Sen. DeWine's son's poor showing raises interest in '06 Senate race

Former state Rep. Jean Schmidt yesterday won the Republican primary in Ohio’s 2nd District, beating Sen. Mike DeWine’s son, Pat DeWine, and raising questions about the senator’s own reelection prospects.

Schmidt is almost certain to win the Aug. 2 special election in the strongly Republican district in southwestern Ohio. It was vacated by Rep. Rob Portman earlier this year, after the congressman was tapped by President Bush to be the U.S. trade representative.

courtesy of pat dewine
Pat DeWine, above, son of Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), finished fourth Tuesday in a GOP House primary.


Sen. DeWine, in his second term, faces the voters next year. Until yesterday, Democrats, who have yet to come up with a candidate to challenge DeWine, had little to say about the race.

But the senator came under sharp attack from conservatives after he joined 13 other senators last month in helping avert a showdown over judicial nominees.

Minutes after Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), issued a statement congratulating Schmidt, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) issued a statement of its own titled “It’s Not a Good Time to Be Mike DeWine.”

The DSCC statement noted that Pat DeWine, a Hamilton County commissioner, came in fourth in the 11-candidate GOP primary. Just weeks ago, portraying himself as a Reagan Republican, he had been the front-runner.

DSCC spokesman Phil Singer said Democrats are speaking with “two or three” possible contenders, whom he declined to name. “We’ll hopefully have something resolved in a few weeks,” he added.

Rep. Ted Strickland (D-Ohio), running for governor, said Reps. Sherrod Brown and Tim Ryan, both Ohio Democrats, are possible Senate contenders.

Singer added that Pat DeWine’s defeat “suggested [the senator is] going to have a much harder go of it in the 2006 campaign than he thinks he might.”

Brian Nick, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), said Democrats “are throwing spaghetti at the wall to see if anything will stick.”

Referring to DeWine, Jason Mauk, political director of the Ohio Republican Party, said: “He may have some detractors among conservatives in the Republican Party, but I think at the end of the day they will unite behind him as a candidate with a very conservative record overall. By the time next year’s election rolls around, the judicial compromise issue will hopefully be a distant memory, assuming the Democrats don’t go back on their word.”

Mauk added that DeWine is “staunchly pro-life” and popular among evangelical voters.

Jeffrey Sadosky, a spokesman for DeWine, declined to comment.

Pat DeWine’s loss may have more to do with his personal life than his father, Mauk and other Republicans suggested. His marital travails are well-known in the district: He left his pregnant wife (from whom he is now divorced) for another woman.

Strickland, whose 6th District abuts the 2nd, agreed with that assessment, saying, “My perception is that the showing of Pat DeWine was largely related to factors related to Pat DeWine, not his father. Having said that, I do believe that, fairly or unfairly, many people will interpret this as an indication that the DeWine name doesn’t have the kind of political power or oomph or whatever it was presumed to have before this election occurred.”

Strickland said that with Republicans controlling all major statewide offices and the state Legislature — and with Ohio continuing to face economic troubles — the state could be in for a “sea change” in 2006.