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Published: Wednesday, 6/25/2008

Montgomery rules out run for Ohio attorney general post

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF
Betty Montgomery Betty Montgomery
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COLUMBUS - Former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery insisted yesterday she will not reconsider her decision not to run for her old office, even as Republican alternatives appear to be dwindling.

Speaking for the first time in public about Marc Dann's public disgrace less than two years after defeating her at the polls, the former state auditor, state senator, and Wood County prosecutor said she won't come to her party's rescue.

"It's been a very painful conversation with myself," she said. "Had it happened maybe six months ago, I probably wouldn't have thought twice about it. What I've found in the last several months is time. My family is growing up around me. For the last 12 years, I didn't have any time."

With the exception of her statement taking herself out of consideration issued on the day Mr. Dann resigned, Ms. Montgomery had not talked about Mr. Dann's personal and professional free-fall.

A former state senator from the Youngstown area who rode GOP scandal to victory in 2006, Mr. Dann resigned May 14 in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal involving a top aide. He admitted that his own consensual affair with an office staffer may have contributed to an unhealthy atmosphere.

Ms. Montgomery rode a Republican wave into the attorney general's office in 1994 just as Mr. Dann rode Gov. Ted Strickland's Democratic wave following GOP scandal in 2006.

Mr. Dann's success at the polls was largely credited to late ads tying Ms. Montgomery to Tom Noe, the former Toledo area coin dealer and influential GOP fund-raiser who was convicted of stealing from rare coin investment funds he managed for the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation.

Ms. Montgomery resisted the temptation to go public in the heat of the scandal and his resignation.

"I don't think you kick a man while he's down," she said. "First of all, I'm a losing candidate. Anything I would say would appear to be gratuitous and like I was being a bad sport. Second of all, he's already had everybody piling on him. I didn't need to pile on him."

The Ohio Democratic Party has united behind state Treasurer Richard Cordray for the Nov. 4 special election. Republicans, meanwhile, have watched one big name after another take themselves out of consideration.

In addition to Ms. Montgomery, former Attorney General Jim Petro, former U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, former White House budget director Rob Portman, U.S. Rep. Deborah Pryce, and Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Moyer have said they're not interested.

The party must name its candidate by Aug. 20.

Ms. Montgomery chose an all-Republican forum hosted by the conservative Americans for Prosperity to break her silence on the attorney general's office. The organization has lobbied for reforms related to the influence of campaign cash on the offices of attorneys general across the nation, ironically one of the issues Mr. Dann ran on in 2006.

Contact Jim Provance at:

jprovance@theblade.com

or 614-221-0496.



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