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Charlie Wilson is sounding like a winner



Published: Fri, October 27, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.

By David Skolnick (Contact)




It's a safe assumption that state Sen. Charlie Wilson, the Democratic candidate in Ohio's 6th Congressional District race, has done everything but pick out the color of the drapes at his new office on Capitol Hill.

By all appearances, Wilson of St. Clairsville is going to emerge as the winner Nov. 7 in his race against state Rep. Chuck Blasdel, an East Liverpool Republican.

In February, it looked like Wilson didn't have a chance to win. He failed to do one of the most simple tasks for a congressional candidate: obtain 50 valid signatures on nominating petitions to get his name on the May primary ballot.

After that, Wilson opened up his checkbook and provided 552,709 of his own money toward his write-in campaign. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee provided 600,000 to help him win.

In a move that backfired tremendously, the National Republican Congressional Committee spent about 600,000 on negative campaign ads attacking Wilson. All that did was get Wilson's name out even more and helped him win the Democratic primary as a write-in against two weak, underfunded opponents.

Before that primary, the NRCC said the 6th District seat was its No. 1 pickup seat in the U.S. House. The NRCC recently pulled 400,000 in television advertising for this race, acknowledged that it had other priorities and essentially surrendered the seat.

Republicans control 12 of Ohio's 18 congressional seats. They saw the 6th, being vacated by U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland of Lisbon, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, as extremely winnable. To a lesser extent, they felt the same about the 13th District seat, being vacated by U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown of Avon, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.

With a week-and-a-half left before the Nov. 7 election, national Republicans are hoping the Republican candidates in those two races can stand on their own. The party's focus in Ohio is on four GOP congressional seats that could end up in the hands of Democrats.

Wilson is so confident he'll beat Blasdel, something backed by polls and the NRCC's actions, that he's:

Canceled 40 percent of his television commercial buys.

Not mailing fliers to voters.

Contributing campaign money to other Democratic candidates.

Paying back some of the money he loaned his campaign.

Bragging about it.

I seriously doubt Wilson's confidence about winning the election is going to change things. But it probably would have been wise to stay a little humble.

When Wilson gets to Washington, D.C., he plans to join the Blue Dog Caucus, a group of moderate and conservative Democrats. He would be the only Ohioan in the caucus.

Wilson says he is drawn to the Blue Dogs because of their stance on fiscal responsibility and demanding honesty and accountability from the federal government.

This isn't a one-way street.

The Blue Dog Political Action Committee contributed 10,000 to Wilson's campaign. He also received 1,000 each from two Blue Dog members.

He also praised House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, a moderate Democrat from Maryland, for the leadership he provides to the political party. Hoyer visited Boardman during the summer for a Wilson fundraiser and the congressman's PAC has contributed 10,000 to Wilson's campaign.

Wilson said there is talk that Hoyer is considering a run for speaker of the House if Democrats take control of the legislative body or House minority leader if they don't take back the House. Either way, Hoyer would likely face U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the current minority leader, if he seeks either post.

If Hoyer runs, Wilson said he would likely support him.

When asked about Pelosi, Wilson, who calls himself a moderate Democrat, said, "My understanding is she's very liberal. It's hard to prejudge people until you get to know them." Wilson says he doesn't know much else about Pelosi, but it's obvious the "very liberal" tag isn't a compliment.

Wilson's "criticism" of and lack of knowledge about Pelosi is a little curious because her PAC has contributed 10,000 to his campaign.




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