26 January 2010

Ohio's Attorney General Mess

I hate it when the political parties move candidates around like so many chess pieces. But then politics -- and policy -- is a giant chess game. What you are doing today and tomorrow is based on the five or six moves you planned out months ago.

While it may be for the good of the party, and perhaps the people of a given state, it just looks bad. Even if the motivations are well intentioned.

Case in point. Yesterday, pro-gun Ohio attorney general candidate David Yost, a prosecutor in Delaware County, announced he is dropping his candidacy for that post to run for state auditor. He is a former county auditor and would do well in that post. But he was asked to move because GOP gubernatorial candidate John Kasich -- squishy on the 2A (when in Congress he enthusiastically voted FOR the 10-year, 1994 ban on so-called "assault weapons) -- has tapped current Ohio Auditor of State Mary Taylor as his Lt. Gov. running mate.

Dave Yost (for disclosure reasons I once again note that he and I have known each other since college) would have been an excellent attorney general. But he is doing something good for the party, if not the state. But the way it was orchestrated . . . . well? . . . . it all kind of starts out with an aftertaste.

Which leaves the Buckeye State attorney general's race one of concern. The incumbent, democrat Richard Cordray, was anti-gun for years, then suddenly changed stripes when he ran for Ohio treasurer, claiming his rural upbringing and his love of hunting made him a solid pro-gun choice for voters. He signed on as a co-sponsor of statewide outdoor sports and shooting-related events. He was elected, then tapped to fill the remaining term of disgraced former attorney general Marc Dann. Cordray since has been mostly silent on the gun issue, and he raised even more eyebrows when he chose not to join in a letter with 23 other state Attorney Generals asking the Federal government not to re-impose the “assault” weapons ban.

So where does Cordray stand on the Second Amendment? When he screened for office with various groups some 20 years ago, he was unhesitatingly hostile to private gun ownership. In an interview with RightOhio last year, however, Cordray said he would not support a new ban on competition rifles. Will he go farther with such thinking? Perhaps he truly has changed his position on civilian ownership of firearms. I hope so.

Cordray's republican opponent is none other than anti-gun Mike DeWine, the only republican U.S. senator ever to be endorsed by the Brady Campaign (formerly Handgun Control Inc.) He has never renounced this endorsement. And his milquetoast, timid, unassertive, wishy-washiness on most issues, combined with his lack of support for conservative causes is what led to his defeat in his last re-election bid by democrat Sherrod Brown, who is just as anti gun as DeWine, and generally, just as liberal.

There are some who suggest DeWine was endorsed by the Bradys in a strategic effort by the left to cause him to lose his seat. If so, and he knew it could be damaging, why didn't he decline the endorsement? Why didn't he say he does not agree with them? Because he does, that's why! Most likely, conservatives in Ohio decided to make an example of DeWine, to send a message, and he lost his seat. While Sherrod Brown became part of the new majority of The Left, Ohio republicans (we had thought) learned a valuable lesson. But with the push for DeWine toward AG, and Yost being "asked" to switch races, I wonder if the lesson was lost . . .

DeWine is highly poisonous to most right-leaning and many moderate voters. Many on the right were stunned when republican John McCain (not my first choice of prez candidates) had Sarah Palin on a bus criss-crossing Ohio, and her chaperone/tour guide was none other than Mike DeWine. I wrote a letter to Palin and her campaign telling her what mistake it was to be touring with DeWine, who is distrusted by pretty much any thinking voter who incorporates the 2A into their decision process.

One might wonder why a former U.S. senator would want to run for state attorney general. Its easy. What he really wants is the governor's chair. But DeWine is a poor candidate for such, and the party knows it. Today, DeWine has noted in a couple of interviews that he believes he should not be judged by votes that appeal to the the Brady Campaign, or Violence Policy Center, but that voters should look at his entire record. I have looked at it. DeWine did little of import during his tenure in the U.S. Senate. But I firmly believe his anti-gun actions, and left-leaning voting record cost him his seat in that most exclusive of clubs.

