The Republican Party is trying to hold on to its control of Congress but as many as five seats held by Republicans in Ohio are considered under serious challenge. On the other hand, the GOP hopes to gain one seat with one of the party's more moderate candidates. That's in the 13th district in Northeast Ohio - the seat Democrat Sherrod Brown is giving up in his run for the Senate. The two candidates for the open seat held three debates this week. ideastream's Mark Urycki reports.
The 13th district takes in West Akron and meanders into Medina County, touching southern Cuyahoga County and up to Lorain. Republicans nominated Lorain's mayor Craig Foltin, a moderate who has managed to get elected twice as mayor in a city that is 5-to-1 Democrat. That kind of record always grabs the attention of national parties. And Vice President Cheney came to Cleveland in May to raise money for Foltin. The Democratic candidate Betty Sutton showed up for that fund raiser too - outside on Public Square. She was quick to portray Foltin as a yes-man for the Bush Administration.
The Republican Foltin tries to shield off such charges by pointing out that he has embraced Democrat Sherrod Brown's protectionist policies on foreign trade. Foltin told the Cleveland City Club this week that the difference is that he can be more effective.
Craig Foltin: I like Sherrod, he does fight, he knows the issues. But at this time, we don't need partisanship whether Republican on the right or Democratic on the left.
Bi-partisan moderation doesn't really work for Betty Sutton. The former state representative from Barberton is now a labor lawyer who beat out seven other democrats in the primary with a lot of labor union help. She closely matches Brown's liberal outlook.
Betty Sutton: I will fight to protect workers, fight for things like an increase in the minimum wage, Social Security, and for prescription drugs that are affordable and accessible.
Sutton is supporting much of the national Democratic plan for the House. It calls for increasing the minimum wage, making college education more affordable and making college tuition tax deductible. That's not a stark contrast though with her Republican opponent. Foltin told an audience at the University of Akron that he's on the same page.
Craig Foltin: We need to up the Pell grants for all students. It's about the same as it was when I was a student. I think we should have tax credits for parents and students for college tuition.
Foltin, the Republican, also agrees with Sutton, the Democrat, on Iraq when he says it was a mistake to invade that country. But he says getting out unilaterally would be an even bigger mistake.
Craig Foltin: It's a hotbed of terrorism - that's where Osama is. Can you imagine if we pulled out right now, what that would do to the region? Not to mention our good friends in Israel.
Sutton says President Bush misled the nation on the reason to enter Iraq and then did so with no plan to win. She says troops should be withdrawn in a responsible manner. And while Foltin says he supports the Patriot Act, Sutton says she agrees with only part of it.
Betty Sutton: Support for the Patriot Act doesn't mean that the President has a blank check to intrude the lives of people throughout this country that have nothing to with terrorism. I support a very strong approach on fighting terrorism.
On health care, Foltin likes the Ken Blackwell plan that requires everyone to buy health insurance and uses liability reform to reduce medical malpractice lawsuits. Sutton says health care will be the number one job for the next congress and some sort of Medicaid plan should be expanded for children.
The two differ more sharply on global warming.
Craig Foltin: I don't believe in global warming. The scientific evidence that I've seen - and I'm not talking about Al Gore's book - looking at the scientific evidence doesn't show this to be fact.
Betty Sutton: I don't what scientific evidence he's speaking of. Global warming is real and it's important that we take action to deal with that all kinds of environmental concerns. This administration has had a terrible record of environmental stewardship.
Betty Sutton is pro-choice and has received big funding from the pro-choice women's group Emily's List. Craig Foltin says he's pro-life but would never make abortion a big issue. Another difference is that Foltin has had less money to spend. He received money from Republican leadership pacts but at this stage, the national party is directing most of its money to downstate races where incumbents are battling to keep their seats. Sutton has raised nearly twice as much as Foltin. Mark Urycki, 90.3.