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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.

Commentary: Kate Schroder Took A Chance On 2020 - And It May Pay Off

kate schroder
Gary Landers
Kate Schroder at an event on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, in Cincinnati.

If Democrat Kate Schroder – a first time candidate for anything – pulls off an upset win over Republican incumbent Steve Chabot in Ohio's 1st Congressional District in November, there will be some better-known Democratic politicians in Cincinnati who are going to be deeply depressed.

Those are the party regulars who took a pass this year on challenging Chabot, who has been running for one office or another since the late Pleistocene Era.

They had it all worked out in their heads, and it sounded like a good plan at the time. Give Chabot another term in a district made up by part of Hamilton County and all of the fire-engine red Warren County and wait until 2022.

By then, the thinking goes, the Ohio General Assembly, working under new rules for congressional redistricting, will almost certainly turn the now reliably blue Hamilton County into an undivided congressional district of its own.

In that kind of district, Chabot – who has now spent 24 years in the U.S. House – might not run at all, knowing as he does, that his chances would be slim to none, and slim's left town.

Schroder, though, was willing to roll the dice on the 1st District; on the assumption that she could run a better campaign than her fellow Democrat, Aftab Pureval, did two years ago, when his campaign fell into every bear trap the Chabot campaign laid for him.

Well, Schroder, a public health professional (not a bad thing for a candidate to be these days), is running a better campaign; and an increasing number of pundits and political professionals believe that she can, indeed, take down Chabot, if all the stars fall into line in November.

The latest on board is The Cook Political Report, a well-known and closely watched independent newsletter headed by long-time political analyst Charlie Cook.

This week, David Wasserman, an editor at The Cook Political Report, published a piece on four Democratic congressional candidates who he believes has a shot at knocking off an incumbent.

Schroder is one of them.

The Democrat from Clifton, Wasserman wrote, "poses a serious threat to the incumbent."

"Schroder's health care background could play well in a pandemic,'' Wasserman believes.

After earning an MBA from Wharton, she worked for Sen. Evan Bayh and took a position with the Clinton Health Access Initiative (which is separate from the Clinton Foundation). She traveled Africa, directing anti-HIV and diarrhea programs in the nations of Zambia and Uganda.

The mother of two young children, she has beat cancer herself, clearing up Hodgkins Lymphoma at the age of 38.

Four years ago, Donald Trump won the district with 51% to Hillary Clinton's 46%. It was the narrowest margin of victory for Trump in any congressional district he won in Ohio, which he carried by 8 percentage points.

A recent Quinnipiac University Poll showed the presidential race in a virtual dead heat – 46% for Biden, 45% for Trump.

A few weeks ago, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) was touting an internal poll that showed the Ohio 1 race as a dead heat – 47% for Schroder, 48% for Chabot.

About the same time, the DCCC moved Ohio 1 on to its "Red to Blue" watch list, which includes 15 districts around the country that will get extra help from the national party.

Sabato's Crystal Ball, a well-regarded national politics newsletter published at the University of Virginia, has Ohio 1 on its list of "leans Republican" districts.

Kyle Kondik, an Ohioan who is managing editor of Sabato's Crystal Ball, said he thinks that if Biden were to win Ohio – which he believes is altogether possible – "it would probably also mean that he is winning in Ohio's 1st District, and if Biden wins that district, Schroder would almost certainly win her race."

"It's going to be a competitive race,'' Kondik said. "That's why it is getting so much attention nationwide."

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Credit Jim Nolan / WVXU

Read more "Politically Speaking" here.

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.