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More Than a Grudge Match?

It is no secret in the Cincinnati area that the 56-year-old McEwen, who lost his seat in the neighboring district in 1992 following unfavorable redistricting, has long felt that the 2nd District should be his.

After losing to Democrat Ted Strickland (who is now leaving Congress to run for governor), McEwen promptly moved to the 2nd when incumbent Republican Rep. (1974-92) Bill Gradison resigned from Congress, and then McEwen ran in the special election. He narrowly lost in the primary to Rob Portman, a former staffer in the elder George Bush’s White House whose campaign featured a strong radio endorsement from First Lady Barbara Bush. It was Portman’s resignation last year to become U.S. trade representative that triggered the nationally watched special election in which Schmidt won the GOP nod and then a closer-than-expected victory over Democratic U.S. Marine reserve Colonel Paul Hackett. Despite pleas from national Democratic leaders to try again in the 2nd District, Hackett is seeking the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination and thus the May GOP primary is almost certain to determine the next congressman.

McEwen supporters insist that there are substantive differences between their man and Schmidt. They point to her vote for Taft’s taxes and her ties to the Republican governor — whose name Hackett invoked more than 20 times in one debate with Schmidt last year — and cite a statement from the congresswoman to the Associated Press that she is "not a proponent of the death penalty." Further, they note her vote for the Child Safety Act that included a rider from Rep. John Conyers (D.-Mich.) that provided for protections for homosexuals who are the subject of hate crimes. The bill, passed 371 to 52 in the House last month, was hailed as an historic step by the gay-activist Human Rights Campaign. (The amendment is awaiting action by the Senate, where its fate is uncertain.)

As for the flap involving Bopf and Murtha, McEwen would say only that he "had my own reaction, as most people did."

The congresswoman can count on support from State Republican Chairman Bob Bennett, who told reporters that the state organization does not "believe political primaries are helpful, especially when they involve incumbent Republicans." Just-elected House Majority Leader John Boehner (R.-Ohio) also weighed in strongly for the incumbent. Schmidt-man Bennett told me that "the overwhelming amount of letters and calls to our office were staunchly in Jean’s favor" after the incident. Moreover, Bennett pointed to a poll conducted for the campaign by Tarrance and Associates showing the incumbent leading McEwen 54% to 34% district wide among likely Republican voters. McEwen backers who spoke to me pooh-poohed the poll, saying it was significant that one-third of likely primary voters prefer someone other than the incumbent.

The one certainty about the 2nd District race is that it will not be boring.

Written By

John Gizzi has come to be known as â??the man who knows everyone in Washingtonâ? and, indeed, many of those who hold elected positions and in party leadership roles throughout the United States. With his daily access to the White House as a correspondent, Mr. Gizzi offers readers the inside scoop on whatâ??s going on in the nationâ??s capital. He is the author of a number of popular Human Events features, such as â??Gizzi on Politicsâ? and spotlights of key political races around the country. Gizzi also is the host of â??Gizziâ??s America,â? video interviews that appear on Gizzi got his start at Human Events in 1979 after graduating from Fairfield University in Connecticut and then working for the Travis County (Tex.) Tax Assessor. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, America's Voice,The Jim Bohannon Show, Fox 5, WUSA 9, America's Radio News Network and is also a frequent contributor to the BBC -- and has appeared on France24 TV and German Radio. He is a past president of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club, past member of the St. Matthew's Cathedral's Parish Council, and secretary of the West End Friends of the Library. He is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. John Gizzi is also a credentialed correspondent at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has questioned two IMF managing directors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine LaGarde, and has become friends with international correspondents worldwide. Johnâ??s email is JGizzi@EaglePub.Com

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