COLUMBUS - The first television attack ad in the 2006 campaign for Ohio governor begins airing tomorrow in the Toledo area. Not surprisingly, it features indicted coin dealer Tom Noe.
What's turning heads is that the coin dealer and the scandal he spawned are not being used by Democrats, but by Republican Kenneth Blackwell to club fellow Republican Jim Petro.
Secretary of State Blackwell and Attorney General Petro are running for governor, and Mr. Noe, who contributed to both of them in past campaigns, promises to be a central figure in their fight for the GOP nomination.
Mr. Blackwell's 30-second ad begins with an image of Mr. Noe and the headline "Coin dealer Noe indicted," shows a picture of Gov. Bob Taft and refers to his conviction on ethics violations last year, then focuses on allegations that Mr. Petro traded the state's legal work for campaign contributions.
"Petro's ethics worse than Taft's," Mr. Blackwell's ad concludes.
Mr. Blackwell has accused Mr. Petro of failing to take prompt legal action against Mr. Noe, a prominent GOP fund-raiser who was indicted last week on 53 felony counts that he stole from a $50 million rare-coin venture he managed for the state.
Bob Paduchik, Mr. Petro's campaign manager, said, "Ken Blackwell's campaign of lies will not distract voters from his failed policies and his out-of-control spending record."
Bob Bennett, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, referred to the TV ad and a radio spot with a similar script as "smear tactics and attack ads."
"I expect this kind of negative campaigning from the Democrats, but Ken Blackwell should have a better strategy for winning this primary than simply burning down the house.
"A man who models himself after Ronald Reagan should have a little more respect for winning on ideas and vision. He knows the accusations in these ads are politically motivated, and this kind of gutteral politics doesn't win votes. If we can't win with substantive ideas for leading Ohio, we don't belong in the race," Mr. Bennett said.
The Blackwell campaign did not respond to Mr. Bennett's statement, but the Petro camp did.
"Within two weeks of Bob Bennett asking for a civil primary election, Ken Blackwell has run the most despicable and vile political attack that I have ever seen," Mr. Paduchik said last night.
Gene Pierce, a spokesman for Mr. Blackwell, would not reveal the amount of the ad purchase, but said the spot will air around the state.
Mr. Noe was first indicted in October by a federal grand jury on three felony counts that he laundered $45,400 into President Bush's re-election campaign. On Feb. 13, a Lucas County grand jury indicted Mr. Noe for allegedly stealing and laundering at least $3 million from the rare-coin investment funds he managed for the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation.
Mr. Blackwell's TV ad is scheduled to run on cable systems in Toledo and Sandusky, starting tomorrow and ending Feb. 27, said Vickie Halamay, assistant to the national salesman for Buckeye CableSystem and Erie County Cable.
The anti-Petro spot is scheduled to appear on The Fox News Channel during The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity & Colmes, and during news segments, Ms. Halamay said.
A radio ad with a similar script - featuring a man and woman in conversation - will air around the state, including the Toledo area, Mr. Pierce said.
"Hey, I hadn't read this," the male narrator says in the radio ad. "The BWC scandal: Petro got a letter from the Securities and Exchange Commission warning him to investigate brokerage fees and he didn't do it."
"What?'' the female narrator replies. "Ohio lost a quarter of a billion dollars with the BWC and Petro didn't investigate?"
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