The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio on March 18, 2005 · Page 12
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March 18, 2005

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The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio · Page 12

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Cincinnati, Ohio
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Friday, March 18, 2005
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FROM PAGE Al THE ENQUIRER A12 FRIDAY, MARCH 18, 2005 Portman: Couldn't say 'no' again Registered voters in 2nd Congressional District V it. )....( c;.o. tJ Butler I j' Clinton 1 Zo""" L Warren I Tj J ITI Hamilton" J 11'6--L-T """ S tfVV Tciermont I ml v J 125,832 I 19,655 Jackson n Hamilton Brown n T S U 176,711 Y 28,922 fc Wams Scioto L - Sources: Ohio Secretary of State's Office, Warren and Hamilton counties' election officials The Enquirer loser to Portman, is interested, too, although he lives outside the gress, Portman has had two distinct personas: the well-connected congressman who would surface on cable news channels as a "talking head" for the Bush legislative agenda and another as the politician who drove himself from one small-town pancake breakfast or Kiwanis luncheon to another in a district stretching 100 miles-plus. Highly visible at home Portman is well known for his visibility, even though he had little serious opposition in a Republican district and could count on about 70 percent of the vote. "Rob never forgot the people back home," said Clermont County Commissioner Bob Proud, a Republican who says he is considering a run for Portman's seat. Proud, chairman of the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission, which operates in several Appalachian counties in Portman's district, said Portman went to bat for the region several years ago when some House Republicans wanted to end the Appalachian Regional Commission. "He took some heat for it in the Republican caucus, but he saved the program," Proud said. Cincinnati city officials often turned to Portman for help on projects such as Fort Washington Way and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. "He's a national figure who really didn't have to pay much attention to local issues, but he did, and that is to his credit," Mayor Charlie Luken said. "The man has never gotten all puffed up." E-mail hwilkinsonenquirer.com month - Portman will replace Robert Zoellick, who left the job last month to become Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's chief deputy. In Congress, Portman has been a rare bird - a congressman from a northern industrial state that has seen thousands of jobs move overseas who has nonetheless been a consistent champion of free trade. "Open markets and better trade relations are key components to a more peaceful, a more stable and a more prosperous world," Portman said at the White House. "Trade policy opens markets to create jobs, a higher standard of living and greater economic growth." Portman's close relationship with the Bush White House is rooted in his relationship with the president's father, George H.W. Bush. Bush brought the young Cincinnati lawyer on to his own White House staff in the late 1980s, when Portman served first as associate counsel and later as director of the Office of Legislative Affairs. The Cincinnati Republican continued his close relationship by working in 2000 to elect George W. Bush. Bush, who often hangs nicknames on confidants, tagged Portman as "Robby Bobby." Port-man was communications director for Bush in Ohio in 2004. "This president thinks the world of Rob Portman," said White House Deputy Chief of Staff Joseph Hagin, who has been a close friend of Portman's since the two were students at Cincinnati Country Day School more than 30 years ago. "He is one of the most effective legislators on the Hill." For most of his years in Con From Page Al CAFTA would remove trade barriers between the U.S. and five Central American countries and the Dominican Republic. Getting difficult White House legislation through an often-reluctant Congress has been Portman's specialty in the past four years, as he has acted as Bush's chief liaison with House Republicans. "As a member of the House leadership, Rob has shown he can bring together people of differing views to get things done," Bush said as Portman, his wife Jane and three children stood by his side. As an Ohioan, Bush said, Port-man "knows firsthand that millions of American jobs depend on exports, including one in every five factory jobs. And Rob knows that America's farmers and workers can compete with anybody, anytime, anywhere in the world, as long as the rules are fair." A global responsibility As trade representative, Port-man will be Bush's chief negotiator of trade agreements with the rest of the world and the president's point man to sell trade a-greements to Congress. Portman said Thursday that when he told his 12-year-old daughter Sally about the appointment, she said she had never heard of the job. "However, Mr. President, she said, 'Dad, it sounds like a really neat job,' " Portman said. "And it is, and a very important responsibility in historic times." If confirmed by the Senate - a process that could take about a 2nd Dist. seat may get many GOP bids By Cindi Andrews Enquirer staff writer Rob Portman's new job could mean a promotion for another area Republican. It's just not clear which Republican. More than a half-dozen people are leaving the door open to run for Portman's 2nd Congressional District seat following his nomination Thursday as U.S. trade representative. The heavily GOP district stretches from eastern Hamilton County and southern Warren County east to Pike and Scioto counties. Gov. Bob Taft must schedule a special election once the U.S. Senate confirms Portman, likely in about a month. "Anybody who has committed their life to serving never says never," said Ohio Department of Commerce director Doug White, a Republican and former Ohio Senate president from Adams County. "I am exploring the possibility with friends and political supporters that I have." Variations on "I'm thinking about it" were trotted out by several other Republicans on Thursday: Phil Heimlich of Symmes Township, a former Cincinnati councilman in his first term as Hamilton County commissioner. Pat DeWine of Pleasant Ridge, a former Cincinnati councilman elected a Hamilton County commissioner just four Township in Clermont County. She is a township trustee and former state representative. Other Republicans aren't biting, including former Cincinnati Bengals lineman Anthony Mu-noz, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Greg Hartmann, and Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell. "You couldn't pour that job on me," said Blackwell, who is planning a run for governor in 2006. John Bridgeland, a former White House official from Indian Hill, didn't shut the door quite so emphatically, but said he's happy running his new company, Washington-based Civic Enterprises. Democrats face challenge Many prominent Democrats also quickly punctured rumors of their potential candidacies. David Pepper, a Cincinnati councilman, said he remains committed to running for mayor this year. Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune, a Green Township resident who coasted to reelection in November, said he's not looking at Portman's seat, either. "My wife and I just moved with our family into a brand-new house, and there's absolutely no way we'd be moving again anytime soon," Portune said. "And while you don't have to live in the district to run, I think it is important." The only Democrat in the 2nd District who admitted he's think district in Waynesville. Any Democrat will have an uphill climb. "It's very important that we field a candidate who can go out there and make Republicans answer for the issues," Hamilton County Democratic chairman Tim Burke said. "But realistically, there is no question that it is a very tough district." Republicans will have challenges, too: each other. Deters, former state treasurer, predicted that up to a dozen Republicans will run for the seat. Still, he doesn't expect it to get as ugly as the Hamilton County commissioner primary a year ago, when GOP incumbent John Dowlin exposed GOP challenger Pat DeWine's marital problems in a TV ad. DeWine won anyway. "I would hope there wouldn't be that pettiness," Deters said. A likelier issue is whether the district would be better represented by someone from Hamilton County or from one of the more rural counties that together comprise around 60 percent of its registered voters. Hartmann, one of the Hamilton County Republican Party's leading strategists, gives the edge to his county: "It's a big campaign and a big race, and the people from the large urban areas probably have more experience and more media exposure to run for a seat like that." Enquirer reporters Gregory Korte, Jim Siegel and Howard Wilkinson contributed to this story. E-mail candrewsenquirer.com My Sleep Number is 35 WHAT'S YOURS? months ago. He is the son of U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, a Republican. Bob Proud of Batavia Township, a 17-year Clermont County commissioner. He is chairman of the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission, a planning and economic development agency that includes most of the 2nd District. Tom Raga of Deerfield Township, in his third term in the Ohio House. He is vice chairman of the powerful House Finance Committee. Jean Schmidt of Miami On The Sleep Number Bed by Select Comfort"" you can adjust the comfort and firmness to your exact preference your SLEEP NUMBER. 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