Chabot faces challenge as Democrats look to flip Ohio district once again

Chabot faces challenge as Democrats look to flip Ohio district once again
© Bloomberg/Pool

Rep. Steve ChabotSteven (Steve) Joseph ChabotREAD: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results House Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit Top GOP lawmaker touts 'more flexible' PPP loans in bipartisan proposal MORE (R-Ohio) faces a competitive race to retain his seat in a red-leaning Ohio congressional district.

The Ohio Republican, who was first elected to the House in 1994, was ousted from his seat during the Democratic wave in 2008 but won back his seat in 2010. While President TrumpDonald TrumpNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE won the district by 6 points in 2016, Democrats are vying to once again unseat the incumbent congressman, with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reserving nearly $1 million for television ads in an attempt to boost Kate Schroder ahead of election day.

Recent polling shows Chabot in a neck-and-neck race against Schroder, the former vice president of the Clinton Health Access Initiative, with the nonpartisan political handicapper Cook Political Report rating the district as a “toss-up.” One survey released by the Democratic-aligned House Majority PAC showed Schroder with an edge over Chabot, leading Democratic strategists to voice optimism about their odds of unseating the Ohio Republican.


But GOP operatives argue Chabot is better positioned to win in November than he was in the year he was defeated, insisting the district leans more Republican and noting that he survived the Democratic wave in 2018.

"[Last cycle] Democrats had a fella named Aftab Pureval, who was, you know, their next sort of hot shot political rising star — Steve beat him. So this seems to happen every summer,” Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman Alex Triantafilou told The Hill.

“The Democrats get all jazzed up, and I don't know where to find these polls, but this district is drawn favorably for Republicans. And I haven't seen any polling, and I wouldn't be privy necessarily to Congressman Chabot’s internal polling, but ... I have a very hard time believing he's 5 points down in that district,” Triantafilou added.

Chabot’s camp noted they are already on their third round of placing television spots and touted his grassroots efforts and fundraising numbers.

The Ohio Republican has also held a cash advantage throughout the race, with the last campaign reports showing him with $989,647 in cash on hand to Schroder’s $502,983.

“This cycle he's had several — not just one but several — record-breaking fundraising quarters,” Chabot spokesman Jon Conradi said. 


“He has a real grassroots army of young people who've already knocked 100,000 doors in the district and who've made several hundred thousand phone calls and are taking full advantage of the full suite of campaign tactics like peer-to-peer texting,” Conradi added.

While Republicans assert the landscape is different from the 2008 election cycle, Democrats argue there are clear similarities.

“This is basically the race of Chabot's career. He's been in office for 24 years and obviously lost in 2008,” one Democratic operative told The Hill.

“I think what we're seeing is a few parallels between 2008 and 2020 where he managed to hold on to his seat in the wave election in 2006 but lost in 2008,” the operative added.

The race has become increasingly heated as Election Day approaches, with Chabot’s campaign filing a defamation lawsuit in August after Schroder’s campaign released a television ad alleging the Ohio Republican was "facing a grand jury investigation for $123,000 in missing campaign money."

Schroder’s ad was in reference to a former Chabot aide, James Schwartz, being investigated in connection with the missing funds. The ad was ultimately pulled and redone. Democrats have argued the investigation raises questions about the campaign’s operations.

“Since then [2008], there really has just been kind of a deluge of uncovering of Chabot's operations where the FBI is looking into his campaign,” one Democratic strategist said.

“It just kind of highlights the kind of ethical questions around his campaign,” the strategist added.

Chabot’s camp has asserted he has been exonerated of wrongdoing.

“It is frankly sad and embarrassing for Schroder that she has staked their entire campaign to attacking the victim of a crime, who no less an authority than the FBI made crystal clear was a victim and not implicated in any wrongdoing or investigation,” Conradi said in a statement.

“Schroder has already been caught lying to voters, been forced to pull down a false ad and is being sued for her egregious attacks. Schroder is clearly so paranoid that voters will learn the truth about her support for dangerous policies that would undermine public safety, radical agenda that would bankrupt Ohio or record of scandal on the Board of Health that she will say anything, no matter how false, to generate a distraction,” Conradi added.

Chabot’s camp in turn has attacked Schroder for her record working for the Cincinnati Board of Health, alleging she mishandled funds, and has slammed her for featuring an activist who advocated for ballot harvesting during a Facebook Live event.

Democrats dismissed the allegations launched against her and noted the Facebook Live was removed due to the activist’s comments.

“The person said incorrect information, and so they immediately commented, 'This is incorrect' on the post and then took it down before anyone noticed or anyone asked about it,” the Democratic operative said.

“Republicans hit them tried to hit this after the video was already taken down, but the campaign did their due diligence,” the operative added.