District. Her website is Jane Mitakides for Congress
The man in the center of the picture is Congressman Mike Turner, the Ohio Republican who represents Dayton, a heavily African-American city that Barack Obama needs a big majority in to help carry Ohio. He is inside the Montgomery County (which is mostly Dayton) Board of Elections, which is a polling place this year, and therefore well inside the 100-foot limit for campaigning. The photograph was taken by Jane's husband. Turner did this five times on Saturday before being ordered to leave.
Turner has won reelection before for two reasons: 1) The district also contains heavily Republican areas around Dayton; 2) African-American turnout has traditionally been lower in Dayton than in the rest of the district.
Yet this is no ordinary election year. That Saturday alone, 3,400 citizens came in to vote as part of the Early Vote program in Ohio. And the turnout has been heavily pro-Democratic so far. According to the daily reports Jane has sent me, over 71,000 voters in Montgomery County had already voted as of Saturday. . As Jane told me, "The workers say the voters are "clutching the Dem slate card like it was a winning lottery ticket.""
And with African-Americans coming out in record numbers, and if they vote a straight Democratic ticket, then Mike Turner is in serious trouble. He won with 59% in 2006, after his initial opponent withdrew and his new opponent had just 53 days to campaign. Jane has been able to run a full-fledged campaign, and thanks to the Obama campaign has a strong grassroots effort to work with in all parts of her district.
So, what do you do if you're Mike Turner? Simple: you tell voters in Dayton that you are the Democratic candidate for Congress! And while you're at it, make sure your volunteers say that he's endorsed by Barack Obama for good measure. There's only one problem with that:
There's your Democratic nominee! Also, if you go to Jane's website and wait a few seconds, you'll see a photograph of her with Barack Obama on the front page.
Here's a report from Jane's daughter Katie, who was at the polls on Saturday:
I am Jane Mitakides’ daughter and [a] former Daschle/DNC staffer. Today [Saturday], I heard multiple Mike Turner staffers refer to Turner as the "democratic" candidate AND as "Obama’s endorsed candidate."...
...There was a female Ohio GOP officer handing out literature at the same location; I pointed out the situation to her and she assured me that I had simply misheard the Turner folk. I assure you, I had not.
I spoke to the Obama staffers on site and they immediately sent a campaign attorney who took my statement. However, the worst part is this: Turner was being filmed by Ch. 22 shaking hands and chumming it up with Obama staffers (who didn’t know who he was). This only propagates the Turner/Obama rumors.
Our campaign is prepared to file a federal complaint and I am in the process of contacting the FEC. I would assume the Obama campaign would also file a complaint as this is clearly fraud and misrepresentation.
And from Jane:
What Katie didn’t know when she sent this was that the same thing (volunteers telling people at the polls Turner is a Democrat, see below) was going on in the front entrance to the Montgomery County (Dayton, Ohio) board of elections. (She worked the back... we had two in back, three or four in front all day long.)
Volunteers were handing out the Democratic slate card, then the Turner people would say, "You’ve got your Obama card? Okay, here’s the Mike Turner card that goes with that." In the back where Katie was, they were actually saying that he was an Obama-endorsed Democrat. A few savvy voters said, "He’s no Democrat," and threw the mailers on the ground. [The] Obama people [were] NOT happy.
Turner himself came and went at least four times from the BOE, going DIRECTLY INTO THE POLLING PLACE, shaking hands and electioneering until we finally got someone to stop him and tell him to go outside the 100 ft. line.
In short, you have a Republican Congressman panicking about losing his job, and who will do anything to keep it - including lying to thousands of his constituents who want to change this country for the better. Hopefully this kind of stunt will backfire on Mike Turner, and Ohio-3 will once again send a Democrat to Congress. I know Jane Mitakides, and I know she will make a wonderful Congresswoman, both for Ohio and for this country.