By Dave Wasserman
July 17, 2020
OH-01: Steve Chabot (R) – Southwest corner: Cincinnati, Warren County
Toss Up. This Cincinnati district was a missed opportunity for Democrats in 2018 when Democrat Aftab Pureval’s bid against Chabot went up in flames amid a campaign finance scandal. Now Chabot’s former campaign treasurer is under a grand jury investigation for embezzling over $120,000 in campaign funds, and multiple Republicans are grumbling that Chabot should have retired rather than run for a 13th term.
Democratic Cincinnati health board member Kate Schroder has raised $1.4 million and may have the ideal profile to run in a pandemic (read our full evaluation below). What’s more, President Trump is likely behind in this suburban seat after carrying it by six points in 2016. In 2008, Chabot lost in a wave amid high Black turnout two years after Democrats took back House control. Today, he’s at risk of history repeating.
OH-01: Kate Schroder (D) – Southwest corner: Cincinnati, Warren County
Toss Up. This Cincinnati district was a missed opportunity for Democrats in 2018 when Democrat Aftab Pureval’s bid against longtime GOP Rep. Steve Chabot went up in flames amid a campaign finance scandal. But President Trump carried the seat by just 51 percent to 45 percent in 2016, and given the current national environment, Schroeder has a credible path to victory.
Schroder isn’t a household name in the 1st CD yet, but the Cincinnati Health Board appointee has been plugged into local Democratic politics for years. After many higher-profile area Democrats passed on the 2020 race (expecting more favorable lines after 2021 redistricting), Schroder jumped in and defeated Air Force veteran Nikki Foster 68 percent to 32 percent in the April primary.
Schroder’s healthcare background could play well in a pandemic. The daughter of a west side oncologist, Schroder graduated from an all-girls Catholic high school, earned her MBA from Wharton, worked for Sen. Evan Bayh and took a position at the Clinton Health Access Initiative (separate from the Clinton Foundation), including directing anti-HIV and diarrhea programs in Zambia and Uganda.
In our interview, Schroder was poised, upbeat and clear about the task at hand while still free-wheeling and without falling on talking points. She’ll talk about her work on the health board addressing health disparities and expanding dental services for kids, while Chabot has opposed expanding Obamacare. She’s also a cancer survivor herself, having been declared free of Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 38.
Chabot will undoubtedly exploit Schroder’s resume to label her “another Clinton Democrat.” But Schroder will cast Chabot as ineffective for failing to secure funding to replace the failing Brent Spence Bridge after 24 years in office, and irresponsible for letting his campaign treasurer embezzle over $120,000 in campaign funds (a federal grand jury investigation has been underway since 2019).
There is a precedent for Chabot losing in a presidential year wave: in 2008, he lost to Democrat Steve Driehaus amid high African-American turnout for Barack Obama before winning it back in 2010. Today’s 1st CD lines are much more Republican, but Joe Biden could plausibly carry the district if Black turnout surges. Schroder will post a $500,000 quarter and poses a serious threat to the incumbent.