Editor's Note: In the final 100 days before Election Day, CNN has been profiling one race at random each day from among the nation's top 100 House races, which we've dubbed "The CNN 100." Read the full list here. Today's featured district is:
Ohio 6th - Rep. Charlie Wilson (D) is seeking a third term
Primary: May 4, 2010
Location: Southeastern Ohio
Days until Election Day: 79
(CNN) - Jobs, jobs, jobs are dominating the race for Ohio's sixth congressional district, which means in this once-solidly Democratic seat, Republicans now see an opportunity.
For more than a decade, Democrats have triumphed in the sprawling district of 12 counties running along Ohio's southeastern border. Two-time incumbent Rep. Charlie Wilson, Democrat, won his two congressional races with more than 60 percent of the vote. His first victory came via a rare successful write-in campaign in 2006, after Wilson's campaign missed a deadline to get his name on the ballot.
The seat was previously held by now-Governor Ted Strickland, Democrat, who launched his political career in the district.
But backlash against a stagnant economy and opposition to Democratic initiatives such as health care reform have given an opening to Republican challenger Bill Johnson.
Johnson, an Air Force veteran who now manages an IT consulting firm, has painted his opponent as a party-line liberal in lockstep with the Democratic leadership agenda. Wilson voted with House Democrats 96 percent of the time in 2009, according to Congressional Quarterly, including a "yay" vote on health care reform. That didn't sit well with many in the district, and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin included incumbent Wilson on her "hit list" of Democratic congressional members she is targeting this year.
Wilson, who was a funeral director and then a realtor, points to his status as a moderate Blue Dog Democrat who opposed withdrawal from Iraq and was a rare Democratic no vote on embryonic stem cell research in 2007.
The sixth district of Ohio stretches more than 300 miles along the Ohio River, from the crumbling industrial areas just south of Youngstown to the southernmost tip of Ohio where the state borders Kentucky. Most of the region lies just across the river from West Virginia, and most of the counties in the district are in the federal government's definition of Appalachia. Pockets of Democratic and Republican voters hopscotch each other all the way down the river. Sen. John McCain and President George W. Bush won the last two presidential elections in the district with just 50% and 51% of the vote, respectively.
Energy is a hot topic, but here there's not much separating the candidates. Incumbent Wilson voted against the 2009 "cap and trade" energy proposal, and his challenger says Ohioans should be able to take advantage of America's natural resources. Johnson says politicians should be held to a higher ethical standard and has called on Wilson to repudiate embattled New York Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel.
Johnson, however, is still fighting an uphill battle with a much smaller pot of cash than his established opponent. Wilson boasts deep financial reserves, with $607,677 on hand as of June 30. Johnson has about $150,000 to spend. However, in the second quarter, Johnson pulled in about $40,000 more than Wilson.