Today at 4pm at his Indian Hill home attorney Steve Black will officially declare his candidacy to run for Congress in the 2nd District. Mr. Black is an attorney with the Cincinnati law firm of Graydon, Head & Ritchey.
Several days ago he was kind enough to let me interview him on the positions. I found him to be very a personable and sincere person. Only by reminding myself of how carefully guarded some of his answers were did the 30 years of legal experience come through.
While he made a point of telling me that he wasn’t experienced at running for Congress, he came off to me as someone who could get up to speed quickly. While he’s not a barnstormer, his opinions are refreshingly unboilerplate. We talked openly about abortion, health care, defense spending, guns , Iraq, and global warming. The fact that he veered right into a passionate advocacy of nuclear power was interesting in light of the issues here in the district. This will probably be the last chance to hear unvarnished answers from the candidate before he gets put through the standard wash cycle of campaign staffers, so enjoy.
I listen back at the interview and kick myself over how unprepared and rambling my questions were. Hopefully you won’t find them too annoying. I do love to hear myself yammer on.
The thing that struck many people right off that fact is that Black’s campaign manager used to be Vic Wulsin’s. If there’s a story there and you know there’s a story there, Mary Huttlinger isn’t spilling the beans. I’m sorry but Steve’s the complete candidate package just isn’t going to cut it. I’m sure that the weeks ahead will bring out lots of juicy gossip to wile away the months as we suffer through this God forsakenly too long campaign season. (Personally, I’m not sure how many more action items, urgent appeals, and heartfelt yet empty orations I can stand. Doesn’t anyone have a job anymore? Surely being a Senator takes time, doesn’t it?)
Bottom line, at this point Black’s candidacy is more significant because of what he is than what he believes in. As a man highly connected to some of the richest political donors in the country, his entry radically shifts the Democratic primary landscape. The question is how much? Many underestimate Vic Wulsin’s substantial backing from the liberal base in the district. Vic’s core is very loyal. This is a primary. Money doesn’t have nearly the edge that it does in the general. Candidates are rallying the base. Right off the bat I’d give her a 35% to 40% head start. Anyone (except one person) who runs against her will have to shatter a significant portion of that margin in order to have a chance. However, when you talk to anyone thinking of heading her off, including Black, the last thing they want to say is that they are running “against” Vic Wulsin. I’m running FOR mom, apple pie, and the right to drive around in oversized SUVs, not against Vic. Get an internal poll 30 days before the primary that has you down 20 points and see what sort of sucker punches your war room will be coming up with. As Reese Bobby always says, if you’re not first, you’re last.
Right now this pundit would have to say that with the name recognition, strong core, momentum from 2006, and battle experience Vic Wulsin still has to be considered the odds on favorite in the 2nd.
Politics is a deceptively difficult craft. Much like poker and Jackass, it’s easy for someone to look at it and think that they can be good at it. Steve Black will have to prove to people quickly that he’s got the right stuff to play this ugliest of blood sports. He says he does… right before he tells you that he’s never really done this before.
Well… welcome to the game, Mr. Black. The Ohio 2nd is the most talked about, action packed Congressional District in the country. Thus it is the nastiest. I do hope you’ve brought a helmet.