Morning News and Stuff

Voters to decide on Boehner replacement; Kasich mobilizing to help down-ballot GOPers; Trump's racially charged comments awkward for GOP leadership

click to enlarge Speaker of the House John Boehner speaking at the 2012 CPAC in Washington, D.C.
Speaker of the House John Boehner speaking at the 2012 CPAC in Washington, D.C.

Happy Monday all. Let’s talk news.

It’s almost time for one of the most special of special elections in recent memory. Tomorrow, voters in Ohio’s 8th Congressional District will decide on a temporary replacement for former representative John Boehner, who was serving as ultra-powerful house speaker when he bolted from office due to strife within the GOP. Following that departure last year, there has been a scramble by Republican and other candidates to win over voters in the heavily conservative district that encompasses parts of Butler, Clark, Darke Miami and Preble counties. So who is vying to replace Congress’ fallen supreme powerbroker? Among the candidates: GOP primary winner Warren Davidson, whose past governing experience includes two years as a township trustee and… that’s it. Davidson bested a field of 15 other GOP hopefuls for the chance to run for the seat. He’s running against a 26-year-old Democrat named Cory Foister, who touts the time he served on his college newspaper and in student government. Then there’s James J. Condit, a registered Republican who is nonetheless listed on the ballot as a member of the Green Party. Condit says that was a mistake, but it was the only way he could get on the ballot. Democracy in action! Davidson and Foister will face off again in the Nov. 8 general election.

• Real quick thing here: Did you know that there’s a center for cyclists down by Smale Riverfront Park where you can buy a membership, get access to showers and lockers and also get repairs done? I didn’t until I read this. That’s fantastic. When I bike to work, I get really sweaty and a place to shower would be great. My coworkers will be so pleased.

• Speaking of elections: The battle for U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s Senate seat between the incumbent and former Ohio governor Ted Strickland will be nasty, some experts say. The two have already traded a number of barbs over Portman’s support of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, Strickland’s record as governor, and anything else the two can throw at each other. Expect some nasty back and forth via TV, internet ads, radio spots and more as the two play out a larger battle between Republicans and Democrats for control of the Senate, political science experts like UC professor David Niven say. “You could be looking at the biggest, ugliest race that’s ever been,” Niven says. Awesome can’t wait.

• Bummer if you live on the south side of the Ohio River: If Kentucky doesn’t change its drivers licenses, Bluegrass State residents will need a passport when they head to the airport. In the years following 9/11, Republicans in Congress put into place stricter standards for state IDs. Kentucky is one of 26 states that have yet to comply with those standards. Gov. Matt Bevin earlier this year vetoed a measure that would have brought drivers licenses up to the federal standard, and other Republicans in the state also oppose compliance. The standards have drawn ire from privacy advocates on all sides of the political spectrum. Luckily for Ohio, federal officials say our IDs already meet the tougher standards, so you won’t need a passport to fly an hour to Chicago.

• An intense statement from the victim of a sexual assault committed last year at Stanford University recently went viral, and now the response from the father of the Dayton-area perpetrator is raising ire. The unidentified victim originally read the statement in the courtroom as former Stanford student Brock Allen Turner, originally a resident of a Dayton suburb, was sentenced to six months in prison for sexually assaulting her on the college campus. The statement, which was subsequently published and spread widely via social media, details the horrendous toll the crime took on her.  Now, Turner’s dad has responded to the attention, saying his son is being treated unfairly. That response has in turn also gone viral thanks to the tone of the letter Turner’s dad penned. The letter details how Turner is no longer interested in steaks or his other favorite foods since the verdict and that depression and anxiety the attention has caused are “a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action,” referring to Turner’s assault on the woman. The letter has drawn fire on social media from advocates for sexual assault survivors.

• After a short breather, Ohio Gov. John Kasich is once again firing up his political machine. But it’s not for his own sake: He’s helping fund down-ballot Republicans in their quests to either keep or gain seats in the House and Senate in the Nov. 8 election. Kasich, like some other big Republican names, is focusing his energies on those down-ballot races as he continues to resist endorsing GOP presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump.

• Related: It must be very, very hard to be a senior Republican Party member right now. Powerful GOPers were on damage control over the weekend after another big controversy around some racially charged comments by Trump. Last week, the real estate tycoon with the hair typhoon said that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel should not be presiding over a fraud case around the presidential hopeful’s now-folded Trump University because he was of Mexican descent. Curiel was born in Indiana to Mexican immigrants, but Trump says he’s likely to be biased in the case because of Trump’s assertions that America should build a wall between itself and Mexico to keep immigrants out. GOP leadership shuddered at those statements, with high-profile Republicans like U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others condemning them. Yet the same GOP leadership continues to support Trump as the party’s nominee. It’s a tough spot to be in. Whatcha gonna do?

• While we’re talking Trump, here's a fantastic list of journalistic descriptions of his hair. There are 100. It’s huge.

• Finally, Tuesday is shaping up to be a defining moment, and perhaps one of the last for practical purposes, in the Democratic presidential primary. Frontrunner Hillary Clinton has almost completely secured the delegates needed to clinch the party's nomination outright after a win in Puerto Rico and it would take herculean victories by challenger U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Sanders could win in California, which votes Tuesday, but looks unlikely to prevail in New Jersey, which will also cast ballots. Even with those wins, he would still trail Clinton by a significant delegate count. Here's a kind of convoluted explanation from NPR.