Ohio's current delegation of Congressmen in Washington is lopsided for Republicans who control 12 of the state's 16 Districts.
In the midterm elections this fall, which historically have lower voter turnout than presidential-election years, there appears to be one bright spot for Democrats, who in 1993 controlled 11 of 21 House seats but who have been downsized in the intervening years to just one in four today.
Polling shows Ohio's 14th Congressional district is a pickup opportunity this year if Michael Wager, a first-time congressional candidate, can mount a successful campaign in what is widely recognized as a true toss-up race.
"We are positioned to run a strong race against a right-wing incumbent that represents a different vision of America and its future," said Wager in a media release today. "Nonetheless, 2014 can be the year that the 14th District and Ohio have a representative that will serve the citizens of Ohio, not narrow ideological interests."
A memorandum outlining Wager's path to victory in the 14th District, currently represented by David Joyce, a Republican, positions this race in northeast Ohio as a top-tier race this year. Labeled a weak opponent, polling shows that Joyce, a freshman who voted to shutdown the federal government last October, has an approval rating of just 19 percent.
The bitter-sweet results of how Democrats have fared throughout the last decade in this district shows they come within just a few tenths of a percentage point of winning. Some attribute these losses to a lack of viable candidates running against a popular incumbent.
Wager, who appears a strong and compelling candidate, could reverse the tide of losses this year. An attorney, businessman and educator, Wager served as Sen. Sherrod Brown's campaign finance chair and is active in numerous, well-known civic efforts throughout Northeast. Noted as a strong fundraiser, he currently serves as Chair of the Cuyahoga County Port Authority and is well-known within the community and throughout the district.
Polling shows Wager statistically tied with Congressman Joyce (38% to 40% respectively) with 22 percent of voters undecided. Among Joyce's weak spots is voters' views that he and other House Republicans worked to shutdown government last October for 16 days at a cost of about $24 billion. Fifty-three percent of district voters say they are less likely to vote for Joyce once they learn he backed GOP efforts to shutdown government.
Joyce, who Wager calls the "invisible candidate," hasn't introduced himself enough to voters in the district, the DCCC says, tying him as an "incumbent member of the least productive and most reviled Congress in history."
With no primary and no competitive general election, Ohio voters had very little time to get to know Joyce in 2012 before he was went to Washington following the retirement of Steve LaTourette, whose frustration with a Tea Party-impacted House was reason to leave his seat. But now that voters better understand Joyce, they may think he's out of touch with them. Even LaTourette, a self-avowed conservative, said Joyce is more conservative than he was.
"Congressman Joyce has joined the irresponsible, reckless Washington brinksmanship that continues to stifle the local economy and jeopardize Ohio jobs," Wager supporters say. Voting for the government shutdown and not protective of social programs seniors value like Social Security could swing voters to the Democrat this year.
Binding Joyce to Republicans assaults on the Medicare guarantee, raising seniors' health care costs while giving more tax breaks to the ultra wealth and corporate special interests could be a good bet for Wager. Jobs in a state like Ohio that was hard hit from the Great Recession and where over four-hundred thousand workers are still jobless is a hot-button issue. Congressman Joyce has said there were millions of jobs available, but employers "can't find people to come to work sober, daily, drug free..."
Even though Republicans have held the district for a while, party forces behind Wager's campaign point to wins by other Democrats as proof the 14th is up for grabs this year.
Although President Obama lost it narrowly in 2012, Senator Sherrod Brown won the 14th Congressional District with 50.5 percent of the vote. In 2010, when Democrats got "shellacked," then incumbent Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland nearly won it. Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, a Democrat, took 47.1 percent of the vote.
President Obama and John McCain tied the district in 2008, while two years before, in 2006, Democrats carried the district up and down the ballot. Sen. Brown won an impressive 56.6 percent of the vote, but Gov. Strickland received an unprecedented 65.2 percent and Jennifer Brunner earned 57.6 percent.
The DCCC said the results of the 2006 election are "especially important indicators because we anticipate the 2014 electorate will reflect the behavior of voters in non-Presidential elections."
Seen as a perennial swing district, Ohio's 14th District voters could send Wager to Washington instead of Joyce this year if voters have had enough of Tea Party candidates, as reliable polling says they have. Paying attention to growing the middle class, spurring the economy and creating more jobs are Wager's path to victory.
The news article Wagering on Wager over Joyce in OH-14 a good bet, poll says appeared first on Columbus Government Examiner.
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