Anyone curious about Rep. Jim Renacci’s voting records these days would find a curious reference in   one of the  blogs (gov.Trade) labeling him as a “centrist Republican.”  Certainly this isn’t the same freshman Republican  who has opposed most of President Obama’s programs as a disciple of  Tea Party politics.  On the other hand, it may again remind us that the center of the old Republican Party is really the Tea Party Center today. Makes sense to me.

In his short stint on Capitol Hill, Renacci has  vigorously opposed Obamacare, the stimulus package, (a failure, he barks), federal funding for Planned Parenthood and a dime of federal funding for abortions, which allows him to boast  that he is proud call himself pro-life.
Or considering his deference to the divine wishes of the coal companies and the Koch Brothers, don’t talk to him about any EPA measure that might lead to cleaner air.
Renacci, the former mayor of Wadsworth who thinks of himself as an entrepreneur, is in a tight race with Rep.  Betty Sutton, a popular three-term Democrat with  organized labor who was the spearhead of the Cash for Clunkers campaign.  Until now, the papers in northern Ohio were at best grudgingly inclined to support  a pro-labor congresswoman, but this year just might be different as Renacci and
Sutton duke it out in the newly created 16th Congressional District.  The boundaries are not a pretty sight, stretching jaggedly from North Canton all the way north to Olmsted Falls, with slivers here and there of other communties.
The district’s crazy-quilt pattern  also has created some difficulty for those trying to figure out who might be ahead at this point.
Sutton entered the race as a battle-hardened campaigner who was challenged in 2010 by another entreprenuer, the Northern Ohio  mega-car dealer Tom Ganley,  who came to the campaign with millions of dollars in his pocket but whose hubris was so apparent that he lost in a landslide to Sutton in a year that was kind to Republicans.
Unfortunately, the decline in media political coverage by shrunken newspaper staffs has been of little value to readers in learning more about these two contestants – unlike the days when voting records were regularly recorded in the news columns.
The district itself is so cockeyed that it would be fair to assume that a great number of voters still can’t identify  their congressmen. So far, the two candidates will only face off in an Oct. 10 debate at the Cleveland City Club.  There had been a lot of haggling over other possible debates, including a refusal by Renacci to debate at the Akron Press Club.
 One thing that can’t be debated:  Renacci is not a centrist Republican.

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