Rep. Zack Space (D)
Ohio 18th District
The hills of eastern Ohio are one of those obscure parts of America, seen by most Americans, if at all, from airplanes or speeding cars on the interstates on their way to someplace else. They were settled early on in U.S. history, in the 1790s, mostly by Virginians, and for the most part remained sparsely populated. This was hard land to clear and hard land to farm, better suited for dairy cattle than the plains that lay beyond. In some places near the Ohio River, there was industrial development early on. The local clay was used to make pottery, the coal that lies near the surface was dug up, a green-vitriol works was built, and a nail factory went into operation, all before 1814. In time, the area became dotted with small factory towns and coal mines. Farther south there was little industrial development, and today that landscape has a timeless feel. This region was little affected by the flow of immigrants from Europe in 1880-1924, southern blacks in 1940-1965 or Latino and Asian immigrants since 1970. Some counties have seen sharp job losses, as coal mines and factories have shut down. Others, despite objections from some local farmers, have benefited from the construction of a gasoline pipeline from the Ohio River to Columbus and beyond to Colorado. As the price of oil and natural gas rose, the coal industry began to rebound, reopening some mines and returning some jobs. The most distinctive people here are the Amish, who drive their horses and buggies over covered bridges in Holmes, Tuscarawas and Wayne counties. They make up the largest concentration of Amish in the world. They run shops now as well as farms, get energy from solar power, and no longer eschew all farm machinery.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 18th Congressional District of Ohio covers much of this hill country, from Holmes and Tuscarawas counties in the north to Ross and Jackson counties in the south. Geographically, it is the largest district in the state, spanning five media markets, including two in West Virginia. It includes such cities as New Rumley, the birthplace of Gen. George Custer; Zanesville, the birthplace of writer Zane Grey and architect Cass Gilbert; and Chillicothe, the first capital of Ohio, on the Scioto River. Politically, much of this area is ancestrally Democratic, but Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush won 55% of the vote here in 2000 and 57% in 2004. Republican nominee John McCain beat Barack Obama here 53%-45% in 2008.
Rep. Zack Space (D)
Elected: 2006, 2nd term.
Born: Jan. 27, 1961, Dover .
Education: Kenyon Col., B.A. 1983, OH St. U., J.D. 1986.
Religion: Greek Orthodox.
Family: Married (Mary); 2 children.
Elected office: Dover law director, 2000-06.
Professional Career: Public defender, 1986-87; Practicing atty., 1986-2006; Hotel developer, 1995-2004.
The congressman from the 18th District is Democrat Zack Space, elected in 2006. He was born in Dover and named after his grandfather Zacharias, a Greek immigrant who won U.S citizenship for his World War I service. Space attended Kenyon College, where he distinguished himself as a Division III All-American football player. He earned a law degree from the Ohio State University and started Space & Space Company, a law practice with his father, Socrates Space. While practicing consumer-rights law for two decades, Space also served as a public defender and as the business manager of a local hotel company. He was appointed Dover law director in 2000 and was twice elected to the position.
|Zack Space (D)||164,187||(60%)||($2,041,891)|
|Fred Dailey (R)||110,031||(40%)||($391,524)|
|Zack Space (D)||87,503||(85%)|
|Mark Pitrone (D)||15,980||(15%)|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (62%)
In 2006, Space was one of a handful of Democrats seeking to oust six-term Republican Rep. Bob Ney, chairman of the House Administration Committee. In early 2006, when reports about his relationship with corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff began to surface, Ney gave up his chairmanship, saying that he had become a distraction for the party. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee initially favored Chillicothe Mayor Joe Sulzer in the primary, but he proved unable to expand his base outside the southern part of the sprawling district. Space campaigned against corruption and signed an ethics pledge saying he would not accept gifts from lobbyists. He also talked about economic issues such as lost manufacturing jobs and health care. He won the May primary with 39%; Ohio Board of Education member Jennifer Stewart got 26% and Sulzer got 24%.
In August, Ney bowed to House Republican leadership pressure and withdrew his candidacy for re-election. In October, he pled guilty to corruption charges, but he did not resign the seat until November 3, 2006, four days before the election, ensuring that the specter of scandal lingered over the campaign. Republican leaders anointed state Sen. Joy Padgett, who was also Ney’s preferred successor. She easily won a five-way September 14 special-election primary, but her late start gave Space an advantage. She attacked Space for taking contributions from MoveOn.org and other liberal groups, and the National Republican Congressional Committee poured in over $2 million to defend the seat. Despite being tagged as a liberal, Space took positions on tax cuts, gun-ownership rights, trade and illegal immigration that were not all that different from Padgett’s. Democrats emphasized Padgett’s ties to unpopular Republican Gov. Bob Taft, who had appointed her director of the Office of Appalachia. They also noted that her family’s office-supply business had gone bankrupt in 2005 and that Padgett and her husband had filed for personal bankruptcy protection as recently as 2006. Space spent over $1.6 million to Padgett’s $850,000 and won 62%-38%.
In the House, Space joined the Blue Dog Coalition of moderate and conservative Democrats and fit comfortably in the center of the House. His “Renew Ohio 18” program focused on local issues, including extension of commodity programs in the farm bill, expansion of Internet broadband services to underserved areas, and alternative energy sources. He made an emotional plea for embryonic-stem-cell research, citing his son’s “thousands of injections and blood tests” in his battle with juvenile diabetes. Party leaders recruited him to take a prominent role on their ethics-reform legislation, but in 2007, he alienated some Democrats when he drew parallels to Ney in calling for Democratic Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana to resign after Jefferson became the target of a federal bribery investigation. On foreign policy, Space initially supported then opposed Democratic proposals establishing deadlines for troop withdrawals from Iraq.
In early 2009, Space got a seat on the influential Energy and Commerce Committee, where he hoped to play a moderating role between the two parties on health and energy issues. That May, he repaid the Democrats who had put him on the committee by supporting legislation that sought to cap carbon emissions, a move that surprised local Democrats in his coal-heavy district.
Space was a target for Republicans in 2008. Cattle farmer and longtime state Department of Agriculture Director Fred Dailey won the GOP primary after more-experienced party regulars declined to run. Republicans criticized Space for supporting the Democratic budget and other parts of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s agenda. Space avoided his party’s national convention in Denver in August 2008, saying he had “too much work to do” in his district, but noted that he fully supported the presumed nominee, Barack Obama. Dailey complained about his lack of national party resources and was heavily outspent by Space. The incumbent won 60%-40%, carrying traditionally Republican Holmes and Knox counties in the Amish country.