Ney Connection, Bankruptcy May Be Factors in Ohio’s 18th Congressional District Race

The Republican candidate for Ohio’s 18th congressional district says Representative Bob Ney’s resignation from the U.S. House of Representatives last Friday was “seven weeks too late.” State Senator Joy Padgett is Ney’s chosen successor. But in the last few weeks, the campaign of her democratic opponent Zack Space has been gaining momentum.

Republican Joy Padgett was campaigning in Heath late last week, knocking on doors and leaving behind literature for the folks who did not answer. She got a cordial welcome from the few who did, though one young man said he was not interested in voting; another said he was too young.

Padgett was canvassing the homes of Republican and Independent voters, trying to up the conservative turnout November 7th. She’ll need that support if recent polls are correct: They show her trailing her democratic opponent. Even so, she dismissed the prediction of her defeat.

“You know it’s a poll,” Padgett said. “It’s absolutely a poll. There’s only one poll that counts and that’s the one that’s added up at the end of Election Day.”

But Padgett’s opponent – and his supporters – were fired up by the news.

“We’re up by 25 points!” shouted Zack Space.

Space was just down the road from Heath. The Democrat was addressing a labor union rally in Cambridge. His message to the crowd focused on lost jobs in Ohio and on corporate greed.

“We need to send a very loud statement to Washington D.C. and the fat cats that have had their way for far too long that we are mad as hell and we ain’t gonna take it any more!”

Space is a 46-year-old lawyer, first elected to local office 5 years ago. Now he’s hoping voter dissatisfaction will help him win his bid to represent the 18th district in Congress.

“There are a multitude of problems; certainly the war is on everyone’s mind right now and there’s a great degree of dissatisfaction in this Congress’s failure to monitor the president’s position and progress with the war and his failure to adopt a meaningful plan for success,” Space said. “There is just a growing degree of dissatisfaction and an increasing desire for change.”

That desire for change may have grown when after months of proclaiming his innocence, Republican Bob Ney pleaded guilty to corruption charges in October – and then handed in his resignation to House speaker Hastert last Friday. Ney had announced this summer that he would not run again and that Joy Padgett was his choice to be the Republican candidate. Padgett is 59 and a former teacher who’s served in the Ohio legislature since 1993. She says she has strong bipartisan support.

“People know that I serve everybody fairly. I don’t worry about party affiliation when it comes to representing the district and those folks who are appreciative are now showing up and saying You were here when we needed you, and now we’ll be here when you need us,’” Padgett said.

Opponent Zack Space is capitalizing on Padgett’s liabilities which include her connection to Ney. Another is this year’s bankruptcy of a business owned by Padgett and her husband. The couple, according to an anti-Padgett television ad, defaulted on a $700,000 loan.

TV ad: Now its been revealed through official government documents that Joy Padgett went bankrupt, defaulted on a $700,000 government loan leaving taxpayers to foot the bill…”

The Zack Space campaign says the National Republican Congressional Committee has spent more than $3 million attempting to persuade voters in the 18th district. It’s advertising that Space says amounts to “misleading distortions.”

TV ad: Just follow the money. The radical group Council for a Livable World raised over $5,000 for Zack Space. They advocated for for more than $130 billion in defense cuts over 10 years…

Republican Padgett says that her Democratic opponent has been ducking the issues, by-passing numerous campaign forums where the two could have debated.

“It would have been a wonderful opportunity to actually have the exchange on what we know are the five top issues in the district,” Padgett said. “That’s jobs and the economy, it’s education, its healthcare, it’s illegal immigration and it’s the war on terror. I’ve been to all of these to put my self in front of people.”

Meanwhile, at the labor union rally in Cambridge, Zack Space stayed behind to talk politics with union members.

“The people in this area, they’re not afraid to work,” Space told a supporter. “The problem is, they’re working long hours with not much pay and no benefits…We’re going to do everything we can to make sure that changes,” he said.

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