Ohio2006 Blog

News, analysis, and comments on Ohio elections.

Tuesday, September 26

Statewide Races: News and Notes

Items of interest in Ohio's statewide contests:

Governor: The audio of the endorsement interview of Rep. Ted Strickland (D-Lisbon) and Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (R-Cincinnati) by editors and reporters of the Cleveland Plain Dealer is posted here, along with a description of the interview by reporter Mark Naymik. He writes that Strickland accused Blackwell of an "anti-science" agenda (as in, opposition to stem cell research and an extreme stance on abortion) that would paint a picture of Ohio as a "backwards state." Blackwell defended his "13 years of state leadership" by describing himself as someone who has "challenged the status quo." This weekend's Columbus Dispatch poll showed Strickland leading Blackwell by 19 points, 52% to 33%, with 1% supporting others and 13% undecided.

Attorney General: There is an interesting piece in the Columbus Dispatch today, contrasting the differing views of the role of the attorney general on the part of State Sen. Marc Dann (D-Liberty Township) and State Auditor Betty Montgomery (R). He sees it as being a watchdog on government abuse, she sees it as being top crime fighter. Dann objects strongly to the suggestion in Montgomery's new ad that Dann would be soft on sex criminals because he has represented them in court. Dann points out that he once handled the sentencing for a man convicted of pandering obscenity involving a minor, and that he backed legislation to enhance penalties for drug offenses near schools and establish standards for walkon coaches and other nonteachers working with children in schools. As a lawyer, I think the argument that a defense lawyer can't be an effective prosecutor is particularly disingenuous and unfair.

Secretary of State: Just for the record, the Columbus Dispatch poll released over the weekend showed Jennifer Brunner (D-Columbus) ahead of Greg Hartmann (R-Cincinnati) by 36% to 28%, with 4% for other candidates and 32% undecided. I did not blog about this poll over the weekend, and I got a note from a reader outside of Ohio nudging me about it. So, there it is. The large margin of undecided voters tends to overshadow Brunner's lead a bit, I think. The candidates are quoted extensively in an article about the race here.

State Auditor: The Dispatch poll showed Rep. Barbara Sykes (D-Akron) leading Rep. Mary Taylor (R-Green) by 44% to 32%, with 24% undecided. This 12% lead is a significantly more substantial advantage than Brunner's 8% lead with a far more undecided voters, although not nearly as commanding as Strickland's lead.

Treasurer: This article in the Youngstown Vindicator quotes County Treasurer Richard Cordray (D-Grove City) as saying that his opponent County Auditor Sandra O'Brien (R-Rome) is neither competent nor qualified to hold the office of state treasurer. In particular, Cordray pointed to state audits of Ashtabula County that determined that O'Brien's office didn't have safeguards in place to detect a $40,000 embezzlement by a subordinate, and also that O'Brien overpaid her own salary and improperly bought a vehicle for her department. O'Brien dismissed the significance of getting cited in state audits. "I look at citations as being a huge problem, and I haven't had any," Cordray said. Another point reflected in the article is that O'Brien's experience as auditor of a small county is not comparable to Cordray's experience as treasurer of a large county: "The state treasurer's office employs about 110 to 120 and oversees $11 billion in assets. Cordray's office has 45 employees and handles $650 million in assets. O'Brien's office has 18 workers and doesn't handle the county's assets of about $25 million." Wow. The Columbus Dispatch poll showed Cordray leading O'Brien by 45% to 34% with 21% undecided. Good thing!

Supreme Court: The Columbus Dispatch poll showed both Republican candidates ahead, but not by much. Supreme Court Justice Terrence O'Donnell (R-Rocky River) leads Appellate Judge William O'Neill (D-South Russell) by 27% to 22% with 51% undecided, and Appellate Judge Robert Cupp (R-Toledo) leads former state senator Ben Espy (D-Columbus) by 24% to 21% with 55% undecided. The margin of error of the poll is 2.2 points, so those leads are miniscule, especially compared to the huge numbers of undecided voters.

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