Politics Extra
Enquirer reporters give the scoop on what your politicians are doing

Jessica Brown,
Hamilton County reporter

Jon Craig,
Enquirer statehouse bureau

Jane Prendergast,
Cincinnati City Hall reporter

Malia Rulon,
Enquirer Washington bureau

Carl Weiser,
Blog editor

Howard Wilkinson,
politics reporter

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Saturday, April 29, 2006

Not writing off southwest Ohio

While Jim Petro doesn't expect to win Ken Blackwell's hometown, he thinks he'll fare strong in Butler County, where he plans a campaign visit about 10 a.m. Monday in West Chester.

"If you asked me today if I thought I would win Hamilton County, I won't. I do think we're going to draw close in Butler County. And I know that we do very well in Clermont County and Warren County,'' Petro said. "There's still a decent amount of undecideds all over the state."

Blackwell: More popular than Bush in GOP land?

Gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell made an odd assertion Saturday while giving a stump speech to supporters in the middle of a McDonald's restaurant in Celina, Ohio, one that made some of the good Republican folk do a double take.

"People say to me, are you going to Mercer County (home of Celina) and Darke County (the county just south of Mercer) because it is Bush country?,'' said Blackwell. "I say, no, I'm going there because it is Blackwell country.''

He then said that he had higher percentages of the votes in the two counties when he ran for Ohio Secretary of State in 2002 than George W. Bush had in 2004.

He's half-right.

A check of the Ohio Secretary of State's web site shows that Blackwell had 70 percent of the Darke County vote in 2002 while Bush took 69 percent in 2004. But in Mercer County, Bush scored 75 percent to Blackwell's 69 percent in 2002.

Speaking of Taft

During an interview Saturday on his campaign bus, Attorney General Jim Petro said he has chosen not to criticize the governor whom he hopes to succeed: "I made a decision that Bob Taft has done some good things,'' Petro said. "He wasn't able to change some things in Ohio because it was a risk."

"I'm not critical of (Taft) still moving forward. I would be critical of him if at this point he stuck his head in the sand trying to do nothing,'' Petro said. "He is still moving ahead with agenda items that he believes in and that's what he was elected to do.''

Petro cited the school facilities construction program and tax reform as just two of Taft's accomplishments.

"Some of the things that have plagued this term of governor result in circumstances where the governor fails to really function as a real managing chief executive -- setting forth controls, setting real goals and objectives.''

"As we look ahead to November, it's important that the nominee of this party, the Republican Party, really present himself as a new face, with new ideas and new approaches.''

"People of Cincinnati know Ken (Blackwell) very well, and there are some who over the years have not liked the fact that his rhetoric has not always matched his deeds ... They really didn't trust Ken to do what he said he was going to do."

Blackwell "is running as an outsider. The difficulty with outsiders trying to govern is that you need to have consensus to really get things accomplished. Standing alone, one chief executive is not going to be able to govern Ohio.''

Shortly before their campaigns got off the ground, Petro said he had a conversation with Blackwell in which Petro recalled saying, "Wouldn't it be nice if we really run a campaign on our ideas?''

Not long after, the first negative television ad slamming Petro hit the airwaves.

Petro who?

This may or may not be an indication of which Republican candidate for governor is the most confident about Tuesday's election, but we throw it out there for what it's worth.

Ken Blackwell raced up and down I-75 Saturday in his campaign bus, courting western Ohio Republicans in the small towns and rural counties that line the highway.

While Blackwell was doing that, Jim Petro had a bus ride of his own, working the corridor of I-71 between Columbus and Cleveland.

In his campaign stops Saturday, Blackwell barely mentioned Petro's name - in fact, only once that we heard. Petro, on the other hand, seemed to talk about little else, rattling off a long list of reasons why he is a better choice for governor, including a charge that Blackwell's campaign is full of "gimmicks and not substance'' and that Blackwell's spending in the Ohio Secretary of State's office has increased twice as fast as that of state goverment as a whole.

