Do the Democrats want to win in Ohio?

They've got a funny way of showing it.

Published February 22, 2006 7:18PM (EST)

If there's a state in the union that ought to be ripe for the Democrats' picking this year, it's the one that caused so much consternation in 2004: Ohio. Even if you assume away all of the allegations of voting irregularities, John Kerry lost Ohio -- and the White House -- by a little more than 100,000 votes in 2004, and the Republican Party in the state has been plagued by scandal ever since.

But if Democrats want to make gains in the Buckeye State, they've sure got a funny way of showing it. As we noted the other day, the Democrats made a spectacle of themselves when they pushed Iraq war vet Paul Hackett to run for the Senate, then just as quickly pushed him back out of the race, so infuriating Hackett along the way that he has refused to run in a rematch against Rep. Jean Schmidt, who embarrassed herself and her state when she called Jack Murtha a "coward" on the floor of the House of Representatives. As the Associated Press reported Tuesday, Democrats have failed three times to persuade experienced elected officials to run against Republican Rep. Bob Ney, who has been identified as the corrupt "Representative No. 1" in legal documents in the Jack Abramoff case, leaving lesser known candidates to run against the should-be-beatable incumbent.

And now, as Roll Call is reporting, the leading Democratic contender in Ohio's 6th District -- thought to be one of the most competitive House seats in the country -- may be disqualified for submitting 48 rather than the required 50 valid signatures on his nominating papers. Sources tell the Youngstown Vindicator that the candidate, Ohio state Sen. Charlie Wilson, submitted 96 signatures with his petition for a spot in the Democratic primary, but 46 were from outside the 6th District, and five others were thrown out because they failed to meet other legal requirements.

Wilson could try to win the Democratic primary as a write-in candidate, or he could run as an independent in the general election for the seat being vacated by Democrat Ted Strickland. Either way presents a much tougher road than the one 50 valid signatures would have put before him -- and makes it that much harder for Democrats to make the gains they need nationwide in November.

Forty-nine-state strategy, anyone?

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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