Some may be recovering from Steve Chabot-Aftab Pureval’s nasty Congressional race in November, but Washington Democrats are already preparing to throw another shot into the greater Cincinnati area.
The Democratic Congressional Campaigns Committee announced last week that Chabots is the seat of one of 33 GOP-controlled districts to be targeted in the 2020 elections. The 1st Congressional District is the only Ohio seat on the list.
That’s no surprise. Democratic leaders believe they missed a major opportunity last year to take control of the district amid a nationwide blue wave. Rookie Congressional candidate Aftab Pureval stumbled upon a string of self-inflicted campaign errors and helped Chabot win a 12th term.
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It’s a tough district for Democrats because it encompasses all of the red-leaning Warren County. But it’s a largely suburban district where in a presidential year the Democrats will count on Trump to turn down crossover women voters to help them switch seats.
I think it would take a high profile candidate and a near flawless campaign for the Democrats to win this seat. So who could end up on the DCCC’s list of potential candidates? Politics Extra goes by many names. Here are two that turn out to be potential competitors:
Kelly is a rising star in the Hamilton County’s Democratic Party and is in her second term at Ohio House. Her strict values for work are similar to those of Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown in Ohio. Kelly’s style is too. She is approachable, hardworking, authentic, and humble.
In her short time in Columbus, Kelly has proven she’s ready to work across the aisle. She is smart and has surrounded herself with experienced advisors. And it doesn’t hurt that she has a good Irish Catholic election name.
The downside, at least for this race, Kelly is an East Sider. She grew up in Norwood and lives in Hyde Park outside of the district. There is no district residence law, but Chabot has a well-used game book on how to define opponents who wrap carpet bags.
Kelly would need union money to keep up. Support from the local workforce probably won’t be an issue, but the nationwide unions were upset with them and ten other Statehouse Democrats who voted for which Republicans in the Speakers’ race last month.
Kelly voted for Ryan Smith, who was outmaneuvered by Larry Householder in the speaker’s race. The head of household used the unions to win favor with 26 Democrats and help him win.
Kelly eventually stepped down from her leadership role as the whip of the house minority. It’s unfortunate for Kelly, who probably cares more about the working class than anyone else in Capitol Square. She works full time for the food union.
If you look at those 21 months, the President of the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners could be the Democrats’ best hope of turning the district around. There is arguably no major political surname in the county that extends over the west side of Hamilton County, where Driehaus and her seven siblings grew up.
The name Driehaus has previously proven itself against Chabot. Denise’s younger brother, Steve, is the only Democrat to defeat Chabot since he was first elected in 1994. That was 2008, a wave year for Democrats. Chabot won the seat in 2010, and the district was redrawn to favor Republicans.
Independently of this, Denise Driehaus has established her own identity. She served in the statehouse for eight years before winning a tough commissioners’ race against Dennis Deters in 2016. Driehaus has led efforts to combat the opioid crisis in the county and has helped raise state and federal funding.
Driehaus is very much like Kelly – affable, polite, thick-skinned, and a good listener. In fact, Driehaus helped take care of Kelly, who sits in the former Driehaus statehouse. (If one chooses to run for Congress, the other wouldn’t challenge them in an elementary school.)
Like her brother, Driehaus is the rare democrat who is for life. That can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. In a general election, her anti-abortion stance could help her win crossover votes. But if there is a primary school, it is used against them.
Driehaus would run the risk of being completely unemployed if she chose to run. Your seat on the Board of Commissioners expired in 2020. In a blue county, Driehaus can probably stay a commissioner for as long as she likes because of her name and experience.
Listen to Jason’s That’s So Cincinnati podcast on iTunes. Twitter: @jwilliamscincy. Email: [email protected]