Wednesday, September 19, 2012


It has been pretty amazing that Joyce Healy-Abrams has been able to put the political heat on incumbent Republican Congressman Bob Gibbs (now of the 18th but running for a seat in the newly configured 7th as a consequence of the constitutionally mandated decennial redistricting).

Ohio lost population in the 2010 census and as a result lost two congressional seats.  It could be that the loss and having to run in a reconfigured district could cost Gibbs his seat but the SCPR does not look for such to actually happen.

How so?

While Healy-Abrams came out of gate stronger than one would expect being the political novice she is (running about even in a generic poll done early on), she has not been able to move up on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's (DCCC) list of preferred candidates.

In April she moved onto the DCCC list:

The "Emerging List" is defined by the DCCC as being those: 
candidates and districts that are making themselves competitive by running smart campaigns which are becoming increasingly competitive.
While being on the emerging list is an accomplishment, the list she must make if she is to have a good chance of winning is what is known as the "Red to Blue List."

The "Red to Blue List" consists of the:
top Democratic campaigns across the country, and offers them financial, communications, grassroots, and strategic support. The program will introduce Democratic supporters to new, competitive candidates in order to help expand their base leading up to Election Day.
Right now that list includes 53 congressional districts across the country.  For Ohio, only Charlie Wilson (elected in the Obama/Democratic banner year of 2008).  However, he lost in the Republican tide of 2010 and is now seemingly poised to reclaim the seat in this - a more balanced - election year.

As the SCPR sees this race is that the main reason Healy-Abrams is in play is that Gibbs allowed his old district (the 18th) to be decimatedly morphed into the 7th which only includes about a third of 18th.

To The Report both Gibbs and Healy-Abrams are bland candidates in and of themselves and do very little to generate excitement among the voters.  Yours truly is told that upwards of 50% of the 7th District voters know practically nothing about either candidates.

That being the case does not bode very well for Healy-Abrams as far as the SCPR is concerned.  When the 7th was put together, the gerrymanders calculated the political party bias of each and every district and the Republican map makers ensured that the 7th would lean Republican.

This means that absent extraordinary circumstances a Republican is going to win the 7th.

From what the SCPR sees of Healy-Abrams, there is nothing special about her or her campaign effort.

Had former 16th District Congressman John Boccieri entered the race, the SCPR believes that he does have enough of a flair about him to be on the DCCC "Red to Blue List" and therefore in a position to take the 7th for Democrats.

Republicans obviously were determined to make it difficult for Boccieri to make the run.  In redistricting they placed his home in Alliance into fellow Democrat Tim Ryan's 13th congressional district.

While Boccieri could legally have run for the 7th even living out of the district, such a fact would have been a distraction from the real issues of the campaign.  Of course, he could have moved like he did (from New Middetown [Mahoning County]) to Alliance) when he ran against Kirk Schuring in 2008.  However, he appears to be a solid family man who would not put his family (which includes a number of small children) through another such disruption in their lives.

So the 7th congressional district race is what it is and two pretty vapid candidates are in "a limp to the end."

Gibbs is so non-descript that it would not be a shock if Healy-Abrams were to win.

If she does, it will be a sign that Democrats are doing exceptionally well across the county. 

However, political pundits across the country are not expecting a Democratic groundswell, unlike in the 2010 races where some did insofar as Republican prospects were concerned.  Some predicted thewholesale change that resulted in the Republicans taking over the United States House of Representatives.  In 2012, most are predicting single-digit Democratic gains.

So the most that probably can be said about the prospect of a Healy-Abrams win in November is:

"Close, but no cigar!"

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