Friday, November 1, 2002

Capitol notebook

By Spencer Hunt and Debra Jasper
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Dressing like a duck will feather a nest

Democratic candidate Tim Hagan is loyal to those who support him, especially when they, er, swim the extra mile and dress up like a duck.

While Mr. Hagan was campaigning in Columbus this week, Greg Schultz, a 22-year-old senior at Ohio State, boarded his motor home and hurried into his yellow feathered costume replete with a big orange bill.

A guy in a duck suit sometimes travels with Mr. Hagan to call attention to his contention that his opponent, Gov. Bob Taft, ducks the issues. After the student got dressed, Mr. Hagan looked at him and chuckled.

"You'll be one of the cabinet members in the Hagan administration," Mr. Hagan jokingly promised the student. "You are as qualified as the guys they have in there."

Getting there: Taft has better wheels

Speaking of motor homes, Mr. Taft tours the state in a luxurious motor coach as big as a Greyhound bus, outfitted with two big televisions, leather couches and gold-handled faucets in the bathroom.

Mr. Hagan has no such opulence. Last week, the first motor home he rented broke down, so he ended up crowding his campaign entourage into his Jeep Cherokee. This week, he traveled in a 33-foot Gulfstream that looked a little worse for wear.

"I think it has plastic on the floor," said his spokesman, Austin Jenkins. "Jeff Hagan (Mr. Hagan's twin brother) got in it and said, `This is like my aunt's house but it has plastic on the floors instead of the seats.' "

Mr. Jenkins said Mr. Hagan, one of 14 children, upgraded only because all his brothers wanted to ride with him during the last week of the campaign.

"He's not a luxury motor home kind of guy," Mr. Jenkins said. "He would be just as happy in his Jeep Cherokee rolling down the highway."

At least the Jeep Cherokee ran.

That stump speech can be confusing

We felt sorry for you, too.

Last week, Mr. Hagan opened up the gubernatorial debate at Ohio State in Columbus by saying voters were, er, well, uh ... well, um . . . confused by the political system.

Mr. Hagan stumbled over his words, looked briefly like a deer-in-headlights and then, finally, seemed to remember what he was about to say: That the political system was corrupted by money.

On Sunday, as he traveled through Cincinnati on his motor home - did we mention it was luxurious? - Gov. Taft recalled that moment with a shake of his head.

"I almost felt sorry for him," Mr. Taft said.

"I shouldn't have," he added. "But I did."

Scorecard needed to track GOP ranks

Republican candidates for Ohio's top offices are trading places and issues as they run for new spots or re-election.

Attorney General Betty Montgomery is running for auditor. Her television ad touts how much money her office won in lawsuits filed on behalf of the government and citizens. The auditor's main job is recovering government funds that were wasted or otherwise misspent.

Auditor Jim Petro is running for Attorney General. His ad talks about how many criminal convictions resulted from his audits.

Secretary of State Ken Blackwell is running for re-election but seems to have his sights set on four years down the road. Although he's the state's top elections official his ad includes his willingness to fight legalized gambling - a hot topic in the governor's race.

Debra Jasper is chief of the Enquirer Columbus Bureau. 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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