Rothenburg points to an unexpectedly competitive race in OH-05:
The reliably Republican nature of Ohio’s 5th district would seem to make it an unlikely target for Democrats, but a target it is in Tuesday’s special election.
And while political operatives from both parties scramble to downplay expectations, there is more than enough evidence to conclude that the race to fill the seat of the late Rep. Paul Gillmor (R) is going down to the wire.
Republican Bob Latta, who should, under normal circumstances, win the race rather easily, finds himself in an uncomfortably competitive race against Democrat Robin Weirauch, who already has lost two bids for Congress in the district.
To get some perspective on the district, it was solid Bush country in 2004 and Republicans have won the House race there handily for over a decade. Democratic vote totals have been increasing in recent cycles (Democratic turnout in the district in ‘06 was higher than it was in ‘04, which is pretty remarkable). Republicans ought to have the advantage in a special election in a traditionally Republican district, but the fact that the NRCC is worried about the district tells us that the Republican position in Ohio may be worse than even I thought.
P.S. Politico’s coverage reminds us that the GOP has controlled this district since 1938, which you can see in the entry about the district linked above. The Politico article also notes that this district gave Bush 61% of the vote. As Rothenburg mentioned in his article, the NRCC is using up a lot of its small reserve of money to protect the seat. It can’t afford to fritter away on districts that are supposed to be safe. The article also very nearly buries one of the most striking pieces of evidence that Weirauch may win:
But a poll conducted for Latta’s campaign last week showed him trailing Weirauch by four points, according to a GOP operative.
Update: Via DailyKos, Roll Call reports that local Republicans in northwest Ohio are upset with Bob Latta’s lackadaisacal campaigning. There is also this story detailing the consequences of the bruising GOP primary fight, in which the Club waged one of its classic scorched-earth campaigns against the moderate Republican (who, it must be said, was tied into the Ohio GOP establishment with all the baggage that entails). The supporters of the primary loser are none too pleased with Latta and may not show up on Tuesday.