In a difficult year for her party’s colleagues, Democratic Rep. Betty Sutton has electoral history and demographics on her side over business owner Tom Ganley, the Republican nominee for Congress. The numbers aren’t decisive, though, and Ganley had the monetary advantage heading out of the gate. With many much closer races to shepherd, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee would be hard-pressed the justify spending too much money in an expensive market just to even the odds in a race that generally favors the incumbent.
Candidates for Ohio’s 13th Congressional District (two-year term)
(This district includes portions of several counties: Lorain, Cuyahoga, Medina, and Summit. The cities of Akron, Lorain, Elyria, Strongville and Brunswick are within the boundaries. See a boundary map here.)
Candidate: Betty Sutton
Political experience: Sutton replaced current Sen. Sherrod Brown in the 2006 elections for the district. She serves on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and is Co-Chair of the Congressional Task Force on Job Creation. Prior to being a congresswoman, Sutton served on the Barberton City Council and the Summit County Council. She joined the Ohio House of Representatives in 1993, serving until term-limited for eight years.
Professional experience: Sutton ran for and won her first election during her first year of law school and has been in public service since. She had been labor lawyer with the firm of Faulkner, Muskovitz & Phillips LLP (FMP) prior to becoming a representative.
Key issues: Sutton established the popular and controversial “Cash for Clunkers” program and was considered a key architect of the cap and trade bill. In 2009, she was in favor of the “public option” for the health care reform bill, which ultimately was not part of the final bill.
For her 2010 campaign, Sutton is highlighting on her website that she is focusing on three issues: middle class issues (jobs), veterans concerns and women’s issues.
Endorsements: Mayors Bill Grace of Elyria, Don Plusquellic of Akron, John Hunter of Sheffield, Robert Genet of Barberton, and Tony Krasoenko of Lorain endorse Sutton. EMILY’s List, the American Federation of Teachers, Human Rights International, National Organization of Women, United Steelworkers and the Ohio AFL-CIO are just some of the organizations backing Sutton as well.
Chances of maintaining her seat: This district has historically supported Democrats. It’s not a major stronghold, but Sutton has a populist streak (she is, after all, a member of the Populist Caucus) that will likely continue to play well in this district. While it is an anti-incumbent year, she performed well in previous races, winning 61 percent to 35 percent in 2006 and 65 percent to 35 percent in 2008.
Candidate: Tom Ganley
Political experience: Tom Ganley defeated five candidates in the primary in order to face Sutton, earning 74 percent of the total vote on May 4.
Professional experience: He’s the president and CEO of Ganley Automotive Group in Cleveland.
Key issues: While making health care a top-tier item on his website, Ganley has mentioned ways he’d improve health care (the government must not become the single payer and insurance must stay in the private sector). He hasn’t specifically stated he’d repeal the current health reform law.
Taxes are another key issue, and he has voiced support for a fair tax. He is for school of choice. On jobs, he suggests that improving worker productivity and education, cutting taxes and incentivizing businesses are the key to bringing in more jobs.
Endorsements: Ganley has been endorsed by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Akron Beacon Journal, Lorain Morning Journal, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), and Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX), Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. He is also supported by Ohio Right to Life PAC and Buckeye Firearms Association.
Chances of unseating Betty Sutton: CQ Politics considers this a safe race for Sutton, so Ganley has an uphill, though not impossible, fight given the district demographics, even with an anti-incumbent mood. But he is wealthy and self-funding, according to Politico, and after abandoning an underdog Senate race, he now has a $3.7 million to $930,000 cash advantage over his opponent. Federal Election Commission data shows that $3.4 million of his campaign funds are from his own pockets.
Key Differences between Tom Ganley and Betty Sutton
Jobs: Sutton wants to improve access to unemployment while employees look for jobs and “level the playing field” for American businesses. Ganley believes cutting taxes will encourage businesses to hire more workers, while at the same time changing tax laws to discourage knowledge-based outsourcing jobs will help retain more positions in United States.
Defense: Ganley focuses his campaign on defense issues, while Sutton spends more time talking about veterans. Ganley would like to see a national missile defense system and is opposed to UN peacekeeping missions in which U.S. interests are not concerned. Sutton is more concerned with what happens after combat; she wants to see fully-funded, better-inspected veterans’ hospitals and clinics, a new GI Bill and stop-loss compensation.
Ohio‘s 13th U.S. Congressional District
Location: The Ohio 13th District winds from Lorain along Lake Erie and ends south of Akron and Cuyahoga Falls in Summit County. It includes northwest Lorain County, southern Cuyahoga County, north Medina County, and western Summit County. Western and southern Cleveland suburbs are included, such as Elyria, Strongville and Brunswick.
2008 results: Betty Sutton defeated David Potter 61.2 percent to 35.5 percent in 2008.
Demographics: According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2008 data, 84.4 percent of the district is white, 13.1 percent black and 1.9 percent Asian. 4 percent of residents identify as Hispanic or Latino.
The Cook Partisan Index gives the Ohio 13th District a rating of D+5, meaning the district leans toward Democratic candidates.