Blackwell, on the other hand, mentioned Petro only once - in a McDonald's on the banks of Grand Lake St. Marys about 130 miles north of Cincinnati. Petro, Blackwell said, "is a good guy. But he happens to be Taft Light.''

Friday, April 28, 2006

Schmidt to miss her campaign party

Enquirer Washington Bureau reporter Malia Rulon reports:

It's still up in the air whether Rep. Jean Schmidt's campaign will be holding a victory party next week on election night - or a defeat party. She faces a difficult challenge in the May 2 GOP
primary from Bob McEwen, a former congressman from southern Ohio.

But one thing's already clear - Schmidt will miss either one.

That's because the Congress is scheduled to return to session on Tuesday, the same day as the primary. Actually, the House is out most of the day and only plans to meet at 6:30 p.m. for a series of non-controversial votes that should take about an hour.

Still, Schmidt plans to be there.

"She is a sitting member of Congress and she owes it to her constituents to go and vote," said Schmidt chief of staff Barry Bennett.

So Schmidt, who spends her weekends at home in Miami Township, plans to be up Tuesday morning before daybreak to get in her morning run - she's training for Cincinnati's Flying Pig marathon May 7 - and be the first person to cast her ballot at her Clermont County precinct at 6:30 a.m.

She'll then spend several hours greeting poll workers, attend Mass and do TV interviews at the airport before flying to Washington around 3 p.m.

Bennett said Schmidt plans to monitor the election results in between votes from her Washington office. She'll head over to the Republican National Committee office to talk to supporters once results are in via a satellite transmission to her campaign party at the Clermont County Republican Party offices.

Now the only thing we don't know is whether it'll be a victory speech - or a concession speech.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Partying with Petro

It's not too early to make your Election Night party plans.

Jane Prendergast reports:

Party planning proceeds at the Jim Petro/Joy Padgett headquarters in Columbus.

On Election Night, they’ll be at the Athletic Club of Columbus, on Broad Street downtown, with their families and the Franklin County GOP. The party starts at 8 and goes "until whenever,’’ spokeswoman Kim Norris says.

Petro will spend much of the day Tuesday on "official duties,’’ she says, meaning stuff he has to do as part of his current job, attorney general.

But first, they’ll vote - Petro on Quarry Road in Columbus, Padgett in Coshocton.

Three strikes, but is she out?

U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt lost three Ohio Elections Commission complaints today -- two filed against her -- and one filed against her Republican primary opponent Bob McEwen.

They face each other in the 2nd Congressional District election on Tuesday. (See earlier blog item about Schmidt campaign manager Allen Freeman's complaint, which was dismissed.)

The bipartisan commission voted 7-0 to issue Schmidt and her congressional campaign committee a public reprimand for making false statements about having a second undergraduate degree. After hearing testimony from complainant James P. Urling of Norwood and a former teacher, Julie Faust of Milford, the commission found that Schmidt, R-Miami Township, failed to correct misinformation about a secondary education degree from the University of Cincinnati.

Schmidt's Columbus attorney, William Todd, said, "Yes, there was a mistake and the mistake was corrected.''

But the commission found that false reports that Schmidt had two degrees -- which appeared in government publications, voter guides, on her campaign Web site and in various newspaper articles -- were significant enough to affect the outcome of an election.

To underscore Schmidt's delay in correcting the errors, Urling's Hyde Park attorney, Christopher P. Finney, read portions of Schmidt's 68-page deposition in which she says "I don't know,'' "I'm not sure,'' "I can't answer that,'' or "I don't remember" at least 50 times.

The commission did not order any fines, or recommend prosecution, against Schmidt or her campaign.

In a separate complaint from Urling, the commission found that Schmidt made false statements by including endorsements she never received from Tom Tancredo, a Colorado congressman, and the Family Research Council on her Web site. But it also found no violation against Schmidt in that same complaint for publicizing that she had the endorsement of U.S. Rep Steve Chabot of Cincinnati. The elections commission agreed with testimony that Chabot endorsed both Schmidt and McEwen and would not ask her to remove his endorsement from her Web site.

