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Friday, February 16, 2007

Kentucky's Mitch McConnell: Stumps For Ohio's DeWine

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is scheduled to headline a Cincinnati fundraiser next week for Pat DeWine, the Republican Hamilton County Commissioner who is launching his reelection campaign with a $350-a-plate luncheon. A table for 8 costs $2,500. It's a right neighborly gesture by a powerful pol from across the Ohio River, considering DeWine wanted out of the county job not too long after he was sworn in. Yep, he wanted to pack up and leave for Washington and spent more than $1 million in campaign funds trying to get there.

DeWine is a lawyer at Keating, Muething & Klekamp and the son of former U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, who was turned out of office after two terms last November by Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown. It looks like McConnell, a Kentuckian who is one of the nation's highest ranking GOP officeholders, found time in his schedule to help one of his old chum's kids.

Pat DeWine took office in January 2005, and within months was chasing after the Oh-02 House seat that White House Budget Director Rob Portman vacated to join the Bush Administration. DeWine finished down the list in the special GOP primary, a race won by U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt, who went on to narowly defeat two Democrats in back-to-back general elections.

DeWine used to be in a majority on the county commission, but his Republican pal Phil Heimlich was defeated last fall. Heimlich is a lawyer and has lately been visible doing local TV analysis of a murder trial in Clermont County, which coincidentally happens to be Schmidt's home. Heimlich reportedly is considering running against her in the '08 primary.

But back to DeWine. Apparently, he now wants to stay on the commission. McConnell is a heavyweight and will help him raise a nice chunk of cash. Once upon a time, Hamilton County was a Republican bastion, but it has slowly been turning blue. No word yet on who the Democrats might run. DeWine is battening down for a serious challenge. McConnell's Senate Web site is HERE. DeWine's county portal is HERE ,
and if you CLICK THIS , a copy of his Jan. 3, 2005 inauguration speech pops up. What's particularly notable is that DeWine said he was being sworn in to reform the county, a quest he quickly attempted to abandon. It's been said here and elsewhere DeWine may have his back against the wall -- and he might turn out to be a fierce campaigner. Obviously, he still has friends in high places.

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