The Ohio GOP Senate Leadership and the Selling Out of Gun Owners
By Gerard Valentino
Ohio’s Senate has recessed for the summer without moving on HB347 which would fix many of the poison pills in Ohio’s current concealed carry law and create statewide preemption for gun laws, which greatly affects the hunting and sport shooting community. Their decision to do so was a slap in the face to over 70,000 concealed license holders and up to 500,000 hunters and sporting shooters.
So far, the path of HB347 has shown an eerie resemblance to Ohio’s original concealed carry law which also overwhelming passed the Ohio House only to be hung up and then ruined by the Republican leadership in the Senate, who are responsible for the absurd car carry plain sight carry provision.
Once again it’s the Ohio Senate Republican leadership, led by Senate President Bill Harris, who is responsible for failing to act on a pro-gun bill. Their decision has alienated up to 500,000 predominately Republican voters.
Now, after being sold out once again by the Ohio GOP, one has to wonder how many have given up on voting Republican under some misguided belief that it is helping gun-rights in Ohio. Instead, many are, for the first time, looking at the Ohio Democratic leadership led by two statewide pro-gun candidates, Ted Strickland and Marc Dann, who are running for the governorship and Attorney General respectively.
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Since, in the 2004 presidential election, a 60,000 vote swing would have carried the state for John Kerry and won him the presidency, it is intriguing that the Ohio GOP leadership would so callously disregard the needs of their most loyal voters.
The assumption is that Governor Taft, Senator Harris and the rest of the Ohio GOP leadership, including party Chairman Bill Bennett, have taken gun owners for granted. The shame is Ohio GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell will most likely face the brunt of pro-gun voter backlash, regardless of his strong pro-gun campaign platform.
Other strong pro-gun candidates Senator Joy Padgett, Reps. Tim Schaffer and Danny Bubp, who are running for various offices, will also be tainted by the Senate GOP’s blockage of HB347 - an unfair turn of events that is likely to fracture alliances and leave pro-gun organization with difficult decisions on endorsements.
An overwhelming number of letters, faxes, emails and phone calls that were received by pro-gun organizations in Ohio and passed to the GOP leadership is the needed proof to show that gun-owners were simply ignored. In the past, due to the Ohio Democrats anti-gun history, the Ohio GOP could simply take the gun owner vote for granted.
This year, that isn’t the case and more than one pro-gun organization is likely to endorse Democrat Marc Dann for Attorney General, and pro-gun voters that blame Bob Taft for the delay of HB347 are considering a vote for Ted Strickland who has promised to sign the bill if it reaches his desk.
Although a victory by Ted Strickland for governor won’t drastically change the political structure in Ohio, it will have a profound effect on the 2008 presidential election.
The sheer weight of a Democrat Governor campaigning for the 2008 Democrat presidential candidate is likely to swing enough votes to make Ohio much closer in the presidential election. Adding to the building disaster in Ohio is the anger that pro-gun voters will carry into the 2008 presidential election.
Clearly, the Ohio GOP Senate leadership has failed to grasp the anger they’ve created by purposefully delaying HB347 and leaving Ohio gun owners to try and follow a law designed to make them into felons. Even the addition of a few August sessions of the Senate leads few gun-owners to believe the leadership will suddenly have a change of heart and move HB347 unaltered from its present form.
Gun owners have also seen the writing on the wall, and realize that if Ted Strickland wins the governorship, the Ohio Senate will permanently block the passage of HB347 in order to deny Strickland the pleasure of signing a bill that current Ohio Republican Governor Bob Taft threatened to veto.
The only chance Ohio’s gun-owners have of getting a reprieve is if a willing member of the Senate leadership steps up and forces an immediate vote - an unlikely turn of events since the Senate leadership has openly dodged any discussion of HB347 because they perceive helping Governor Taft, and his abysmally low 14% approval rating, as more important than the will of up to 500,000 potential voters.
Unless HB347 passes the Ohio Senate in the same format as it passed the House, and is signed into law by Governor Bob Taft, it becomes an electoral disaster for the Republican Party and its leadership.
The problem is they are willing to ignore thousands of constituent letters, emails, phones calls and faxes calling for the passage of HB347, which means they are the only ones who don’t know it.