Politics & Policy

John Boccieri is Mr. Smith, According to Politico

John Boccieri, Democrat of OH-16, got a sympathetic puff piece from Politico yesterday, comparing him to a “Frank Capra character.” Personally, I hope he’s not Jefferson Smith — we don’t need someone whose speeches will run longer than Charlie Rangel. Highlights:

To watch TV or read the polls, Rep. John Boccieri might seem a goner. But put him on the stump, face-to-face with voters, the Ohio Democrat comes alive — a political natural, almost Frank Capra character from another time in American campaigns.

“You’re mad at me? My wife’s mad at me too this morning. We’ve been married 13 years,” Boccieri will say, softening the blow of the day’s first encounter on his voting for health care reform. And like the C-130 pilot he once was, the 41-year-old freshman congressman begins to break down the massive bill as if going through one of his old Air Force checklists when flying troops and wounded in and out of Baghdad.[…]

Compactly drawn, almost evenly split in the 2008 presidential elections, the district captures much about 2010 as well.

From Sarah Palin to Karl Rove and the billionaire brothers controlling Koch Industries, national Republicans have made this a must-win to take back the House. But even at this late date, the deal’s not done, and Boccieri’s ability to hang on illustrates why Democrats sent their members home early — a full 30 days more since August compared to 1994 — to get out their vote against the Republican tide.

“Put it in D, Vote for J.B.” reads a black-and-white hand-painted sign in Boccieri’s Canton campaign headquarters.

Monday night’s debate with GOP challenger, Jim Renacci, could be pivotal. A former mayor of Wadsworth, car dealer, sports team investor and multimillionaire (he first made his fortune as the owner and operator of nursing homes) Renacci successfully maneuvered last week to keep third-party candidate, Libertarian Jeffrey Blevins, off the stage. The hard-edged tactics risk some backlash, but given the tea party, anti-government, anti-spending ferment in Ohio, Republicans want all that energy channeled behind their man for fear that Boccieri can run through a split field.

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