Facing a tough challenge for his seat in Ohio’s 1st Congressional District, longtime Republican Rep. Steve Chabot warned voters that his opponent, Democrat Kate Schroder, will embrace far-left policies such as the Green New Deal if elected to office this fall.
Schroder has pulled into a virtual dead heat in the race with a campaign focusing on expanded health care coverage and protections for people with pre-existing conditions. A former executive at the Clinton Health Access Initiative with an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, Schroder has hammered the Trump administration over its public health response to the coronavirus pandemic and ripped Chabot for opposing the Affordable Care Act without proposing a viable alternative.
Chabot, however, has argued that his work as ranking member of the House Small Business Committee on the Paycheck Protection Program helped preserve over 250,000 jobs in his district. The veteran congressman has portrayed Schroder as a radical candidate who would side with New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, and a group of other first-term congresswomen known as "The Squad" on key issues such as climate change and police reform.
“She’s way to the left on police, she’s way to the left on the Green New Deal,” Chabot said in an interview with Fox News. “You name it, virtually every issue, she would be with the AOCs of the world. She’d be the fifth member of 'The Squad.'”
The fight for Ohio’s 1st Congressional District is widely considered to be one of the most competitive House races of the 2020 election cycle. Election forecasters at Roll Call and Cook Political Report both rate the race as a “toss-up,” while The Washington Post ranked the district as one of the 10 House seats most likely to flip on Nov. 3.
Chabot has accused Schroder of taking a radical stance on climate change since the Ohio Republican Party released a video in which the Democratic challenger responded “yes” when asked if she supported the Green New Deal. Schroder has said the remark was taken out of context, adding that she supports other measures such as re-entry into the Paris Climate Agreement over the Green New Deal, which would be too expensive.
"I've been clear on the record I do not support the Green New Deal," Schroder said earlier this month during a debate moderated by the Cincinnati Enquirer. "I share the congressman's concern about the price tag on it. That is why I do not support it. I support other investments that are not as expensive."
Schroder, the former finance chair of the Cincinnati Board of Health, has been critical of Chabot’s record on health care. Her campaign website notes that the longtime congressman “has voted over 50 times to remove people’s health care coverage — without an alternate plan."
The Democratic candidate does not support calls for a “Medicare-for-All” plan, instead preferring an expansion of the Affordable Act Care and a move toward universal coverage through a mixture of public and private options.
“Steve Chabot knows these attacks on me are false," Schroder said in a statement to Fox News. "He is trying to paint me as someone I am not in the hopes that no one looks at his own record, which includes voting fifteen times to take away health care from people with pre-existing conditions.”
Chabot said he supported the Trump administration-backed American Health Care Act of 2017, which passed the then-Republican-controlled House but failed in the Senate, and called Schroder’s claim that his position threatened coverage for pre-existing conditions a “complete lie.”
“They’re just repeating the same lie from the last campaign,” Chabot said. “I was reelected but a lot of my colleagues weren’t, and I think that lie was part of it.”
On law enforcement reform, Schroder has said publicly that she opposes calls by some progressive lawmakers to defund the police following nationwide protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death. She supports a number of reform measures, including a ban on no-knock warrants and chokeholds, a national registry of police misconduct allegations and changes to qualified immunity, which protects police officers from civil liability.
Chabot has secured endorsements the Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police's president Dan Hils, as well as Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil, a registered Democrat, with both citing Schroder’s stance on qualified immunity as a factor.
“She endorsed a plan to take away qualified immunity from our police officers,” Chabot said, referring to Schroder’s statement in support of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020. “That’s the most dangerous thing. Who’s going to want to be a policeman if every confrontation you have in your job, you can be sued civilly and they go after your house and your retirement and your savings and all that stuff? Because that’s essentially what would happen.”
Schroder, in turn, has argued that Chabot has failed to adequately address systemic racism in local communities or speak out against harmful police practices such as the use of chokeholds.
The federal government's response to the coronavirus pandemic, from both an economic and a health care perspective, remains the critical element of the 1st District race. Chabot said additional legislation to support a local economic recovery would be his top priority if he is reelected to the House.
With talks on additional stimulus relief measures at a standstill in recent weeks, Chabot is among the lawmakers who signed a discharge petition that would force a House vote on the Paycheck Protection Program Extension Act. Authored by Chabot, the bill would tap into $137 billion in unused funds, simplify the filing process, set aside funds for “mom and pop” businesses and allow businesses to file for a second loan if they can prove significant financial harm.
“My feeling is, since we’re not likely to come to an agreement soon on those other things, let’s at least pass what we do agree on,” Chabot said. “There are a lot of small businesses, not only in my district and not only in Ohio but across the country, who really need that.”