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Friday, August 17, 2007

OH-02 Steve Black: Cincy Dem Heavy Hitters Sign Fundraising Letters

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Three longtime local Democratic Party heavy hitters have endorsed Republican convert Steve Black's Oh-02 congressional campaign and are now raising funds for his primary contest against Dr. Victoria Wulsin, the party's 2006 nominee who is running again.

Barbara Gould, who sponsored a reception for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign at her Indian Hill home six months ago, is working for Black. She serves on the Ohio Arts Council, and was an early supporter of Gov. Ted Strickland, who rewarded her with the appointment.

John Weld Peck is a wealthy bond lawyer whose family has long been prominent in downstate politics. Peck serves on the finance committee of the Hamilton County Democratic Party. The federal building in downtown Cincinnati is named for one of his family members.

Former Cincinnati Councilman Pete Strauss, a lawyer who was term-limited out of office in the early 1990s, is also raising money for Black.

The trio's actions on behalf of Black are signs the lawyer has made some headway in convincing old line Democrats that his recent conversion from the Republican Party is legitimate. There are those who think Black is a johnny-come-lately with too many ties to big money interests -- that he is a wolf in sheep's clothing who only jumped into Oh-02 because he saw GOP incumbent U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt as weak and vulnerable. This camp holds that Black became a Democrat solely out of political ambition, not because he truly supports the Dems core issues.

Still, he has Gould, Strauss and Peck in his corner, and their party credentials are impeccable. Their fundraising letter this week touted him as a "proven leader" who can capture the district from the GOP for the first time in over three decades. It was no doubt the handiwork of Kimberly Wood, a financial consultant who worked last year for U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown's campaign that turned Mike DeWine out of office. Wood has signed on with Black.

"Steve will win with the support of Democrats and Independents across the Second District's seven counties. As someone who will continue to vote his conscience, Steve has decided to run as a Democrat because he strongly believes that the Democratic Party has the superior vision for the future of our country. He will work hard to attract the votes of all who want a change of leadership for American and improvement that represents unity, progress and optimism."

Those last three words -- unity, progress and optimism -- could end up being the campaign's slogan. The letter from Gould, Peck and Strauss said Black wanted to "lead the change to positive thinking in Congress."

Short biographical sketches of Peck, Gould and Strauss are here, here and here.


  1. I am a supporter of Steve Black, and I am happy to see this.

    I understand the skepticism that exists about Steve because of his recent conversion to a Democrat. Obviously, he will have to work to overcome this skepticism in order to earn votes. The endorsement of these 3 individuals is an early encouraging sign that he may be sucessful in doing this.

    However, I don't understand the concern that Steve is "a Democrat solely out of political ambition, not because he truly supports the Dems core issues."

    It would have been a lot easier for Steve to run and win as a Republican if he didn't support Democratic ideas. He could have raised more money running as a Republican...and he would probably have had an easier time winning both the primary and the general as a Republican. If he doesn't support Democrat values, wouldn't the opportunistic move have been to run as a Republican against a weak incumbent in a heavliy Republican district?

    I think Steve is running as a Democrat because he believes in the Democratic party's core values and he is a commited civic leader, not because its some easy opportunity for him. I am hoping that my fellow Democrats will remain openminded about this as the campaign develops.

    Murphy West
    Full Disclosure: I am a supporter of Steve's, but I am not on his campaign staff.

  2. Hi MurphyWest --

    Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for saying you are not an astroturfer.

    As you said, you understand the skepticism about his conversion. Then you can understand why some long term Dems are wondering, or have doubts, or think that maybe Steve Black is an opportunist.

    I'm open minded and tend to think that he is what he says he is.

  3. The problem for Black is people can understand and accept that folks become more conservative as they age, pay taxes, and learn how the world works. Someone going from Republican to Democrat is harder to understand without ascribing it to rank opportunism. I suppose it is possible, but the skepticism is understandable.

  4. Hi LargeBill --

    I think Black was a liberal Republican, or what used to be called a Rockefeller Republican. With Rove gone and Giuliani doing so well in the polls, I wonder if he would have eventually felt more comfortable in his old party.

    There is an undertone among some Dems that if he gets elected to Congress, he would switch back to GOP. I suppose Black could sign a contract or pledge promising not to switch, but I can't see how it could be legally enforced. Still, he might think of doing something like that to reassure the doubting Tthomases.