CLEVELAND (TDB) -- Former U.S. Rep. Rob Portman, a SW Ohio Republican who served in the Bush White House as budget director and trade representative, is faring poorly in the Cuyahoga County Republican Party's online veepstakes straw poll. Portman is currently in fourth place, trailing Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and Condoleeza Rice in the 10-person field. Voting has not been brisk -- just 191 ballots to date. Perhaps the online contest will grab more attention, and more votes, after word spreads around the blogosphere.
Portman, who represented OH-02 in the House on the Ohio River, has been widely touted as a potential running mate for GOP presidential candidate John McCain. He is supposed to have the kind of Midwest cred that can help deliver Ohio, a crucial state. But he's clearly not striking any sparks to date in NE Ohio. Portman may have baggage from his days as trade representative -- Ohioans are not enamored with NAFTA and similar trade bargains. Polls of voters have indicated skepticism about globalization and its impact on the state's manufacturing economy.
In the days ahead, it will be both fun and interesting to observe the Cleveland GOP straw poll even though it is an unscientific beauty contest. The results could be manipulated -- after all it is an online vote with no real ballot security. But none of the 10 on the list has any kind of formal campaign organization to drum up supporters. And the Huckabee, Romney, Rice combo currently at the top may actually express some sensibility about the views of those who visit the Republican Party Web site in Ohio's most populous county. All three are well-known national figures. Portman is not widely known. And with 14.3% of the votes, he's not showing any signs of being a sleeper.