Friday, April 15, 2011

Rob Frost, hoping to roast another Democrat, may take on Kucinich in 2012

Did you see Dennis Kucinich and Rob Frost on the The Daily Show last night? With Frost playing the bewildered Republican, mystified that people keep re-electing Kucinich? And Dennis peacefully, confidently enduring the usual peacenik and hot-wife jokes, demonstrating his ventriloquism skills, and talking about taking his talents to Edgewater Beach?

Turns out that may be a preview of Cleveland's hottest race for Congress next year.

Frost, the Cuyahoga County Republican chairman, just sent out a sly, burying-the-lead press release. Almost all of Kucinich's redistricting-survival fund is coming from outside Northeast Ohio lately, Frost reports, and he's spending it fast.

Oh, and (in the fourth paragraph) Frost says he's preparing to run against Kucinich for Congress.

Now we know why Frost resigned from the board of elections last week. Here's his press release:

According to reports filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) had only $138,200 on hand as of March 31, 2011.

Kucinich was able to raise just under $215,000 during the first quarter of this year, but showed $112,771 in operating expenses despite being so early in the election cycle, and increased his campaign fund balance by only $96,134. Kucinich’s prior report, the 2010 year-end report filed with the FEC as amended in March, showed him with $42,067 on hand to begin the 2011-2012 election cycle.

Of the $214,361 raised by Kucinich in the first quarter of this year, exactly $1,000 came from donors within Ohio’s 10th Congressional District. Kucinich, an incumbent in his eighth term in Congress, was fined $52,443 by the FEC earlier this year for improper use of public matching funds in his 2004 bid for the US Presidency.

At a time when Kucinich appears vulnerable and out of touch with his Northeast Ohio district, a potential challenger has emerged in Rob Frost, who on Friday formed a Federal Campaign Committee, according to FEC records. Frost, 42, of Lakewood, is Chairman of the Republican Party of Cuyahoga County, a former member of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections and a former Rocky River City Councilman.

Can Frost beat Kucinich? Match them up solely by political talent and experience, and it's not even close. In 40 years of thrilling and infuriating Clevelanders, Kucinich has demonstrated a remarkable ability to survive and connect with local voters. Frost has never personally won an election outside Rocky River.

So far Frost's shrewdest political move came when he skewered Jimmy Dimora with his "News From the Pork Barrel Buffet" missives in 2007 -- a year before the corruption scandal broke, back when Jimmy still seemed impregnable. He'd surely launch more ruthlessly effective attacks against Kucinich than Jim Trakas' surprisingly weak 2oo8 campaign.

Beyond that, there's no way to handicap a Kucinich-Frost race today, because there's no way of knowing where the two guys would end up running. There's also no way to predict whether Kucinich could survive a Democratic primary battle against, say, Betty Sutton or Marcia Fudge. We don't know whose votes they'd be competing for. Ohio's congressional district lines may not be redrawn until fall.

But guess who'll draw them? Frost's Republican allies in Columbus.

To read "Pork Roast," my profile of Frost from 2007, click here. To read my Kucinich profile from the same year, "The Missionary," click here.

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