Sunday, March 16, 2008

Is the Window of Opportunity to Beat Mean Jean quickly Closing?

This week has not been a good week for the already battle bruised Victoria Wulsin. There has been a group of stories to come out of the race for Ohio's 2nd Congressional District that seem to help Jean Schmidt, and hurt Dr. Wulsin. I wouldn't concede this race just yet, but one thing is becoming clear; it seems like Jean Schmidt is starting to learn how to become a less polarizing and more effective congresswoman.

The first damaging story came from the DCCC who did not include Ohio's Second Congressional District in its "Red to Blue" program. This is a program that focuses money and attention from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to races that they feel are competitive in districts with a GOP incumbent. While Steve Driehaus, Democratic candidate in Ohio's 1st District which neighbors the 2nd District, does appear on the list, Dr. Wulsin does not. The DCCC has said, however, that this is only the first round of anouncements in its 2008 "Red to Blue" program, and that the 2nd District race may very well end up on one of the future lists. Either way, Congresswoman Schmidt is touting this list as evidence that the Democrats will not be trying as diligently as before to unseat her. She narrowly won reelection in 2006 with 50.5% of the vote against a well funded Dr. Wulsin.

The next damaging story comes from Iraq War veteran, Paul Hackett. Paul Hackett was Jean Schmidt's Democratic opponent in the 2005 special election in which she was narrowly picked to replace former Congressman Rob Portman. It was Hackett's strong showing in a reliably GOP district (Bush won 65% of the vote in the 2nd District in 2004) that propelled the DCCC to view Jean Schmidt as a weak incumbent. Hackett, however, this week said that he too believes that the window is closing on the opportunity for the Democrats to beat Jean Schmidt. Hackett cites the improvements that Jean Schmidt has made after two terms in congress. She does seem to have become less abrasive, and less combatant than when she first entered and made the infamous "cowards cut and run" speech on the House floor. Hackett also refers to some of Wulsin's "issues and problems and challenges" as a candidate, possibly referring to the questions surrounding malariotherapy and her work with the Heimlich Institute.

The third story that is hurting Wulsin is the recent story about a bi-partisan bill that Jean Schmidt is working on with Congressman James Oberstar of Minnesota. The bill would supply aide to pregnant teenagers who are looking to give up their baby for adoption. It seems to me that this is a good piece of pro-life legislation. I am happy to see a pro-life candidate working on making adoption an easier choice rather than simply attacking abortion rights.

With all of these stories coming out this week, it does force Democrats to wonder if the 2nd District is now a missed opportunity. Please do not think that I am in any way warming up to Jean Schmidt, I still hope that Dr. Wulsin defeats her in November. However, the Wulsin campaign is going to need to pull out all of the stops and really pound ahead this time. I think that if Jean Schmidt is to win this election, her incumbency in the 2nd District is all but entrenched.

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