Monday, October 21, 2002

Capitol Notebook

Hagan's extended family didn't inhale

During Tuesday night's debate with Gov. Bob Taft, Tim Hagan was asked how he felt about legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes.

The Cuyahoga County Democrat movingly explained how his father died of cancer three years ago and said he saw no reason marijuana shouldn't be one of several drugs provided to people on their death beds to ease pain.

But then he drew laughs when he added that if his dad had needed marijuana, "I would go out, or find my nephew or someone, to find it."

When asked the next day which of his nephews had a connection, he laughed. "I have 28 nephews," he said, noting that after the debate they all ordered him not to hand out their phone numbers.

Pick One

In Mr. Hagan's opinion, folks in Columbus really know how to cover a debate.

When he was defending his plan to expand gambling in Ohio - saying Ohio already has gambling in the form of a lottery - WBNS-TV (Channel 10) ran the winning lotto numbers across the bottom of the television screen.

Mr. Hagan said there was no better way to drive home his point that Ohio should cash in on other forms of gambling. He supports House and Senate lawmakers, many of whom are Republicans, who want to put video slot machines at racetracks.

"There must be somebody over at Channel 10 that really likes me," he said, grinning.

He's no `Rocky'

And for the last tidbit on the first debate, Mr. Hagan thought he had the best jab Tuesday night when he was given the chance to ask Mr. Taft a question on live television.

He turned to the governor, the great-grandson of a president and son and grandson of U.S. senators - and said, "With all due respect to your ancestors, if your name wasn't Taft, would you be standing here this evening?"

Political pundits have joked that Mr. Taft, known as a policy wonk who is at best an awkward campaigner, would be a community college professor or night manager at a Burger King without his famous last name.

But Mr. Taft wasn't ruffled. He simply responded, "Like you, I am also very proud of my heritage. I feel blessed and very, very fortunate."

Afterward, Mr. Taft's supporters praised his performance. "He just did great," said former Speaker of the House JoAnn Davidson, chairperson for the campaign.

In Mr. Hagan's corner, his wife, Kate Mulgrew, was apparently judging something other than her husband's performance - at least on TV. When asked if he scored the knockout punch pundits said he needed to move ahead in the polls, Ms. Mulgrew looked up at her husband and said, "He is a knock out."

Keep the money

The Issue 1 campaigners have decided to take out some TV ads, starting in the Youngstown area.

That means they likely won't spend money to undercut Mr. Taft's re-election effort by running TV ads that criticize him. Mr. Taft is a staunch opponent of the issue, which would require drug treatment instead of prison time for certain first-time offenders.

Mr. Hagan needs all the help he can get in his race. He's behind in the polls and, compared to Mr. Taft's cool $9 million, practically broke.

Still, Mr. Hagan says Issue 1 supporters shouldn't shift money from their campaign to an effort to defeat the governor.

Mr. Hagan said it would be "hypocritical" of him to urge an organization to use money on the governor's race that was collected for Issue 1.

Debra Jasper is Enquirer Columbus Bureau chief. Spencer Hunt is a reporter in the Columbus Bureau. They can be reached at 614-224-4640 or email at or

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