I can't remember a time when I wasn't a political junkie. My addiction goes back at least forty-eight years...and I'm fifty-two.
So, a few predictions for 2006 and the world of politics:
1. Mike DeWine will win re-election to his Senate seat from Ohio. But Sherrod Brown, a guy I used to know back twenty-plus years ago when he served in the Ohio House of Representatives where I served as page supervisor, will mount a solid campaign.
2. Donald Trump's trial balloon testing his viability as a Republican gubernatorial candidate in New York, will fall flat. Although New York Republicans will beg Rudy Giuliani to make a run for Albany, he'll refuse to hurt his chances for a 2008 presidential bid by losing in 2006. Democrat Eliot Spitzer appears unbeatable in his run for governor there, although former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld could make a credible run. (The hallowed New York tradition of carpetbaggerism will work to Weld's advantage, but not overcome Spitzer's obvious advantages after years as an esteemed New York attorney general.)
3. Jim Petro will win the three-way race for the Republican nomination for governor in Ohio. Because of the pasting to their reputations that State House Republicans have taken during current Governor Bob Taft's tenure, the Democrats may have a real shot at breaking the GOP's stranglehold on statewide office here in 2006. In the end though, I think that Petro will prove to be too strong a candidate and will win the fall election. Petro has already shrewdly blunted the effects of Secretary of State Ken Blackwell's conservative run by picking pro-life conservative and Cincinnatian Phil Heimlich to be his lieutenant gubernatorial running mate.)
4. If Arnold Schwarzenegger can win the Republican primary for governor, he will be re-elected. The governator has positioned himself well to win a general election in the state, but must be concerned about conservative dissatisfaction with him. His recent decisions to allow the execution of Tookie Williams to go forward and to roll back scheduled tuition hikes at California universities likely play well with middle-of-the-road voters.
5. Can anybody stop the Hillary steamroller in New York in 2006? No. Can Hillary win the presidency in 2008? No.
6. The most interesting and hotly-contested race in the country this year may be the US Senate election in Pennsylvania. Incumbent Rick Santorum will face Bob Casey. Like Santorum, Democrat Casey is pro-life. Unless one of the candidates makes a huge mistake or some unforeseen national or international event has an impact on the race, I predict that it will be as close and un-callable in November as it seems to be right now.
7. Here in my own Second Congressional District, where Jean Schmidt is the newly-minted and fire-baptized representative, there will be a contest: Schmidt will likely be challenged in the Republican primary from the right. Several potential candidates--three, as I understand it--are considering challenging Schmidt. They will run at her for being either disrespectful of the military or, based on her record in the Ohio House of Representatives, too inclined to support tax hikes and big government.
Meanwhile, national Dems have been running ads in local papers here, also accusing Schmidt of being anti-military, based on her now-famous speech from the well of the US House.
In the end though, I suspect that Schmidt, always adept at fundraising, will either scare off potential GOP challengers or beat them in the primary.
No Democrat has any shot at beating her in this district. Those inclined to disbelieve this assertion are advised to remember that Schmidt's thin victory over Paul Hackett last August came in a special election when activist Dems from all over the country could readily be activated to provide financial and volunteer support. A repeat performance by Dems this fall, when 435 House seats, governorships, and one-third of the Senate will be up for grabs, is highly unlikely, thus giving Schmidt a decided advantage in this overwhelmingly Republican district.