Nov. 1, 2006 Interview with Randy Borntrager, Communications Director for the Ohio Democratic Party

Democracy in Action:  Give us an overview of the campaigns in Ohio.

Borntrager:   Well basically we have an opportunity to pick up a highly competitive Senate seat as well as up to five congressional seats and you have to remember that Ohio --we haven't won a statewide election in 16 years.  The Republicans have controlled state government for 16 years so...

Democracy in Action:  All offices?

Borntrager: All state offices.  The last person that actually won statewide in Ohio, non judiciary, was Bill Clinton, but no Ohioan has won it for 16 years.  So there is this environment of it's time for a change.

And there's a culture of corruption here in Ohio with Bob Ney is an Ohioan out in the eastern part of the state.  We have Deborah Pryce, who's a congresswoman, she's the fourth ranking Republican in the House.  And not to mention that our own governor has basically pled guilty to charges for ethics and campaign violations.  So it goes, on and on here.

I think Ohioans know that the economy is worse than the rest of the country.  We're lagging in economic indicators and the atmosphere is very much for change and we have the best slate of candidates in a generation with Ted Strickland leading it for the governor's race and on down with Sherrod Brown and all the rest of the slate.

Democracy in Action:  How's the governor's race shaping up?

Borntrager:  We're doing really well--we're up by double digits in almost every poll.  I think Ted Strickland is one of the best candidates for governor in a generation, like I said, and I think on Election Day we're going to turn around Ohio and people are going to vote for Ted Strickland.

Democracy in Action:  A volunteer in the Strickland headquarters was saying he's the kind of candidate Democrats need, nationwide.

Borntrager:  Oh absolutely.  He's a former minister and a psychologist, and he's the type of guy, he's from a rural area.  And for too long we've sent a lot of our candidates have been from large urban areas.  And we haven't been able to talk to the rural and suburban voters, and what Ted Strickland brings is a real emphasis on talking to voters, bringing people together instead of these divisive issues that quite frankly have divided the state.

Democracy in Action:  How about the Senate race; how's that shaping up?

Borntrager: Sherrod Brown, just today we're up double digits and we expect to pull through.  Now we're not taking anything for granted.  We have a massive voter mobilization effort for Election Day and we're hoping that we have a victory there.  Mike DeWine has been in the Senate for two terms and he's kind of failed with rubberstamping.  Well he's rubber stamped President Bush's agenda up and down, 93 percent with President Bush, and I don't think that Ohioans want that.

Democracy in Action:  Can you run through the House races?

Borntrager:  Basically Zack Space against Joy Padgett.  Joy Padgett is Bob Ney's hand-picked successor.  The Republicans just cancelled some ad buys there and are switching it over to Mary Joe Kilroy, who's over here fighting against Deborah Pryce.  So I think Mary Jo is in great shape to win.  And then we have Bob Shamansky, who is in this Columbus-Franklin County area as well, agaist Tiberi, who [Shamansky] basically came on srong just lately, and he has a shot at winning as well.  We're very high on him right now.  And then Victoria Wulsin, who is down in kind of the Cincinnati area.  She's taking on Jean Schmidt, who has had her own problems with conduct in the last two years.  ...That is a very Republican district and if we win that one I think you're going to see a wave sweep through all of Ohio.  But quite frankly in Cincinnati we have another great candidate who I think will win and that's John Cranley, who's running against Steve Chabot.  So right there you have five prime pick-up opportunities as well as keeping Ted Stricklnad's seat with Charlie Wilson and keeping Sherrod Brown's seat with Betty Sutton.

So we're doing well here in Ohio and we're not taking anything for granted.  A lot of these races are going to be close and we're mobilizing everybody for Election Day.

Basically Election Day has been over a month long.  October 3rd is when we started the new early voted systems here, and so we've been every day getting out voters, telling them why we think the Democrats are the best.

Democracy in Action:  Is there some confusion about absentee--?

Borntrager:  There is completely--  Ken Blackwell, who's the Secretary of State and is now running for governor, has failed to issue any type of orders to the 88 county boards of elections to administer this new election law that you have to have a voter ID.  He's thrown the election into a state of confusion, and today actually Judge Marbley [U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley]  is deciding on what's going to happen with those laws as well.

Democracy in Action:  Thank you.

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