Saturday, November 2, 2002

Campaign Notebook

Last-minute negative ad condemned

Both candidates for an Ohio Supreme Court seat have condemned a negative TV ad that attacks a 1998 vote by Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton.

Consumers for a Fair Court, a group of trial lawyers and others, began running the ad Thursday in Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Toledo.

In a 4-3 decision, the court ruled in favor of companies fighting lawsuits filed by mothers and their children. The women were trying to collect money for damages caused by a drug taken by millions of pregnant women for 23 years.

The court said people who claim they were hurt by the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES) cannot sue unless they know the specific manufacturer and distributor of the drug.

The drug is synthetic estrogen and was taken by nearly 5 million pregnant women from 1948 until it was banned by the Food and Drug Administration in 1971 after being linked to cancer. It was given to prevent miscarriages and premature births.

The ad features a series of shots of pregnant women and women with children and said Ms. Stratton "gave sanctuary to the big drug companies." It also calls Ms. Stratton's ruling "a miscarriage of justice."

"This ad is despicable," Ms. Stratton, a Republican, said. "It uses the term `miscarriage' as a political attack that should offend all women who have attempted to bear children."

Ms. Burnside demanded the ad be stopped immediately.

Physicians weigh in

From Oct. 1-16, physicians gave $76,900 to Ms. Stratton and $53,129 to Maureen O'Connor for their respective Supreme Court election campaigns, according to a political watchdog group.

Ohio Citizen Action said more than $5.5 million has been raised by the four Supreme Court candidates this year. The races have been the most fiscally competitive of all the statewide races this year, and are also among the closest in the polls.

Ms. Stratton and Ms. O'Connor each raised more than $1.5 million for their campaigns, with both candidates receiving more than $630,000 combined from donors affiliated with medical groups, insurance firms, financial companies and the real-estate industry.

Meanwhile Democrats Tim Black and Ms. Burnside have each collected more than $1 million for their election campaigns, both bringing in more than $760,000 from lawyers.