Wednesday, July 25, 2012


It is looking more and more to the SCPR that Republican Jim Renacci might be panicking a bit about the prospects of his maintaining a seat in the United States Congress.

With a poll (done by Normington, Petts & Associates) coming out in early July showing fellow-incumbent and Democrat Betty Sutton (redistricting is forcing them to run against one another) in the lead 41% to 38%, one could understand a little bit of concern.

But The Report's take on Renacci's campaign mode is that he must know something that the rest of us don't?  Well, what could that be?  How about an "internal" poll showing an even greater spread in favor of Sutton?

Those of us familiar with political campaigns know that the general public never sees the light of day on internal polls except if one happens to show a candidate way ahead.  Even then the campaigns do not talk numbers.  The candidate and staff merely takes on a smugness about themselves that betrays what they are not revealing to the public.

But there are other signs that Renacci figures himself to be in trouble and is scrambling to turn things around.

Let's focus on some of the other signs.

First and foremost is the flap about his having received about $100,250 in campaign contributions from employees of Suarez Industries Incorporated.  In a story broken by the Toledo Blade on August 19, 2011 (Canton firm's workers making unusual donations), writer Tony Cook made the following points:
  • "All together, 17 employees from Canton-based Suarez Corporation have contributed to one or both candidates, according to federal campaign filings. Sixteen of those employees (and six of their spouses) have given $5,000, the maximum amount allowed under federal election law."
  • [A company spokesperson] 'said the company did not reimburse employees or provide money for the contributions, though she later emphasized that she couldn't "speak on the behalf of anyone, other than our brand and products.' Federal campaign finance law prohibits a corporation from providing bonuses or salary increases to employees to reimburse them for political contributions."
Initially, Renacci just blew off Democratic leadership expressed suspicions that he - Renacci - may have been the person who came up with the idea for Suarez employees (who did not have much if any track record of contributing to political campaigns in the past) to make individual contributions.

The FBI picked up on the contributions and embarked on an investigation of whether or not they were improperly (by the standards of campaign finance law) made.

Congresswoman Sutton demanded that Renacci return the questioned contributions when the FBI investigation became public knowledge this past May.

Renacci refused saying through a campaign spokesperson that he would "wait and see" how the FBI investigation turned out.

His approach was quite different from that than fellow Republican and Ohio secretary of state Josh Mandel who is running to unseat Democrat Sherrod Brown from the U.S. Senate.

As soon as the FBI action became known, Mandel immediately took measures to return about $105,000 in political donations he had received from Suarez employees in the same fashion as Renacci.

Okay.  Sounds like a reasonable difference of approach, no?

If Renacci had stayed the course, yes.  But he didn't.  In an abrupt reversal, last Friday Renacci announced the was returning the $100,250 to the Suarez employees contributors.

His reason?

To take the matter off the table as a campaign controversy so that he and Sutton could get on with discussing the substantive issues of the campaign.

Hmm?  Does he really think Betty Sutton is not going the harp and harp and harp some more about the Suarez thing?

Pretty politically naive, if he does, no?

A second sign that a sense of urgency may be setting in with Renacci has to do his whining about being stalked by videographers.  It appears that he is indeed being tracked by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and by American Bridge which is thought by some to be Democratic congressional candidates' "unofficial" opposition research arm.

What Renacci fails to say is that "opposition research" is Politics 101 and undoubtedly he and national Republican organizations are undoubtedly tracking Congresswoman Sutton.

It appears to The Report that Renacci is whining because he fears that the Democrat researchers may come up with material that could be a difference maker in this close, close race.

The question that yours truly has is why Renacci in being so sensitive to be tracked and monitored?  Does he know that there are politically explosive skeletons to be discovered?

The Report doubts that such is the case because certainly the Boccieri campaign would have discovered them (if they existed) in Renacci's successful campaign to unseat Boccieri in 2010.

So the answer is likely that Renacci didn't figure on running behind with only about 100 days left before the election and he is coming just a little bit unglued.

A third sign that a campaign rush may be setting in with Renacci has to do with his challenge to Sutton to come out and debate him on the merits/demerits of he Affordable Care Act (referred to by Republicans as being Obamacare) on the heels of the United States Supreme Court ruling the core of the act constitutional.

The SCPR, for one, thinks that Sutton should take him up on the challenge.

She may find that there are many (perhaps, even a majority) in the 16th who do not want to see the act repealed as Renacci has committed himself to.  National polls show that a majority of Americans do not want the law repealed.  But it is close.  The worse that The Report thinks Sutton would do is to have a standoff on the issue.  And a face off could be a real educational experience for the voters of the 16th.

No doubt Renacci thinks otherwise and feels that if he can bait Sutton, then he is well on his way to pulling ahead of her and thereby resolve his concern that his congressional seat may be slipping away from him..  He appears to desperately looking for a head turner issue and he thinks this is it.

What's the saying?  Be careful what you wish for!

So the foregoing are signs (there are others) that the SCPR thinks demonstrates Congressman Jim Renacci might be losing it just a tad on maintaining campaign composure.

If his unease accelerates, he is likely to do some really dumb things and then "Katy bar the door," real political trouble is just around the corner in terms of him doing himself in.

It is well understood by most of us that human beings do not function well under stress.

Could a panicky Jim Renacci turn a very close race into a sold win for Betty Sutton notwithstanding Renacci's large lead in fundraising?

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