Buehrer leads in polls over Latta after slow start

Tim Sampson and Tim Sampson

Little more than a week after he was reported to be lagging behind in the polls, State Sen. Steve Buehrer is reporting a lead in the race for the U.S. House of Representatives.

Club for Growth, a Washington D.C-based political action committee announced the results of a poll yesterday. It shows Buehrer with a three-percentage point lead over his closest rival in the Republican primary for the 5th district congressional special election, State Rep. Bob Latta.

The poll, conducted by the Washington-based Basswood Research, surveyed 300 likely Republican primary voters in the 5th district over the weekend and found that 28 percent said they would vote for Buehrer.

Of all the rest surveyed, 25 percent said they would vote for Latta, 6 percent said they would vote for one of the three other candidates running and 41 percent said they were undecided.

These numbers stand in contrast to poll results announced by the Latta campaign on Oct. 19. That poll showed Latta with a 19 percent lead over Buehrer.

Club for Growth spokeswoman Nachama Soloveichik expressed skepticism in Latta’s earlier results.

‘It’s not hard to make polls say what you want them to say,’ Soloveichik said.

Buehrer’s campaign manager Jim Banks said the new poll numbers reflect the effectiveness of the their campaign, admitting that Buehrer had been behind at the time Latta’s poll was conducted.

Banks cited a recent advertising blitz that started after Latta’s poll numbers were announced to explain the turnabout.

‘They did their poll before we started our advertising campaign,’ Banks said. ‘And I think as people see the kind of person Bob Latta is they’ve turned to Steve Buehrer.’

Banks said recent negative campaigning from Latta’s has turned voters away.

The Ohio Elections Commission found probable cause last week that direct mail ads sent out by the Latta campaign attacking Buehrer’s reputation as a Christian conservative may have contained false information.

But a spokesman for Latta’s campaign brushed aside those allegations and said the new poll has little significance.

‘You’ve got to take these numbers with a grain of salt and look at who the source is,’ said Matt Parker, Latta’s campaign manager.

Club for Growth, which released the poll results, has publicly endorsed Buehrer’s candidacy over Latta, and the organization was recently found guilty by the OEC for making false statements about Latta in campaign materials.

Latta and Buehrer will compete in the Republican primary next Tuesday.