Category Archives: Buckeye Blogging

Kasich-Taylor Hearts Tea Party, Bloggers

Courtesy of friend and fellow blogger Jesse Hathaway over at Athens Runaway, a special message from Ohio Republican gubernatorial candidate John Kasich for Tea Party Patriots and those in the new media:

We love you too, John!

Dave Yost for Ohio Auditor of State

From the Rust Belt endorses Delaware County prosecutor Dave Yost for Ohio Auditor of State.

It is no secret that this blog viewed Mr. Yost as a weaker candidate for Auditor of State than his primary opponent, State Representative and Certified Public Accountant Seth Morgan. It would be disingenuous to try to brush aside all of the many words that have been written here in support of Rep. Morgan and in opposition to Mr. Yost. I do not regret my support for Seth Morgan in this primary campaign, nor do I regret that I aggressively challenged Mr. Yost on both qualifications and issues.

But the primary is over. Voters in Ohio now face a clear choice. They can choose a true conservative who has spent his time as both a county auditor and a county prosecutor holding government accountable. Or they can choose his Democrat opponent, David Pepper, whose only qualification for the job is that he has a lot of his family’s money to throw around.

Sure, this blog has raised questions about whether a one term county auditor and current county prosecutor was more qualified than a CPA to be our Auditor of State. But isn’t someone with the experience of a county auditor and prosecutor more qualified than a man whose only experience is that of a county commissioner? It is time for the Ohio Democratic Party and David Pepper to tell Ohio voters just what it is, besides his family money, that makes Mr. Pepper a serious candidate for Auditor of State. Mr. Redfern, Mr. Pepper, we’re waiting.

Meanwhile, I plan to spend from now until November explaining to the voters of Ohio why I believe Dave Yost is a vastly superior candidate to David Pepper. I’ll start by saying that the citizens of Athens County have seen his passion for fighting corruption and holding government accountable first hand. Mr. Yost served as the special prosecutor in the case against former Athens County Democratic Chairwoman Susan Gwinn. Yost worked hard to ensure that she was held accountable for her violation of campaign finance law. She was found guilty of two first-degree misdemeanors and had to resign her position as chairwoman of the Athens County Democratic Party.

Dave Yost did that. That’s the kind of Auditor of State we can all be sure that Mr. Yost will be. He will root out corruption, hold government accountable, and protect Ohio taxpayers. What kind of experience does David Pepper have to prove that he will do the same?

Now that primary season is over, it is important for the center-right majority in this state to remember what this election is really about. This election is about getting Ohio back on track. It’s about creating jobs and lowering taxes to help Ohio families and create an atmosphere that is friendly to businesses that will get Ohioans working again. As our next Auditor of State, Dave Yost will hold government accountable and make sure that your tax dollars are spent wisely.

We need someone with Dave Yost’s experience in standing up to corruption and holding government accountable in the Auditor of State’s office. David Pepper doesn’t have that experience. We need someone like Dave Yost, with his commitment to conservative principles, sitting on the Apportionment Board responsible for legislative redistricting. The primary is over. It is time for both Yost and Morgan supporters to unite behind this truly conservative candidate to keep the Auditor of State’s office and its seat on the Apportionment Board.

Yost, ORP, and Supporters in Fit of Utter Desperation

This morning, I picked up on a post that made some very serious claims about last night’s Darke County T.E.A. Patriots endorsement of Dave Yost for Auditor of State. This comes courtesy of a blogger named Henry Hill from Think Real. Excerpt:

Dave was not at the meeting however his opposition was out in full force. Seth and his family as well as members of his staff. Along with his staff his Darke County Chair was present. From what I hear, after the vote Seth’s chair lost it. Yelling about voter fraud and yelling insults at the counter, she really showed her fringe side.

Seth was in the room, he nor his staff made any attempt to end the situation or calm the woman down. Any normal person who has there (sic) name on the line would probably do something, or maybe leave the room. Seth morgan (sic) just watched.

All emphasis is mine. What you see above is the original from Think Real, which has since been somewhat scrubbed — but not completely. You’ll note that some of the italicized segments are now missing, but “nor his staff” was overlooked. The reason? Henry got it wrong. Morgan’s staff was not present at the meeting; it was only Seth Morgan and his family, along with his volunteer county chair, who were in attendance at the meeting. Henry didn’t bother to get the facts before posting, and he even did a poor job of scrubbing the post when his error became apparent. Clearly a blogger not ready for primetime.

