Did Pelosi pick a DINO for the 6th?

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Sheriff eligibility: State Rep. Ronald V. Gerberry has reintroduced a bill in the Ohio House to clarify the amount of college needed to be eligible for county sheriff. The House approved this bill from Gerberry of Austintown, D-59th, in the past, but it’s never gone anywhere in the Senate.

To be eligible to run for sheriff, state law requires candidates to have “at least two years of post-secondary education or the equivalent in semester or quarter hours” or “at least two years of supervisory experience at the rank of corporal or above.” Gerberry’s bill would require sheriff candidates qualifying under the education requirement to have at least a two-year associate degree.

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that David P. Aey wasn’t qualified to run as a write-in candidate for Mahoning County sheriff despite having more credit hours than the college equivalency provision. The court ruled that 16 credit hours for taking training courses to be a deputy weren’t acceptable as college credit.

While neither has officially announced their candidacy, a Democratic primary in the 6th Congressional District between state Sen. Lou Gentile and former state Rep. Jennifer Garrison would likely be among the most interesting, competitive and compelling races on the May 2014 ballot in Ohio.

Make no mistake about it, both are giving serious consideration to running and Garrison of Marietta is probably going to be the first to make an announcement.

Perhaps the most curious part of this feeling-out process is that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which recruits and raises money for Democrats running for U.S. House seats, seems to be strongly backing Garrison even though some would call her a DINO (Democrat in Name Only).

After I wrote about Garrison as a potential candidate for the 6th, the National Republican Congressional Committee, the GOP’s DCCC counterpart, called her House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s handpicked candidate. I’m not sure the two share many similar political beliefs.

When Garrison first ran for an Ohio House seat, she criticized her Republican opponent, former Lt. Gov. Nancy Hollister, for her opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as only between a man and a woman.

Garrison withdrew in 2010 as the Democratic candidate for secretary of state at the urging of state Democratic leadership after the party’s liberal wing and organized labor complained about her opposition to DOMA and abortion, and her support of gun rights.

After that, Garrison withdrew from politics, opting not to seek re-election that year to her fourth term in the Ohio House, and focused on her law practice representing land owners who sell drilling rights to oil and gas companies.

Yet the DCCC is actively recruiting her to run in the 18-county 6th Congressional District, which includes all of Columbiana County and southern Mahoning County.

Garrison was among only six potential House candidates nationwide invited to a recent DCCC Jumpstart program, which is more for top-tier already-announced candidates.

That’s a very strong indication that national Democrats see her as the party’s best option in the Republican-leaning 6th District, which includes eastern and southeastern Ohio.

But Gentile of Steubenville is not likely to go away.

Garrison has better name recognition in the lower part of the district while Gentile’s base of power is in the northern section, which also happens to be the more populous area of the 6th.

Gentile showed he can run a strong race and raise the money needed to win when he captured the 30th Ohio Senate District seat last year.

Republicans provided close to $1 million to his GOP opponent while Gentile raised about $800,000. He won by 4.8 percentage points in the Republicans’ No. 1 target seat in the Ohio Senate last year.

Whoever emerges as the Democratic nominee will take on two-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, a Republican from Marietta, in the 2014 general election.

That too will likely be a very competitive race.

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