By Steve Kemme
Enquirer staff writer
COLUMBIA TWP. - In three previous elections, Republican U.S. Rep. Rob Portman has thrashed Charles Sanders, the Democrat who's running against him in this year's 2nd Congressional District race.
But the prospect of an easy re-election doesn't mean Portman, of Terrace Park, won't campaign.
He kicked off his re-election campaign Friday with an open house cookout at his campaign headquarters on Wooster Pike in Columbia Township.
Dozens of supporters showed up to shake hands and chat with Portman, who is chairman of the House GOP leadership and the liaison between the House and the Bush White House.
Portman, who has served six terms in Congress, said he took to heart a bit of political advice he received at the start of his career from a veteran Congressman.
"He told me, 'You can run for office only two ways - scared or not at all,' " Portman said.
Portman may not exactly be running scared, but he'll be making more than a token effort to campaign.
"I'll be going door-to-door," he said, "and we'll probably put up about 2,000 signs. I'll go to as many parades and festivals as I can."
Sanders, a former Waynesville mayor who works as a financial analyst, will be battling Portman for the fourth time for a Congressional seat. In the three previous races, Portman got three times as many votes as Sanders did.
Traveling Saturday to Columbus for a state party function, Sanders said he offers a choice to voters fed up with the Republican-controlled Congress.
"The Republican Party had had their chance. The 108th Congress has had their chance. The Bush Administration has had their chance,'' Sanders said.
Portman admitted he'll spend less money on his campaign than most of his Republican colleagues do on theirs.
"I won't be buying any TV ads," Portman said.
With a campaign fund of $2.6 million, he'll be funneling some of that money to fellow Republicans who are embroiled in tight races. In the past, he's doled out hundreds of thousands of dollars to other GOP candidates.
Portman's district stretches from downtown Cincinnati to Portsmouth. It includes eastern Hamilton County, southern Warren County, western Scioto County and all of Clermont, Brown, Adams and Pike counties.
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