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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
May 5, 2006

Anti-gay attack letter may have won Ritter the primary

Cleveland--An ad that brought immediate accusations of gay-baiting may have clinched a narrow victory for the candidate who mailed it during the primary race to replace Ohio Rep. Dale Miller.

Bill Ritter�s campaign for the Democratic nod in Ohio House District 14 sent out a letter last week noting that one of his opponents, Mike Foley, answered a Sun Newspapers endorsement questionnaire that he supported same-sex marriage.

After attacking fellow candidate Erin Sullivan-Lally on two fronts in the letter, he turned his attention to Foley, noting, �Mike said �YES� he supports gay marriage. �UNLIKE MIKE� this concerns me since I DO NOT want this to become a state law. I feel a Marriage is between a MAN and a WOMAN. That is the WAY I WILL VOTE in Columbus!�

Ritter also noted with similar capitalization that Foley was endorsed by the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats, �a GAY/LESBIAN political action committee.�

The letter was mocked on weblogs within hours, and almost as quickly cost him the endorsement of the United Auto Workers Cuyahoga-Medina Community Action Program Council and brought a reproach from teachers� unions at the state and local level.

Ohio Federation of Teachers president Tom Mooney told the Plain Dealer�s Tom Wendling that his organization would not revoke their endorsement because there was not time before the May 2 primary election for the union�s executive council to meet and vote on it.

�I can�t just rescind it by fiat,� he told Wendling. �It isn�t that we have a position on gay marriage as such. It�s more the obvious gay-bashing or gay-baiting that was going on in the campaign piece that we found objectionable.�

Ritter�s piece also makes no mention that neither he nor Foley can ever vote on same-sex marriage in the Ohio House, since voters passed a sweeping constitutional amendment in 2004 that bars recognition of same-sex marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships.

Ritter seemed poised to win the primary by as few as 29 votes. At press time, the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections showed Ritter with 3,314 votes to Foley�s 3,285 with 101 of 105 precincts reporting.

District 14 includes southwest Cleveland wards 19, 20 and 21, plus Brook Park and Parma Heights. The seat was left open when Dale Miller was appointed to fill a vacant one in the Ohio Senate.



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