Ohio Attorney General race highlights fight for heart & soul of state Republican party
By Chad D. Baus
The Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting on a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party that is going on all over the country, and observes it is best exemplified in Ohio through the primary race for Attorney General.
From the story:
[The battle is being] waged by the party's social conservatives and fiscal conservatives, fired up by the Tea Party movement and aimed at GOP candidates they see as too moderate on their issues.
Ohio may be next, and in a somewhat unlikely arena - the two-man race for the GOP nomination for Ohio attorney general.
"Conservatives - I hate to say it because I don't think we ever went away - are on the comeback,'' said Warren County political activist Lori Viars, who works for Family First PAC. "We're not just backing the same old candidates the party puts up. We're challenging them."
In Ohio, the line is being drawn between the two announced candidates for attorney general, who will face each other in the May primary - former U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, who has had some problems with the party's most conservative members in the past, and Delaware County prosecutor Dave Yost.
The story goes on to note that "Yost - who got into the race first - has drawn support from social conservatives who are still smarting over some of DeWine's Senate votes, gun rights advocates who fault him for voting to ban semi-automatic weapons and even some party regulars in some of southwest Ohio's most conservative counties."
With the state central committee having refused to endorse the anti-gun DeWine, at least one county central committee having already voted to endorse Yost, and amidst indications from other committee chairs that their committees will do the same, at least one party leader appears to be trying to lap some lipstick on the pig.
Alex Triantafilou, the GOP party chairman in Hamilton County, where Mike DeWine's son Patrick serves as commissioner, told the Enquirer that "Mike DeWine is a conservative Republican."
As for DeWine himself (and contrary to all the campaign letters he's been sending, which have been filled with claims similar to Triantafilou's), he told the newspaper he's not particularly concerned.
"The only endorsement that matters will be the one in the primary in May," he is quoted as saying. "And I feel pretty confident I will win that one."
One thing is certain: amongst Ohio gun voters, the name Mike DeWine is mud. DeWine was thrown out of his U.S. Senate seat by voters in 2006, after running around sporting a Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (formerly Handgun Control Inc.) endorsement because "his record really wowed the group."
As the Senator from Ohio, DeWine was named among the Top 10 anti-gun U.S. Senators, noting that he was "consistently the only Republican to speak in favor of anti-2nd Amendment legislation on the Senate floor."
Judging by a recent email from his campaign, in which he laughably attempts revisionist history by claiming "strong support for our 2nd Amendment rights", DeWine is quite aware of his status among gun owners as a pariah.
To counter this lie, Buckeye Firearms Association has created a fact sheet, and is encouraging volunteers to circulate it far and wide.
As for his status with the state party, and seeming to counter a suggestion made months ago by Jason Mauk, executive director of the state party to the Columbus Dispatch that an endorsement decision might still come in December, John McClelland, the state party's communications director, now says that the state committee's decision not to endorse in the AG race "may well stay that way."
If the state Republican party is at all serious about its desire to remake its image in the wake of severe losses in the last two election cycles, they will at the very least remain silent on this race. And if they really want to do what is best for Ohio, and for the party, then they should meet again at their earliest convenience to endorse Prosecutor Dave Yost.
Chad Baus is a Member of the Fulton County, OH Republican Central Committee and the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.