BATAVIA (TDB) -- Clermont County Democratic Chairman Dave Lane says today's OH-02 straw poll has been cancelled. It would have offered a glimpse into the pre-primary popularity of candidates Steve Black and Vic Wulsin in a key SW Ohio county. Lane said the poll was cancelled at Wulsin's request because Black has temporarily suspended campaigning while mourning the death of his father, retired Judge Robert L. Black. Lane led a gathering of Clermont County Democrats in a moment of silence for the judge, whom he described as a respected jurist and civic leader.
Josh Levin, Wulsin's campaign manager, was at the session. He said she continues to campaign, but did not think the straw poll would be appropriate. Lane, the county chair, told The Daily Bellwether the county party in suburban Cincinnati is officially neutral in the Black-Wulsin contest. It had considered convening an endorsement meeting in mid-January, but scrapped the plan. He said Wulsin -- who was the candidate in 2006 and narrowly lost to Clermont County Republican U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt -- asked that the endorsement session be dropped. He said he did not know which way the party leaders would have voted -- Black or Wulsin. He said both candidates are running aggressive bids for the nomination.
"I can tell you, in Clermont County among the Democrats, Victoria of course has the most name recognition. She has it from her past campaigns, and she came close to beating Schmidt, so people know who she is."
He said Black, a Republican who switched party to seek the Dem nomination, faces some opposition because of his GOP past. Lane said it should be a non-issue.
"My personal view is that any time that a Republican chooses to see the light and join us, well, he is welcome. We should take all the Republicans we can get. I don't hold that against Steve Black. A person who switches parties from Republican to Democrat to run for office, I don't question that at all."
Lane said Paul Hackett -- the party's 2005 nominee who lost a special election against Schmidt -- had spent time in the GOP before leaving it permanently.
"Hackett, he had shadows of Republicanism in his history. There was some history of him switching back and forth."
Lane, in the interview, declined to say who would come out on top March 4. He said either Wulsin or Black would be strong in the November general election.
"I could see a scenario where Steven Black could sway more of the conservative swing voters in the general election. But look at the last general election. Victoria came very close."