Cincinnati Enquirer to Democrat Court Candidates: ''No Smear tactics, please

Here we go again.

Ohio got a sneak preview of a possible sequel to the ugly smear tactics that marred the 2000 Ohio Supreme Court campaign. This year, it's coming from the other side of the political spectrum.

An eight-page memo obtained by the Cleveland Plain Dealer details a "class warfare" strategy that supporters of the two Democratic-supported nominees for the court, Tim Black and Janet Burnside, are contemplating against their GOP-backed opponents, Maureen O'Connor and incumbent Eve Stratton, respectively.

Winning Directions, a Washington, D.C. firm hired by a labor union-trial attorney coalition, proposes linking Ms. O'Connor and
Justice Stratton with corporate corruption and sending out flyers with themes such as "Us Versus Them" to voters targeted by race, gender and age.

This is odiously reminiscent of then infamous $4 million "Justice for Sale" ad campaign in 2000 that implied Justice Alice Robie Resnick "sold" her votes for campaign contributions. The ads by Citizens for a Strong Ohio, a group formed by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, were widely and rightly condemned.

Most distressing, perhaps, is this key sentience from the Winning Directions memo: "The foundation of this campaign is not the positive attributes of Tim Black and Janet Burnside." What a sad commentary in
which candidates' legal acumen, commitment to equal justice and devotion
to the rule of law should be the focus.

The coalition that commissioned the memo denied the plan is "set in stone," and said it won't be used unless Stratton-O'Connor supporters go negative.

But Citizens for a Strong Ohio has cleaned up its act. It announced in June it would disclose its contributors and will stick to a positive approach, even if its opponents go negative. In fact, it released a positive radio ad this week in support of Justice Stratton - who was among the first to cry foul when the anti-Resnick ads hit the airwaves two years ago.

In 2000, we strongly condemned the business coalition's attacks on Justice Resnick's integrity. We will do likewise if the labor-trail lawyer coalition attempts a class warfare/corruption smear. Such tactics have no business in Ohio judicial campaigns.

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