But that isn’t even the best part. The most egregious error is to be found in the premise of the post, that it was the Morgan campaign’s Darke County chair who flipped out. Apparently the Tea Partiers of Darke County saw things a little differently. From the Darke Journal:

When it came time for the vote, it was announced at some point (or it became apparent) that Dori Howdieshell would tally the ballots – see press release below. Seth Morgan’s local representative objected on the basis that Ms. Howdieshell was affiliated with the Yost campaign. This caused a verbal argument between the (sic) Morgan’s representative and Mr. [Al] Bliss in which Mr. Bliss yelled out the f-word in the presence of Seth Morgan’s young children. Although nobody could provide a direct quote, the context consistently referenced was that Mr. Bliss didn’t “f****** care” what Morgan’s representative thought.

Emphasis is again mine. As you can see, eyewitnesses thought it was Mr. Bliss who lost it — by dropping the f-bomb right there in front of Rep. Morgan’s children. By the way, did I mention that this meeting was held in a church? The Lighthouse Christian Center, to be exact. That’s right, Al Bliss dropped the f-bomb, in front of children, inside a church. And we’re supposed to believe it was Seth Morgan’s county chair who lost her cool?

So just who is Mr. Al Bliss? Well, he’s the “leader” of the Darke County T.E.A. Patriots, according to this article. My own sources have referred to him as the “president.” I would prefer to think of him as the chairman or the fuhrer. But that’s not the most interesting part. Al Bliss is married to Lyn Bliss, who apparently spoke on behalf of Dave Yost, who was not in attendance. Why on earth would she do a thing like that, you ask? Well, because she’s Yost’s Darke County campaign chair!

You heard that right. Al Bliss, the president of the Darke County T.E.A. Patriots that endorsed Dave Yost last night, is married to Yost’s county chair. Now, believe me, it took me a while to confirm that Lyn Bliss is in fact Yost’s county chair.

I tried calling the Yost campaign initially for confirmation. I asked them a simple question: Who is the Yost campaign’s chair for Darke County? And what did they ask me? Well, they asked for my name. I told them it was Nate Nelson. They then asked my reason for inquiring. I told them I wanted to contact her about the Darke County T.E.A. Patriots’ endorsement of Dave Yost last night (and, believe me, I did). They then asked who I was with. I told them I was a blogger. Finally, they asked for my phone number so they could call me back. They never did call me back. My guess is they realized that I’m that Nate Nelson, the senior editor of From the Rust Belt, the guy who has been a thorn in Dave Yost’s side since he became an ORP man and announced his switch from the Attorney General’s race to the Auditor of State’s race.

But I digress. The point is that Al Bliss is married to Lyn Bliss, and Lyn Bliss is Dave Yost’s county chair for Darke County. Could there be just a small conflict of interest there? I’m just sayin’.

But there’s more:

The upset attendees cited the friendship of Mr. Bliss, Mrs. Bliss, and Ms. Howdieshell [who counted the votes], and their perceived support of the Yost and Robinson campaigns. Several spoke of quitting the current Tea Party or forming a new Tea Party.

And more:

A number of people attended the meeting with the expectation of voting, but at some point it was announced that only those people who had attended a prior Tea Party meeting would be eligible to vote. As a result, only 43 ballots were cast. Many people were disappointed at not being able to vote.

And even more:

Ms. Howdieshell proceeded with the tally of the votes in private, and unlike the press release below, several attendees commented on the vote taking “a long time,” or as much as a half hour.

The best part — or worst, depending on your perspective — is that this information has been independently corroborated by my own sources. In fact, my sources claimed that Ms. Howdieshell counted the votes behind a counter, out of sight of the attendees.

Why do I emphasize “behind a counter”? Well, only because Henry Hill at Think Real — no doubt inadvertently — confirms this piece of information himself. Remember his statement that Morgan’s county chair was “yelling insults at the counter”? When I first read this, before any investigation, I had no idea why anyone would be yelling at the counter. Apparently, even Mr. Henry Hill knows that these ballots were counted behind a counter and out of sight of the attendees. Thank you, Mr. Hill, for what may be the only actual fact to be found in your post.

This is a lot of information to digest. What does it all mean? It reads like a script from “Days of Our Tea Party.” Let me see if I can boil it down for you.

Dave Yost, the Ohio Republican Party, and their supporters are desperate. Seth Morgan has built grassroots momentum that has left them quaking in their boots. He has received numerous county party endorsements while Yost has received relatively few. He has received the endorsement of the Ohio Liberty Council, which represents most of the Tea Parties and 9/12 groups in Ohio (by the way, the Darke County T.E.A. Patriots have distanced themselves from the Ohio Liberty Council — h/t Right Ohio). Seth Morgan is clearly the grassroots, Tea Party candidate for Auditor of State. Dave Yost and Kevin DeWine are afraid they can’t stand in the way of that kind of momentum anymore.