So the AG's race here in Ohio pits someone who is virulently anti gun, vs. someone who used to be and seems to have become informed, even enlightened, on the issue. For those readers outside Ohio, adding to the points that make you shake your head is the fact that the head of the Ohio GOP, Kevin DeWine, is a second cousin to Mike DeWine. Some are saying its about family. While moving Yost over to the auditor's race helps the republicans have a better shot at influencing the State Apportionment Board, for policy wonks like myself who watch this stuff every day it more than smacks of nepotism

Of course, Buckeye State voters will be electing or re-electing a governor this fall. Solidly pro-gun incumbent Ted Strickland, a democrat, had a commanding lead last summer in early polling but has lost much of that momentum due to the lousy economy. Now, to be intellectually honest, he inherited much of the mess, which worsened due to national influences, from anti-gun republican Gov. Bob Taft who left office three years ago at the end of his term due to numerous ethics violations. But Taft was wishy-washy as governor, did nothing to improve the business climate or grow jobs, and was incredibly anti self defense. Taft went so far to veto a CCW improvement bill, only to have his veto overturned by the members of the Ohio General Assembly.

So Strickland inherits troubles, and they multiply through no fault of his. Strickland's opponent is republican John Kasich, who, wisely, is using the economy and jobs issues to beat up Mr. Strickland.

Kasich, as I mentioned before, was instrumental in getting the 1994 "assault weapons" ban passed while he was in the U.S. House of Representatives. While in the Ohio Statehouse, he was largely counted as being one of the least effective members of the legislature. Further, I find it strangely curious that Mr. Kasich says the state's problems, which he lays at the feet of Strickland, are a plague of higher taxes and unemployment. Missing from his argument is that his own party, the republicans, were in charge of state government for the vast majority of the past 25 years.

Have I mentioned that I am a conservative who has often (not always) voted with the republicans, and this is stuff with the potential to make one's brain explode?

In what is viewed as "a wash," Gov. Strickland's current Lt. Gov will not be running with him the second time around. Lee Fisher, a former national board member of Handgun Control Inc., was just a heartbeat away from the Big Chair, which is why I wrote several years ago that I hoped Ted and family were eating healthy foods, thereby keeping the governor's stress, cholesterol and blood pressure in check. Of course, pro-gun Strickland was forced by his party machine to add the anti-gun Fisher, a proven vote getter in northeast Ohio, to his ticket.

Replacing Fisher on the dem ticket this time around is Yvette McGee Brown, an equally anti-gun former domestic relations judge from Franklin County. She currently is a child and family advocacy executive with a central Ohio foundation. Instead of recognizing firearms' place as a defender of families, Judge Brown views guns and so-called "gun violence" as a scourge of families. So no change there. If Gov. Strickland is re-elected, I urge him to continue to eat the high-fiber, low-fat diet, ensuring he isn't replaced with someone far less self defense friendly.

Thankfully, though we started with a horrible CCW law in the beginning, it has been improved dramatically over the years. But Ohio gun owners, at the polls in November, will face these many tough choices.

Questions are being asked of all these candidates by a number of 2A entities. Politics, once again, is trumping statesmanship.

With the possible exception of Messrs. Strickland and Yost (the latter of whom is begrudgingly being a team player, despite his likely (I have not talked to him about it) disgust at this turn of events , it appears all the players -- left and right -- are political pawns and playing a game. Whichever the way the wind blows, they blow with it.

Yost at the AG post would have been a refreshing change, for Ohio republicans at the executive branch have not been firearms friendly (Voinovich, Taft, et al). Just last summer, Voinovich, who blocked CCW legislation the entire eight years he was Ohio's governor, cast a vote against national CCW reciprocity in one of his final important votes in the U.S. Senate.

Even Ken Blackwell, an effective Ohio secretary of state, stubbed his toe when he took for granted with voters his life membership in the National Rifle Association. Democrat Strickland sent out teams to local conservation clubs, shooting clubs and gun shows to drum up support for the candidate, who when he was in Congress, the Ohio legislature, and now as Ohio's chief executive has been a staunch defender of the rights of moms, grandmas, dads, uncles, and you and me, to possess and use a firearm for all lawful purposes.

Firearms owners, and supporters of the basic human right to self defense, have a lot at stake in this November's general elections.

More to come . . .


Huey said...

Wow, great write up..

Brent Greer said...

Thanks Huey! It's a mess for sure!

Bob said...

What a revolting turn, the Ohio GOP must want to remain irrelevant. Although kneecapping progun Republicans is hardly unplowed ground for them (see Bob Bennett) the ORP and Kevin "nepotism" DeWine have made it a no brainer for me to keep my donations away from them. Dave Yost, instead of falling on your sword, you should have helped Mike "Brady" fall on his. You lost my future contribution, also.