- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 3, 2005

CINCINNATI (AP) — A Republican former state lawmaker claimed a seat in Congress yesterday by narrowly defeating an Iraq war veteran who drew national attention to the race with his military service and a series of harsh attacks on President Bush.

With all precincts reporting, Jean Schmidt had 52 percent, or 57,974 votes, compared with Democrat Paul Hackett’s 48 percent, or 54,401 votes.

“We began this race way back in late March, and no one had thought we’d be the focus of the national media or be the so-called ‘first test’ of the Republican Party and the Bush mandate. Well, ladies and gentleman, we passed that test,” Mrs. Schmidt said.

Mrs. Schmidt, 53, will replace Republican Rob Portman, who stepped down this year after being named U.S. trade representative by Mr. Bush.

Mr. Portman held the seat for 12 years, consistently winning with more than 70 percent of the vote in the Cincinnati-area district. Mr. Bush picked up 64 percent of the vote last year in the district.

Democrats had viewed the race as a bellwether for 2006, saying even a strong showing by Mr. Hackett in such a heavily GOP district would be a good sign for them in the midterm elections.

“If he does well, even if he loses, that could indicate that President Bush’s foreign policy may not be playing that well in a Republican district,” said John Green, director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute for Applied Politics at the University of Akron.

In another election yesterday, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and former Deputy Mayor Freman Hendrix emerged as the top two finishers in a 12-candidate mayoral primary and will advance to the general election.

Mr. Hendrix had a double-digit lead over Mr. Kilpatrick with 45 percent of the vote counted.

Mr. Kilpatrick was heralded as Detroit’s next great hope when he was elected four years ago at age 31, but his term has been marred by a $300 million budget deficit, scrutiny over his running up huge bills on a city credit card, and the city’s lease of a luxury sport utility vehicle for his family.

In Ohio, Mrs. Schmidt billed herself as an experienced leader more in tune with the district than Mr. Hackett. She is the first woman elected to Congress from the 2nd District.

Mr. Hackett, a lawyer and Marine reservist who recently completed a seven-month tour in Iraq, drew national attention to the race with his flame-throwing assaults on Mr. Bush.

The candidate was especially harsh about the president’s July 2003 “bring ‘em on” comment about Iraqi insurgents, saying such talk merely “cheered on the enemy.”

“That’s the most incredibly stupid comment I’ve ever heard a president of the United States make,” Mr. Hackett told USA Today. He also has referred to Mr. Bush as “a chicken hawk … a person who advocates war in a cavalier way.”

Mrs. Schmidt consistently supported Mr. Bush on the war, and said she shares the moral values of the district with her opposition to abortion and homosexual “marriage.”

In another election contest in Detroit, Motown music legend Martha Reeves was among 120 City Council candidates vying for 18 spots in the general election. Miss Reeves, the lead singer of the group Martha and the Vandellas, is best known for hits such as “Dancing in the Street” and “Jimmy Mack.”

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