Dave Yost badly needed a Tea Party endorsement. He finally got one.

Yes, Dave Yost got his Tea Party endorsement. He got that endorsement by a Tea Party formed only within the past couple of months, led by a man who is married to Yost’s Darke County campaign chair. He got that endorsement via an extremely fishy voting procedure, concealed by all accounts — even that of one of his supporters — under the cover of a counter. He got that endorsement despite questions raised, questions that were dismissed with bellicose profanity spewed by Al Bliss, in the presence of children, inside a church.

Dave Yost got his Tea Party endorsement. He got it through gangster tactics employed by his supporters in Darke County, and by a reckless disregard for truth and journalistic integrity on the part of his blogging supporter, Mr. Henry Hill. These are the same gangster tactics that the Ohio Republican Party has employed on behalf of Dave Yost all along. These tactics are sickening. They are an affront to our democratic republican values. These tactics, those who make use of them, and the candidate who turns a blind eye to it all should be utterly repudiated by conservative Republicans throughout the state.

Darke County Tea Party patriots now find themselves in the strange position of being forced to stand up not only to government, but to the leaders of their own Tea Party. They should do so for the preservation of their movement and the values it represents. Dave Yost should step aside from the Auditor of State race, or else prepare to face the full momentum of the grassroots tidal wave that is headed his way on May 4. Henry Hill should entirely retract his recklessly false post and leave blogging to those who prefer facts over hackery. And Kevin DeWine should prepare to resign his chairmanship of the Ohio Republican Party in disgrace immediately following the elections this November.

In the meantime, you and I should keep doing what we’ve been doing. We should keep supporting Seth Morgan, CPA for Ohio Auditor of State — the Tea Party candidate, the grassroots candidate, our candidate, and the most qualified candidate to serve as our next Auditor. Let them keep up their petty games and old politics. We’ll show them in May. We’ll show David Pepper in November. And we’ll have Kevin DeWine’s job by December, at the latest.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that the Darke County T.E.A. Patriots also endorsed Jon Husted for Secretary of State and Mike DeWine for Attorney General last night. When was the last time you heard of a legitimate Tea Party group endorsing either Husted or DeWine? I rest my case.

Why Don’t Yost and DeWine Want to Take Back the Ohio House?

Last week, the Yost campaign decided it would be a good idea to attack Republicans in the Ohio House of Representatives. Here’s the money quote (h/t Weapons of Mass Discussion):

Dave’s opponent is a member of the state legislature, the very place responsible for the out-of-control spending of Columbus. With tax day upon us, let’s rise up and say “no more!”. Let’s get to work fixing the mess in Columbus and holding government officials accountable.

Other bloggers have already discussed this, but I think there are still a few layers to this awfulness that have yet to be peeled back. For example, does Dave Yost think that slapping an “out-of-control spending” label on Ohio House Republicans is going to help bring about the change that Ohio needs? Does he think that pinning the “out-of-control spending” on the legislature is going to do anything to help John Kasich pin the blame for spending where it really belongs — namely, on Ted Strickland? Does Dave Yost really care about Ohio, or does he just care about winning this election by whatever means necessary?

But I think the point that has really been missed is the sheer hypocrisy here. Ohio House Republicans — including Seth Morgan — have, contrary to the Yost campaign’s reckless disregard for the truth, again and again stood against Ted Strickland’s big spending.

But here’s the question: Can Dave Yost say the same thing about his own supporters among Ohio Senate Republicans?

We already know the answer to that question.

He can’t.

If you’ll recall, dear reader, I noted in March that Yost had received some rather unsavory endorsements from Republicans in the Ohio Senate. The most glaring was the inclusion of the infamous “Gang of 5″ in these endorsements. The Gang of 5 — Ohio Senate President Bill Harris, John Carey, David Goodman, Tom Niehaus, and Mark Wagoner — was the group of five Republican state senators who did Ted Strickland’s bidding and voted to raise taxes to the tune of $900 million.

I prefer to pin the blame for Ohio’s big spending primarily on Strickland. But Yost is right that there are those to blame in the legislature. We can blame Ohio House Democrats. We can also blame the Gang of 5. They made a terrible decision for the people of this state. They demonstrated profoundly poor judgment. And they have done so again in endorsing Dave Yost, who would prefer to blame courageous Ohio House Republicans for the state’s spending rather than blaming Strickland, Democrats in the legislature, and five of the state senators who have given him their endorsements.

But we’re not done. Ladies and gents, we’re just getting started.

