Hit & Run

Ken Blackwell Is an Aggressive Upholder of Heterosexuality and His Opponent May Not Be

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Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell, currently secretary of state of Ohio and once a leading contender for all sorts of future prizes in the GOP, is hopelessly behind in his race against Democrat U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland--polls show Strickland with a 14 percent lead.

Blackwell is a religious man, who wears his Christian virtue on his sleeve. So he gets the head of the Ohio Republican Party to demand answers to the "tough questions." You know, the ones about whether Strickland is, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan discussing his own son's sexuality, "all man."

"Ted Strickland has not answered the tough questions," [Ohio GOP spokesman John] McClelland said.

Included, McClelland said, is why Strickland went on a post-1998 campaign vacation with the once-convicted [male] aide to Italy.

"Where was Frances?'' McClelland said of the candidate's wife. "Voters should be able to look at it and make their own decision. We're not going to sit here and say whether or not we think Ted Strickland has a certain preference. It's just not our business. Our job is to try to win elections."

Or maybe just lose them.

The fooferaw referenced above deals with a former aide who worked for Strickland from 1997 to 1999. In 1994, in a sealed court decision, the aide had plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of exposing himself to children. After receiving an anonymous tip in 1998, Strickland apparently confronted the aide, who, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer, "denied the charge but left Strickland's staff the following year."

There's more here.

Blackwell is an interesting case for all sorts of reasons. As a conservative African American Republican, he has long been touted at "Jesse Jackson's Worst Nightmare" and the GOP's last, best hope both to reach out to blacks and maintain a hold on the bellwether state of Ohio. Yet he has been mired in scandals related to just about everything from state finances to voter registration, and he's been a lackluster campaigner. Depending on whether the GOP really tanks nationally this November, his political autopsy may be among the most revealing in how Republicans lost their attraction to the American voter.