Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Perz: "I get a little uncomfortable"

We get the sense that the Ohio Republican establishment has no idea who they climbed in bed with during the November election. As the recent New York Times article illustrates, the radical fringe of the GOP, the ones that even give conservatives a bad name, are making a serious move to consolidate their power in Ohio using such vehicles as the candidacy of the Kenny Blackwell for Governor. No doubt, too, that these folks would be the shock troops for issues like the LIE amendment.

The polarization within the Ohio GOP has been there for years. In the past, it was battles between moderate Republicans like Voinovich versus the cave-man caucus in the General Assembly. Voinovich, generally, held his ground. Taft, less the pragmatic manager, has fared much worse. And people like GOP chair Bob Bennett seemed to be willing to live with some extremist and fringe-element types be elected to the Statehouse as long as the Rs kept their majority.

Even as the cultural divisions with the GOP heightened, there were those who wanted to gloss over it turning periods when there seemed to be a greater common good - such as delivering Ohio for Bush in 2004.

But, now the Repubs are more polarized than ever with Betty Montgomery at one end and Blackwell at the other. Bennett, while apparently no fan of the strain of politics Blackwell represents, also sees the bigger picture and also knows that the theocons are undermining his efforts to keep the GOP from exploding. More importantly, Bennett must be looking at the budget mess in Colorado, the model state for the LIE Amendment, and seeing how easily Republican domination can be undone when these wacky proposals go awry.

Yet, word has it that Bennett has no idea how to keep the party from going down that track. And if Bennett lacks a map, his lieutenants are frighteningly naive and just now realizing that zealots are already flanking the GOP mainstream.

Take, for example, the comments from Sally Perz, a Statehouse veteran and Lucas Co. GOP chair in response to the theocons Ohio Restoration Project outlined in the NY Times piece. This is from a Blade columnist, Roberta deBoer:
"I know there's a lot going on locally in terms of Christian support for Blackwell. I just hadn't heard . . . that actual title [Ohio Restoration Project]," she said.

"In terms of them 'taking over' the Republican party, I'm not sure what they mean," she allowed. "I know our local Republican party is very open to all the different elements and beliefs."

"I have always said, you elect the whole person. You don't say, leave your religious beliefs and your values on the doorstep."

At the same time, "if it's happening from the pulpit, this kind of steering congregations one way or the other, mmm, I get a little uncomfortable."

When I note her fence-walking, Ms. Perz is blunt: "I'm just trying to be very honest, but make sure I'm not burying myself."
In terms of taking over the party, I'm not sure what they mean?!?!?!?! Bennett knows what they mean.

Now, the tough decision for GOP regulars is, do you fight 'em or do you do the Third Reich thing and join 'em?


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