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Published: 2/22/2002

Taft, Hagan get party challenges

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU

COLUMBUS - Gov. Bob Taft may be denied a free ride to the GOP nomination by a conservative member of his own party upset over his selection of Jennette Bradley as running mate.

John Mitchel, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel from Beavercreek, who has begun a simultaneous campaign for Congress, filed his nominating petitions for governor yesterday, the deadline for the May 7 primary election. He ran as a Reform Party candidate for governor in 1998 and Congress in 2000.

Whether his candidacy lasts remains to be seen. The Secretary of State's office plans to ask Attorney General Betty Montgomery to update a 1949 attorney general opinion stating a candidate for governor could not seek another office at the same time.

Mr. Mitchel, whose running mate would be his wife, Diane, could not be reached for comment yesterday. But in a letter on his website, he said there has been a “firestorm, if not outrage, from conservative Republicans around the state” over the selection.

Ms. Bradley is a Columbus city councilwoman who could become the first African-American lieutenant governor in Ohio history. She has faced criticism from some conservatives for being pro-choice on abortion, questioning a proposal to allow law-abiding Ohioans to carry concealed handguns, and voting in 1998 to back an unsuccessful city council bid to provide insurance benefits for “domestic partners,” straight or gay, of unmarried city employees.

Meanwhile, Alexander Madorsky, an 18-year-old high school student from Shaker Heights, filed petitions to challenge the Democratic Party's endorsed candidate for governor, former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan.

“This is real ...,” said Mr. Madorsky. “I saw that the Democratic Party had not won a statewide nonjudicial office since 1990. I think it's time for a change, and the most direct way to cause that change is to run for office.”

With the exception of governor and the Democratic nomination for state treasurer, most other candidates on both tickets face no opposition for their parties' nominations.

Ohio State University professor and political analyst Herb Asher said the scarcity of primary contests is not surprising. “On the Democratic side, why would someone want to battle an endorsed candidate and party organization to get a nomination for an office in which the Democrat is a heavy underdog?”

With the exception of lieutenant governor candidate Charleta Tavares, a Columbus city councilwoman and an African American, Democrats have an entire northeastern Ohio slate for nonjudicial office. The well-financed GOP ticket is only slightly more geographically balanced: All nonjudicial candidates hail from no farther north than Columbus.



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