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UA Progressive Action focus of Associated Press story

Democrats target Ohio GOP suburban stronghold

EDITOR'S NOTE — What makes Ohio, the nation's seventh-largest state, a swing state? One in a series of regular stories profiling regions of Ohio and swing areas within the state.

Associated Press Writer

The Other Paper 2004: Arlington's Kerry backers impress even Republicans

The Other Paper

August 26 - Sept 1, 2004

By Jordan Gentile

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The most important moments in life come down to the smallest details. Like, say, noticing a bumper sticker.

On a rainy day last March, Upper Arlington resident Melissa Hedden noticed a rather unusual thing while she drove her children home from school. The car in front of her brandished a sticker with the cryptic acronym, "ABB."

For just a moment, her hopes soared. She followed the car into its driveway and tentatively introduced herself to the driver.

"I said, `I'm not stalking you, but I want to know: Does that sticker mean Anybody but Bush?"'

Yes, the woman replied, and a movement was born.

Hedden had finally found a kindred spirit in Republican-dominated Upper Arlington. When her new friend introduced her to a couple like-minded residents, they collectively laid the groundwork for a grassroots campaign on behalf of John Kerry that has drawn unexpected support and intense hostility from the community.

Even after Bush-Cheney yard signs were distributed in Upper Arlington this week, Kerry's signs have the upper hand by about a 3-2 ratio. Meanwhile, UA for Kerry meetings have been attended by hundreds of people at a time. All of this has caused some measure of surprise, not least from the organization's founders.

When the group was started, Hedden said, "We looked at each other and thought, `OK, is this just going to be us and our families?' "

Six hundred members later, she added, "We've been overwhelmed by the depth of the support."

While few seriously expect UA for Kerry to threaten President Bush's dominance in Upper Arlington, the group's successalong with its brash tactics-has grabbed headlines in both the local and national press.

Air America, the liberal radio network, recently broadcast a piece about the group. And online columnists and assorted bloggers have pointed to the phenomenon as proof that the upper-crust suburbs of redstate America are turning ever so gradually blue.

Tim Rankin, a city council member and president of the UA Republican Club, dismisses all of this as nonsense.

The Kerry group, he said, "likes to wear a bunch of T-shirts and write a bunch of letters to the editor. That doesn't mean their support is growing."

But Priscilla Mead, a former Republican mayor of Upper Arlington and state legislator, disagreed. Many independents and young Democrats have moved to UA, she said. For that matter, the Republican Party's positions on social issues such as abortion and gun control no longer play as well with the suburban population as a whole.

This disaffection, Mead said, has been brilliantly exploited by UA for Kerry.

"I don't recall any effort like this before," she said. "It's fun and active and spontaneous, and it's coming from knowledgeable people whose party has been out of power, so they're hungry."

"The Bush campaign," she added, "seems to be run primarily from Washington, and that lack of spontaneity and grass-roots enthusiasm is evident."

Upper Arlington's Kerry supporters certainly got a jumpstart on the local Bushies earlier this year-beginning with the contentious matter of political yard signs.

Last spring, many residents were surprised-and some were outright angry-to see Kerry advertisements popping up all over Upper Arlington's well-manicured lawns. The sight was all the more dramatic because Bush supporters, observing a law restricting political ads that was no longer in effect, had not planted any signs of their own.

The dominant political party had been beaten to the punch, and resentment flourished. Many pro-Kerry signs have been uprooted and stolen, and Hedden said UA for Kerry members have been the victims of vandalism and verbal abuse.

Republicans say there's little proof that Bush supporters are behind such activities.

In one case, however, the accusation panned out: Mitch Banchefsky, a prominent Republican attorney, admitted to police last month that he directed his daughter to swipe a sign from a Kerry activist's yard.

More animosity would follow. During the Upper Arlington Independence Day parade, about 100 Kerry supporters-fully clad in "UA for John Kerry" T-shirtsgathered on a lawn along the parade route community. They were hard to ignore, and the gesture ruffled a lot of feathers.

"This blatant abuse of a well-known and renowned non-partisan event held in honor of our country," resident Michael G. Mimnaugh wrote in a letter to the Upper Arlington News, "was offensive and unnecessary."

Hedden said she regrets the hard feelings between UA for Kerry and some elements of the community. She said the members of her group had no intention of offending anyone.

On the other hand, she said, the strategy they've used to attract attention was born of necessity.

Democrats start with an inherent disadvantage in Upper Arlington. If Kerry supporters hadn't gone to extra lengths to make themselves visible, she said, many likeminded citizens might have been too intimidated by the Republican majority to speak out and become active in the campaign.

"There's a strong presence of progressive voters in Upper Arlington," Hedden added. "Now people know it."