This is not the first time that the ORP-Kevin DeWine-Dave Yost axis has attacked Ohio House Republicans. As Matt Naugle (Right Ohio) is again pointing out, the Ohio Republican Party decided to take seemingly punitive action against Ohio House Republicans who are supporting Morgan’s candidacy for Auditor of State. Naugle broke the story that certain Morgan supporters in the Ohio House “were not being allowed to use the Ohio GOP’s bulk mail permit if they dared to support Seth Morgan.”

Republicans in the Ohio House and across the state could well ask at this point: Why don’t Dave Yost and Kevin DeWine want to take back the Ohio House?

One final note in closing. It’s not just the Ohio House that Yost and DeWine are gambling with their words and actions; it’s potentially the Apportionment Board as well. The five member board — comprised of the Governor, the Secretary of State, the Auditor of State, a member selected by the Ohio House Speaker, and a member selected by the Ohio House minority party — will be responsible for redistricting following this year’s census. The Apportionment Board’s role in redistricting promises to give the party controlling the board a tremendous decade-long advantage.

Think about that for a minute and think about what Yost and DeWine are doing. By falsely pinning the blame for big spending on Ohio House Republicans, Dave Yost is risking our chances of taking back the Ohio House. There’s one Apportionment Board seat. He is simultaneously deflecting criticism about spending away from Gov. Strickland, making John Kasich’s job more difficult. There’s another Apportionment Board seat.

Throw into the equation Yost’s candidacy for Auditor of State and the deflating impact it is having on the conservative base, and presto, you have a situation in which Yost may lose the Auditor of State’s office to David Pepper. There’s another Apportionment Board seat. That’s three, and three would give the Democrats control of the Apportionment Board.

DeWine and Yost already decided to risk the Apportionment Board by playing games with the Auditor of State primary. If they felt that was necessary, maybe they should refrain from hurting Republican chances for taking back the Ohio House and John Kasich’s chances of becoming our next governor. Then again, given the shenanigans with Jon Husted versus Sandy O’Brien for Secretary of State, maybe Kevin DeWine is trying to go all out and lose four Apportionment Board seats to the Democrats. That would be quite an accomplishment for any chairman — of the Ohio Democratic Party, that is.

NO NOISE? NO VOTES!

Athens Democrats are at it again. Mayor Paul Wiehl has made his animosity toward students very clear time and time again. Recently, he proposed that students should pay a fee to buy the city a new fire truck — all this while Athens City Council plans to spend $1.75 million to purchase the University Estates property. This purchase will bring what could have been a flourishing private sector project into the public sector, costing taxpayers, depriving residents of jobs, and costing schools badly needed revenue. But while Paul Wiehl and his Democrats on City Council spend frivolously, he wants students — the lifeblood of the Athens economy — to foot the bill for a new fire truck.

Wiehl’s most recent public policy assault on students involves a noise ordinance under consideration by the Athens City Council. Under the proposed ordinance, the Athens Police Department would be granted virtually unlimited power to shut down parties (presumably, in nearly all cases, student parties). This ordinance would represent the greatest expansion of police power in the City of Athens’ history.

According to the Athens NEWS, the ordinance will enable police to shut down parties deemed too noisy without resident complaint. According to The Post, Ohio University’s student-run newspaper, the ordinance will allow police to shut down parties regardless of noise level, time of day, or (if there even is a complaintant) proximity of complaintant to the party. In supporting this ordinance, Wiehl has revealed the magnum opus of his contempt for students. By even considering the ordinance, the Athens City Council joins him as students’ antagonists. Wiehl and his Democrats on Athens City Council will not recognize and will not respect the contribution that students make to this city.

Well, students aren’t just going to sit back and take it. We have a message for Mayor Paul Wiehl and the Athens City Council: NO NOISE? NO VOTES!

Athens Democrats know that students represent the most reliable bloc of voters for the Democrat Party. We know it, too. And we are promising Wiehl and the Democrats on City Council that if they pass the noise ordinance, we will pass them all pink slips. We will vote for any of their political opponents who oppose the noise ordinance. If no such candidates exist, we will run ourselves — as Democrat primary opponents, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, and independents — and we will take their City Council seats. We will dump more proverbial tea in the Hocking River than the Boston Tea Party dumped in the harbor, and we will dump their political careers, too.

To show that we mean business, we have launched a multi-partisan Facebook page called NO NOISE? NO VOTES! As of this writing, we are 468 students strong and growing rapidly, after less than 24 hours. We are sending a clear message to Athens Democrats that if they support or vote for the noise ordinance, their individual political careers and the political future of the Athens County Democratic Party will be in jeopardy. We will not vote for supporters of the noise ordinance just because the letter D follows their names.

