Ohio First Congressional District

aftab pureval attack ad
CLF Super PAC, YouTube / Screen grab

Did you ever read a Superman comic book when you were a kid?

If the answer is yes, then you probably know all about Bizarro World, the cube-shaped planet where everything is upside-down and contrary to normal expectations.

Well, welcome to Bizarro World.

Patrick Semansky / AP

Some people find this hard to believe, but the race in Ohio's 1st Congressional District between Democratic challenger Aftab Pureval and Republican incumbent Steve Chabot really is one of the most competitive House races in the country.

aftab pureval sunshine ad
Aftab Pureval / YouTube

Updated: 9:24 a.m.

This time around, TV ads featuring a stuffed toy duck squawking Aftab! – well, that just won't do it.

aftab pureval steve chabot
John Minchillo / AP

Democrat Aftab Pureval appears to be making headway in his bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, according to one of the nation's leading political publications.

gabby giffords aftab pureval
Howard Wilkinson / WVXU

Democratic congressional candidate Aftab Pureval, joined by former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, stood before about 125 supporters – mostly women – in a North Avondale front yard Wednesday to launch a "Women for Aftab" organization.

WVXU-FM

WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson talked with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday about the implications of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee  (DCCC) putting the Ohio 1st Congressional District on its "Red to Blue" list of targeted races - the only House race in Ohio targeted by the DCCC. It will draw national attention to the Democratic challenger Aftab Pureval's bid to unseat long-time GOP congressman Steve Chabot. 

So, what does it mean when the professional tea leaf readers move a congressional race from a Likely Republican status to a Leans Republican status?

Well, we are about to find out.

That's exactly what Sabato's Crystal Ball, one of the nation's leading trackers of races at the state, congressional and presidential levels, did this week with Ohio's 1st Congressional District, which has been held by Republican Steve Chabot in all but two of the past 25 years.

Howard Wilkinson

Democrat Aftab Pureval said it best Wednesday morning when he spoke to a crowded room of supporters in Avondale: his candidacy for the 1st Congressional District seat held by Steve Chabot was "the worst kept secret in Cincinnati."

After months of speculation, the 35-year-old Pureval, who pulled off a stunning upset victory over a Republican incumbent in the 2016 race for Hamilton County clerk of courts, made it official in an enthusiastic rally at Avondale's Gabriel's Place, a non-profit involved in urban agriculture.

This may sound like crazy talk, but there are some out there in Democratic circles – both here and in Washington – who believe Ohio's 1st Congressional District will be in play in 2018.

Taking on Republican Steve Chabot, the Westwood Republican who has represented Ohio's 1st Congressional district for all but two of the past 23 years, seems, on the surface at least, to be Mission Impossible.

WVXU

WVXU politics reporter Howard Wilkinson talked with News Director Maryanne Zeleznik Monday about the challenges the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee would face in taking on Republican incumbent Steve Chabot in Ohio's First Congressional District. 

Does the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) seriously think that Republican incumbent Steve Chabot is vulnerable next year in southwest Ohio's First Congressional District?

Apparently so.

Alex Driehaus / Provided

Former congressman Steve Driehaus tells WVXU he returns home next month after spending six years leading the Peace Corps' efforts in two African nations.

But Driehaus, in a phone interview Monday from Rabat, the capital of Morocco, says he has no plans to jump back into elective politics.

So, of all the candidates on the November ballot in southwest Ohio, which have the highest mountains to climb?

The answer may well be these three Democrats – Fred Kundrata, Marek Tyszkiewicz, and Tom Poetter.

They are the Democratic candidates for the U.S. House taking on three well-known and well-funded Republican incumbents in districts that are very friendly to Republicans – Steve Chabot, Brad Wenstrup, and House Speaker John Boehner, respectively.

Many believe that a Democratic candidate might as well try to climb Mount Everest with one arm tied behind his or her back  than take on Rep. Steve Chabot in the heavily Republican 1st Congressional District.

But two local Democrats – Fred Kundrata of Pendleton and Jim Prues of North Avondale – are willing to strap on the gear and give it a shot.

Prues and Kundrata are vying for the Democratic nomination in the 1st District in the May 6 primary election.

Time was when taking on Chabot was not such a daunting task.