Elections Commission member William L. Mallory Sr., a former state senator from Cincinnati, said the ultimate responsibility for anything that goes on in the campaign rests with the candidate.

Will she, or won't she reappear?

Attorneys for U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt and complainant James P. Urling sparred for more than two hours today over procedural issues before the Ohio Elections Commission.

The main issue: Did Schmidt make false statements on government documents and Web sites about having a second bachelor's degree? Also, did she misstate endorsements on her Web page and in campaign literature from two congressman and the Family Research Council?

Urling's Cincinnati lawyer, Christopher Finney, objected to her lawyer's introduction of 68 pages of sworn testimony by Schmidt during a one hour 25 minute deposition taken last Thursday at Squires, Sanders & Dempsey law offices, 312 Walnut St.

Finney argued that Attorney William Todd promised to resume the deposition after Schmidt left for another appointment. The lawyers never agreed on a date to complete taking her sworn testimony, however. "It is not a complete deposition and we vigorously object,'' Finney said.

Today, Todd quashed subpoena's for Columbus appearances by Schmidt and her husband, Peter, who Finney called to testify in person. Todd said that as long as Congress is in session, and Schmidt is in Washington (and Peter out of the country) neither can appear. "If Mrs. Schmidt doesn't want to be here today, that is entirely in her right,'' Finney said. Todd "could have brought his client to the hearing today. He chose not to do it.''

Todd offered to postpone today's hearing. "If you want to do it when Congress is in session, I can't promise (Schmidt) will be here,'' he said.

Todd said that any continuation of a deposition "would simply be for harassment purposes...I would ask the (elections) commission for a protective order.''

That led to Todd and Finney being peppered with legal questions from Elections Commission Chairwoman Catherine Cunningham. Cunningham wanted to know exactly what led up to Schmidt's deposition and why it was never completed. "He's reading from a deposition we're not allowed to use,'' Todd said, referring to Finney quoting from a document that was not yet entered as evidence.

And Todd entered as evidence a certified copy of Schmidt's undergraduate transcripts from the University of Cincinnati and a provisional Ohio teacher's certificate. Todd said Schmidt had 135 credit hours for her bachelor's degree in political science in 1974 and another 122 credit hours from 1981-1989 in social studies/secondary education. "Those were indeed minor errors,'' Todd said of misstatements that were corrected as soon as they were identified. "They are trivial in the context of her qualifications.''

At one point, Todd asked to go off the record, sat down at a conference table, and put his hands on his face. As he choked back tears, someone handed him a box of tissues. It was later revealed Todd's father recently died, and that events leading up to the deposition were complicated by personal matters.

Finney revealed personal issues of his own, telling a reporter he has high blood pressure, and blamed it on this case. But he told Cunningham that he'd agree to continue the hearing, with an unfinished Schmidt deposition, because voters need all the facts before Tuesday's primary election.

Commission member Martin O. Parks added that it appears Finney covered all relevant questions in Schmidt's deposition, and that she couldn't recall other details.

The commission then took a short recess for pizza, delivered to its Columbus offices.

Latest elections complaint against McEwen tossed

The latest campaign complaint against Bob McEwen, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt in Tuesday's Republican Party primary, was dismissed today by a bipartisan panel of the Ohio Elections Commission.

After about 10 minutes of questions, and no discussion, the elections panel voted 3-1 that there is "no probable cause" that McEwen, a former congressman, made false statements about living and voting in Ohio.

Schmidt's campaign manager, Allen Freeman, filed the complaint Friday.

Freeman's Columbus attorney, William Todd -- who argues dozens of cases before the state commission each year -- called it "probably one of the most significant false statement cases I've ever seen.''

