Iraq War Vet Loses in House Election
A Republican former state lawmaker claimed a seat in Congress on Tuesday by narrowly defeating an Iraq war veteran who drew national attention to the race with his military service and a series of harsh attacks on President Bush.
With all precincts reporting, Jean Schmidt had 57,974 votes, compared with Democrat Paul Hackett’s 54,401 votes.
Schmidt, 53, will replace Republican Rob Portman, who stepped down this year after being named U.S. trade representative by Bush. Portman held the seat for 12 years, consistently winning with more than 70% of the vote in the Cincinnati-area district.
“We began this race way back in late March, and no one had thought we’d be the focus of the national media or be the so-called first test of the Republican Party and the Bush mandate. Well, ladies and gentleman, we passed that test,” Schmidt said.
Democrats had viewed the race as a bellwether for 2006, saying that a strong showing by Hackett in such a heavily Republican district would be a good sign for them in the midterm elections.
Schmidt billed herself as an experienced leader more in tune with the district than Hackett. She is the first woman elected to Congress from the 2nd District.
Hackett, 43, is a lawyer and Marine reservist who recently completed a seven-month tour and was vying to become the first combat veteran of the Iraq war to serve in Congress.
He drew attention to the race with his flame-throwing assaults on Bush, namely for the president’s July 2003 “bring ‘em on” comment about Iraqi insurgents. Hackett said such talk merely “cheered on the enemy.”
“That’s the most incredibly stupid comment I’ve ever heard a president of the United States make,” Hackett told USA Today. Hackett has also referred to the president as “a chicken hawk ... a person who advocates war in a cavalier way.”