Sunday, May 28, 2000

WILKINSON: Rogue candidate takes GOP loyalty to the brink

        Should you have any obvious control freaks among your friends and acquaintances, we would venture a guess that they might tend to vote Republican.

        Now, not all Republicans are control freaks. No, not all.

        But we have yet to see a Democrat carrying a Franklin Planner. We have seen Republicans who go through Post-It notes like sinus sufferers go through Kleenex.

        Republicans prefer order. Democrats pick chaos off the menu every time.

        This is especially true when it comes to Republican Party leaders.

        When they put together a slate of candidates for an election cycle, they expect those candidates to sit in their assigned seats, cross the street at the crosswalks and park their cars inside the painted lines.

        “Different drummers” need not apply. In fact, drums are pretty much out.

        Internal party discipline is important in Republican politics. It always has been a priority in the Hamilton County Republican Party, which has managed to hold onto the machinery of county government for decades, in part, because its candidates are always reading out of the same playbook.

        Except this year.

        This year, in the very Republican 37th Ohio House District — made up of Anderson Township, Hyde Park, Mount Lookout and Norwood — the Republican candidate is Tom Brinkman Jr., the veteran anti-tax crusader who has made a cottage industry of butting heads with the GOP establishment for the past decade or so.

        The folks at party headquarters did not want Mr. Brinkman as their candidate, but he won the March 7 primary, so there you have it.

        The party had its own candidate, Steve Adams, a nice guy who didn't talk about much of anything of substance, so he finished where Leo Durocher predicted nice guys would forever dwell.

        There are about four Republicans for every Democrat in the 37th Ohio House District, so winning the GOP primary pretty much assures you of a win in the fall.

        This year, for Hamilton County GOP candidates, the drill is to be as supportive as possible of the stadium projects on the river because they have given County Commissioner Bob Bedinghaus, a candidate for re-election, no end of grief.

        But Mr. Brinkman, who campaigned against the stadium sales tax, has made it clear he will not play along.

        He's busy calling the Bengals stadium project a “horrible waste” and an “awful deal” for the taxpayers, much to the chagrin of Mr. Bedinghaus and the party leadership. They really can't do much about it because he is the GOP candidate. And short of a mass exodus of Republicans from the 37th District between now and November, he is the next state representative.

        Talking to the Enquirer last week, Mr. Brinkman had another idea that might attract attention at GOP headquarters.

        Under the circumstances, Mr. Brinkman said, electing Democrat Todd Portune county commissioner over Mr. Bedinghaus “wouldn't be all bad.”

        Boy, is he going to get a Post-It note on his desk Monday morning.


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