BOWLING GREEN, Ohio (TDB) -- Financial support from some of Ohio's big name Democrats in Congress has started flowing to Robin Weirauch for a Dec. 11 special election. She was nominated Tuesday in Ohio's 5th District and is campaigning for an open House seat that had been in GOP hands since the 1930s. Sen. Sherrod Brown's leadership PAC, America Works, donated $5,000 this week. And two House Democrats -- U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Cleveland and Tim Ryan of Youngstown -- have each sent $2,000. Weirauch needs every dime she can get her hands on to compete against State Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green, who is trying to regain the seat his father, Delbert Latta, held for a generation.
After Del Latta retired, Paul Gillmor had a long run in OH-05. He died September 5 after falling down the stairs in his suburban Washington apartment. The special election Dec. 11 is scheduled to fill the vacancy.
OH-05 in Northwest Ohio is a rural Republican bastion, but Weirauch has a shot. She polled 43% of the vote against the popular and entrenched Gillmor in 2006. Sen. Brown and Gov. Ted Strickland both carried OH-05 when they ran that fall.
Jerid Kurtz, the proprietor of Buckeye State Blog, says Democrats have a duty this year to dig deep for Weirauch, and he's a bit perturbed that some officeholders are sitting on large piles of cash while a House race is under way. He's says some of the money should be steered into OH-05 where there may not be another shot at an open seat for 20 years.
"The price of leadership in Ohio these days is not simply representing your district, and representing it well. Rather, Democrats need to make a concerted effort to look out for the future of Ohio. After all, as the Ohio Democratic Party started to slide into decline in the early 90's, an 'everyman for themself' attitude was part of the problem."
Kurtz, in particular, says U.S. Rep. Zack Space -- who now holds the House seat that convicted former GOP Congressman Bob Ney left during the Abramoff scandal -- should kick in $2,000 for Weirauch. Kurtz said she is running in the same kind of rural territory that Space represents, and that Space needs to give her a hand in an uphill battle.
"I think it's reasonable to ask Space to make a contribution to Robin Weirauch's campaign for Congress. With nearly $600,000 on hand 12 months out from re-election, he has the funds to occasionally support important causes to further our state and our party."
Without money, Weirauch has no chance. She can't be viable without cash. The race clearly is shaping up as a test to see if Ohio's Dems -- who are in power at the Statehouse for the first time in 16 years -- can make a fight of it in the kind of place they usually avoided. Others wonder if the national Dems -- in power at the Capitol for the first time since 1994 -- are willing to force the GOP to fight on its home turf, a district that has traditionally gone red.
OH-05 is the only game in town, the only House seat left in play this year. Inquiring minds want to know: Will the Dems hold 'em, fold 'em, or raise the bet? If Space writes a check, that would send a strong signal that the Democrats intend to fight for OH-05. It would show that a Democratic congressman from rural Ohio, a freshman in a traditional GOP seat, believes that Democrats can compete successfully in rural Ohio.