John Gizzi's Races of the Week

Ohio’s 6th U.S. House District

Johnson v. Wilson

When Democratic Rep. Ted Strickland was elected governor of Ohio in 2006, state Sen. Charlie Wilson won his seat in the House with 62% of the vote. Re-elected in a landslide on Barack Obama’s long coattails in the Buckeye State, Wilson seemed destined for a long career in Congress.

But ultra-liberal Wilson (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 12.67%) had not reckoned on the Obama agenda’s making 2010 the kind of political year it is shaping up to be. 

“This is Tea Party country out here—and Tea Parties are big in the tri-county area,” said Bill Johnson, who won the Republican nomination to take on Wilson in a three-way primary. “I know because I’ve been to most of them.”

What Johnson describes as “people power” is critical in a district that stretches 325 miles along the Ohio River and includes suburbs of Youngstown in Mahoning Valley. As the Almanac of American politics said about the 6th District, “The steel and coal areas in the North became Democratic during the 1930s and the Southern counties started trending Republican in the 1960s. This mix makes for a Democratic-leaning district, but the cultural conservatism of this region [is] much like that of Eastern Kentucky across the river.”

“And in a district like ours, you aren’t surprised that [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi gave my opponent a pass to vote against cap and trade,” says Johnson, “But when she and Obama needed his vote to spend more of our tax dollars on a healthcare program that won’t work and on stimulus packages that will increase the deficit, he was there.”

Johnson’s plain talk and commitment to lower taxes and having government live within its means comes from a life in military service and private business. After 26 years in the U.S. Air Force, Johnson retired as a lieutenant colonel and co-founded Johnson-Schley Management Group, an information technology consulting company whose revenues increased by more than 200% in less than four years. For the past three years, Johnson has been chief information officer of a global manufacturer of highly engineered electrical components. In that capacity, he has helped to manage a multi-million-dollar budget.

Bill Johnson for Congress Committee, 3755 Hunters Hill, Poland, Ohio 44514;

New York’s 20th U.S. House District

Gibson vs. Murphy

To call Chris Gibson a “career military man” is very accurate. He joined the Army National Guard while in high school in Kinderhook, N.Y. During 24 years on active duty, Gibson earned a degree from Siena College (N.Y.), served in Desert Storm and as part of the peace-keeping team in Kosovo. He has served with the 82nd Airborne Division, worked in the war on drugs, and done three tours of duty in Iraq.

When he finally retired as a colonel last year, Gibson said, “My feeling was ‘enough is enough.’” At 45, he was ready to enjoy a more relaxed life with wife Mary Jo and their three children.

“But right after he won a special election to be our congressman last year, [Democrat] Scott Murphy flip-flopped completely on his promise to oppose the Democratic healthcare bill and voted for it,” says Gibson, who then decided he was not yet through with public service. He promptly declared for the Republican and Conservative Party nominations for Congress.

Gibson and three other candidates addressed party meetings throughout New York’s 20th District, which stretches from Lake Placid to Hyde Park. When party leaders in the ten-county district made their endorsement, the big winner was first-time candidate Gibson. The other contenders then endorsed him and began putting up yard signs and holding coffees for him.

Although many voters ask about the GOP hopeful’s background in uniform, he prefers to talk about where he differs with Murphy (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 0%).

“And that’s a lot to talk about!” says Gibson, who will also carry the Conservative ballot line. “Along with his flip-flop on healthcare, he’s for cap and trade, which would have disastrous effects on our economy here. And he co-sponsored card-check bill and the stimulus packages, that aren’t helping unemployment. Need I say more?”

Based on his years of serving the country he loves, Chris Gibson offers voters a vision of hope: “With the right leaders, the best years lie ahead of us.” And one way for conservatives to make that vision come true is to help him accomplish one more mission: by becoming Rep. Chris Gibson

Chris Gibson for Congress, P.O. Box 53, Hudson, N. Y. 12534; 518-758-2440;

South Carolina’s 5th U.S. House District

Mulvaney vs. Spratt

“When Republican leaders here first approached me last year about running against [Democratic Rep.] John Spratt,” recalls state Sen. Mick Mulvaney, “my immediate reaction was ‘You’re crazy!’ He has been the congressman [from South Carolina’s 5th District] for 28 years. A lot of folks have run against him, but no one can beat him.”  

But in September of ’09, Mulvaney had a complete change of mind. As the issue of healthcare reform began to dominate headlines, the state senator and restaurateur from Lancaster County decided to attend Spratt’s town-hall meeting in the Baxter-Hood Center at York Technical College.

Spratt said something that night I never forgot: ‘When government controls your healthcare, you’ll see a quantum leap in the reduction of costs and increase of the quality of services.’” 

Bang! The desire to challenge that one amazing idea promoted by House Budget Committee Chairman Spratt turned Mulvaney into a candidate. As he later described it, “No sooner was I out of the meeting than I called my wife and said I wanted to run for Congress. She said ‘Do it, but promise to lose.’”

Fourteen months later, it appears that the 42-year-old Mulvaney will not fulfill his wife’s desire. He has raised more than $250,000 and won extraordinary volunteer support throughout the 14-county district. York County comprises about 40% of the vote and a good part of Mulvaney’s senate district is in York. Having served in both the state house and senate, the Georgetown University graduate has a record of winning elections.

As for Spratt (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 21%), the 67-year-old Democrat has the bad luck of serving as House Budget Committee chairman at a time when measures that greatly increase the deficit has been roaring down the pike in Congress. And Spratt has supported all of them: federal bailouts, the stimulus packages, Obama-backed healthcare. 

“And he backs cap and trade, which I would fight to the end,” says Mulvaney.
At a time when much is written about internecine warfare within the Republican Party, Mulvaney is embraced by all factions in his state’s GOP. “Establishment” Republicans urged him to run, and evangelical conservatives consider him one of their own for his leadership in passage of a bill adding an ultrasound test to the list of procedures required before an abortion is permitted.”

“And I’m the Tea Party candidate as well,” Mulvaney says proudly. “In some of the counties here, the Tea Party movement has supplanted the Democratic and Republican Parties as the major political force. If political reporters want to know what drives the Tea Partiers, it is their belief in the Constitution. That’s what has always driven me in politics and will guide me in Congress.

Mulvaney for Congress, 9789 Charlotte Highway, Suite #400-255, Indian Land, S.C., 29707; 803-246-1001;


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