If you are an Ohio University student or a supportive Athens resident, we encourage you to become a fan of our Facebook page — and to invite other OU students and Athens residents to do the same. Together we can defeat this noise ordinance. City Council will vote down this ordinance if councilmembers believe that we will vote them their pink slips.

If You’re Reading This, You Are the Resistance

ObamaCare has passed, to the sound of thunderous applause from the socialists who are trampling upon the principles that have been the foundation of our country since its inception. This monstrosity, deemed “health care reform” by its statist champions, is the largest government takeover of the American economy in our history and the first time that government has ever tried to unconstitutionally force Americans to buy goods and services.

Our next step must be to rally in support of the courageous state attorneys general throughout this country who will challenge the constitutionality of the individual mandate. We everyday Americans must also fight, through the Republican Party, to repeal ObamaCare and replace it with constitutional, market-based solutions to Americans’ health care problems. If we hope to roll back this blow to our constitutional republic, it is imperative that we elect Republicans to the House and Senate this November, and that we start working now to defeat Barack Obama in 2012.

It is also imperative that we recognize that this fight for our country is far from over. They will not stop at ObamaCare. They will fight for their so-called “climate change” legislation, which is really an ecosocialist plot to pass the biggest tax increase in American history and plunge our economy into the worst crisis it has ever faced. They will fight for amnesty for illegal aliens, so that their dreams of a permanent majority — now jeopardized by their overt radicalism — can finally be realized in the only way possible, through theft and fraud. They will fight for countless changes, great and small, that will undermine the liberal democratic principles upon which our republic was built.

We must fight them every step of the way. And the only way we can fight them is to elect common sense conservative Republicans to the House and Senate this year, and to work to find the right candidate to make Barack Obama a one term president.

In pursuit of these goals, in the coming days From the Rust Belt will welcome new contributors. These contributors are individuals who believe in the mission of this blog, to advance conservative principles — that is, constitutional principles — and to promote political leaders within the Republican Party who adhere to those principles. They will work with me, and with you, to fight to take back the Republican Party, to take back Ohio, and to take back America for the people of this country and the fundamental principles of our republic. We know that we are the resistance. We also know that we cannot win this fight alone.

If you’re reading this, you are the resistance. Every single man, woman, and child in this country must wake up and recognize what Barack Obama and his socialists in Congress are doing and fight them every step of the way. Every American must engage in a second Velvet Revolution to halt the forward march of Karl Marx’s ghost. You, and I, and every other American must take to the streets in peaceful protest. You, and I, and every other American must pound the pavement for candidates who will restore our republic. You, and I, and every other American must vote in primary and general elections at every level of government for candidates who will fight this fight with us every step of the way.

You are the resistance. America is depending on you. Look at everything she has done for you. Do what you can now for her, so that your children and grandchildren don’t wake up in an America in which the American Dream is nothing more than a dream, buried deep in the minds of enslaved and asleep citizens lulled into their slumber by the empty promises of big government.

Redfern, ODP Are Running Scared

Chris Redfern and the Ohio Democratic Party are scared. How else to explain Redfern’s focus on the Republican primary for Auditor of State?

Redfern, on January 20:

Are Republicans so desperate in looking for anyone to run for State Auditor that they have settled on someone whose home county soundly rejected him as a candidate for County Auditor? Rep. Morgan’s one big accomplishment is slamming the Governor’s office with a massive and frivolous public records request that was a waste of taxpayer dollars. And now, after wasting the state’s money, he wants to be Ohio’s next Auditor. Rep. Morgan says he wants to continue in Mary Taylor’s CPA tradition, which, given his record, we assume will be her tradition of Conservative Partisan Attacks.

Redfern, on January 25:

Dave Yost was strong-armed out of the Attorney General’s race by the Ohio Republican Party, despite having endorsements from many county Republican parties throughout the state. Yost clearly wanted to be Attorney General, but was forced to play second fiddle to Kevin DeWine’s second cousin and the second choice of the Republican base. Meanwhile, two self-proclaimed Tea Party candidates are now pitted against one another in the race for the Republican nomination for Auditor, which has infuriated the right-wing of the Republican Party.

Running for the Auditor’s office should not be a consolation prize. David Pepper has been traveling across the state for eight months, talking to Ohioans about what they want out of a State Auditor and speaking about his passion for improving the Auditor’s office. He will build on his record of protecting Ohio tax dollars by eliminating waste, fraud and abuse, while expanding transparency and accountability in local government.

Most recently, Redfern on March 3:

Does Congressman Kasich stand with Kevin DeWine, or does he stand with Mary Taylor’s longtime mentor Alex Arshinkoff? Does Kasich stand with the Ohio Republican Party, or does he stand with county Republican parties throughout the state? Does he agree with his running mate that Ohio’s Auditor should be a CPA, or does he agree with Kevin DeWine that Ohio must have a former county auditor in the position?

