Until 2006, this district has been a Republican stronghold, and first-term incumbent Steve Driehaus has faced some strong criticism for voting for the health care reform bill, according to WLWT News 5. The rematch pits a recently forcibly retired seven-term Congressman against the incumbent who was elected on then-candidate Barack Obama’s coattails in 2008. Dierhaus is now dealing with a much tougher election landscape.
Candidates for Ohio’s 1st Congressional District (two-year term)
(This district encompasses portions of Butler and Hamilton counties and includes Cincinnati and its northern and western suburbs. See a boundary map here.)
Candidate: Steve Driehaus
Political experience: According to his website, Driehaus served in the Ohio House of Representatives for eight years. In 2005, he was chosen as the House Minority Whip. He was sworn in as the 1st District Representative in 2009 and serves on the Financial Services Committee. He is a co-founder of the Ohio River Basin Caucus. He handily defeated primary challenger Eric Wilson 83 percent to 17 percent on May 4.
Professional experience: Driehaus served in the Peace Corps in Senegal from 1988 to 1990. He directed a Xavier University, United Way and Community Chest collaborative effort called the Community Building Institute. The Institute promotes “citizen-led, asset-based community development.”
Key issues: Driehaus is trying to demonstrate, like many Democrats will be, how congressional initiatives under the Democratic-held House and Obama administration are helping create and save jobs in the district (as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act or ARRA), build and boost infrastructure (again, ARRA) and provide more affordable medical care under the health care system reform bill. He’s not shy about talking up how bringing more money into the Cincinnati has created new projects, such as the I-75 rehabilitation, the Banks Project and the Riverfront Intermodal Center.
Endorsements: Vice President Joe Biden stopped in for a fund raiser in March to help Driehaus’ campaign, WLWT News 5 reports.
Chances of maintaining his seat: It’s a toss-up in this district. Driehaus will continue to have to spin his support of ARRA and the health care reform bill as positives for his district, demonstrating how his congressional record helps the district. As Chabot concedes on his blog, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has nearly double the funding resources to spend on close races, and it’s likely they’ll view Ohio Congressional District 1 as a key but winnable race.
Candidate: Steve Chabot
Political experience: Chabot was a seven-term congressman before being unseated by Driehaus in 2008. He was on the Cincinnati City Council and Hamilton County Commission for four years each prior to being in the U.S. House. While a congressman, he served on the Judiciary, Foreign Affairs, and Small Business Committees, the last as the ranking member.
Professional experience: Chabot was a teacher at St. Joseph’s School in Cincinnati.
Key issues: Portions of Chabot’s site are still under construction as of late August, including the “Issues” section, but he maintains a regular blog and gives a glimpse into his priorities in the About Steve Chabot section. He notes that during his time in Congress, he blocked Internet taxation, toughened anti-drug laws and that he is a privacy advocate.
In his blog, Chabot frequently mentions his opposition to taxation and wasteful congressional spending and is a strong opponent of the recent health care reform bill. On social issues, he has noted he is pro-life.
Endorsements: Mike Huckabee has endorsed Chabot, according to his site.
Chances of unseating Steve Driehaus: Chabot was uncontested in the primary, meaning he was viewed as a strong candidate by other local Republicans and he has escaped a primary race in order to focus his money and resources solely on the rematch. According Federal Election Commission data retrieved by OpenSecrets.org, Chabot and Driehaus are nearly equal in funding, making District 1 less of a money race and more of a race to motivate the base and win over independents.
Key Differences between Steve Chabot and Steve Driehaus
Health care: This is probably the issue that will most be debated up until the election, though jobs are a major source of tension as well. Driehaus had to face vocal opposition to his vote for the health care reform bill which Chabot has dubbed on his blog as “Obamacare,” and he is arguing that Driehaus misled voters into thinking he would vote against it. However, Driehaus isn’t shying away from the argument, emphasizing the benefits of the health care bill and trying to sway voters that his vote and support have provided more affordable health care for the region.
Jobs: The candidates are highlighting their difference of opinion regarding the stimulus bill and how that spending will impact the region. While Driehaus is arguing the additional funding saved jobs and created money for infrastructure, Chabot disagrees, stating that the spending grew government, not jobs, and that it failed to stimulate the economy.
Wall Street: Both Chabot and Driehaus oppose the “excesses” on Wall Street, but Chabot is criticizing Driehaus for having said he’d have voted for the bank bailout (Chabot voted against it). Driehaus has riposted by noting his support for the passage of the recently passed Wall Street reform bill.
Ohio‘s 1st U.S. Congressional District
Location: The Ohio 1st District borders both Kentucky and Indiana in the southwest corner of Ohio. It includes Cincinnati, Wyoming and portions of both Hamilton and Butler counties.
2008 results: Driehaus beat Chabot 52 percent to 48 percent.
Demographics: According to U.S. Census Bureau 2008 statistics, 67.1 percent of the district is white, 28.7 percent black and 1.2 percent Asian. 1.9 percent identify as Hispanic or Latino.
The Cook Partisan Index gives the Ohio 1st District a rating of D+1, awarding a slight edge to Democratic candidates in this district.