Thursday, November 02, 2000

Freedom Center issue in congressional race


TV ad blasts Chabot on bill

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is an issue in the 1st Congressional District race, thanks to a TV ad blasting Republican Steve Chabot's vote against an appropriations bill that funds construction of the riverfront project.

        It is an issue the John Cranley campaign hopes will have particular appeal to African-American voters, a group the Democrats must see turn out in large numbers if they hope to win Tuesday.

        The campaign of Democrat Cranley, Mr. Chabot's opponent, began airing a 30-second ad on local TV news hammering at Mr. Chabot's vote last month on an $18.8 billion Interior appropriations bill that included about $6 million for construction of the Freedom Center.

        Mr. Chabot has defended his vote, calling the appropriations bill a “budget-buster” that is full of political pork.

        The Cranley ad is, in part, a response to an earlier Chabot ad criticizing Mr. Cranley for saying he would have voted for the bill and saying that it included funding for such things as reindeer herding and weed control research. The Chabot ad did not mention funding for the Freedom Center.

        But Mr. Cranley said the vote against a bill that included money for a project important to his district — along with money for national parks, the Smithsonian Institution, fighting forest fires and early childhood medical care for American Indians — “is myopic.”

        “Steve Chabot continues to isolate himself more and more from common sense,” Mr. Cranley said.

        The bill passed by a vote of 348-69, with all Ohio House members except Mr. Chabot and all the House GOP leadership voting for it.

        The Cranley TV ad campaign comes at the same time that the Cranley campaign is distributing fliers in the 1st District's predominantly black neighborhoods claiming Mr. Chabot does not support the center, which will commemorate the struggle of slaves escaping across the Ohio River to freedom and the whites who aided them.

        Mr. Chabot notes that he co-sponsored the legislation authorizing federal funding for the center.

        African-Americans make up about one-third of the voting-age population in the district, which includes most of the city of Cincinnati and its western suburbs.

        A larger-than-usual turnout among black voters could boost Mr. Cranley's chances of an upset win over the three-term Republican congressman.

       



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