Blood Feud

The final chapter in one of the bloodiest outbreaks of internecine warfare in safe Republican territory was written in Ohio’s 2nd District (Cincinnati). Less than a year after she won a spirited Republican primary and then a narrow special election to succeed former Republican Rep. (1993-2005) Rob Portman (who resigned to become U.S. trade representative and was just tapped as head of the Office of Management and Budget), Jean Schmidt won nomination to a full term. In so doing, she defeated former Rep. Bob McEwen, a fellow conservative who had represented the neighboring district from 1980-92. Schmidt won the primary 48% to 42%.

In last year’s 12-candidate primary, former state legislator Schmidt edged out McEwen by just over 700 votes. He topped the field in five of the counties in the district, but she won a districtwide plurality by carrying her home county of Clermont handily and also winning the Hamilton County (Cincinnati) portion of the district. In last week’s race, McEwen had the endorsement of most of the runners-up in the ’05 primary and most of the county party organizations remained neutral. Schmidt had been under harsh criticism for claiming endorsements of colleagues she had not yet secured (notably that of Colorado’s anti-illegal immigration Rep. Tom Tancredo) and for her now-famous attack on Rep. John Murtha (D.-Pa.) for his Iraq stance in which she quoted a Marine veteran constituent who denied he said what she had claimed in her speech. (Schmidt later apologized.)

But McEwen came under fire for working as a lobbyist, and his ownership of a house in Northern Virginia raised doubts about his residency in the district.