Redfern is scared, and he should be. No matter who wins the Republican primary for Auditor of State, our candidate will still be a stronger candidate with better qualifications to be Ohio’s next Auditor than their candidate.

It is ironic that Redfern would ask whether John Kasich thinks that Ohio’s Auditor of State should be a CPA like Mary Taylor and Seth Morgan or a former county auditor like Dave Yost. Their candidate, David Pepper, is neither. In fact, it seems that Pepper’s chief qualification when Redfern thought he would be running against Mary Taylor was his ability to self-fund his own campaign (in other words, his well known status as the “spoiled little brat” candidate for Auditor). Pepper and Redfern seem to think that money is the only qualification a candidate needs to be our next Auditor of State.

And how desperate is Chris Redfern, that he doesn’t even notice the hypocrisy of criticizing the way our party does business as the Ohio Democratic Party, under his leadership, has been working hard to limit Democrat voters’ choices to the establishment’s preferred candidates?

Take, for example, the Democrat primary for U.S. Senate. There can be no question that Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is the more liberal candidate who would be more appealing to the Democrat nutroots, yet it’s clear that the establishment is supporting Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher. What gives?

But the ODP’s treatment of Brunner is nothing compared to their treatment of the woman who once sought to replace Brunner as Secretary of State, Jennifer Garrison. OhioDaily, a Democrat blog, reported at the end of January that “donors and party insiders” (read: the ODP and its minions) were seeking “to push their original hand-picked choice out as fast as they rushed her in.” They succeeded, and their efforts to deny Democrat primary voters a choice between moderate Garrison versus an ultra-liberal candidate like Maryellen O’Shaughnessy left some wondering if Garrison would switch to the Republican Party.

And Redfern wants to talk about candidates being “strong-armed” out of primary races? Apparently he is so irrationally afraid of Seth Morgan and Dave Yost that it slipped his mind that his own party, under his own leadership, successfully “strong-armed” Jennifer Garrison out of the Secretary of State race and is trying to do the same thing to Jennifer Brunner and her flailing campaign for U.S. Senate.

But hey, Redfern can be forgiven for being a little scared. I have long maintained that, as a CPA, Seth Morgan is the most qualified candidate in the Auditor of State race. I believe he can and will win the primary and be our nominee for Auditor. But let’s face it, even if Morgan loses the primary and Dave Yost is our nominee, our candidate will still be leaps and bounds more qualified than David Pepper. Whether our candidate is a CPA or a former county auditor, at least he will have better qualifications for the job than his family’s money.

Prediction: Palin Will Endorse Seth Morgan

Right Ohio brings us the news that Seth Morgan, the Tea Party Republican candidate for Auditor of State, was excluded from the private Ohio Right to Life reception featuring Sarah Palin. The angle I’m going with on this story isn’t so much that Morgan was excluded (his primary opponent, Dave Yost, couldn’t get in either), but rather the reported reaction of Palin’s people to Morgan’s exclusion:

Seth Morgan did not buy a ticket in advance to the reception, Sarah Palin’s people and major Ohio Right to Life donors invited him in- repeatedly. . . .

While the Morgan campaign has absolutely no interest in commenting on thus (sic), his supporters are speaking up. And I’m hearing through the grapevine that Tom Norris, Lara (Mastin) Norris, Tim Crawford (who works closely with Palin’s team… The event wouldn’t of happened without him.), and many others were royally pissed because of this situation.

Emphasis mine. Reading the tea leaves a bit, I think this reaction and the fact that Morgan has supporters who work closely with the Palin team indicates that Palin will eventually endorse Seth Morgan for Auditor of State.

I know, I know — this race is too small for Sarah Palin. But follow my reasoning for a minute…

As a Politico piece from February makes clear, Palin is intensely interested in Ohio and has been since 2008. As John McCain’s running mate, she held more campaign events in Ohio than in any other state. She has been back to Ohio on numerous occasions since then, the most recent being her ORTL event. Her political action committee, SarahPAC, has donated a combined total of $10,500 to John Kasich, Mary Taylor, Rob Portman, and Jean Schmidt — and her involvement in these races clearly has Ohio Democrats running scared.

Reading the tea leaves a bit more, this is incredibly smart if she intends to run for president in 2012 (and I believe she does). Shoring up support with and building enthusiasm among Ohio’s conservatives would be important for the primaries, but even moreso for the general election given Ohio’s perpetual status as a key battleground state.

