President Bush’s appointment of GOP Rep. Rob Portman to serve as the U.S. Trade Representative means that there will be a special election to fill this suburban Cincinnati district. For Democrats looking to take advantage of an unexpected open seat, the 2nd district, one of the most Republican in the state, does not provide much opportunity. Instead, this race is likely to be decided in the Republican primary.

If Portman is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, which is almost a certainty, GOP Gov. Bob Taft will then pick a date for the special election. There are already three election dates on the state calendar this year: May 3, August 2 and November 8. Most observers assume it will take place earlier this summer. Each party’s primary is likely to be scheduled at least 15 days before the special election.

Taking in the eastern third of Hamilton County and six other counties along the southern border, this district gave Bush 64 percent in 2004. The district also boasts a distinguished group of former Republican Congressmen, including John Gilligan, who

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