NYTimes 2005: Democrats Sense Chances in Ohio for 2006 Vote

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Democrats Sense Chances in Ohio for 2006 Vote

Published: December 3, 2005

UPPER ARLINGTON, Ohio., Dec. 1-Democrats are hard to find in this upscale Columbus suburb, home to Representative Deborah Pryce, the highest-ranking Republican woman in the House. Yet Democrats now think they can do the unthinkable: unseat Ms. Pryce in 2006.

Mary Jo Kilroy, president of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners in Ohio, at a community event in Columbus. Ms. Kilroy is challenging Representative Deborah Pryce, a Republican, in the 2006 election.

She is not their only target. These are tough times for Republicans, and nowhere more so than in Ohio, a Republican-dominated state that has become a political crucible, testing the party's strength nationally as next year's mid-term elections approach.

The Republican governor, Bob Taft, is ensnared in an ethics scandal that has sent his approval ratings into a freefall. One House Republican from Ohio, Representative Bob Ney, has been implicated in a federal fraud investigation. Another, Representative Jean Schmidt, has been ridiculed on late night television for sharply criticizing a prominent Democrat over the war in Iraq.

With President Bush's popularity ratings dropping, Republican candidates in Ohio say they will run on their own records, not that of their party or the president. They are mindful that in Central Ohio, as in the rest of the nation, unease over the economy and the war in Iraq runs deep.

At Huffman's Market, an independent grocery store in Upper Arlington, one supporter of Ms. Pryce said she was "very unhappy" with President Bush over the war. An hour's drive south, in the blue-collar city of Chillicothe, where Mayor Joe Sulzer is challenging Mr. Ney, another Republican woman spoke bitterly of losing her job at a shoe factory when the plant moved overseas.

"I think we need to throw them all out and get new," said the woman, Christine Chaney, echoing the Democrats' refrain that Washington needs a change.

Whether such sentiments will translate into votes against Republicans remains to be seen; Ms. Pryce, for example, holds an important leadership post as chairwoman of the House Republican Conference and will undoubtedly be tough to beat. Still, she is facing her first credible Democratic opponent since being elected to Congress in 1992 .

"It is challenging," Ms. Pryce said when asked if it is hard to be an Ohio Republican these days. "I think the Democrats see Ohio as a target. They believe the time is right to make some progress here."

And history favors the Democrats because the party out of power typically gains seats in a mid-term election during a president's second term. In Ohio, Democrats hope to unseat as many as eight House Republicans, as well as the state's senior senator, Mike DeWine. Mr. DeWine is considered vulnerable, having run slightly behind his leading Democratic opponent, Representative Sherrod Brown, in the polls.

"All political roads lead to Ohio in 2006," said Charlie Cook, the editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report in Washington. "First, there is almost no way Democrats can get control of the Senate back without beating DeWine. Second, it's going to be one of the best chances Democrats have to pick up a governorship, and a big governorship, not just any old governorship. And third, it's the state with the most vulnerable Republican House seats in the country."

Suburbs like Upper Arlington, a wealthy Republican area, will be critical. Experts say suburbs are trending Democratic, and last year, when Senator John Kerry ran for president, Upper Arlington's Democrats went all out in support of him, forming a fledgling political group, UA for Kerry.

They raised a banner along the July 4 parade route - "We drew criticism for being political," said Jody Scarbrough, a founder of the group, - and planted lawn signs. Mr. Kerry took 43 percent of the vote in Upper Arlington, Ms. Scarbrough said, but that was good news compared with Al Gore's 36 percent in 2000.

Ms. Pryce's district, which includes a chunk of nearby Columbus, was essentially split between Mr. Kerry and President Bush. Ms. Pryce herself took 60 percent of the vote in 2004, her lowest margin since 1992.

"It was really an awakening," Ms. Scarbrough said.

Now, with a Web site and an e-mail list of 1,500 and a new name, UA Progressive Action, the group is throwing itself behind Ms. Pryce's competitor, Mary Jo Kilroy, the president of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners. Ms. Kilroy entered the race in October after an intense courtship by Washington Democrats. Representative Steny H. Hoyer, the Democratic whip from Maryland, flew to Ohio to see her, and every Democrat in the Ohio delegation left encouraging messages on her cellphone.

Early Wednesday morning, Ms. Kilroy could be found at a wood-paneled breakfast joint on the outskirts of downtown Columbus, making a pitch to a friendly audience of union leaders. Her aides brought green folders stuffed with statistics and press releases, including one from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee linking Ms. Pryce with Representative Tom DeLay, who stepped aside as majority leader after being indicted in his home state, Texas.

Ms. Kilroy's message adopted the language Democrats are using around the nation. She said Ms. Pryce voted with Mr. DeLay "94 percent of the time," a figure Ms. Pryce attributes mostly to procedural votes. Mr. Kilroy decried the Republican "culture of corruption" and called Congress a "rubber stamp."

