Tuesday, October 31, 2000

Ohio House race uses attack ad

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Republicans are doing something this week that almost never happens in an Ohio House race in Hamilton County — bombarding the airwaves with an “attack” ad aimed at Democratic candidate Steve Driehaus.

        Part of the Ohio House Republican campaign committee's six-figure TV ad campaign is aimed at the 33rd District, where longtime Democratic incumbent Jerry Luebbers is term-limited out.

        Mr. Driehaus and Republican Tony Condia are battling it out in a race both parties consider too close to call.

        “It's a tight race,” said Hamilton County GOP chairman Joe Deters. “Yes, it's unusual to see this kind of ad in this area, but it's not unusual at all in other parts of the state. Our state legislative races are usually more low-key.”

        Ohio House races in Hamilton County are usually placid affairs, with little money spent on TV advertising and few attacks. But the term-limit law in the Ohio General Assembly has left dozens of open seats.

        In the GOP “attack” ad, aimed at conservative voters in Delhi Township and Cincinnati's west side neighborhoods, a narrator asks if Mr. Driehaus “shares our values.”

        It claims he supports increasing income taxes, public financing for political campaigns, and “special rights” for homosexuals.

        Mr. Driehaus' answers to the three claims are wrong, right and wrong, respectively.

        “It's a pretty desperate act on their part,” said Mr. Driehaus, a first-time candidate who is director of the Community Building Institute at Xavier University.

        Mr. Driehaus called the charge that he supports an income tax increase “simply untrue.” He does, he said, think public financing for political campaigns is a good idea.

        “What I say on gay rights is that I believe it is wrong to characterize protection against discrimination and hatred as "special' treatment,” Mr. Driehaus said.

        Mr. Condia said the GOP ad “simply tries to lay out the deep philosophical differences between us. And they are many.”

        “This is a 58 percent Republican district that has been held by a Democrat for 22 years and it drives them crazy,” Mr. Driehaus said.

        The two are running for the seat of Mr. Luebbers, a conservative Democrat who was considered the leading anti-abortion voice in the Ohio House. Abortion is a major issue in the conservative, heavily Catholic district, and both Mr. Driehaus and Mr. Condia describe themselves as “pro-life.”

        Republicans believe this is their best chance in a generation to capture the seat. The GOP leadership in Columbus is pouring money into the campaign of Mr. Condia, who is director of government affairs for the Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati.


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