Republican Lt. Gov Candidate Tom Raga – Unplugged

By Larry S. Moore

I recently had an opportunity to spend some time with Tom Raga at the Greene County Fair. The initial purpose was a short interview for this profile article. I ended up spending over two hours with Mr. Raga, State Representatives Kevin DeWine and Chris Widener, and State Central Committee Member Joe Haines. Chris Widener is my State Representative covering eastern Greene County, part of Clark and Madison County. Kevin DeWine's district is in the Xenia, Beavercreek and Fairborn areas of Greene County. I ended up with much more than an interview. I was afforded the opportunity to watch them interact with many constituents and discuss a wide range of issues. It was a good look into the role of our state elected officials.

The interview with Raga focused on outdoor experiences, legislative record, sportsmen issues and the Blackwell-Raga platform for Ohio.

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Raga explains his youth experiences, "Growing up, the family did some camping. I had a neighbor who taught me how to shoot guns, had the bb-guns, and the target range. He taught many of us in the neighborhood how to take care of the firearms, safety and to respect the firearms. He reloaded his own shells and carved duck decoys. He was the one who took me fishing. My experiences with him made it easy for me to relate to the Apprentice Hunting License. I was a co-sponsor and voted for that legislation because of my experience. We have very limited opportunities to enjoy the outdoors right now. There is a stocked lake in our neighborhood so we do fish some."

Raga has a solid sportsmen gun owner record in the Ohio House. He co-sponsored the Ohio concealed carry legislation, HB 12 and current legislation HB 347. As noted above, he co-sponsored and voted for HB 296, the Apprentice Hunting License bill. Ohio was the second state in the nation to pass this legislation designed to make it easier to introduce young people to hunting and trapping.

Perhaps less well known was Raga's support and work on protecting the sportsmen license fee money in the last budget. Raga is currently the Vice Chair of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee.

Discussing future issues, Raga noted, "First we have some unfinished business with HB 347 concealed carry updates. Ken Blackwell has said he would sign that legislation if he were Governor. There a number of additional gun issues and sportsmen issues that need addressed. First is making sure the Department of Natural Resources is funded in a proper way. We need to protect the license fees for the Division of Wildlife and continue to ensure those dollars are going to address the outdoor issues where they belong. In the last budget, we added some additional dollars for the State Parks issues. The money was rightly added and protected. There are some concerns at Lake Erie. We’ve got to ensure a balance between the property rights, conservation, and the public access. It can be a struggle to reach the proper balance. These issues are all important."

Raga next tackled the controversial "Media Access Loophole" saying, “Representative Aslanides attempted to resolve this issue and I believe he was right. The wholesale printing of concealed license holder lists is what we are concerned about. There is no need to simply print the names. If someone has made a mistake, then there is a need to have access on a limited basis. The wholesale access is wrong."

Raga has a degree in Agriculture Economics from Cornell University. He emphasized the importance of agriculture and agri-business saying, “Our campaign is centered on taxes, spending, tort reform, regulatory reform. These all connect back to jobs in Ohio. Keeping jobs, growing jobs that are already here or attracting new jobs is key to the future of Ohio. Everyone is talking about ethanol and bio-fuels. We believe that needs to be front and center of the job growth in Ohio.” Raga continued saying that making agriculture profitable is the best way to keep young farmers involved with agriculture, protect the farming heritage and future. He believes that is good for sportsmen and conservation.

Raga concluded, “Ken Blackwell is a gun owner and enjoys shooting, especially skeet, when he has the chance. On the campaign trail, he helped open the Ohio State Trapshoot this year. I recently completed my concealed carry class at the Powder Room. We believe in the sportsmen, hunting and the outdoors. Ken expects to have involvement with sportsmen on all these issues. You can look at my record and see there is a consistent voting pattern and long-term support of sportsmen, conservation and gun issues.”

Outdoor writer and hunter education instructor Larry S. Moore is a long-time volunteer leader for Buckeye Firearms Association and winner of the 2005 USSA Patriot Award.

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