Todd argued that McEwen has repeatedly stated that he is an inhabitant or resident of the state of Ohio, but has not been "for many, many years.'' As one example, Todd cited the Fairfax Station, Va., home the McEwens have owned since March 1997 and "maildrop" that McEwen uses as his current legal address at 7382 Ridgepoint Drive in Cincinnati.

But McEwen's Columbus attorney, Donald Brey, another seasoned elections law expert, called the complaint frivolous. Brey argued that Freeman never questioned McEwen's Ohio voting record in 2002 through 2004, because the former congressman lived in Hamilton County during that time.

Former president Ronald Reagan called himself a Californian, Brey said, even though he lived in Washington, D.C., for eight years.

Referring to McEwen's campaign literature and advertisements that state "this is our home and you are our neighbors,'' Brey insisted they are not false statements.

Two Democrats and one Republican commission member agreed, including former state Sen. William L. Mallory of Cincinnati. Republican Benjamin F. Marsh was the only commission member to vote against dismissing the complaint. He declined to comment afterward.

During a hearing later today, the full seven-member elections commission will hear evidence in two separate complaints against Congresswoman Schmidt. Those complaints filed by James P. Urling of Norwood allege Schmidt included false information about her undergraduate degree on her resume and included endorsements she never received on her campaign Web site, among other charges.

Look for more details later today on the Politics Extra blog, and in Friday's Enquirer.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

An empty suit

Howard Wilkinson reports in Thursday's Enquirer:

Rep. Jean Schmidt’s lawyers filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday trying to keep her GOP primary opponent, Bob McEwen, from voting in the May 2 primary – but it turns out there was one major problem.

McEwen had already voted.

Now, Schmidt’s lawyers will go to the Hamilton County Board of Elections to prevent her Republican rival’s vote from being counted, saying he does not really live in Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District.

McEwen, a former congressman, walked into the Hamilton County Board of Elections Tuesday afternoon to cast what election officials call an “in-person absentee ballot.” Any voter can do it, simply by filling out a form and voting on the spot, instead of casting a traditional absentee ballot by mail.

Lawyer Stan Chesley, a major fund-raiser for the Democratic Party who was hired by Schmidt, went to U.S. District Court here Wednesday to file a motion asking that his request for an injunction against McEwen voting be dismissed, because McEwen couldn’t be prevented by the courts from doing something he had already done.

Chesley said he would file a complaint with the Hamilton County Board of Elections asking that McEwen’s vote not be counted. Schmidt’s argument is that the condo McEwen and his wife, Liz, own in Anderson township is not a valid voting address, and that they should be voting in Northern Virginia, where they own a home.

“I’ve been around politics a long time and I’ve never seen a politician who didn’t want his picture taken at 6:30 in the morning on Election Day, casting his ballot,” Chesley said.
If Chesley files a complaint today, the four-member elections board – two Democrats and two Republicans – likely will call a meeting for later this week to hear the complaint.

McEwen was campaigning in Pike County Wednesday and could not be reached for comment. Michael Harlow, his campaign spokesman, said the Schmidt campaign will be no more successful at the county board than they were in federal court.

“Mrs. Schmidt seems afraid of the ballot box and is trying to settle this issue in the judicial system,” Harlow said.

McEwen launches attack ad

Thank goodness all of these stories attacking Rep. Jean Schmidt were published in the Enquirer:

"Schmidt's degrees questioned: Staff says she has hours, if not parchment" (April 1, 2006)

"Schmidt, Chabot spar over support: He says campaign Web site citing his endorsement is wrong" (March 8, 2006)

"Schmidt in a war on words: Rookie lawmaker's 'coward' remarks ricochet" (Nov. 22, 2005)

Because Bob McEwen, who is challenging Schmidt in the May 2 GOP primary, used all of these stories in his new ad, which starts off attacking Schmidt for voting "to raise the sales tax and the gas tax and a new tax on personal services."

Showing the Enquirer stories, the commercial says: "Jean Schmidt also boasted of a college degree she hadn't earned and endorsements she didn't have. She even implied this decorated marine was a coward. And Jean Schmidt wants us to believe in her?"

