Where House Control Will Be Determined?

National Democrats have had unusual success in recruiting U.S. House hopefuls in historically safe Republican districts in Ohio. In fact, veteran political prognosticators such as Bernadette Budde of the Business and Industry Political Action Committee see possible Democratic net gains in the Buckeye State’s 18 House districts as pivotal to whether the party wins the "magic 15" seats nationwide and thus captures a majority in the House for the first time since 1994.

Veteran Republican Representatives Steve Chabot (1st District) and Deborah Pryce (15th) face unusually strong Democratic foes, and the races against both incumbents have been highlighted in such national publications as the Washington Post and the New York Times. In the 12th District (Columbus), Democrats were able to rouse the last Democrat to hold the seat — Bob Shamansky, who served from 1980-82) — out of retirement to take on three-term Republican Rep. Pat Tiberi.

By far, the most vulnerable Republican lawmaker facing the voters in Ohio is Rep. Bob Ney, who was forced to step down as chairman of the House Administration Committee in the wake of his being the subject of the federal investigation regarding disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff. His legal troubles and the question of whether he may be further implicated by Abramoff and associates notwithstanding, six-termer Ney retained the endorsement of all area party leaders in his 18th District. In the primary last week, he defeated financial consultant and political unknown James B. Harris with 70% of the vote. But now Ney faces a stiff battle in the fall from Democrat Zachary Space, a Dover lawyer who defeated party organization favorite Joe Sulzer, Vietnam veteran and mayor of Chillicothe.