CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland is spending a big chunk of Wednesday and Thursday in Cincinnati, where he plans to attend the groundbreaking of a new performing arts school. Today he will help officially launch the congressional campaign of OH-01 Democrat Steve Driehaus. There are also questions about whether Strickland plans to show up at a major fundraiser for Hillary Clinton in Indian Hill tonight. A co-sponsor of that event is Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, who is Strickland's host and tour-guide in Cincinnati for much of the visit. The governor hasn't publicly revealed his preference in the 2008 presidential primaries. If he appears alongside Sen. Clinton does that mean he's tipped his hand?
As for Driehaus, the state rep says he plans to bill himself as a 'fiscal conservative' for the contest against Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, who has held the Cincinnati west side seat since the mid-1990s and looked unbeatable until 2006 when he edged City Councilman John Cranley, 52-48. In 2008, national Democrats see OH-01 as one of the most competitive races in the U.S., and national Republicans view Chabot as vulnerable. But strategists in both parties say the contest is likely to be affected by presidential campaign coattails -- a strong Demo national ticket might help sweep Chabot away. On the other hand, a ticket out of synch with Ohio would boost the incumbents chances. Conventional political wisdom holds that coattails aren't important anymore -- but OH-01 appears to defy conventional wisdom.
Driehaus is being term-limited out of the state House. Strickland can help him raise money and attract attention. The governor grew up near the Ohio River in Scioto County, about 110 miles upstream from Cincinnati, and often speaks of of his great affection and interest in the Queen City. Not long after he took office in January, the state' official Web site was changed to display a photo of Cincinnati's riverfront when the portal is opened. He plans to be an active supporter of the campaign.
The Hill, a newspaper that serves Capitol Hill, had a long take out about the OH-01 contest earlier this year. It pointed out that the Democrats have targeted the seat.