You can’t talk about the future of Ohio as a Tea Party/RW evangelical nirvana without looking at the state’s views on law…

Enter Mike DeWine, Ohio Attorney General. This is the man who acts as Ohio’s lawyer.

Mike started as a county prosecutor then moved up to the U.S. House of Representatives for four terms. His tenure in the House was like most of the Ohio Republican members – undistinguished.

He left the House in 1990 to run as George Voinovich’s Lieutenant Governor, which he served as until 1994. DeWine seemed to view his office as a springboard for election to the Senate. In 1992, he ran against actual American hero John Glenn and lost handily.

Undeterred, he ran to replace retiring liberal, Democratic Senator Howard Metzenbaum.  DeWine beat Joel Hyatt by 14 points to become the Junior Senator from Ohio.

DeWine’s Senate career was a mixed bag. An ardent anti-abortion Republican, he sponsored and voted for The Unborn Victims of Violence Act; he voted against the law protecting the Firearms Industry from lawsuits for criminal negligence; and DeWine also voted to renew the assault rifle ban. DeWine generally supported gun control.

During his two terms he presented as a moderate except where abortion was concerned. He was a member of the “Gang of Fourteen” that made deals on judicial appointments to break filibusters.

As a Senator he was as boring as he sounds.

In 2006, as he ran for reelection, we heard from the right he was too liberal. I would guess a vote against assault rifles was a reason. He was challenged in the primary by two conservatives and won with more than 71% of the GOP vote.

2006 was a bad year to be a Republican. George Bush was poisoning the brand, so DeWine touted his independence in ads to put some space between himself and the Administration. This year was a year of a Democratic wave. Sherrod Brown took the seat from DeWine by an embarrassing 12+points.

In 2010, DeWine ran for and won the office of Ohio Attorney General. 2010 was also a wave election year. We saw the U.S. House flip to Tea Party/Republican and Dems lost all the statewide offices they held in Ohio.

Now DeWine is up for re-election. We need only look at his first term to see how the next will play out.

It seems AG DeWine has forgotten in which state he works for. DeWine seems to have never seen a losing suit he couldn’t wait to join in on. The AG filed “friend of the court” briefs in Arizona to support highly restrictive abortion laws. He supported challenges to the ACA filing in support of Nebraska and Michigan. He was consistently on the losing side.

DeWine filed a brief in the Hobby Lobby suit arguing corporations have religious freedoms which permit them to be exempted from laws they don’t agree with morally. Since DeWine endorsed Rick Santorum in 2012, none of this should be too surprising. What is disturbing is the money, time and energy spent interfering in suits in other states.

Attorney General DeWine is vigorously defending the Ohio Constitutional ban on same sex marriage and the prohibition of recognizing them. In his defense of the amendment, DeWine claims Ohio has no history of LBGT discrimination. Are there no researchers in the office? An intern? Paralegal? He has lost twice and will spend Ohioans’ money to go all the way to SCOTUS. He constantly falls back on the old saw that the ban was voted for. Were that a criteria, women still couldn’t vote and slavery would still be legal.

After cracking down on pill mills (always holding a photo op) DeWine was slow to recognize the growing heroin epidemic in Ohio. The Kasich Administration gutted treatment funds and DeWine failed to see the explosion of heroin arrests and deaths. When you cut off an addict’s supply, they will find an alternative. With the pill mills closed they turned to cheap, abundant heroin. Had Kasich and DeWine listened to healthcare providers, addiction experts, and law enforcement, they wouldn’t have been caught flat-footed. The general consensus is Ohio’s response has been anemic at best.

Under DeWine, a facial recognition program went into effect. The AG said it happened without his knowledge, but he was sure there were adequate safeguards in effect. He was wrong. The AG eventually empaneled a commission to look into it. Not surprisingly their recommendations were the same as those proposed earlier by his Democratic challenger David Pepper. A day late and a dollar short.

It also seems the more you contribute to Dewine’s campaign fund the better your chance of snapping up a well-paid state legal contract. This has been extensively reported on this site. The Cleveland Dealer and Dayton Daily News have also reported on the issue. The Columbus Dispatch?  Not so much…  Pay to play appears to be de facto policy in the Ohio Attorney General’s office.

Expect more of the same if DeWine is reelected. It will embolden the AG to wade in as abortion laws grow more extreme here in Ohio. His stance as anti-choice is something he wears as a badge of honor. Expect the Tea Party Legislature to pose a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade. Should that happen, DeWine will gladly sink Ohio’s legal resources into trying to overturn that landmark decision.

Reelection will show we don’t care about pay to play. With no push-back it will only become more rampant.  DeWine will continue to roam the nation as a hired gun filing in defense of extreme conservative lawsuits.

What sort of state do we want? A template for repression of women’s rights? Do we make it easy for Texas to cut-and-paste our laws? Does money over qualifications get you a contract with the AG?

If you want a state government that reflects the varied and diverse State of Ohio, we need to address the practices we’ve seen for the last four years and kick DeWine to the curb.

Vote as if your life depends on it.

It does.

 

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