Pro-gun/ anti-gun Democratic ticket concerns Ohio gun owners

By Chad D. Baus

People who still remember John Kerry's favorite phrase, "I voted for it before I voted against it", may have a few flashbacks when they read a September 2 Columbus Dispatch story on Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland (pictured at left in 2004 with a shotgun he borrowed for the infamous eleventh hour Ohio goose hunt with John Kerry).

The headline of the article describes the message writer Jonathan Riskind is trying to sell:

    "Strickland doesn’t always fit ‘liberal’ label"

While this political action committee takes no position on any other of the social positions mentioned in the article, the opening few paragraphs give the gist of the entire piece:

    He is a generally reliable supporter of abortion rights, but he backed a ban on so-called partial-birth abortions and was among a minority of Democrats last year to vote for House legislation barring transportation of underage girls across state lines to obtain an abortion without parental notification.

    He picked a fervent gun-control advocate as his gubernatorial running mate, but he consistently votes in Congress against gun-control measures and is regularly endorsed by the National Rifle Association.

    He voted against a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, but for an amendment barring desecration of the American flag. He typically votes with a majority of Democrats against President Bush-backed tax cuts, but he broke with most in his party to support a GOP-authored bill making it tougher to escape debt through bankruptcy. (emphasis added)

Ted Strickland has a pro-gun voting record in Congress. As such, he was endorsed by both the NRA and Buckeye Firearms Association in his party primary last May. In the early days of his gubernatorial campaign in Ohio, he spoke out against a Columbus ban on most semi-automatic rifles that cost the city $20 million in convention revenue, voiced support for Ohio's two year-old concealed carry law, and told legislators they should pass a bill which would prevent municipal gun control laws and make firearms laws uniform across the state. In June, he issued a statement calling on Republicans in the Ohio Senate to stop stalling and pass HB347, legislation which would have rendered last week's terrible 6th District Court of Appeals ruling moot.

Strickland's selection of a running mate, however (former Ohio Attorney General and Handgun Control Inc. board member Lee Fisher), is viewed by the more skeptical among Ohio gun owners as the equivalent of the vote against it that came after the vote for it.

Comments made by Strickland to the Dayton Daily News in May ("He said he does not own a gun, nor does he consider himself a 'gun person,' but, 'I believe in a citizen's right to own a gun.'") haven't exactly helped.

Lee Fisher lost a 1994 bid as Attorney General, having been quoted as saying "I never met a gun control bill I didn't like," and lost a 1998 race for Governor, having stood on a podium with gun ban extremist Sarah Brady to announce his campaign.

Around the Buckeye state, gun control is a sure loser in statewide elections. The Ohio General Assembly is chock full of pro-gun voters. Gun owners are among the most consistent voting blocks, and the most active grassroots activists. So while it is the Governor who sets policy and signs legislation into law, there is considerable question over whether gun-owning Ohioans will vote to put a gun hater like Lee Fisher within a heart-beat of the Governor's office, and to position him for a future run at the top spot.

There is also considerable question over why Ted Strickland put Fisher on the ticket in the first place.

Chad Baus is the Vice Chairman and Northwest Ohio coordinator of Buckeye Firearms Association, and a member of the Fulton County Republican Central Committee.

Related Story:
Strickland says his mind changes as bills are tweaked

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