Then the music changes and McEwen is shown with children and veterans in what looks like a spring picnic, as the narrator says: "On May 2nd, let's elect a conservative congressman we can trust."

We can't wait to see which Enquirer story Schmidt uses in her attack ad on McEwen.

Mallory-Bolton debate a no-go

There will be no public debate between the two principal Democratic candidates in the 32nd Ohio House District race between now and Tuesday's election.

Candidate Eve Bolton issued the challenge, picked the venue (a parish hall in Northside), named a time for the debate (2 p.m. Sunday) but her opponent, Dale Mallory, said no to the arrangement through a campaign spokesman.

"To assume that your campaign could simply pick the dates, format, time limits, and deadline for acceptance is not only naive but insulting,'' Mallory campaign spokesman Dan Phenice wrote in an e-mail to Bolton campaign manager Martha Gitt.

The Bolton campaign, Phenice wrote, has teamd up with "Mallory Haters.''

Gitt wrote back saying that the Bolton campaign was willing to neogtiate on the subject of ground rules and moderators.

"I'm sorry you have taken this stall tactic approach to setting up a debate but so be it,'' Gitt wrote. "Hopefully we will see you and your candidate on Sunday.''

From Terrace Park to the ball park

AP snapped this photo at last night's Reds vs. Nationals Game:

Their caption:

Former Ohio Congressman Rob Portman attends the Washington Nationals' Major League Baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Tuesday, April 25, 2006, in Washington. President Bush recently appointed Portman as the new White House budget director after Joshua Bolten stepped down to become White House chief of staff. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

Update from political reporter/lifetime Reds fan Howard Wilkinson:

Portman’s presence at RFK Stadium for the Reds’ 6-5 win over the Nationals was noted on the air by Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman, who said Portman was sitting with Tom Williams, one of the partners in the Reds’ ownership group. Brennaman obviously was happy to see them, calling them both "class acts.’’ Portman and Williams stopped by the radio booth later in the game to say hello to Brennaman and his radio partner, Steve Stewart.

Update from Washington correspondent and Nats fan Malia Rulon:

Portman also was sitting with White House Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagin, an Indian Hill native who worked with Portman in the first Bush administration.

Blackwell throws some stones.

You've no doubt seen the latest TV ad from the Jim Petro campaign - the one where a woman actor who can barely control her anger rattles off a list of business investments made by Ken Blackwell in radio stations that play vulgar music and companies that make birth-control pills and slot machines. At the end, she concludes there is only one word to describe a candidate who says he is anti-abortion and pro-family and makes such investments - "Hypocrite.''

The "hypocrite'' label is meant to sting Blackwell with a large block of Republican primary voters who have carried him thus far - the Christian conservatives, both Catholic and evangelical whom many believe have called the shots in the GOP in recent years.

The Blackwell campaign could not let this "hypocrite'' label stand, so it knocked off a radio commercial that is running on Christian radio stations around Ohio.

The ad, read by Blackwell himself, is clearly for those Republican primary voters who spend their Sunday mornings in a church pew:

"People in glass houses should not throw stones,'' Blackwell says. "And that piece of wisdom comes from our Lord, who suggested anyone without sin could cast the first stone.

"Out of desperation, Jim Petro is throwing stones,'' Blackwell continues, "viciously accusing my wife Rosa and me of hypocrisy. (Note: nowhere in the Petro ad is Rosa Blackwell mentioned.)

"When Rosa and I were informed we owned stock in questionable companies, we made the decision to sell it. End of story.''

Blackwell then goes on to lob a few stones of his own - saying that while he worked for passage of the Ohio Marriage Amendment in 2004, Petro opposed it and, as Ohio attorney general, "refuses to enforce it.'' He also brings up once again Petro's former pro-choice position on abortion, which Blackwell says Petro changed when he started running for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

McEwen kicks $52,000 into his race

After loaning his campaign $50,000 in March and $1,000 last October, Bob McEwen dumped another $52,000 of his own money into his race for the 2nd Congressional District seat this week, according to a report just filed with the Federal Election Commission.

