Storm Clouds Gather Over Ohio Attorney General Election

By Ken Hanson, Esq.

This November, Buckeyes will head to the poll to elect a new Attorney General. This election is being held without the customary year-long primary campaigns, due to the nature and timing of the resignation of Marc Dann. As a result, a small group of men and women hold the future of your gun rights in their hands. Chances are very good that you do not know any of these men and women, and you certainly did not vote for them.

Nothing nefarious is occurring - this is a process outlined in Ohio statutory and Constitutional law. A special election must be held if a vacancy occurs with more than two years remaining in the term of the elected office vacated. Under Ohio's two party system, the result for 2008 is that the two parties will pick a candidate, and those two candidates will be on the ballot this November. No primary, no campaign, no town hall meetings. Nada. (In fairness, I will mention that anyone who can get signatures on a petition may also file to run as "non-party" or "other-party" candidate.)

Most people simply cannot grasp that campaigns are largely won and lost before the first voter ever walks into a voting booth, and the upcoming Ohio Attorney General Election is an even more graphic case of this fact. There is a simple key to electing pro-gun candidates:

MAKE SURE THERE IS ALWAYS A PRO-GUN CANDIDATE TO CHOOSE FROM.

Honestly, this is an area where we as gun activists have performed poorly. Look no further than this year's Presidential campaign. Too often we are left griping about yet another "lesser of two evils" campaign. Folks, the time to avoid the "lesser of two evils" is well before the first ballot is cast, and it's really as simple as recruiting and running pro-gun candidates. Entire articles could be written on how miserably we have failed in this simple exercise, but we have a fairly urgent crisis facing us, and it is one that must be dealt with now. November 2008 will be much too late to deal with it.

In the last 3 weeks, we have called upon you repeatedly to go to the phones and the email box to help fight for your gun rights. We are as weary as you, I assure you. But it is critical that we have legitimate pro-gun choices on the ballot this November. Once more into the breach, dear friends.

The office of Attorney General is critical to gun rights in Ohio. The Ohio Attorney General must go to court to defend the laws that we have worked so hard to pass. The Ohio Attorney General oversees the entire concealed carry licensing process and the background checks it is dependent upon. The Ohio Attorney General issues legal opinions and guidance to statutory clients, including folks like the Division of Wildlife. The Ohio Attorney General prepares the state pamphlet summarizing our firearm laws. The Ohio Attorney General is solely responsible for all reciprocity agreements. The Ohio Attorney General plays a very large role in enforcing environmental regulations, including ones being used aggressively in other states to shut down ranges and hunting access. The Ohio Attorney General is square in the middle of everything we do with guns in Ohio.

Perhaps nothing illustrates the peril we face if we fail to act now than the name that is being liberally (pun intended) tossed around downtown as the potential GOP contender. Put down all sharp objects and swallow all beverages before reading the next sentence.

Mike DeWine.

That is right. Anti-gun Mike DeWine. The same Mike DeWine who is so hated by grassroots GOP that GOP Voter Vault started keeping a separate data field for registered Republicans who indicated they would never support Mike DeWine. The same Mike DeWine who received anti-gun accolades and endorsements for the last 8 years is now being positioned as the savior of the Ohio GOP by puppet masters behind the scenes, and you will never get the opportunity to go to the polls to keep Mike off the November ballot.

Buckeye Firearms Association is a non-partisan, one issue PAC. In the coming weeks we will be attempting to bring you more information on rumored and potential nominees for each party, and any other candidate of note. However, one thing that needs to happen, and needs to happen now, is that the Ohio GOP needs to clearly and unequivocally hear that Mike DeWine is the third-rail candidate for gun owners. Mike DeWine simply is a non-starter with gun owners in Ohio.

Being a good constituent involves more than complaining. A good constituent also suggests solutions rather than merely pointing out problems. Thus, it will really do us no good to simply call and complain about how bad Mike DeWine would be for gun owners. Instead, we need to call and complain, and then suggest the alternative we would like to see and why the "powers that be" should agree with our alternative.

The next article in this series will outline for our GOP supporters action steps to make sure that Mike DeWine is not one of the "choices" this November. We will also be covering the same material for our Democratic supporters, as well as any independent candidates of note.

Please bear with us, we have been concentrating limited resources on S.B. 184, but felt the threat posed by Mike DeWine was dire enough that we needed to get the word out as soon as possible.

This story will be developing over the next weeks, check back soon.

Ken Hanson is a gun rights attorney in Ohio and is the attorney of record for Buckeye Firearms Foundation, which filed an amicus brief in the Heller case. He is the author of The Ohio Guide to Firearm Laws, is a certified firearms instructor and holds a Type 01 Federal Firearms License.

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