|This is NOT William Smith of Oh-02|
CINCINNATI (TDB) -- At first, Democrats heard robocalls from a SuperPac that came out of nowhere virutally on the eve of the March 6 primary. The calls touted a candidate who doesn't seem to have campaigned for office. Now the blogosphere and e-mails have been primed with data about William R. Smith, the Pike County Democrat who appears to have won the party's nomination for the OH-02 congressional seat. But the William Smith whose bio and photo are floating around online isn't the same William Smith who is the mystery candidate leading David Krikorian by 59 votes. (The margin is so tight there could be a mandatory recount looming later this month.) Somebody is circulating false information. Whether by accident or intentionally, nobody can say for certain. For example, the William Smith who ran in Oh-02 is 61 years old, according his voter registration data. His birthdate is Jan. 16, 1951. The William Smith whose bio is floating around the Internet graduated from Glenwood High School near Canton in 1960. To be that person, the Oh-02 nominee from Pike County would have been 9 years old when he finished high schoool. He would have been 14 when he went to U.S. Army Aviation School during the Vietnam War. And he would have been 12 when he finished a "three-year apprenticeship at Timken, ending in 1963."
Neither the United Steelworkers of America nor Timken have a reputation for violating child labor laws -- it is extremely unlikely they put a 9-year-old to work in a steel mill.
LezGetReal, a Vermont-based LGBTA blog with a large following, seems to have created much of the confusion about Smith's background by publishing this data Thursday: "According to the candidates’ profiles posted by Our Campaigns, Smith graduated from Glenwood High School in Canton in 1960 and is a retired tool grinder and abrasive specialist from the Timken Company. He was a member of the United Steelworkers of America for 12 years and served a three-year apprenticeship at Timken, ending in 1963. He attended the U.S. Army Aviation School in 1963 and the Air National Guard NCO Academy in 1970. That information would indicate time in the Ohio Air National Guard, though his bio doesn’t specify that.
He was trained in mediation and arbitration and was elected to four terms on the Stark County Central Committee and has worked for various Democratic campaigns. Stark County is in northern Ohio and surrounds the city of Canton. No information is given as to when Mr. Smith moved to Pike County.
Our Campaigns, a collective political website that has compiled data about thousands of races and candidates over the years, shows that the William Smith from Canton (Stark County) was a Democratic candidate in Oh-16 against Ralph Regula during the 1996 and 2000 elections. It does not connect him to Oh-02. As far as the earlier congressional contest, Regula eventually retired from Congress after defeating Smith handily. By the way, the Pike County William Smith -- the Oh-02 mystery candidate -- did not run against Regula in 2000. He voted at home in the GOP primary that put George W. Bush against John McCain -- Bush won and the rest is history.
So Ohioans still have a puzzler on their hands. The bio online is mixed up. William Smith -- who did not campaign but came out ahead on March 6 -- doesn't seem to be taking many phone calls. Messages left at his home by The Daily Bellwether and others haven't been answered. Also adding strangeness to this episode were robo calls from the Victory Ohio SuperPac on Smith's behalf ahead of the primary. Nobody can find out much about the Super Pac. Victory Ohio was the name of the McCain-Palin operation in the state during the 2008 presidential campaign, and it does not remain in business. The 22-second SuperPac robocalls complained that Krikorian had once called himself a "Reagan conservative" and went on to say that supporting Krikorian would embarrass the party. A woman's voice in the robocall said: "Please don't make a mistake and embarrass the party. Vote for William Smith, the real Democrat." A lot of southern Ohio Dems voted for Smith without really knowing much of anything about him. And maybe the party has been embarrassed by the intervention of a SuperPac that materialized seemingly from nowhere . . .
At the moment, Open Secrets.org says Federal Election Commission records show there are 363 SuperPacs operating across the United States. They have raised $130 million and spent $74 million so far this election cycle. When The Daily Bellwether went through the list, it was unable to find a SuperPac named Victory Ohio.
[UPDATE: 11:22 a.m. -- Anastasia Pantsios at Ohio Daily Blog is now calling the Oh-02 contest "one of the most bizarre in the state -- if not THE most bizarre." She is pointing out that Krikorian had a load of baggage (her words) and that someone could have recruited a candidate with a bland name like "Smith" to sow confusion.]
[ UPDATE: 11:53 a.m. -- The Victory Ohio robocall from March 5 can be heard on YouTube by clicking here.]