Dispatch: Republican rivalry brewing for 2006

Those interested in electing a true pro-CCW to the Ohio governorship in 2004 will be interested in a report filed today in the Columbus Dispatch.

Auditor Betty Montgomery, Attorney General Jim Petro, Treasurer Joe Deters and Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell each want the Republican nomination for the office of governor in 2006, when Gov. Bob Taft is barred from seeking a third consecutive term. But are any of these candidates truly pro-CCW Reform?

Count one out from the start: Betty Montgomery voiced her personal opposition to concealed carry reform to OFCC PAC's Vice Chairman during the 2002 campaign season. As for Kenneth Blackwell, the former Cincinnati mayor, Joe Deters and Jim Petro, only time and research will tell. We at OFCC PAC will be sure to keep you updated.

To express your desire for a truly pro-CCW Reform candidate for Ohio governor in 2006, click on the links below:

Ohio Republican Party

Republican Governors Association

Republican National Committee

Let the Republican party's leaders know about our disappointment that Ohio, with such a complete dominance by Republicans in state government, has repeatedly failed, time and time again, to pass a conservative issue such as concealed carry reform.

Click here to read the entire Columbus Dispatch story (subscription site - paid access only). An archived version of the story follows.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003
Jon Craig
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Both Montgomery and Petro want to become governor in 2006, when Gov. Bob Taft is barred from seeking a third consecutive term.

Everyone was smiling and pledging cooperation as the duo traded offices yesterday: Montgomery was sworn in as Ohio's 30th auditor; Petro took the oath as the state's 46th attorney general.

Both increased their political popularity after winning office in 1994 by frequently pointing to the improvements they were making over their Democratic predecessors.

But now comes a dicier proposition: How to look good without seeming like you are trying to make your fellow Republican predecessor look bad.

John Green, director of the University of Akron's Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics, said the rival staffs will be tempted to find fault with the other's record.

But he said it would be wiser for Petro's and Montgomery's handlers to find other issues to criticize one another about -- rather than sniping about how they've improved newfound offices.

Yet some of their staff members already have begun trading jabs, at least privately.

"They'll probably blow up our Web site, but don't quote me on that,'' one Petro aide said.

"Petro put transition news on his Web site. It raised an eyebrow,'' a Montgomery aide said. "They've already printed up their business cards.''

"Everybody loves everybody -- for now,'' said an aide to another probable 2006 GOP gubernatorial candidate, Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell.

Green said transitions are naturally messy. But he could not recall a time in recent history in which two statewide elected leaders switched jobs.

"Most of the time, there's an ascending to higher office,'' Green said. "It's somewhat rare to have a lateral move.''

Petro and Montgomery are the first statewide officeholders stymied by constitutional term limits affecting those elected in 1994. Both were limited to two terms.

On election night, both camps were closely watching the totals of their one-sided races to see who was going to lead the statewide ticket (it was Montgomery by a whisker).

Yesterday, Petro and Montgomery promised to build on the efficiencies and professionalism of each other's former offices.

"Betty and I are friends,'' Petro said, predicting his staff members will work well with hers.

Yet Petro already has totally reorganized the attorney general's staff.

"There was a lot of confusion about who reported to whom,'' said one observer.

Petro has set up seven divisions that report directly to him. Only one of those division leaders came from Montgomery's staff. Four worked in the auditor's office under Petro, one worked at Ohio State University and one worked for a law firm.

Montgomery used 26 section chiefs.

Of the next-highest 38 positions, Petro has retained 20 members of Montgomery's staff.

"I certainly have great respect for all'' of Montgomery's staff members, Petro said.

"We've made changes throughout the organization. I think we're firing away with the right kind of objectives and right kind of personnel.''

Petro called his first staff meeting for 2:30 p.m. yesterday -- about the time Montgomery's swearing-in festivities were winding down. Some of the holdover workers in the attorney general's office grumbled that robbed them of attending a meaningful ceremony for their outgoing boss at the Statehouse.

Montgomery already has moved to make big changes in the auditor's office.

Without mentioning Petro's performance, she said stepped-up criminal prosecutions could be expected in her new job.

She promised to aggressively investigate theft of public money.

"We've hired some career prosecutors and some forensic auditors. We're hoping to be able to focus on where prosecution is necessary, or certainly to root out the fraud, waste and abuse,'' she said.

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