Ohio is a state that neither party has been able to slip into its back pocket in recent years. In 2008, the state voted for Barack Obama for president, while in 2004, it fell into the George Bush camp. In 2010, the pendulum seems to be swinging back, giving Republican Senate candidate Rob Portman a wide lead over his Democratic rival, Lee Fisher, for the Senate seat vacated by Republican George Voinovich, according to polling data compiled by realclearpolitics.com.
2010 Candidates for Senate from Ohio
Candidate: Rob Portman
Political experience: Portman’s campaign website biography details a long political career. First elected to office in 1993 as Ohio’s 2nd District House Representative, Portman served 12 years in that position, winning large majorities in each of his re-election bids. In 2005, President Bush appointed Portman to the cabinet-level position of U.S. trade representative, a post he held for one year. From there, he was appointed director of the Office of Budget and Management
Professional experience: Portman owns a historic restaurant and hotel in Ohio with his siblings and has co-authored a book on the history of that establishment. Portman worked as a Washington lawyer specializing in international trade law. Back in Cincinnati, he practiced business law, according to his website’s bio. He also spent two years as the White House associate counsel and director of the Office of Legislative Affairs under President George H. W. Bush.
Key issues: Portman is a staunch supporter of pro-life issues, receiving a 100 percent pro-life rating from the National Right to Life group, according to information posted on his campaign website. Portman is also in the repeal and start over camp when it comes to the Affordable Care Act. He cites cuts in benefits for Medicare Advantage and high costs as primary reasons for his opposition to the program. Portman says he is a fiscal conservative and would fight to lower taxes and trim government. On energy, Portman promises to promote develop of “natural gas, coal, solar, wind, hydro, nuclear, oil, and bio-mass” resources in Ohio and use those industries to create jobs in Ohio.
Endorsements: Portman’s website claims endorsements from Ohio Right to Life PAC and National Right to Life. Real Clear Politics says Portman has also been endorsed by the Ohio Farm Bureau, The Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, The National Rifle Association, The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the NFIB among others.
Rob Portman’s 2010 Senate election prospects: Portman not only has a sizable lead in the polls, but a large lead in fund raising leading into the final month of campaigning. Those two factors add up to a strong advantage. Portman’s lead has developed and grown since mid-August and his momentum shows no signs of letting up. It will take a major mistake for Portman to lose this one.
Candidate: Lee Fisher
Political experience: Fisher began his political career, according to a biography at VoteSmart.org, as a member of the Ohio state house from 1980 to 1982. He then served in the Ohio state senate from 1983to 1991. From there, Fisher became attorney general for the state of Ohio until 1995. In 2006 he became lieutenant governor, the office he still holds.
Professional experience: Fisher has spent the large majority of his career in politics, but also served as president and CEO of the Center for Families and Children, a large human service organization, according to his campaign website biography.
Key issues: Fisher says his top priority is Ohio’s economic recovery. He is also a proponent of health care reform and, says his website, he wrote to key senators as they drafted the Affordable Care Act with his desire to lower costs, improve access to health care and improve quality of care. Fisher says he is in favor of allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire in order to help reduce the deficit, but he is against any tax increase for the middle class. Fisher advocates putting “Ohioans to work creating sources of clean, advanced energy like wind turbines, solar panels, fuel cell-powered cars, and clean-coal technologies.” Fisher supports the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
Endorsements: Fisher’s website lists endorsements by the Ohio AFL-CIO, the International Association of Firefighters, Ohio’s United Auto Workers, The National Farmer’s Union, Planned Parenthood, Equality Ohio, the Coalition of Women Voters, Citizens for Global Solutions and many others.
Lee Fisher’s 2010 Senate election prospects: Fisher trails Portman in fund raising $5 million to $10 million according to OpenSecrets.org. Polls from late September conducted by Reuters and CBS News/ New York Times have Fisher trailing by 13 and 11 points, respectively, among likely voters in Ohio. The CBS poll notes that Fisher has much better numbers among the overall voting population than he does among those whom the poll qualifies as likely to vote in November. Even a massive get out the vote campaign, however, is unlikely to produce the numbers to counter the enthusiasm Republican voters seem to be showing not just in Ohio, but across the country.
Key Differences between Lee Fisher and Rob Portman
Fisher and Portman break out along traditional party lines. Portman would repeal the Affordable Care Act, while Fisher supports it. Portman is a right-to-life candidate, while Fisher supports the right to choose. Both advocate using Ohio’s energy resources to create jobs in Ohio, but Fisher stresses clean-coal technologies rather than coal in general. Fisher is a supporter of the economic stimulus plan, while Portman calls it a failure. Both candidates have called into question the veracity of attack ads with Fact Check statements that claim the other candidate is stretching the truth or fabricating accusations.
Ohio at a glance: Ohio is a state of 11.5 million people, according to U.S. Census estimates. The $48,000 median income of Ohio households falls below the national average of $52,000. As of 2005, Ohio had 14.3 million acres of land in agricultural use by 76,500 farms, according to Ohio History Central. The tops crops in Ohio are soybeans, corn, hay and wheat. Ohio is known as “The Buckeye State,” but the word Ohio is derived from the Iroquois language in which it means great river.