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As many have pointed out, we can’t be content just to work on keeping the presidency out of the grasping hands of cinder-hearted Mitt Romney, who thinks half of Americans aren’t worthy to be served by the government and that government should be of, by and for rich people alone. We also have to keep the Senate and work like maniacs to try to reassert control of the House.

We’ve got a batch of races in Ohio that offer a lot of promise on that score, despite the damage that Republican redistricters did, carving out four Democratic districts and 12 Republican ones in a 50/50 state.

But in order to do so, they made moves that made some incumbents less secure. And a group of determined, dynamic women has stepped up to take the fight to these incumbents.

The highest profile race is that of two incumbents: Betty Sutton, whose district was eliminated, and Teabaggin’ Jim Renaccci in Oh-16. Her polling says it’s tied; his says….nothing. In order to shatter Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) into pieces to weaken Democratic unity there, they gave this district a big slab of southwestern Cuyahoga County.

Renacci’s problems start there. This part of the county is heavily auto-industry dependent. Betty wrote Cash for Clunkers. She supported the auto industry bailout; Renacci didn’t. At the opening of an Obama office in Parma in February, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was introducing Betty and when she mentioned Betty's support for the auto industry, a middle-aged man in a UAW jacket standing behind me yelled out, “She kept me employed!” He was doubtless speaking for many in the district.


Debbie Wasserman-Schultz Introduces Betty Sutton.

Betty is an outstanding progressive, and we really need to keep her in Congress. And if she wins, the Tea Party loses.

Down in the Dayton area, the mapmakers did the opposite of what they did in Toledo, reuniting Montgomery County (Dayton) into one district, removing the blueish part that was in Boehner’s district to dye it even redder. It also includes Greene County and northern Fayette County. The incumbent here is the inexplicably entrenched Mike “Who?” Turner, a faceless GOP rubber stamp. He’s a former mayor of Dayton.

He’s being challenged by attorney Sharen Neuhardt, who lives in Greene County and works for a law firm in Dayton. She ran previously in 2008 in a much redder district against Steve “Who?” Austria. So she’s got some campaign legs already. She’s a smart, savvy candidate, and she is on air with an ad. I don’t know of any polling but I suspect this race is close too.

In the new Oh-07, a district I won’t even attempt to describe, Teabaggin’ Bob Gibbs is technically the incumbent, but he currently only represents 25% of this meandering atrocity which runs from rural central Ohio all the way up to almost the lakefront in the greater Cleveland area. Gibbs is a farmer from rural conservative Holmes County.

His challenger is his polar opposite. Joyce Healy-Abrams is a businesswomen from the devastated urban area of Canton where among other things she served on the board of Canton’s Planned Parenthood (All these woman are openly and unequivocally pro-choice). Joyce is a political novice, unlike Gibbs, who served in the legislature.

I was dubious about the organization of her campaign when I first met her in the spring, when her campaign manager called me and asked if she could stop by a forum I organized on the war on women to speak to the gathering. She was great but the campaign at that point barely even had a website up. She has plunged into campaigning in a big way and taken to it like a duck to water. She has already gone on air with two ads. Just got word this morning, she is now going for the jugular, attacking Gibbs on Medicare with a new web page and ad:

Finally, in the Republican northwestern corner of Ohio, in district 5, minister and college professor Angela Zimmann has taken on the assignment of challenging yet another useless Republican rubber stamp, incumbent Bob “Who?” Latta. (You can see what an army of Stepfords out Republican delegation is. Bet you never heard of any of these guys.)

Zimmann, like Healy Abrams, is a first time candidate who is swimming in these waters like an Olympic contender. She’s such a natural that she asks for money in her sleep now. She even got a donation out of me, and I’m now unemployed. Genius!

Her ace is that, in their move to eliminate Kucinich and hack up some of the urban areas, they split up Toledo and put part of it in this district. Wouldn’t it be sweet if this move backfired? This race is probably the longest shot of the group, but Angela has been an absolutely tireless campaigner. Latta is refusing to debate her, so she and the Libertarian are getting around the district a lot.

From what I hear from people there, Latta is a dumb-as-a-stump do-nothing who has habitually kept his distance from constituents. I don’t know what this means, but driving through rural Williams County is the northwest corner of this district closest to Indiana, I saw one of Angela’s yard signs in front of a farmhouse. This is something that just shouldn’t be, like seeing a Romney sign in a black urban area in the window of a rundown apartment.


Yard signs in Williams County.

Currently, Ohio has four women in Congress. One is wacky Republican Jean “Scrunchie” Schmidt, who got primaried by a slick man even further to the right. We'll have three Democratic women even if — god forbid — Betty loses. They are incumbents Marcy Kaptur and Marcia Fudge and freshman-to-be Joyce Beatty, who’ll be representing a newly created Democratic district in Columbus intended to suck up the increasing number of Democrats there so they don’t threaten surrounding Republican districts. It’s a can’t-win district for a Republican so Joyce will be heading to D.C in January. She’ll increase Ohio’s black representation to two, along with Marcia.

There’s also one other district where we have a shot at flipping a seat: Ohio 6, represented by Teabaggin’ Bill Johnson. Charlie Wilson represented this district from 2008-2010 and he’s vying to take it back. He’s a Blue Dog. I wish him well although I am not making his race a priority on my blog.

Ohio’s four guaranteed seats will be filled by three women and one lone man, the “good” Ryan, Tim, from the Youngstown area. If any of these other challengers win (besides Wilson), Ohio will be sending an army of Democratic women to Congress to proudly help Nancy Pelosi reclaim her gavel.

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