Is Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) a conservative? (Updated)

Guest PostHave you noticed that every candidate in the GOP primary is a “conservative” now?

Clearly, they know what to say. They might even know what to do. But getting them to actually do what’s needed most – take the initiative to rein in federal spending – means voters will have to wise up.

Ohio’s Congressional District 2 is represented by Jean Schmidt, who calls herself a conservative and boasts of big-name endorsements and high scores from conservative watchdog groups.

But how many actual conservatives got elected to Congress the first time around with the benefit of $37,000 in Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee money? (Source: 1 2 3 contributions)

What is conservative about earmarking $14.6 million, the most of any Greater Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky member of the House, in 2007’s congressional spending bills? (Source: Cincinnati Enquirer, Oct. 7, 2007)

How can one claim to be a fiscal conservative while supporting $25 million in federal spending on a local park? (Source: Cincinnati Enquirer, May 1, 2007) Note that this occurred when the federal debt was approaching $9 trillion.

In 2009, Rep. Schmidt requested more than $10 million in District 2 spending as part of a pork-laden bill, prompting nearby District 8’s Rep. John Boehner – who has publicly sworn off earmarking – to urge President Obama to veto the entire bill. (Source: Cincinnati Enquirer, Mar. 6, 2009)

Interestingly, in 2010 Rep. Schmidt cited Congressional overspending as her reason for voting against extending the Bush tax cuts. (Source: Cincinnati Enquirer, Dec. 18, 2010) The problem for her, it seems, was that everybody except Rep. Schmidt was spending too much money.

Yet, as Rep. Boehner’s record illustrates, a Congressman does not have to treat the U.S. Treasury as a personal printing press in order to get re-elected.

In fact, as the video Alo kindly linked below explains, 85 percent of Congress consists of “safe seats,” solid-red and solid-blue districts where the winner of the right primary is virtually certain to win in November.

Add that only 1 in 10 registered voters participate in the primaries, and it’s clear that only 5 percent of the electorate (or, a majority of primary voters) actually chooses most of Congress.

So, all a GOP incumbent has to do in most districts is convincingly don the “conservative” mantle through the primary, then go back to politics as usual. Congress is full of such representatives. They get high scores from ACU and other organizations, but they don’t actually take initiative to get Washington under control. Why bother, if the primary voters aren’t paying attention? It’s hard work, turning a ship that big around.

But that’s what will have to happen. Voters will have to realize they’ve been sending the same go-alongs and earmarkers to Congress every two years, expecting a different result.

Some incumbents, such as Rep. Schmidt, actually have credible primary challengers this time around. Many incumbents do not. Hence, the attention this particular contest has drawn from people concerned about the impending fiscal disaster that few in Congress seem ready to head off.

Are you a primary voter? Are you ready to change the course of Washington? Your chance occurs on March 6.

Michael Smith
Campaign for Primary Accountability

2:15 PM Update (Alo Konsen): Hello, Representative Schmidt. Nice to see you.

Hello, Rep. Schmidt!

Mike DeWine, Sherrod Brown, or a rusty fork to the eyeball? I’m torn.

In the recent past I’ve advocated support for Bill Pierce, a conservative challenger to incumbent U.S. Senator Mike DeWine. Well, chalk that up to stupid idealism. Pierce is roadkill in the May 2nd Republican primary, based on the results of the latest poll by the Columbus Dispatch, which has DeWine in front with 61% to Pierce’s 1%. With only 34% undecided, RINO Mike is again our standard-bearer by default. I’ll vote for him only because when compared to Sherrod Brown he’s the lesser of two evils. It will still chap my backside to support DeWine, a gutless member of the Gang of Fourteen, but I know better than to let Brown (my current congresscritter) get involved in judicial nominations and foreign affairs.
George Will is watching us here in Ohio, and in his latest column he predicts a tight Senate race between Brown and DeWine. I’m not so sure it’ll be close. DeWine’s lead over Brown grew from 5% in January to a 9% margin in a February 18th Rasmussen poll. Here’s hoping that trend continues.
Two key paragraphs from Will’s column:

DeWine is seeking a third term in an inhospitable environment — the middle of the second term of an incumbent president of his own party. That is when the electorate often experiences “the six-year itch,” the desire to reshuffle the political deck. … The redistricting done for incumbent-protection after the 2000 Census may have made the House almost impervious to the itch … so voters might vent their restlessness in Senate elections. And “restless” hardly describes Ohio’s dyspeptic mood regarding its Republicans, who hold all statewide offices. Scandals and tax increases drove Gov. Bob Taft’s approval rating in one poll to six. He has bounced all the way back to 16. Richard Nixon’s job approval rating was 24 on the eve of his resignation.

DeWine, one of only four senators who supported John McCain in 2000, is a moderate conservative with an independent streak — for example, he has repeatedly voted against drilling in ANWR. This may be enough to annoy some conservatives without being sufficient to distance him from the state Republican shambles. We shall find out late on Election Night when, as usual, the nation will be watching Ohio.

I’m so very, very tired of the Ohio GOP establishment and its candidates. They campaign as center-right conservatives but govern as liberals. The current leadership of the Ohio Republican Party foolishly thinks this state’s voters can be made to march in lockstep behind any old fool as long as the candidate hangs an (R) after their surname. Well, this primary makes me feel like the proverbial critter caught in a leg trap who’s forced to gnaw off a paw to survive. I’ll reluctantly march to the polls this year and vote for RINO Mike, but if the Ohio GOP fields another crop of liberals in 2008 and expects me to step out smartly with two gnawed-off stumps, I’ll cheerfully tell them where they can put this year’s leg.

Update (11:25 PM): Tom from points out that the poll is unreliable, and the Dispatch itself has a sorry history of shoddy polling practices. Here’s the key paragraph I missed when I scanned through the article this morning:

The mail poll of 2,894 registered Democratic voters and 2,874 registered Republicans voters from March 15 through Friday has a margin of sampling error of 2 percentage points.

Notice it was a mail-in poll; those are notoriously unreliable. Also, the respondents were registered voters, not likely voters. That makes a big difference, too. Dave at has more analysis that tracks with BizzyBlog’s.