That phrase is the centerpiece of radio advertisements the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is running in Ohio this week against Ms. Pryce and two other Republicans, Representatives Steve Chabot and Steven C. LaTourette. The advertisement singles out their recent vote on the Republican budget, which cut federal student aid by $14 billion.

"This is a winnable race," Ms. Kilroy told the union men. "For a long time we have thought that this was an untouchable seat, that the Republicans had a lock on the Congressional districts in Central Ohio. That will be shown to be wrong."

Incumbents have a powerful advantage, however, and Democrats like Ms. Kilroy will have to do more than criticize Republicans to win. At a forum in Cleveland on Wednesday, Mr. Ney sounded confident, saying he is cooperating with investigators and did not believe that ethics inquiries would hurt Republicans at the polls. Thursday night, he was planning a fund-raiser in Columbus; Ms. Pryce is among the hosts.

"They just can't paint Republicans with the bad Bush brush," said Neil Clark, a Republican lobbyist in Columbus. "They're going to have to give a substantial reason why Republicans shouldn't be here."

Democrats will also have to recruit more candidates. Aside from Representatives Ney, Pryce, Chabot, LaTourette and Schmidt, Mr. Cook says Representatives Michael R. Turner, Pat Tiberi and Ralph Regula are all vulnerable. But of the eight, so far only Ms. Pryce, Mr. Ney and Mr. Turner have opponents.

Republicans are also comforted by the results of a recent ballot initiative, in which four voting and campaign finance proposals backed by Democrats were resoundingly defeated. Mr. Chabot, like Mr. Ney, says that a national message will not work and that every race will be local.

"I'm going to run on my own record and what I've done and what I intend to do," Mr. Chabot said, "and the people of my district will ultimately make the decision."

Mr. DeWine sounded a similar theme. "Ohioans are very discerning," he said. "They make individual decisions in individual races."

Republicans also say time is on their side. Last summer, after Ms. Schmidt squeaked out a victory over Paul Hackett, a Democrat and Iraq war veteran in an overwhelmingly Republican district, Ms. Pryce told the editorial board of The Columbus Dispatch that the political situation for Ohio Republicans was "just dreadful." Now she predicts that next year will be different.

"Hopefully, the governor's problems will be behind us, the war in Iraq will be taking a different phase," Ms. Pryce said. "I think that things will change enough that Ohio won't be quite as fertile as the Democrats believe it is right now."

Newletter Signup and Past Issues

Past Newsletter Issues - 2007-2010

UAPA sends a periodic e-newsletter to our members. These issues date from 2007-2010.

The survey results are in!

Between October 9th and 20th, UAPA asked members to complete a membership survey about the 2007 Upper Arlington City Council election. We received 118 completed survey returns. Many respondents took the opportunity to add free-form comments --- adding valuable context to their responses.

We wanted to answer questions like these:

Garage Sale a Whopping Success

The UAPA garage sale raised an unbelievable $2264! That kind of money will help us hold UAPA events, buy T-shirts, and win elections in 2008. Thank you! And please tell us if you are willing to help one of the following ways with the next sale:

  • Save your discarded household items for the sale
  • Pick-up donated goods from the UAPA community
  • Prepare and price items or staff the sale
  • Lead and/or organize the event for even greater results!

Send us an e-mail at with your name and ideas!

UAPA Garage Sale Fundraiser

We need your stuff!


We’re in the process of collecting items for our upcoming “multi-family” garage sale fundraiser on August 4th. Please consider donating one or two items for our sale. We need any and all items of salable quality as we are raising funds for UAPA’s programs and operating expenses.

Hot items include furniture, household items, working appliances, garden tools and knick-knacks. The biggest draw is always children’s furniture, accessories and large toys. Please no clothing.

We will provide pick-up of your items anytime between now and the sale or you can drop them off at the sale location the day before the sale.

  • What: Multi-family Garage Sale
  • When: Saturday, August 4th from 9am to 2pm
  • Where: Home of UAPA members, Roy and Agnes Butler, 2174 Ridgeview, NW corner of Ridgeview and Redding
  • Why: Raising funds for UAPA’s programs and operating expenses.
  • How do your items get to the sale: Pick up or delivery.

For pick up, drop us a line at and let us know what you would like to donate and how we might best contact you to arrange pick-up.

For drop off, items can be dropped off at 2174 Ridgeview on Friday, August 3rd from 12pm to 9pm.

We Want You To Join Us!

Uncle SamWe – the 48% of Americans who voted for change in 2004 – see our fears about Iraq and the judiciary being realized.

We watch as the Bush administration governs according to its allegiances to big business and the radical right, and we see rampant corruption and ethics violations occurring in the Republican Party both nationally and in Ohio's government.


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