CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Could he help knock off Republican U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt? Joel Coon saw her as extremely vulnerable when he was in Ohio last year. His work in Mississippi produced the third straight victory for the Democrats in a special election in Republican territory. Coon was the campaign manager for Travis Childers, the newest Dem in Congress. The Hill, the newspaper that serves Capitol Hill, said the win sends "the listless GOP into further disarray."
For a few months last year, Coon was in Ohio managing the campaign of Steve Black, a Cincinnati lawyer who switched parties to seek the Democratic nomination in OH-02. Coon moved on for reasons that have never been publicly disclosed. Black lost the March primary to Dr. Victoria Wulsin. In Ohio, Coon believed that the shift of manufacturing jobs overseas was a critical issue for Democrats to emphasize during contests in GOP-controlled House districts such as OH-02. Coon also believed a Democrat running in a Republican district has to be a moderate to win. Before leaving the Black campaign, he told the Daily Bellwether last fall:
"One thing is, you have to find a certain kind of Democrat that doesn't scare independent voters. You have got to have a moderate, but a moderate who is progressive on the right issues like the war, like S-Chip"
"I think trade has to be a huge issue in general . . . a lot of the eastern part of the district (OH-02) has been decimated. NAFTA is a disaster. We're not looking to run a duplicate Sherrod Brown campaign. But he won 30 rural counties statewide that John Kerry didn't win, so our rhetoric is going to be very, very similar. Clearly people were listening to what Sherrod Brown had to say. Sherrod Brown was on to something."
In Mississippi, Coon largely ran that kind of campaign with Childers. He didn't scare independent voters. He talked down trade agreements. And it worked.