November 9, 2006
Dem wins shift state's power
By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service
CLEVELAND – Rep. Ralph Regula, who is routinely ranked as one of
the most powerful members of Congress, stands to lose clout as a
result of the Democratic takeover of the House.
Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, is among a handful of key Ohio
Republicans who are losing power as a result of what Sen. George
Voinovich, D-Cleveland, described as a Democratic electoral
Voters ended more than a decade of Republican domination of the
state’s government and politics Tuesday.
Rep. Ted Strickland, D-Lisbon, wrested control of the
governorship from the GOP, while Rep. Sherrod Brown, D-Avon,
unseated Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Cedarville. Dover Law Director Zack
Space, a Democrat, won the congressional seat vacated by
convicted Rep. Bob Ney, R-Heath.
The political sea change also promises to increase the
importance of Ohio as a presidential battleground and create
more hospitable terrain for Democratic presidential candidates
in the state in 2008, lawmakers and political experts said. Two
years ago, Ohio tipped the presidential race to President Bush.
In the past several years, Regula has used his position as a
powerful member of the House Appropriations Committee to bring
tens of millions of dollars in federal projects to his
congressional district and the state. Regula is chairman of a
subcommittee that funds medical research, education and job
Now he will play second fiddle to senior Democrats on the
committee when it comes to shaping federal spending and looking
after his district.
But Regula said he still expects to have an “active voice” on
the committee, especially if Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., becomes
Obey is currently the ranking Democrat on the committee. The
long-serving Regula is viewed as one of the most bipartisan
members of the House, and he has enjoyed a cordial relationship
“I was always sensitive to his concerns,” Regula said. “I always
took pretty good care of Obey.”
He said as a member of the Republican minority for 22 years, he
managed to work with Democrats to get things done, such as
establishing the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Regula said it’s unclear whether GOP leaders will choose him as
the ranking Republican on the committee.
He ranks No. 2 in seniority among Republicans on the committee,
after Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young, R-Fla. The current appropriations
chairman, Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., ranks lower in seniority
but had been elevated to the post by Republican leaders.
Brown’s defeat of DeWine costs the state its only member of the
Senate Appropriations Committee.
During the campaign, DeWine bragged about using his position to
steer more than $1 billion in federal dollars to Ohio.
But with Brown, the state gains a Democratic senator. And with
Democrat Jim Webb defeating incumbent Virginia Senator George
Allen, Democrats have captured control of the Senate as well as
Another powerful Ohio lawmaker, House Majority Leader John
Boehner, R-West Chester, will lose the No. 2 position in the
House through the Democratic shake-up. But it’s possible Boehner
could partly make up for the loss if he chooses to run for
Republican minority leader, as expected. House Speaker Dennis
Hastert, R-Ill., took himself out of contention for minority
Larry J. Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center
for Politics, said losses in Republican clout in the state could
be offset by gains in Democratic clout.
“Every Democratic candidate for president will be buddying up to
Ohio and its agenda,” he said.
Stephen Brooks, acting director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of
Applied Politics at the University of Akron, sees the
possibility that lawmakers will shift their attention away from
divisive subjects and toward issues such as education, where
they can find common ground.
He said exit polls indicated voters “are disgusted nobody’s
addressing the issue of what the country really needs.”