Monday, October 30, 2006

Ohio House 41: Sleaziest Campaign of the Year?

I know that’s a high-sounding bar, but hear me out. The 41st is a Republican-leaning district in which a moderate Democrat – Brian Williams – beat an appointed incumbent in 2004. The story of how that happened is interesting enough, but will have to wait for another day.

I like Brian a lot – he’s a former Akron Public Schools superintendent, good on education and a damn nice guy. He’s also very much not a professional politician.

Since it’s a R-indexed district, the ORP and the R House Caucus targeted the district early on. They recruited ex-NFL linebacker and Buckeye legend Tom Cousineau to run and let it be known they were counting on the pickup. This was back when the year looked good for Dems but didn’t look like the approaching tsunami.

So that’s the backdrop. For whatever reason, the ORP decided that a candidate whose sole claim to fame is a storied college football career needed some help getting across the line. So they’ve run a three-mailer campaign slamming Brian – for being soft on illegal immigration.

Let’s stop right there. I didn’t know this was a problem in Ohio. I didn’t know about the Coyotes sneaking people across the border from Indiana. But apparently GOP central has decided this is the hot button du jour and if it works in Colorado, by God it will work in Ohio.

The campaign mines the subtle-but-not-too-subtle Fear the Dark People vein that the GOP has been working this cycle. Here’s a typical mailer front:

So what has Brian done to welcome illegals into this country? Open it up and:

Apparently he is letting them get permits to carry concealed weapons.

OK, let’s pause again to take this in. To get a concealed carry permit, you have to fill out an application providing your name, social security number, and fixed address, turn it in at your local Sheriff’s office, show your driver’s license and submit to a police records check. Does any of this sound like stuff illegal aliens would do? And for a permit to carry a concealed weapon because, God knows, illegals want to obey the law.

So this is not just a Fear of the Dark Other campaign, it’s a Fear of the Dark Other campaign that makes no sense. But the mailers keep coming. Another reminding us where illegals come from and that they just aren’t like us:

And the hands-down favorite. Scariest. Mailer. Ever:

So. Thus far the campaign offends by insulting the reader’s intelligence and playing into base, ugly fears. But when you dig a little deeper, you find out that’s its also been a huge stinking lie.

The bill in question, H.B. 347, was the bill that infamously “reformed” Ohio’s concealed carry law. The bill ran 73 pages as passed by the House. It contained a number of provisions, two of which were opposed sensible people. One provision removed restrictions on carrying a gun in a car. Now people can have a loaded weapon in easy reach. This makes police very nervous, given that a large percentage of police shootings happen during traffic stops. The police chiefs vigorously opposed the provision. In fact, this undid one of the compromises that got the chiefs on board, thus clearing the way for Taft to sign it.

A second provision removed local jurisdictions’ authority to regulate firearms, nullifying a Columbus law proscribing assault weapons. Aside from the direct policy implications of the law, many lawmakers, Brian included, are uncomfortable with laws that whittle down local home rule.

Buried somewhere in those 73 pages of bad ideas was an halfway decent, if ultimately unnecessary provision that said, oh by the way, illegal aliens can’t get concealed carry permits. No thinking person could look at the 73 pages of H.B 347 and honestly say that Brian Williams wants illegal immigrants to have concealed carry permits. Yet that is what ORP has done. (We’ll save for another day the question of whether thinking people populate the ORP.)

The campaign combines the worst of the hallmarks of dirty campaigning – appeals to primitive fears, implicit insults to the reader’s intelligence and outright lies. Few political ads have scored so high in each leg of the trifecta. So I say it’s the sleaziest campaign of the cycle.

In that narrow respect, it gets my vote.


54cermak said...

How long do we have to wait for a Dem to finally respond to tactics appealing to racism by putting out theior own mailer saying (in effect) "Do you really want to vote for a racist?"

Anonymous said...

We are conducting a survey on amnesty for illegal immigrants in the UK and the USA for the next 6 months at . We want to hear opinions from normal people - not political parties or think tanks.

Your opinions or feedback are much appreciated


Village Green said...

You are correct -- those mailers have got to be the worst this season, even beating the Judy Hanna is a flag burning communist.

Lots of money is going into these state races. Some powerful interests are doing everything they can to maintain control of who gives out the state contracts. It was the same way under the Dems and Vernon Riffe. Somehow we have to get the puppets working on behalf of the ordinary citizens instead of First Energy and the Insurance companies.

Anonymous said...

If this is all you have to do to obtain a concealed carry permit in Ohio, that's pretty sad.

Texas has a very lengthy vetting process including a mandatory 12 hour classroom course (usually held at a family restaurant, with lunch provided...and it's always barbeque), qualify on the range AND THEN fill out about an inch of paperwork plus a $250 fee for the state. If you're behind in child support, you don't get one. If you're behind in student loan payments, you don't get one. If you've ever been convicted of domestic violence, you don't get one.

As a result, they don't have too many problems with CCW permit holders getting out of line. It's a good program.