Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ohio Senate: Hackett drops out; Brown remains

Paul Hackett, the guy who gave Rep. Jean Schmidt a run for her money in a very Republican district in southwestern Ohio, has stepped down from his bid to knock Republican Senator Mike DeWine out of office. Hackett is complaining about pressure from Democratic leaders to step down, since he's not perceived as a viable candidate for the primary, and Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer want a clean, trouble-free contest, of course. Hackett says he's stepping down, and that he's through with politics.

The reason that Schumer and Reid and friends don't see Hackett as a viable candidate is that State Rep. Sherrod Brown is the candidate who's got all the money, all the campaign staff, and more statewide name recognition. Hackett's calling this a "betrayal" is a bit of a stretch, anyway. The thing is, it was Brown's own campaign manager who originally encouraged Hackett to run for the Senate. When Hackett vacillated, Brown jumped in, and then Hackett made up his mind. Brown's campaign manager (and donors) naturally went back to Brown, leaving this to look potentially really messy.

Hackett's a great candidate, and he'd certainly have potential if Brown weren't already in the running. If Hackett had made up his mind sooner, Brown probably wouldn't even be in the running. The Ohio Democratic Party wanted to get Hackett to run for the House and, I would presume, groom him there for a Senate run in 2010, when the Democrats are going to need a really strong candidate with strong ties in southern Ohio, which leans Republican, to counter Senator Voinovich, who's from northeastern Ohio, which leans Democratic.

I hope Hackett's pique is just that, and that he comes around. Since Ohio's filing deadline for House races is February 16, it looks unlikely that he'll manage to do it this year, but hopefully we'll hear from him again. Hackett is a real asset to the party—just like Sherrod Brown. I'd love to have both of them in the Senate; Ohio needs good representation like them.

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