GOP's right wing flexes its muscles with primary wins
Energized by religious conservatives, politically active churches and intolerance bred during the 2004 Issue 1 campaign, Ohio Republicans nominated their most anti-gay slate ever in this week�s primary election.
Attacks on LGBT Ohioans and their families are expected to become more prominent as the November 7 election approaches.
All of the contested statewide GOP primary races featured anti-gay themes. In most cases, the winners were determined on the strength of each candidate�s anti-gay credentials.
The standard-bearer, gubernatorial candidate Kenneth Blackwell, denigrated and blamed LGBT people for the state�s problems so often that daily newspapers ran columns asking him to stop.
�Blackwell�s idea of sound public policy seems to be regularly quoting the Bible, subtly bashing gays and advancing a ballot issue that would place every school system, library and park district in a financial straitjacket,� wrote Brent Larkin of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Calling Blackwell a �political extremist,� Larkin concluded, �Ohio already has a legislature loaded with homophobes. It doesn�t need another one in the governor�s office.�
With 23 percent of Ohio�s registered voters going to the polls, Blackwell defeated his primary opponent Jim Petro 56% to 44%.
Though Petro moved to the right on social issues and called for a federal constitutional amendment banning same- sex marriages, Blackwell used Petro�s 2004 opposition to Issue 1 as a weapon against him. Blackwell�s running mate is State Rep. Tom Raga.
The GOP race to name a state treasurer candidate also turned on LGBT issues.
Republican voters rejected the incumbent treasurer, former lieutenant governor Jennette Bradley, in favor of a little known challenger, Ashtabula County treasurer Sandra O�Brien.
�Nowhere on the Republican ballot are there two candidates for state office who differ more strikingly than in this race,� wrote O�Brien in the Dayton Daily News. �I hold mainstream conservative principles.�
Bradley �is getting beat up all over the state among conservative Republicans for her support for gay rights,� said an anonymous Bradley aide in an email to the Gay People�s Chronicle two days before the election.
As a member of Columbus city council, Bradley developed ties to the LGBT community and was one of the most outspoken advocates for a plan to give health benefits to city workers� domestic partners.
O�Brien beat Bradley 52% to 48%.
However, U.S. Senator Mike DeWine held his own against challenges from two social arch-conservatives, David R. Smith and William G. Pierce.
Smith was backed by Citizens for Community Values president Phil Burress. The two made DeWine shift farther to the right on social issues, most noticibly, his sudden cosponsorship of the federal constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage.
DeWine beat Smith and Pierce with 72% percent to their 14% each.
The only other challenged statewide GOP race was for attorney general, where former AG Betty Montgomery defeated State Sen. Tim Grendell 73% to 24%.
Republicans chose State Rep. Mary Taylor of Summit County as their candidate for state auditor. She was hand-picked by that county�s GOP boss Alex Arshinkoff, who hangs out in Cleveland gay bars but promotes anti-gay candidates and ballot initiatives.
GOP Ohio Supreme Court candidates Terrence O�Donnell and Robert R. Cupp ran unopposed.
On the Democratic side, the ticket is headed by gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland and his running mate, former attorney general Lee Fisher. They are endosed by both the Cleveland and Central Ohio Stonewall Democrats.
Strickland and Fisher defeated their primary opposition from Bryan Flannery and Frank Stams 80% to 20%.
U.S. Senate candidate Sherrod Brown ran unopposed. Brown, currently a U.S. House member, is a 100% Human Rights Campaign voter with a longstanding friendship to the LGBT community. He is also endorsed by the Cleveland and Central Ohio Stonewall Democrats.
Democrats chose state senator Marc Dann to be the nominee to fill the attorney general seat. He defeated former Cleveland law director Subodh Chandra 72% to 28%.
Democratic state auditor candidate and current Ohio House member Barbara Sykes ran unopposed, as did secretary of state candidate Jennifer Brunner. Both had the endorsement of Cleveland Stonewall Democrats. Brunner was endorsed by the Central Ohio Stonewall Democrats.
Democratic state treasurer candidate Richard Cordray, who is currently the Franklin County treasurer, was unopposed and endorsed by both Stonewall Democrat groups.
Democrats had choices for the two Ohio Supreme Court seats.
Former state senator Ben Espy defeated Cuyahoga County Juvenile Judge Peter Sikora 52 to 48%. Espy was endorsed by the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats.
Eleventh District Court of Appeals Judge William O�Neill defeated Montgomery County Judge A.J. Wagner 58 to 42 percent. Wagner was endosed by both Stonewall Democrat groups, and gay Dayton school board member Joe Lacey is his campaign treasurer.