Earlier this week, there was a special election held in the Second Congressional District of Ohio, where I once resided and voted. This district encompasses the East Side of Greater Cincinnati, including upscale suburbs like India Hill as well as the backwaters of Clermont County. The attitudes are conservative. The politics are Republican.
Former Republican Representative Rob Portman always garnered 70 percent of the vote in this district. The Republican Party never had to worry about the Second District. It was as solidly Republican as you could get. They could get this win blind-folded with two hands tied behind their backs.
Not so fast.
The Democratic candidate in this election was not your usual bleeding heart liberal. Paul Hackett, a lawyer from Indian Hill, was a gun-owning Marine who served in the Iraq War and he proved to be a formidable opponent for the Republican, Jean Schmidt, a conservative Republican from Loveland. Instead of Portman’s 70 percent, Schmidt had to squeak by with just 52 percent of the vote.
Okay, winning is winning, and coming close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades. And it was an off year election. The turnout was light. The Republican party was divided over a bitterly fought primary in June. And darn those Democrats, they went and found themselves a candidate that would appeal to Republicans. The nerve of those people.
Even without the victory it proves that a heavily Republican district can be swayed by the right candidate. Maybe it’s just a fluke, but I think not. Political attitudes shift slowly. It took a long time for the Republicans to take over both houses of Congress, it will take just as long for the Democrats to regain that lost ground.
Anyway, now the Republicans know the Second District is not necessarily in the bag.