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Published: Thursday, 3/30/2006

Fulton County GOP shuns DeWine

BY JIM TANKERSLEY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
Bill Pierce Bill Pierce
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For voters who did not recognize Bill Pierce when he dropped by Lucas County yesterday, here is a hint for future reference: He was the guy smiling big.

He is a Republican running for U.S. Senate, and his grin was understandable. The night before, he watched the Fulton County Republican Party stiff-arm his prime competitor, incumbent GOP Sen. Mike DeWine.

The county party could not decide whether to endorse Mr. Pierce or David Smith, another little-known candidate, but its decision to essentially rank Mr. DeWine third on the list "ought to send a significant warning blast across the bow of USS Mike DeWine," Mr. Pierce said.

Mr. Pierce fired several shots of his own in an hour-long interview. The high school and college math teacher from the Cincinnati area criticized Mr. DeWine over government spending, oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a controversial deal on President Bush's judicial nominees, and the senator's commitment to Ohio and to conservative principles.

Voters see Mr. DeWine only when he is campaigning for re-election, Mr. Pierce said, and the senator "views the government coffers as being a great big bottomless pot of gold."

Mr. Pierce's platform includes shrinking the federal government and national debt, eliminating the Department of Education, and cutting federal regulations. His experience includes running his own engineering firm and battling the federal government over allegations the business violated labor laws. His name recognition and campaign funds pale to Mr. DeWine's. The GOP nominee likely will face U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown (D., Avon) in the general election.

Mr. Pierce is hoping the Fulton County vote, along with a Knox County GOP endorsement and the fact two other counties declined to endorse, signals wide conservative discontent with Mr. DeWine. A DeWine spokesman, Brian Seitchik, said that is not likely.

"We're going to win the primary and look forward to facing Sherrod Brown in the general election," Mr. Seitchik said.



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