Republican Jean Schmidt Wins Ohio Congressional Race

Republican Jean Schmidt won the special election for Rob Portman’s seat, defeating Iraq vet Paul Hackett.

Republican Wins Ohio Congressional Race (AP)

A Republican former state lawmaker has claimed a seat in Congress by narrowly defeating an Iraq war veteran who drew national attention to the race with his military service and a series of harsh attacks on President Bush. But Democrats said they, too, had reason to celebrate — pointing to the close race as a sign of promise heading into next year’s midterm elections.

With all precincts reporting, Jean Schmidt had 52 percent, or 57,974 votes, compared with Democrat Paul Hackett’s 48 percent, or 54,401 votes. Schmidt’s margin of victory amounted to about 3,500 votes out of more than 112,000 cast.

Democrats had viewed the race as a bellwether for 2006, saying even a strong showing by Hackett in such a heavily GOP district would give them a lift. “There’s no safe Republican district. You can run, but you cannot hide,” said U.S. Rep. Rahm Emmanuel of Illinois, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Schmidt, 53, will replace Republican Rob Portman, who stepped down this year after being named U.S. trade representative by Bush. Portman held the seat for 12 years, consistently winning with more than 70 percent of the vote in the Cincinnati-area district.

If the Democrats want to take comfort from a four percentage point loss, they’re welcome to do so. There is no second place in politics; there are only winners and losers.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2006, Iraq War, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Brian J. says:

    Perhaps they’re happy it’s withing hanging, gated, and pregnant chad range.

    Or whatever it will be in 2006 and especially 2008.

  2. Brett says:


    The district went from being safe Republican to very uncertain. That’s definitely interesting, just as it would be if a right winger managed to give someone from the MD 8th a run for their money. That seat will now be seen as a competitive one, at least until the next election cycle and we can see if this was a one-off.

  3. Ed says:

    If Mr Hackett campaign literature had told the truth that he is a closet Democratic liberal, Schmidt margin of victory would have been ten points. We will be prepared for him and other pretenders in 2006

  4. Herb says:

    Looks like the people have shown their disgust for the Democrats constant anti American rantings from the likes of Dean, Durbin, Kennedy, Kerry, Gore and the rest of the Democrat naysayers.

  5. As I note over at my place, it really is difficult to extrapolate much from a special election. Further, the fact that Hackett was a Marine who was freshly back from Iraq also affected the dynamics of the race in a way that isn’t generalizable for 2006.

  6. ICallMasICM says:

    ‘”There’s no safe Republican district. You can run, but you cannot hide,” said U.S. Rep. Rahm Emmanuel of Illinois’

    WTF? Much of the problems with Congress stem from the fact that there are way too many safe seats on both sides. Being a MA resident I can tell you it creates nonresponsive representation.

  7. Lurking Observer says:


    To be fully comparable, you’d need a Republican who’d just spent some time w/ opposing the war, who ran ads constantly touting that s/he was in favor of Hilary Clinton, even while deriding her as a b*tch and utterly unqualified to serve. [The analogy, of course is imperfect.]

    This, in an off-year election.

    And, at the end of the day, if there were a 4% loss, it would still be a loss. Do Democrats consider the gubernatorial outcome in WA to be a loss, since they won by only a handful of votes? Is WI somehow viewed as a Democratic state, despite a 1% margin of victory?

  8. I think either side was going to seize on the results to extrapolate some kind of grand point. Which is a mistake.

  9. Anderson says:

    Some rather vicious commentary!

    As a Dem, I’m just struck by how well our guy did in an area that went 64% for Bush. Don’t blame us for looking for positive indications where we can find them. Nov. 2006 is still a long ways off.

  10. Lurking Observer says:


    So long as you recognize that it is grasping at straws, that’s fine. (Or “looking for positive indications,” if you will.)

    It’s the folks who aren’t trying to put a positive spin on things but actually believe it who are much more problematic.

    It’s like arguing that Kerry did great b/c he got more voters than Clinton or Carter. Mebbeso, but he still got fewer than Bush-II. As James notes, in the American political system, there is no prize for second place.

  11. Buckeye says:

    I live and vote in the Ohio 2nd district. Hackett ran ads which started w/ Pres Bush speaking and ending w/ Hackett essentially agreeing- no mention of the Democratic party. You couldn’t tell he’s a democrat. Except for his anti-Bush remarks his public posture was consistant w/ conservative Republican points -pro family values, pro-2nd Amendment, pro-military.

    Hackett was put up as a ‘stealth’ candidate. The Ohio 2nd is not in play for modern ‘mainstream’ Democratic candidates.

  12. Anderson says:

    Buckeye, with all the media coverage, how could Hackett be a “stealth” candidate?

    Are you suggesting that the ballots didn’t even indicate he’s a Democrat?

    Lurks: I think the positive spin is fairly obvious. Whatever the cause or import, Bush’s stock is down from the election, which is looking more & more like a vote against Kerry (not incomprehensible) than a vote for Bush.

    Does this mean that the Dems are resurgent? No. Did the Dems “win” yesterday? No.

    But obviously, if Hackett had taken only 1/3 of the vote, that result would’ve been interpreted favorably for Republicans.

  13. Ken Taylor says:

    The Hackett hack job, campaigning Hillary style was the reason for the closeness of the win for Schmidt. Like the Hildabeast, Hackett told what he thought the people wanted to hear and not what he believed. Actually if you look at the way both campaigns were run and the discourse that took place during the campaign it was more like two Republicans running as Hackett tried to portray himself other than he was. This is not a sign of things to come, just another example of Democrats not being able to win elections in spite of deceiving the public as they run!

  14. Randal Robinson says:

    Watching the Democrats celebrate a four-point loss in a single Congressional district in an off-year election is a good illustration of how far the fortunes of the party that held the majority in Congress for decades have fallen. Could their reaction make them seem any more pathetic?

    Meanwhile, the Republicans have recently passed CAFTA, John Bolton is moving into his office in the UN, and John Roberts is on track to be confirmed to the Supreme Court.