Major Hackett Gives ‘Em A Firefight In Ohio

Well, well, well…

For all those who say that Democrats can’t compete in Southern Ohio, I give you Major Paul Hackett, a Dem and a veteran of the war in Iraq who today took a district (OH-2) that went to the GOP last time around by a margin of 44% — and a promise by the National Republican Campaign Committee to “bury him” — and turned it into a squeaker:

A Republican former state lawmaker claimed a seat in Congress on Tuesday by narrowly defeating an Iraq war veteran who drew national attention to the race with his military service and a series of harsh attacks on President Bush.
With all precincts reporting, Jean Schmidt had 52 percent, or 57,974 votes, compared with Democrat Paul Hackett’s 48 percent, or 54,401 votes.
Schmidt’s margin of victory amounted to about 3,500 votes out of more than 112,000 cast.
Schmidt, 53, billed herself as an experienced leader more in tune with the Cincinnati-area district. She is the first woman ever elected to Congress from the 2nd District.
Hackett, 43, was trying to become the first Iraq war combat veteran in Congress and the first Democrat to win the conservative district in three decades.

A 4 point margin! For a district that tilts so heavily GOP, that’s pretty amazing.

Over on Daily Kos, Kos explains why this is a bad omen for the GOP in Ohio.

My hope is that this isn’t the last time we hear from Major Hackett — I was impressed by his forthrightness, and his willingness to gore some sacred cows among even his fellow Democrats (such as his very strongly libertarian position on gun control). He has said that if he lost the election he’d return to serve another tour in Iraq. I admire his dedication to the military — but we need men like Major Hackett in Washington now more than ever, and since this was only a special election (the incumbent, Rob Portman, was named as the new U.S. trade representative, which forced a special election to fill his seat for the rest of this Congress), there’ll be another bite at this particular apple coming up before you know it.

Either way you go, Major, thanks for your service and leadership — and let me know if you decide to run again, I’ll come back to Cincinnati and work for you 😉



August 3, 2005
9:37 pm

I don’t think you can make a call on what this election may indicate without more data.
If people in that district of Ohio where voting for Major Hackett because of his Bush comments, then that is not good for the GOP.
If people where voting for him because he was a handsome charasmatic war vet, and the republican was a dowdy, non-charasmatic non-vet; and the voters simply ignored his Bush bashing or voted for Major Hackett in spite of his remarks because they liked him, then it means very little to anybody.

Jason Lefkowitz

August 4, 2005
1:02 am

Either way I think it’s significant.
“If people were voting for him because he was a handsome charismatic war vet…” — then it’s significant that the first veteran of the Iraq war to run for Congress ran as a Dem. Aren’t we always hearing about how Democrats don’t “support our troops”?
“and the Republican was a dowdy, charismatic non vet…” — who had the complete support of the local, state, and national GOP machines in a solidly Republican district. Remember, this was a special election; turnout is generally low in those, and ‘establishment’ candidates do better, not worse.
And if the voters were willing to ignore Hackett’s comments about Bush, that’s significant because OH-2 is a real deep red district. It’s the sort of place where people aren’t supposed to let comments like that go by lightly. Willingness to do so would indicate an erosion of support among the GOP base.

Jason Lefkowitz

August 4, 2005
1:04 am

Followup — Daily Kos is running analysis from the Cook Political Report that echoes mine:
“Hackett was able to criticize the President and his handling of the war in the press, going so far as to call him a S.O.B., yet still get 48 percent of the vote in the second-most Republican district in Ohio and 57th most Republican in the nation, as measured by our Partisan Voting Index.
For Ohio Republicans, this is a wake-up call that they have very big problems in the Buckeye State as they gear up for 2006 when an open governorship, a potentially vulnerable Senate incumbent with problems in his own base, and theoretically up to eight House seats that Democrats could realistically target will be on the ballot. Of those eight House seats, not one is as remotely as Republican as the Portman district.”


August 4, 2005
9:13 am

People either vote for a particular issue, or a particular personality.
If this election was this close on a issue that cuts against Bush, it’s bad for republicans.
If they vote turnout was based on Hackett’s record,story and his shoot from the hip personality, then this is not that helpfull to democrats unless they have eight other conservative pro gun war vetrerans in Ohio who want to run for congress (and I hope they do).
I also think that a candidate like Hackett does better in a special election. Why? Because he is an interesting individual who won’t get burried in republican v. democrat national story lines. That makes it ok for the voters in the district to just vote for the individual, and not vote on party lines, because without the national debate people focuss on personality.
Again, this very well could mean bad news to the Republican party, particularly in Ohio. I’m just saying it’s too early to draw a conclusion until you can find out what factors led normal republican voters to the democratic ticket, and what factors didn’t matter in that particular election. Right now we don’t know.