Add Ohio to the list of internal Republican battles

Saturday, September 16, 2006 at 04:04 PM

One consequence of swinging to the absolute extreme of the political spectrum is that you put the moderate members of your party a lot closer to your opponents than to you.

Just ask Ohio Republicans, who are now sniping at each other over the decision of several prominent Repubs to support the Dem candidate for Governor over the Republican choice of Kenneth ("keep down the vote") Blackwell.

Emphasis added:
Extolling moderation, unity and leadership, three prominent Republicans stood with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland Tuesday to announce he would receive their support.

Charles Saxbe, a Columbus attorney with strong ties to GOP politics; Daniel Slane, a developer and former Ohio State University board of trustees chairman; and Betty Davis, former mayor of Mason in Republican-rich Warren County, said they were choosing the candidate over the party this fall.

Saxbe, whose law firm reaped a financial windfall by negotiating a tobacco settlement, said he has always voted Republican for governor, but he was putting Ohio first in supporting Strickland over J. Kenneth Blackwell.

Saxbe's reasons ranged from a lack of confidence in state government to an ailing economy to schools and universities in need of help.

"Ted Strickland is the man for the job,'' Saxbe said.

Carlo LoParo, a Blackwell spokesman, said the three Republicans do not represent party loyalists across the state.

Blackwell "thinks it's humorous that Strickland talks about a culture of corruption and then he embraces someone who has benefited a great deal personally from Republican governance," LoParo said. "Rocky Saxbe has made his money off of state government, and he's made his money being politically connected."

Strickland said Blackwell is resorting to the very name-calling, judgmental attitude and divisive approach that's turning his own party against him.

"Mr. Blackwell can characterize that any way he chooses to, but just because he says something doesn't mean it is true,'' Strickland said.

LoParo said it is not true that Strickland has broad support among Republicans.

"If Ted Strickland wants Republicans to vote for him, then he can start advocating tax cuts. He can drop his support for government-funded abortions and he can drop his support for gay civil unions. If he does those three things, then he has got a shot with Republican voters,'' LoParo said.

Davis, the former mayor from Mason near Kings Island, said her area backed President Bush in 2004 by 70 percent margins, but the moderate voices in her party are going to support candidates who will work with everyone to resolve the state's ills.

"I'm voting for the man, not the party,'' Davis said.

The Ohio Republican Party isn't abandoning Blackwell.

Bob Bennett, party chairman, issued a statement accusing Saxbe and Slane of playing both sides.

"The bottom line here is some people don't want real change in Columbus because they've made a fortune feeding off of the government trough. Ted Strickland represents the status quo, and he apparently has no problem taking contributions and endorsements from supporters of an administration he calls corrupt,'' Bennett said....

Heavens, you might think that some of those people don't like each other.  "Feeding off of the government trough?"  Nothing like a little porcine banter to keep the moment light and social.

And some free advice for the Blackwell crowd: be mighty careful who you accuse of feeding at the public trough when you're the party that has turned government corruption into an operating procedure taught to your young'uns before they can walk.