Open Season

In the three Ohio districts where incumbents were retiring, there were few surprises:

4th District — With former House Banking Committee Chairman and 25-year incumbent Mike Oxley retiring, the Republican primary in effect determines his successor in the Central Ohio district that includes Marion (best known as the home of Warren G. Harding). State Sen. Jim Jordan, a staunch conservative on social and economic issues and the favorite of party regulars, won the primary, over millionaire businessman Ralph Guglielmi, who spent more than $2 million of his own money. While Guglielmi’s ads portrayed him as a successful entrepreneur who was unbought by political interests, Jordan countered with a campaign highlighting his opponent as a past supporter and close ally of the unpopular Taft. Jordan won 50% to 29%.

6th District — The district that Democrat Strickland is giving up is the lone House district in Ohio that could flip from Democrat to Republican. In this case, it would be almost exclusively due to freakish circumstances. State Sen. Charles Wilson, long considered the heir apparent to Strickland, suffered a major black eye when his campaign failed to acquire the 50 legitimate signatures needed to place his name on the primary ballot. With an assist from a $100,000 ad buy by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Wilson won as a write-in candidate over two contenders who qualified for the ballot. But the foul-up by his campaign and the resultant bad publicity has clearly wounded Wilson, who faces a strong fall race from State Rep. Chuck Blasdel. Vice President Dick Cheney has already come to the district to help Republican Blasdel raise money.

13th District — Former State Rep. Betty Sutton topped a five-candidate field to win the Democratic nomination for the 13th District seat vacated by Senate nominee Brown. With support from the pro-abortion Emily’s List, Sutton won 31% of the vote to 25% for shopping center heiress Capri Cafaro. And 23% for former 14th District Rep. (1986-2002) Tom Sawyer. Given the Democratic tilt of the district, Sutton is now a favorite over moderate Republican Craig Foltin, two-term mayor of Lorain.