Thursday, March 8, 2012
Gulen Movement politician Jean Schmidt REMOVED from office- Warning to politicians Gulen Movement hazardous to your career
For eight years, Rep. Jean Schmidt had been doing a political highwire act. Tuesday, she fell off, with no net to catch her.
Brad Wenstrup, a podiatrist and Iraq war veteran who made his mark three years ago with a respectable showing as a mayoral candidate in heavily Democratic Cincinnati, ousted her from the 2nd Congressional District seat she has held since 2005 with an impressive and improbable win. It left political pros all over the district scratching their heads over how it happened.
“I was stunned; I can’t deny it,” said Hamilton County Republican Party chairman Alex Triantafilou, who convinced Wenstrup to run for mayor three years ago when no one else in the party was willing to take on Democratic incumbent Mark Mallory. “The man is a juggernaut.”
In that heavily Republican district, which includes most of eastern Hamilton County, all of Clermont, Brown, Adams, and Pike counties, and parts of Scioto, Ross and Highland counties, winning the GOP nomination is tantamount to winning the general election. Which means that a Rep. Brad Wenstrup is likely to be sworn into office next January.
The question the political world of Southwest Ohio was asking Wednesday morning was “How did it happen?” The answer is a combination of factors:
A Texas political action committee pouring anti-Schmidt money into the district;
Dislike for Schmidt by tea party activists in her district;
Long-standing opposition from COAST – Citizens Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes – who have never forgiven her for voting for tax increases a decade ago when she was a state representative and Republican Bob Taft was in the governor’s office.
There was “The Kiss,” too, the televised peck on the cheek that Schmidt gave President Barack Obama as he walked down the aisle of the U.S. House last month to deliver his State of the Union address. The Wenstrup campaign turned that moment into a radio commercial that managed to tie the conservative Republican congresswoman to a president who is anathema to most die-hard Republican voters.
“It bothered me in previous years when she just wrangled herself to get his autograph at the State of the Union, so you can imagine how I feel about the peck on the cheek,” said 58-year-old voter Paul Dierks of Tate Township in Clermont County. “I say, ‘Do your job, stand by your principles and represent me.’
“Rep. Schmidt also happened to be a person who did what the party establishment directed her to do,” Dierks said, “instead of what she may or may not have thought was right.”
Then there was her long-standing feud with David Krikorian of Madeira, who lost the Democratic nomination Tuesday by a hair to William R. Smith of Waverly in Pike County – a candidate who didn’t campaign and whom Democratic party leaders in the district say they have never met. That race was so close there may be a recount.
Krikorian and his lawyer, COAST activist Chris Finney, pushed for and got a House Ethics Committee investigation into Schmidt for accepting $500,000 in legal representation from lawyers for the Turkish American Coalition in her defamation suit against Krikorian. The suit stemmed from statements Krikorian, an Armenian-American, made about Schmidt’s accepting “blood money” from Turkish interests in exchange for a vote against declaring the 1914 slaughter of millions of Armenians by the Turks genocide.
The House Ethics Committee concluded she broke no laws, but told her she needed to pay back the money.
Krikorian told The Enquirer on Wednesday: “Sometimes elected officials get fired, and the people fired her yesterday.”
Barrett Brunsman, Schmidt’s spokesman, did not respond to an email requesting an interview with Schmidt.
Most important, perhaps, she had a candidate running against her who appealed to voters as someone new, different and attractive.
“I looked at Brad Wenstrup and decided that it was his time,” said John Simon, a 61-year-old Republican voter from Madeira. “I had always voted for Jean, although she really didn’t do much for me. I give her credit for standing her ground against all the attacks she had over the years, but it was time for someone new.”
Wenstrup’s military service – he served in Iraq as head of a military hospital at Abu Ghraib – appealed to Vietnam veteran Simon.
What Wenstrup did Tuesday night was as rare in American politics as a four-leaf clover – a challenger beating an incumbent member of Congress in a party primary. The key was Schmidt’s home county, Clermont. Wenstrup managed to defeat the Miami Township Republican in her home county, her political base. And not by a little bit: he won Clermont County with 50 percent of the vote to Schmidt’s 41 percent.
Dave Lane, chairman of the Clermont County Democratic Party, said he could “smell it in the air” that Schmidt might lose Tuesday when he made the rounds of county polling places and saw the relatively small turnout – about 25 percent countywide.
“Jean and I have disagreed about nearly everything over the years, but I had to admire her when she stood up to (Ohio Gov. John) Kasich and his stupidity and insisted that we get federal help to the people in this county who were devastated by the tornadoes,” Lane said. “I thought that would help her, but it was too late.”
Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann, a Schmidt ally, said he believes Schmidt made the almost always fatal mistake of “taking the race for granted.”
“I didn’t see the kind of aggressive campaign from her that I would have expected,” Hartmann said. “I just think she thought she had it.... I was with a group of eight Republicans (Tuesday), and not one saw her losing that race.”
Except, that is, for Brad Wenstrup.
He racked up an impressive list of endorsements from tea party organizations in and out of the district, including the Anderson Tea Party, Clermont Liberty PAC, the Ohio Liberty Council.
“I talked to tea party people early on and told them that I supported the basic beliefs of their movement, and they asked me if I considered myself a tea party person,” Wenstrup said. “I told them I wanted them to consider themselves Wenstrup people because I was reaching out to a lot of people.”
COAST leaders organized fundraisers for Wenstrup.
Then there was the contribution of a Texas-based political action committee called Campaign for Primary Accountability, which targets incumbent members of Congress – Democrat and Republican – in supposedly safe districts. The PAC spent nearly $65,000 blanketing the district with radio ads, phone calls and emails urging Schmidt’s defeat.
“She had a lot of people lined up against her,” said Clermont County Republican Party chairman Tim Rudd, a Schmidt ally. His party’s central committee – about 40 percent of which are tea party members – could not get a majority vote to endorse her in the primary.
“I knew it was a possibility that she would lose,” Rudd said, “but I thought it was an outside possibility. But apparently, the people of the district wanted change and they got it.”
Reporter Deidre Shesgreen contributed.
Report on Jean Schmidt labeled the more corrupt politician in Congress