CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Spent some time chatting in a Cincinnati coffee shop recently with State Rep. Tom Brinkman Jr., an ultra-conservative Republican who said he has pretty much made up his mind to run against U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt in the 2008 GOP primary. Brinkman's 34th Ohio House district is on Cincinnati's East Side and includes Anderson Township, a large suburb. He said he is term-limited out of the Ohio General Assembly in 2008, still supports term limits even though they are forcing him out of an office, and more than strongly suggested he has his eye on the House seat Schmidt won in 2005.
Brinkman has a chairmanship in this legislative biennial, which he believes adds meat to his Statehouse resume , which sometimes strayed into cul-de-sacs and what looked like political performance art. Brinkman was a ceaseless critic of former Republican Gov. Bob Taft, whom he refused to support, and he probably will try to use his anti-Taft history as an asset. He said he'll be involved in getting Worker's Comp reforms through the General Assembly this session, which he can point to on the primary trail as a legislative accomplishment. Brinkman ran against Schmidt in the 2005 special primary. She came out on top of the 11-person field and then slipped past Democrat Paul Hackett. Last fall, she edged Democrat Victoria Wulsin.
Brinkman said he was confident he could a make a case across the seven-counties of OH-02 that he would be a stronger candidate against Democrats than Schmidt. He said his political base in Hamilton County is larger than hers in Clermont County. Both Schmidt and Brinkman are pro-life, pro-gun conservatives. Brinkman said he will contend that his anti-tax credentials are stronger.
Another Hamilton County Republican supposedly interested in a primary is Phil Heimlich. His formal intentions are unknown, and some of the buzz about his stature as a political figure of future import died down this winter. Michael Keating, a former bank executive, may be looking into a race. Asked what he's heard, Brinkman said he thinks Keating might run, he's fairly confident Heimlich won't and didn't know much about the plans of a third oft-rumored Schmidt foe: Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters.
Bottomline: Brinkman clearly wants to run against Schmidt and he seems to be gearing up for a race. He said he's already met with pro-gun forces to gauge their support. Can he raise enough money? Schmidt has the power of incumbency. That's always a factor. And do Republicans ever dump sitting officeholders? Not often.