What should gun owners make of a DDN warning about Ted Strickland?

By Chad D. Baus

In commentary that appeared this week in the Dayton Daily News, staff writer Martin Gottlieb provides an alleged history of Ted Strickland on the gun issue.

The op-ed begins like this:

Ted Strickland is supposed to be a different kind of Democrat. That image is built largely around the gun issue. The shorthand description of Strickland in the national media is generally some version of "pro-gun Democrat."

And one fan the other day was quoted in the media as calling Strickland a "gun-toting Democrat."

All of which is little bit funny to somebody who remembers how Strickland's strict anti-control position emerged.

Gottlieb goes on to say that during a Congressional campaign in 1992, "Strickland said that, while he didn't personally have any problem with gun control, he felt that his would-be constituents in rural Ohio did. And he thought he should honor their views." Later during that same campaign season, Gottlieb notes that Republicans dug up and used a Strickland quote from a 1976 campaign - "I personally do not like guns and I do not own a gun."

Strickland was elected, and as Gottlieb records, his voting record in Washington on behalf of gun owners has been flawless.

The article ends with this:

What's interesting now is that the notion of Ted Strickland as somebody who doesn't like guns has disappeared — completely.

In 2004, when Sen. John Kerry went hunting in Ohio precisely to show that he does like guns, right there with him was Ted Strickland. Reports were that they each bagged a goose.

Apparently, Strickland had grown in his appreciation of his district's ways.

It is highly unusual for an anti-gun, pro-Democrat newspaper like the Dayton Daily News to dig into the evolving past of a Democrat on any topic, which brings to my mind a question over what Gottlieb's motivations were in writing this piece.

Allow me to present a theory...

There are some who say Ted Strickland is going to struggle to earn the trust and enthusiasm of the liberal base. Consider this from Real Clear Politics' Adam B. Schaeffer:

In contrast to Blackwell, Strickland's supposed asset, his moderation, can easily become a major liability. The Democratic base is not just energized--it is angry and leftist. Suffering consistent electoral losses, the activist core is increasingly convinced that the Clintonian "third-way" to victory--become more conservative--is the precise cause of the Party's continuing defeat. They want to sharpen political differences, embrace liberalism, and run progressive candidates. The Democratic activist base that looks to MoveOn and Howard Dean want a choice, not an echo, and are willing to take a loss to get it.

Liberal columnist Richard Cohen recently predicted that "the anger festering on the Democratic left will be taken out on the Democratic middle," helping elect conservatives because the left is too angry to vote for the impure. Strickland--a former minister with an "A" rating from the NRA and wobbly on abortion rights--risks prompting a spiteful tantrum from the angry Ohio left and dampening turnout from his Democratic base. One direct-mail campaign to Democratic voters listing Strickland's record might be all it takes to devastate the current enthusiasm among Ohio liberals.

For the first time in a great while, pro-gun voters in Ohio who Vote Freedom First going to have two major party choices at the top of the ballot come November. Aside from being a significant victory for grassroots gun owners, political pundits agree this presents Democrats with a unique opportunity to get attention from pro-gun members of their party who have, in the past, been forced to vote Republican in order to protect their right to keep and bear arms.

It certainly seems unlikely that this DDN writer's intention would be to cause doubt among the pro-gun voters who are contemplating a vote for a Democrat this time around. So could it be that Gottlieb, recognizing the potential for liberal backlash against the pro-gun Strickland, is attempting to provide some hope among the anti-gun part of the Democratic base that Strickland isn't as pro-gun as his voting record shows?

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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