Here are two signs that Republicans are worried about losing their grip on Ohio's 1st Congressional District seat.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has reserved $928,000 in television commercial ad time this fall in the 1st District, according to the Politico.com Web site. In all, the DCCC has targeted 31 House districts as battleground races where they will spend about $35 million on TV advertising.
State Rep. Steve Driehaus, a Democrat, is trying to unseat U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, the incumbent Republican who’s seeking his eighth congressional term. A former Cincinnati city councilman and Hamilton County commissioner, Chabot was first elected to Congress in 1994 when he defeated Democratic incumbent David Mann.
In recent years, Chabot has held off various Democratic contenders including two races against Cincinnati City Councilman John Cranley (2000 and 2006), two races against Greg Harris (2002 and 2004) and a race against then-Mayor Roxanne Qualls (1998).
Ohio’s 1st Congressional District spans roughly from Vine Street in downtown Cincinnati westward to the Indiana state line and northward into Butler County. It includes such communities as Evendale, Norwood, Reading, Springdale, White Oak, Woodlawn, Colerain Township and Delhi Township; its demographic makeup is 69 percent white and 27 percent African-American.
Meanwhile, Republican Party operatives are busy spreading several rumors involving Driehaus. The National Republican Congressional Committee — the DCCC’s counterpart — has alleged Driehaus refuses to endorse Barack Obama, his party’s presidential nominee, in an effort to avoid alienating conservative voters in the district. Driehaus’ campaign has said that’s inaccurate.
Another recent rumor making its way through GOP quarters alleges that Cranley — who’s facing term limits on city council — is working on a deal to appoint Driehaus to his seat at City Hall in exchange for getting another shot at challenging Chabot.
“That is absolutely not true,” Cranley said. “I’ve heard the same thing, and there’s no truth to it.”
Chabot defeated Cranley 52 percent to 48 percent last time. But with sentiment against President Bush and the Iraq War running high and economic troubles making near daily headlines, Democratic Party leaders are hopeful this is the year that Chabot is ousted.
— Kevin Osborne