In a post from August, I drew a quick sketch of political dynamics in the great state of Ohio, where I reside much of the year. In it, I suggested keeping an eye on the 7th District race. The seat is open because 6 term incumbent David Hobson, the walking definition of a Bush Administration yes-man, was one of those many Republicans who jumped the ship after the 2006 elections. It has been such a safe Republican seat that Democrats have done little better than toss up sacrificial lambs - and sometimes not even that much.
Until this year.
Sharen Neuhardt, a well-respected Dayton attorney, is running a serious campaign against a Republican State Senator who has been term-limited out, who is himself a hard-right mediocrity and who has faithfully towed the Republican agenda in the State House. She's raised real money, put together a sharp staff, and been putting a lot of miles on her car.
The summer polling numbers generated even more excitement. She still has name recognition problems in certain areas of the thoroughly gerrymandered district, but was still running virtually neck and neck with her opponent. More than that, in this comfortably Republican district, Bush's negatives are running off the charts. The 7th district includes some of the poorest sections of Ohio, and some of the worst hit by the weak economy. People in the 7th are hurting and they're angry.
Well, apparently the folks at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have also taken notice. Yesterday they put the Ohio 7th District on their "Red to Blue" list - a list of about 50 races that the DCCC feels have a real shot at going Democratic.
This is tremendously exciting news for the Neuhardt campaign and for those of us in the 7th. And let me add that if Neuhardt wins this seat, then Obama will have won Ohio big. The latest Quinnipiac poll has Obama ahead in Ohio by 5%. So those of you in places like New York, or Massachusetts, or California let me only say that Ohio is lovely in the fall -- come on out and introduce yourself to Sharen Neuhardt!