The incumbent doled out dollars to the Youngstown Business Incubator.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- National Democrats view U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine as a weak incumbent and believe the Republican is beatable when he runs for re-election next year.
Visiting the Youngstown Business Incubator on Friday as part of a five-day family bus tour around the state, DeWine said Ohio continues to face many challenges, but he is confident voters will support him next year.
"I think I have a good record with job creation and helping our economy," DeWine said. "That's the record I'm going to run on."
A multimillion-dollar scandal at the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation that occurred with Republicans in political control of the state is obviously a significant issue of concern among state residents, DeWine said.
"But Ohioans have a great ability to be independent, and to pick and choose [candidates] and distinguish between people who've done good things and not done good things," DeWine said, alluding to Republicans on the ballot with him in 2006 who may be tied to the scandal.
Phil Singer, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said DeWine "is clearly in our sights. The political mood in Ohio is very negative for Republicans. He's a political guy who's been unable to break through and hasn't made a compelling argument for his re-election."
Singer said there are well-known Democrats who are considering a run against DeWine next year.
He declined to name them, but published reports list U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, and Sherrod Brown of Lorain, D-13th, and former U.S. Rep. Dennis Eckart of Cleveland, a former six-term House member, as potential DeWine challengers.
Also, the Feldman Group of Washington, D.C., a Democratic polling company, says a recent poll shows DeWine is vulnerable. The survey states 37 percent of those polled believe DeWine is doing a good job, and 31 percent believe he deserves another term.
DeWine didn't dismiss the partisan poll but said polls conducted by his campaign show he has a good approval rating.
"But the only poll that will count is at the voting booth in November 2006," he said.
When asked about President Bush's controversial appointment of John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations, DeWine said it's the president's right to make the appointment. But he didn't have flattering words for the U.N. or Bolton.
"The U.N. is messed up," he said. "The U.N. needs someone to rattle some cages. Bolton may not have the most pleasing personality or the person with the best demeanor at times. But he'll shake things up."
DeWine toured the incubator and presented its officials with a ceremonial $250,000 check from the U.S. Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill.
The money is part of the state and federal funds the incubator has received for a planned $5.2 million Youngstown Technology Center to be built next door. The YBI has $4.2 million in financial commitments for the project and wants to open the new facility in late 2006.