It’s the day after, and the headlines are all over the place, but there’s some interesting messaging seeping into the media.
- Analysis: Closeness of race a surprise
- Republican Edges Out Iraq Veteran for Ohio Congress Seat
- Bush Critic Loses by Slim Margin
- Republican wins tight Ohio House race
Overall, the message seems to be that this is an important victory for Democrats. The Cincinnati Post referred to the race as a "bellwether."
Certainly the Democratic Party should be heartened by the outcome. Hackett, a political unknown who sharply criticized President Bush’s military policy, came awfully close to winning in a district that gave the president 64 percent of its vote last November.
Even the Enquirer, which endorsed Schmidt, agrees that this election is a message to Republicans in the state, and a preview of ’06.
Hackett’s showing was considerably closer than any Democrat has come to taking the district in decades. That was stunning, considering that Republican Rob Portman, whose resignation to become U.S. Trade Ambassador set up Tuesday’s race, won the seat with 70 percent of the vote last November.
…Yet this victory offers little respite for the new congresswoman. Tuesday’s win only allows her to finish Portman’s term. She will have to defend the seat in 2006. And given the Democrats’ strong showing Tuesday, she should expect a formidable challenge to begin immediately.
If a candidate in a majority Republican district isn’t entirely safe, then there are a number of seats that should be up for grabs in ’06, with the Dems having the advantage.
With a surprising showing in this election, Hackett is easily a strong candidate to challenge Schmidt in ’06, but there’s already suggestions that he should be aiming for the governor’s mansion.
Democrats hasten to note — in their best interests — that Hackett did not run a single-issue campaign on the war. Democratic House campaign committee chair Rahm Emanuel tells First Read that although the Iraq combat veteran was uniquely qualified to talk about the war, his message was primarily about the economy and education. Clearly, though, "the war is not what it was six months ago, or 12 months ago" in terms of being an automatic advantage for Republicans, Emanuel says. Based on Hackett’s tally in a district that gave Bush 64% in 2004, he declares, "no district is safe."