That brings the former congressman’s personal investment in his bid to defeat Republican Rep. Jean Schmidt in the May 2 GOP primary to $103,000.

And that’s on top of the $305,400 he loaned his campaign during last year’s special election for the seat. McEwen, who represented the neighboring 6th District in the House in the 1980s, came in second to Schmidt in last year's special.

Schmidt was $255,150 in debt after the special. She has since loaned her campaign $100,000 and repaid $143,000.

The Miami Township Republican plans to use more of her own money in the race, spokesman Barry Bennett said. He didn’t say how much.

Meanwhile, Schmidt’s campaign is investigating a $6,000 loan McEwen received last month from Richard Bryan, executive director of the Wellness Community in Cincinnati, Bennett said.

Under federal law, candidates can’t accept loans larger than the $2,100 individual contribution limit for the primary and general elections. That means the annual limit is $4,200 in contributions or loans for any one person.

McEwen campaign spokesman Michael Harlow didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

A Bolton-Mallory debate?

Dale Mallory, the ousted West End Community Council president who wants to win the Ohio House seat his brother and father once held, said he is willing to debate his principal Democratic opponent, Eve Bolton, but not on her turf.

Bolton, the former county recorder who ran a losing campaign for Cincinnati City Council last year, challenged Mallory to a debate in their 32nd Ohio House Districtrace and offered a venue where Democrats could come and here both of them - a school in College Hill, the neighborhood where she lives.

The Bolton campaign didn't hear form the Mallory campaign for about a week, but, on Monday night, Mallory campaign spokesman Dan Phenice started talking to Bolton campaign manager Martha Good about scheduling a debate between now and Tuesday's primary election.

But Phenice said the Mallory campaign preferred a debate on "neutral ground'' - not in College Hill and not in the West End, Mallory's home neighborhood, where he was impeached as community council president in February.

"Eve doesn't care where it is,'' said Bolton campaign spokeswoman Marily Hyland. "It seems a little silly to say you won't debate in certain neighborhoods when you are running in the whole district.

Hyland said she is looking for a venue in another neighborhood where the debate can be held this weekend.

The 32nd District includes neighborhoods such as Over-the-Rhine, Clifton, Camp Washington and the Heights neighborhoods.

Thursday is Schmidt-McEwen day in Columbus

The Ohio Elections Commission is scheduled to review a new complaint against congressional candidate Bob McEwen on Thursday, questioning campaign statements about his residency and voting record.

In the complaint filed Friday by Allen Freeman, campaign manager for U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt, Freeman accuses Schmidt's Republican primary opponent of making malicious, false and misleading statements "with the deliberate intent of deceiving voters."

Specifically, Freeman questions McEwen's legal address and the former congressman's statement on campaign literature that he and his wife, Elizabeth, "have never failed to vote'' in Ohio. Freeman claims Bob McEwen did not vote in either the 1995 or 1998 elections.

Freeman also complained McEwen has lived at his Fairfax Station, Va., home since March 1997, and that his children attend public school in in the Washington suburb. Freeman was not immediately available for comment today.

He attached letters from the Highland County Board of Elections cancelling the McEwens' voter registrations in Ohio in 2003.

A previously reported Enquirer review of public records found McEwen and his wife have used the addresses of two different women in Highland and Hamilton counties to register to vote in Ohio, even though they did not live there.

The Enquirer reported Thursday that Schmidt hired Democratic lawyer Stan Chesley to pursue legal action against McEwen.

"Respondents' characterization of the McEwen family as an Ohio family is misleading and deceptive, and gives the reader the false impression that the McEwens have lived and worked in Ohio throughout their lives, particularly during the last 14 years,'' Freeman wrote in his Elections Commission complaint.

