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Counter Points is written by WVXU Senior Political Analyst Howard Wilkinson. In it, he shares insights on political news on the local, state and national level that impacts the 2020 election. Counter Points is delivered once a week on Wednesdays and will cease publication soon after the November election is decided.

Kate Schroder Romps To Easy Win In Ohio 1st Congressional District Primary

kate schroder
Gary Landers
Kate Schroder, democratic candidate for Ohio's first congressional district, speaks during a question and answer session held by the Bold New Democracy Work Group, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, in Cincinnati.

Kate Schroder of Clifton easily defeated Nikki Foster of Warren County in Ohio's 1st Congressional District, setting up a general election race against Republican incumbent Steve Chabot, who has held the seat for the better part of a  quarter century.

Schroder was a heavy favorite in Hamilton County, but she won her opponent's home county as well. Schroder ended up with 68% of the unofficial vote count, including 55% in Warren County.

Foster is from Mason in Warren County; and needed a decisive victory there to defeat Schroder.

Schroder – mother, public health professional, cancer survivor – believes she can pull off the trick that a long string of Democratic congressional candidates have tried and failed to do over the years: put an emphatic end to the long political career of Chabot.

After defeating a strong challenger in Foster, Schroder is left with less time to campaign because of a primary election that was delayed for nearly six weeks. And she is left with the daunting task for raising large amounts of money in an economy that has tanked in the coronavirus pandemic.

"I know it's not going to be easy,'' Schroder told WVXU recently. "But I believe it can be done. It is time."

Schroder and many Democrats, here and in Washington, believe the gerrymandering magic the Republicans in the Ohio General Assembly pulled off nine years ago to create a Democrat-proof district for Chabot is not so magical anymore.

It may be the last time that district is skewed toward Republicans because of the new redistricting system approved by Ohio voters in 2018. The map-makers will likely not be able to split blue Hamilton County the way it is now.

The 67-year-old Republican will be running for his 12th term in the 1st Congressional District this year. It's hard to remember that just a few years ago he had to scrap like a street fighter to defeat the Democrats' golden boy, Aftab Pureval, who, in effect, defeated himself with rookie mistakes.

Schroder spent the past 12 years working for the Clinton Health Access Initiative, part of Bill and Hillary Clinton's foundation, where she focused on improving health care for children in Africa. She lived in Zambia for two years, and has traveled extensively on the African continent.

Schroder, assuming she hangs on in this primary, can go into the general election with a ready-made argument that may resonate with a lot of voters, particularly younger voters: I have done things other than run for office for the past 35 years.

It's a fact – Chabot won a Cincinnati City Council seat in 1985. Then he was appointed to a vacant seat on the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners and later won election. Then, in 1994, he took on incumbent Democrat David Mann for the 1st Congressional District seat and has run every two years since then. He has only one loss – Democrat Steve Driehaus rode the Obama wave in 2008 and shoved Chabot out of office, but Chabot came back to defeat Driehaus two years later and has been sitting there ever since.

Howard Wilkinson joined the WVXU News Team after 30 years of covering local and state politics for The Cincinnati Enquirer. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Wilkinson has covered every Ohio governor’s race since 1974 as well as 12 presidential nominating conventions. His streak continued by covering both the 2012 Republican and Democratic conventions for 91.7 WVXU. Along with politics, Wilkinson also covered the 2001 Cincinnati race riots; the Lucasville Prison riot in 1993; the Air Canada plane crash at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in 1983; and the 1997 Ohio River flooding. The Cincinnati Reds are his passion. "I've been listening to WVXU and public radio for many years, and I couldn't be more pleased at the opportunity to be part of it,” he says.