SOLON -- The Plain Dealer Editorial Cartoonist Jeff Darcy's rendition of an Olympic runner version of Steve LaTourette passing a baton to Dennis Kucinich asks a question some in the poitical world are asking.
Could LaTourette's retirement somehow wind up creating a new opportunity for his good personal friend Dennis Kucinich?
For that to happen, Solon resident and Democratic Congressional candidate Dale Virgil Blanchard must agree to take his name off the ballot.
Blanchard has been running or trying to run against LaTourette since 2000.
Because LaTourette was considered a slam-dunk winner for reelection, no other Democrats entered the race.
So the Solon accountant won the primary by default.
With LaTourette retiring, it creates a scramble by Republicans who want to replace him.
And it also has some Democrats trying to persuade Blanchard that he has no chance of winning and should get off the ballot for a more serious candidate.
Democratic National Committee staffers were in town Thursday to discuss this. Former Congressman Dennis Eckart is helping them, but is adamant he's only a strategist, not a prospective candidate.
Blanchard , a very religious man, says "I think we need more accountants in Congress and fewer lawyers."
Blanchard works as an auditor for the State of Illinois out of his home in Solon. He claims his background provides him with a good grasp of economic problems.
Asked if he could be persuaded to get off the ballot, he said, "Absolutely not...The right thing would be for the Democratic Party to do what they can to support my candidacy."
He claims the party has given him no help to date.
As for Kucinich, his spokesman said "The Congressman is not available" to take questions about this.
Kucinich lost a Democratic primary battle to Toledo's Rep. Marcy Kaptur.
Sources tell Channel 3 that he has been making calls to labor and other political leaders in the 14th District.
Many think the 14th District is too conservative to back Kucinich.
Blanchard thinks LaTourette's departure "increases my chances incredibly."
Former Democratic Congressional candidate Bill O'Neill is running for the Ohio Supreme Court. He says he would listen if the party wanted to talk to him about running.
State Senator Capri Cafaro, also a former Congressional candidate, said she is not interested.
Eckart's name could appear on a planned Democratic survey, but he insists he will not be a candidate.
Some Democratic officials privately said the party should learn a lesson about not recruiting credible or placeholder candidates in case an unexpected opportunity like this opens up.
The final dates to determine which candidates will appear on the ballot is Aug. 13.
Republicans will meet to decide who to run after LaTourette's official Aug. 8 notification to election officials that he is not seeking reelection.