Two pending complaints filed against Schmidt by James P. Urling of Norwood are to be argued before the Elections Commission on Thursday. They allege that Schmidt included false information about her undergraduate degree on her resume and government publications and included endorsements she never received on her campaign Web site.

McEwen received a public reprimand from the Elections Commission last month for using the title "congressman'' in front of his name in radio and television ads as well as campaign literature. Other prior complaints against McEwen were dismissed.

Update, 4:20 p.m.

McEwen spokesman Michael Harlow e-mailed:

"This is just another distraction from Jean Schmidt. She is hearing the
footsteps of Republican voters who are concerned that the seat held by a
respected member of Congress has now become the laughingstock of the nation.
What other Republican would seek political cover behind one of the nation's
leading Democrat super-lawyers?"

Thor takes to the air waves

In the 2nd Congressional District, the dogfight on the Republican side between Jean Schmidt and Bob McEwen has seemingly sucked up all available oxygen, but there are five Democratic candidates out there trying to be heard above the din.

One of them, Thor Jacobs, the Newtown businessman, is to the first to reach the airwaves with his message.

Jacobs has a radio ad running throughout the district - one that jumps on the timely issue of rising gasoline prices and record-breaking oil prices.

"Like you, I shake my head every time I fill up my tank,'' Jacobs says.

What America needs, Jacobs says, is "responsible oil policies that leave more in our pockets'' and less in the pockets of oil company CEOs.

One of Jacobs' Democratic primary opponents, Victoria Wulsin, has weighed in on rising gasoline prices as well. In an interview on WLWT (channel 5) and in the taping of a program to be shown on WKRC-TV Sunday, Wulsin has suggested a graduated gasoline tax as a solution.

Wulsin said she would rather see the tax based on income rather than actual vehicle consumption.

She said she hadn't thought through how it work - a tax charged at the pump on income "wouldn't be feasible,'' she said.

"I haven't gotten that far in my thinking,'' Wulsin said. "I'm willing to entertain any ideas.''

Monday, April 24, 2006

The nastiest primary in Ohio...

Is not the one for governor or 2nd Congressional district. It's probably the race for ... Butler County auditor. Read all about it tomorrow, but here's a tidbit from reporter Jennifer Edwards:

The Butler County Auditor’s race has gotten so testy that one candidate called a press conference last week to announce he’s digging into the mileage records of the other candidate’s county vehicle.

Challenger Roger Reynolds, Liberty Township’s fiscal officer, aired his latest charges against Auditor Kay Rogers. He disputes whether she accurately reported her mileage of a county vehicle, a 2001 Chevy Tahoe she no longer drives.

He called for the state auditor’s office to investigate and make sure all taxpayer dollars that went to her for mileage were deserved.

Rogers, auditor since 1995, denied his accusations and released a few of her own. She filed an election complaint Tuesday against Reynolds, alleging his two commercials were inaccurate. Her lawyer also has called Time Warner.

The tiff was the latest episode in an ugly race that also has included other accusations and denials that resulted in state investigations.

Last month, a Hamilton man working in Reynolds’ campaign, Art Sauerwein, also called for the state auditor’s office and state ethics commission to investigate Rogers’ use of that 2001 Tahoe.

Sauerwein claims Rogers misused the vehicle in a variety of ways, including driving it for personal reasons, failing to report damages from a May 2004 collision and charging $1,250 in repairs to the county as “other expenses.”

Rogers denies those accusations, too. But she’s not driving the Tahoe anymore.

Rogers says she chose this year to drive her personal car on county business to help the county’s budget constraints.

Petro's "Hypocrite'' ad irks Blackwell camp

Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Petro’s latest TV ad labels his opponent, J. Kenneth Blackwell, a “hypocrite’’ for private investments Petro says contradict Blackwell’s anti-abortion, anti-gambling and pro-family public statements.

The Blackwell campaign says that when it comes to hypocrites, it takes one to know one.