That’s where Seth Morgan comes in. As far as primaries go, no other race has energized Tea Partiers more than Morgan’s contest with Delaware County prosecutor Dave Yost. Others, like Tom Ganley and Sandra O’Brien, have certainly tried but none have been as successful as Morgan in capturing and maintaining active Tea Party support. For a lot of conservatives, the Auditor of State race has become a referendum on how the Ohio Republican Party does business and is a struggle for the people’s right to decide who will lead us in the future.

Translation? Normally the Auditor of State race would be too insignificant to attract the attention of a national figure like Palin, but these aren’t normal circumstances. At the moment, this primary race matters more to Tea Partiers than any other race.

Given her interest in Ohio, and given that there is overlap between Team Seth and Team Sarah, it seems increasingly likely to me that there will be a Palin endorsement for Morgan. If she has presidential ambitions in 2012, an endorsement just makes sense. The growing Tea Party movement in this state will certainly remember her involvement in this important primary, which will give her an enthusiasm edge that other candidates will lack. It will help her build a base that will be grateful to her for intervening on behalf of the people’s candidate to counterbalance the support of Ohio’s Republican establishment for Dave Yost.

One open question is what form such an endorsement might take. It’s possible that she will actually make some sort of statement, but I think it’s more likely that SarahPAC will simply contribute to Morgan’s campaign and not to Yost’s. Even such a tacit endorsement would make her support for Morgan clear, further energize the Tea Party movement for Morgan, and indicate to donors which way the political wind is blowing.

So, you heard it here first: I think Sarah Palin will endorse Seth Morgan for Ohio Auditor of State. I’m on record. Prepare to be in awe of my mad tea leaf reading skills when my prediction comes true.

Morgan Campaign Urges Yost to Fire Spokesman [UPDATED]

On February 25, I noted that Yost campaign spokesman Matt Borges has a little public corruption in his past. In 2004, Borges pleaded guilty to improper use of public office amidst a scandal involving his time working for former Ohio Treasurer Joseph Deters. It seemed to me that someone aspiring to be Auditor of State, our government watchdog, shouldn’t have any trace of corruption on his campaign. I wrote:

On more than one occasion, Yost has boasted about his (admittedly impressive) record for going after public corruption. That’s all well and good, but what about the corrupt former public servant on his own campaign staff? Matt Borges pleaded guilty to improper use of public office. What is he doing on the campaign staff of a man who prides himself on the aggressive prosecution of public corruption? More importantly, will Mr. Borges be working in the Auditor of State’s office if Yost is elected?

Now the Morgan campaign has written a letter to Dave Yost urging him to fire Mr. Borges. From the Morgan campaign’s press release, which I received by e-mail:

Dear Dave,

It has been brought to my attention through past media reports in the Dayton Daily News, the Cincinnati Enquirer, other media outlets, and recent news blogs that you have associated on both of your campaigns, running for Ohio Attorney General and now Auditor of State, an individual that admitted to public corruption charges.

The public insists the Auditor of State to be above reproach and demands the Auditor to have high ethical standards due to the sensitive nature of the cases the office handles. Even the hint of impropriety would be damaging to the reputation and the public trust of the Auditor’s office. That is the reason why the ethical standards for professional auditors such as Seth Morgan, CPA are some of the highest found among any professional group.

Mr. Matt Borges, your campaign spokesman and member of your campaign leadership team, admitted to public corruption charges in July 2004 when he was Chief of Staff to State Treasurer Joe Deters. Borges pleaded guilty to one count of improper use of public office. Court documents indicate he gave preferential treatment to certain brokers who made contributions to Deters’ re-election campaign.

Mr. Borges may be a very skilled professional and I don’t claim to have any special knowledge of what did or didn’t happen in the Treasurer’s office at the time he chose to plead guilty to these charges. However, the fact that Mr. Borges did plead guilty to corruption charges and you still have seen fit to allow him to play a very visible role in your campaign could raise very serious questions in the public’s mind regarding the standards you would use should you prevail and succeed in being elected Ohio’s next State Auditor.

I urge you to disassociate your campaign from Mr. Borges and to exercise greater care in the future regarding those who become part of your team.

Respectfully,

Emery Phipps
Political Director
Friends of Seth Morgan

Given the very nature of the Auditor of State’s office, this is not an unreasonable request. You can bet, though, that Yost supporters will once again howl about the purported “scorched earth” campaign that they say Morgan and his supporters are running. To that, I would point out to them as I pointed out in February that it is far better to air this now, during the primaries, than to let David Pepper get his hands on it in the fall.

