Sunday, February 04, 2001

It's Phil 'call me country' Heimlich

        Cincinnati City Councilman Phil Heimlich is a city boy, but when he wants to, he can be, as Donnie and Marie used to say, a little bit country.

        Last year, when it seemed plausible that U.S. Rep. Rob Portman might leave his 2nd Congressional District seat, there was a small army of politicians who dreamed of being his replacement.

        Mr. Portman's district stretches across five counties — part of Hamilton, part of Warren and all of Clermont, Brown and Adams.

        It is one of the most Republican places in the country.

        Mr. Portman is a very popular fellow there; three out of four voters cast a ballot for him every two years. However, any Republican congressional candidate running there would have pretty good odds.

This is where Mr. Heimlich comes in.

        The city councilman is in his last term at city hall; term-limits law took care of that. But no one in local politics thinks he is done.

        Last year, the buzz among Republicans was that Mr. Heimlich was starting to pop up at GOP functions in parts of the world where Cincinnati politicians rarely go — places like Georgetown, Batavia, Peebles. All of which are in the 2nd Congressional District of Ohio.

        They figured something was up. But it wasn't until this week, when state and local candidates filed non-election year campaign finance reports, that it became clear just how far from home this city boy strayed.

        According to the Heimlich campaign finance report, in 2000, Mr. Heimlich spent:

        • $42 for a computer list of voters in Warren County.

        • $50 on the Brown County Republican Party.

        • $250 for the re-election campaign of Republican County Commissioner Bob Proud in Clermont County.

        • $250 for the campaign committee of state Sen. Doug White, a Manchester Republican.

        • $500 for an Adams County GOP candidate for prosecutor.

        • $1,500 on a Washington, D.C. polling firm in a year when he wasn't a candidate.

        • $48 on a Batavia farm bureau membership.

        He did everything but buy 40 acres and plant a crop of 'baccy.

        We have a hard time imagining Mr. Heimlich went to these lengths because of a new-found passion for rural America or because he wants to win the pie-baking contest at this year's Brown County Fair.

        If he did, he probably would have joined Future Farmers of America while he was at it.

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