© 2024 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Landsman wins 1st District congressional seat, likely ending Chabot's long political career

Cincinnati Council Member Greg Landsman (left) and U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot met in a final televised debate for the 2022 election.
Cincinnati Council Member Greg Landsman (left) and U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot met in a final televised debate for the 2022 election.

Cincinnati Council Member Greg Landsman won the 1st Congressional District seat in unofficial returns Tuesday night, likely ending Republican incumbent Steve Chabot's long political career.

This time, with all of the very-Democratic city of Cincinnati in the district, even Warren County could not save Chabot as it had before the district was redrawn for this year's election.

With 100% of its 175 precincts reporting, Chabot had 66% of the vote in Warren County. But it was not enough to hold off Landsman, who dominated the vote in the city of Cincinnati, where Chabot once served as a city council member.

Landsman had 61% of the unofficial vote count in Hamilton County, with 99% of the increasingly blue county's precincts reporting.

Landsman waited until after 11 p.m. to go before supporters at an election night watch party Downtown to declare victory.

He said Chabot had called to concede the election.

"This group of voters said, when it comes to the chaos and extremism, we are done," Landsman said. "When it comes to election denial, we are done. When it comes to taking away reproductive freedom, we are done.

"This district is a canary in the coal mine and it sent a very, very loud, important message to all the 'Big Lie,' anti-choice extremists: 'We are done.' "

Chabot addressed his supporters at a gathering of Republicans at the Hamilton County GOP headquarters.

"I’m just very honored to have been able to serve this community for as long as I did," Chabot said. "I love Cincinnati. I love Hamilton County. I love Warren County and I love our country. I wish my opponent — we had a tough battle — I wish Mr. Landsman the very best."

Chabot, a former county commissioner, first won the seat in 1994, riding into Congress on the Republican wave led by Newt Gingrich and his "Contract with America."

He held the seat for the next quarter-century, with only a two-year gap. In 2008, Democrat Steve Driehaus rode another wave — this one led by Barack Obama — and defeated Chabot, only to see Chabot re-take the seat two years later.

Landsman survived a barrage of attack ads from the Westwood Republican's campaign and Republican PACs, which accused the Democrat of being a "criminal," a "crook" and a dubious claim that he supported "defunding'' the police.

Much of the GOP attack centered around Landsman's involvement in the 2018 "Gang of Five" case, where he and four other Democrats on council were found to have conducted meetings via texts and emails that constituted a violation of the Ohio open meetings law.

Nonetheless, Landsman, a former school teacher from Mount Washington and founder of Cincinnati's Pre-School Promise program, was easily re-elected to council in 2021.

There is no question Landsman benefitted greatly from running in a district redrawn by Republicans in the Ohio General Assembly.

RELATED: Who will replace Landsman on Cincinnati City Council?

In the redistricting after the 2010 election, majority Republicans in the Ohio legislative gave Chabot the "gift that keeps on giving" by adding all of ruby red Warren County to his 1st District.

But what the legislature gives, the legislature can take away.

Under the new map that was used for the May primary election, heavily Republican Warren County is still in the district, but it was redrawn to include the entire city of Cincinnati — not just the West Side where Chabot lives and usually breaks even.

Most of the Chabot-friendly Western Hills area of Hamilton County has been grafted on to the Ohio-8 district of Republican Warren Davidson, who lives about 75 miles to the north in Troy, Ohio.

Bottom line is this: Ohio-1 has gone from a district where, in 2016, Donald Trump won by 3 percentage points to a district which, in 2020, gave Joe Biden an 8.5 percentage point advantage.

That's a big gap for a Trump loyalist like Chabot to fill, even with Warren County's help.

The district was targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) in its "Red to Blue" program. Landsman went after Chabot on a wide variety of his recent congressional votes, saying the incumbent was on the wrong side of issues important to families in his district.

It’s a long list. They have hammered away at Chabot for votes against:

  • $28 million for the Food and Drug Administration to help end the current baby formula shortage and preventing it from happening again.
  • Capping the price of insulin for people who suffer from diabetes.
  • Voting against the infrastructure package, which could lead to a solution to the problem of the overworked and outdated Brent Spence Bridge.
  • Voting against increased funding for veterans' health care benefits.

Landsman hammered away at Chabot on those issues and many more in TV ads and in a series of debates the two held, including one co-sponsored by WVXU.

Howard Wilkinson is in his 50th year of covering politics on the local, state and national levels.