As Yost supporters are so fond of pointing out, it’s not just the Auditor’s office that is at stake here. It’s the Apportionment Board. By employing someone who has admitted to public corruption in the past, Dave Yost is not only jeopardizing the integrity of the Auditor’s office should he win, he is also jeopardizing Republican chances to maintain control of the Apportionment Board should David Pepper hammer him day in and day out about his association with Mr. Borges.

UPDATE: I have been reminded that this incident has since been expunged from Mr. Borges’ record, which in no way changes the fact that he still pleaded guilty to one count of improper use of public office in 2004. But yes, for the record, that has since been expunged.

A Statement on State Sen. Jimmy Stewart

When I wrote my previous post, I knew that it would ruffle some feathers and I knew exactly why it would ruffle some feathers. What I did not count on was a complete plucking of those feathers so that I could subsequently be tarred and feathered with them.

The controversy surrounds my inclusion of State Sen. Jimmy Stewart, who represents Athens County (my home county), in my post. I knew that including Stewart in the post would be controversial, but I also knew that excluding him while going after the other nine state senators with questionable voting records would be playing favorites. In hindsight, I should have come up with a better choice of words for the title of the post since I do not believe Sen. Stewart is a RINO. Let me say that again: I do not believe Sen. Stewart is a RINO.

As anyone can see from reading my previous post, Sen. Stewart received some of the mildest criticism. I mentioned that he has not taken a position on Third Frontier (he hasn’t), and I mentioned that he is cosponsoring a childhood obesity bill with goals that would be better left to parental and personal responsibility (and, well, he is). But these are not exactly capital offenses. They’re certainly no reason to vote Sen. Stewart out of office, nor are they reason to label him a RINO.

Still, all of this has created some controversy here in Athens County. I think a lot of it has to do with the strong loyalty that many Republicans here feel toward Sen. Stewart, which I share. But I think it also has to do with what this blog has been doing over the past several weeks. I have been an outspoken supporter of Seth Morgan’s candidacy for Auditor of State and a vocal critic of Dave Yost. Meanwhile, many of those who are so outraged over my purported “attack” on Sen. Stewart were overheard just a few weeks ago complaining about anyone who would dare circulate petitions for “non-ORP endorsed candidates.” I think you can connect the dots.

But since so much controversy has been created, let me clear up a few things. I’ll say again that I don’t think Sen. Stewart is a RINO, and using that term in the title of my post to apply to all of the state senators I would subsequently talk about was a poor choice. I regret it and I apologize for it. Given the district that he represents, where elected Republicans are almost as rare as unicorns, Sen. Stewart is as conservative as he can possibly be.

When it counts, when it really counts, Sen. Stewart stands against the intrusion of big government into the lives of his constituents. Yes, maybe he is cosponsoring a childhood obesity bill that I believe is unnecessary; but more importantly, he stood against Gov. Strickland’s $900 million tax increase. For this vote against Strickland’s tax increase, the liberal media of Athens County heaped scorn upon him. He knew that would happen, but he did what was best for his constituents anyway. When it comes right down to it, that is conservative enough for me.

Taking things a step further, were Sen. Stewart to ever receive a primary challenge from his right I would support Sen. Stewart. For one thing, anyone to Sen. Stewart’s right would be a loser in Athens County. But for another thing, I like Sen. Stewart and I believe that, far more often than not, he is looking out for his constituents and adhering to the core values that should guide the Republican Party. Anyone who ever challenged him from his right, anyone who ever called him a RINO, would be persona non grata to me. I sincerely regret the appearance of doing that myself, because I truly do not believe that Sen. Stewart is a RINO. I believe that he is as conservative as he can be in this district and that, somewhat akin to Scott Brown in Massachusetts, he is doing what he feels is best for his constituents.

That’s the kind of leeway that one can afford Republicans who are representing liberal districts or liberal states. In fact, that’s the kind of leeway that we must afford Republicans in liberal districts and liberal states if we want to be competitive in every district and every state.

Republicans who are insufficiently conservative in states that are friendly to conservatives are another matter. Sen. Stewart can be granted some leeway, given that he represents Athens County. As a statewide candidate in a state that is friendly to conservatives, with a political environment in which people are craving conservatism, Dave Yost deserves no such leeway. Dave Yost is the candidate of the Ohio Republican Party establishment, which has been notoriously hostile to conservatives. Unlike Sen. Stewart, Dave Yost does not deserve the support of conservatives.

That was the point I was trying to make in my previous post. Instead, that post has been construed by some of my fellow Republicans in Athens County as an attack on State Sen. Jimmy Stewart. No such attack was intended, and I apologize for offending any of my fellow Athens County Republicans, for offending Sen. Stewart, or for creating unnecessary division within the party.

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