Congresswoman Jean Schmidt: The Freddy Krueger of Cincinnati-Area Politics
It looks like Jean Schmidt has dodged another bullet. In 2004, Schmidt lost her Republican primary bid for the Ohio State Senate. The loss was a source of glee for many of her fellow Republican activists in Clermont County, the mostly suburban, somewhat-rural county east of Cincinnati’s Hamilton County. In spite of having been a township trustee and a State Representative from the county’s most populous areas, she lost the county in that race. Her political career was seen as dead.
But then Rob Portman, congressman from Ohio’s Second District, was made federal budget director by President Bush, opening his seat up to a special election. Schmidt jumped into the race, the only candidate in a Republican primary field who was not from Hamilton County. A Republican has a huge registration advantage in the district, President Bush won it with 65 to 70% of the vote in his two runs for the White House, and Portman won the district with similar majorities.
Schmidt ultimately won both the primary and the special election. But the partisan conservative Republican has managed to upset or offend a number of her constituents. That began with her November, 2005, attack on Marine veteran John Murtha on the House floor.
The attack created a firestorm, even inciting a Saturday Night Live skit. I lived in the county at the time. It’s a place where military service is highly honored and large numbers of its young people join the service. Many veterans were highly-critical of Schmidt while others backed her, only underscoring what has been a constant of Schmidt’s career: She is highly-polarizing. The Democrats played on that in TV ads like this one this year:
In both of the election cycles since her special election year in 2005, Jean Schmidt has been targeted by the Democrats. Her first opponent was a rather voluble Iraq War vet who opposed the war. Two years ago, her opponent was a local physician, Dr. Victoria Wulsin, who ran a credible campaign.
That led Democrats and Republicans to expect a 2008 rematch in which Wulsin’s prospects looked good.
But then a third party candidate entered the race. David Krikorian appears to have been well-financed.
So far, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer web site, 275 of the 719 precincts in the district have reported. It has to be encouraging to Schmidt and massively disappointing to Wulsin. Schmidt has 47% of the vote, Wulsin has 36%, and Krikorian, 17%.
No doubt, if this early trend holds, Second District Democrats will blame Krikorian for Wulsin’s loss.
And once again, Jean Schmidt, who has risen from the dead three times in the past three years, has dodged defeat. She can rightly be called the Freddy Krueger of Cincinnati-area politics.
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