The 30-second, black-and-white TV ad features a seated woman talking to the camera, asking “what word fits a person like Ken Blackwell when says he’s against gambling but owns stock in a slot machine company?’’

She repeats the question twice, saying Blackwell “talks family values but makes millions from the sale of radio stations that played songs full of violence and vulgar language’’ and “says he’s a strong opponent of abortion but owns stock in the firm that makes the abortion pill.’’

The Petro ad is based is based on an annual financial disclosure statement filed by Blackwell. It showed that he is partner in Blue Chip Broadcasting, a minority-owned radio station chain; and owned stock in International Game Technology of Nevada, which makes slot machines, and Barr Pharmaceuticals, maker of Plan B, the morning-after pill.

Blackwell spokesman Carlo LoParo said the Petro ad leaves the impression that Blackwell owns stock in a company that makes RU-486, the “abortion pill,’’ when in fact he owns stock in a company that makes “a contraceptive."

LoParo said Blackwell, the Ohio Secretary of State, has a stock portfolio managed much like a blind trust. When he found out about the slot machine stock, he instructed his portfolio manager to sell it, LoParo said.

Petro, LoParo said, “shouldn’t be calling anyone a hypocrite. He’s made a career out of his hypocrisies.’'

“He was a supporter of abortion until he ran for governor,’’ LoParo said. “He opposed the Ohio Marriage Amendment and now he says he has always opposed gay marriage.’’

Ohio Republican Party chairman Bob Bennett, who spanked Blackwell for running attack ads earlier this year, issued a statement Monday warning Petro that he, too, had committed a foul.

“I’m telling Jim today the same thing I told Ken a few weeks ago,'' Bennett said. "The race for governor should be about ideas and vision, not smear tactics and attack ads.''

Watch the ad here:

McEwen, Schmidt get gun industry support

If gun rights are a big deal to you, then it's a toss-up between which Republican to choose in the 2nd District GOP primary election on May 2nd.

The Gun Owners of America just endorsed Republican Bob McEwen for the seat. McEwen, a former congressman from southern Ohio is challenging Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Miami Township. (Deborah Kraus and James Constable also are running.)

"We urge all gun owners to cast their votes for Bob McEwen in Ohio’s Republican Congressional primary May 2nd," said Larry Pratt, executive director of the group.

But Schmidt has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund and the Buckeye Firearms Association political action committee (PAC).

She also has a concealed carry permit.

Gun Owners of America (GOA) is a non-profit lobbying organization formed in 1975 to preserve and defend the Second Amendment rights of gun owners, in state legislatures and city councils to the U.S. Congress and the White House.

"I am honored to accept the endorsement of a respected organization such as the Gun Owners of America. They respect my lifelong commitment to upholding the Second Amendment and my support of the rights of gun owners," McEwen said in a statement.

Who endorses Dumas? She won't say

Stephanie Dumas wants everyone to know that she is going to win the May 2 Democratic primary for the race for the seat now held by Republican Phil Heimlich.

She just doesn't want them to know who is backing her.

Despite five attempts by the Enquirer to get Dumas to reveal who has endorsed her, she refuses.

"I'm in this race through November and I don't have to reveal my endorsements until it's politically appropriate. I've never done anything piece by piece. There's no timeline when endorsements need to be announced," Dumas noted in an e-mail to The Enquirer.

Campaign finance reports released last Thursday, show Dumas has raised $961 in cash from supporters and $1,000 in in-kind contributions.

Her opponent, David Pepper, who has a list of those who have endorsed him on his web site, has recieved $72,505 in cash contributions. Heimlich has received $344,476 from contributors.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Sunday open thread

Your thoughts on the Petro-Blackwell race, the Enquirer's endorsements, or anything else...

Jim Borgman
Today at the Forum
Paul Daugherty
Politics Extra
N. Ky. Politics
Pop culture review
Who's News
Roller Derby Diva
CinStages Buzz....
The Foodie Report
Classical music
John Fay's Reds Insider
High school sports
UC Sports
CiN Weekly staff