Sunday, April 29, 2001

Off the bus

For Deters, home's no honeymoon

        Kramden and Norton.

        For some reason, when we watched State Auditor Jim Petro announce his candidacy for Ohio attorney general in Cincinnati Thursday, surrounded by high profile Hamilton County Republicans like Sheriff Simon Leis and County Commissioner John Dowlin, all we could think of was an old episode of The Honeymooners.

        Ralph and Ed, the bosom buddies, had had a falling out over some trifling matter. Then, when Ed wanted to buy Trixie some new furniture and needed a reference on his credit application, he listed his bus-driving pal, who reported to the finance company that Norton was a bum. A B-U-M, bum.

        Credit denied.

        Later that week, at the Raccoon Lodge, Ralph was up for election to the prestigious post of convention chairman. It was a close race; Norton, he assumed would cast the deciding vote in his favor.

Payback time
        A crestfallen Kramden looked on helplessly as Ed delivered the chairmanship to the opposition.

        Payback is a terrible thing.

        Now, imagine Simon Leis or John Dowlin in the role of Norton; then imagine Ohio Treasurer Joe Deters as Kramden.

        A year from now, Mr. Petro and Mr. Deters will be going head-to-head in a Republican primary for the Ohio Attorney General nomination, a battle that is bound to be nasty. It will be a classic Cleveland-Cincinnati confrontation.

        Thursday, Mr. Petro was trying to send a message with the presence of Mr. Leis and Mr. Dowlin - that Joe Deters has enemies in his own backyard.

        Of course, those of us who follow local politics already knew that - Mr. Deters has been in some lightning rod jobs that are guaranteed to make you as many enemies as friends.

        The sheriff, a former county prosecutor himself, has had his shorts bunched up on the subject of Joe Deters for years now.

        The two have locked horns numerous times. Usually, it was because the porn-sniffing sheriff was demanding that prosecutor Deters go after somebody showing pictures of nekkid people. Mr. Deters often demurred, arguing that his resources were better used going after people who commit violent crimes. This was more than the Scourge of Mapplethorpe could handle.

Settling accounts

        So that explains his presence at a Petro campaign event.

        A year or so ago, when Mr. Deters was county GOP chairman and the party was putting together its slate of county candidates for 2000, many of the party's biggest financial donors wanted Mr. Dowlin off the ticket because he was one of those radicals who thought the Reds should play at Broadway Commons.

        Others in the party, Mr. Deters included, were just tired of looking at him.

        Their efforts to gently push him off the GOP ticket were unsuccessful; Mr. Dowlin wouldn't be budged and was re-elected by a wide margin.

        But politics is a business where people rarely let bygones be bygones, and now the county commissioner is four-square behind his ol' buddy Jim Petro.

        In the long run, it probably doesn't mean very much; Mr. Deters will win his home county easily next spring.

        But we wouldn't be surprised if he would like to see the sheriff and the commissioner go, bang, zoom, to the moon, Alice.

        Call Howard Wilkinson at 768-8338 or e-mail at


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