Mike DeWine has a big problem trying to follow the Republican playbook of running on “law and order,” and it’s obvious just by looking at his first campaign ad.
President Trump has signaled through racist dog-whistles about immigration and outrageous claims that “A blue wave means crime,” that Republicans should run on law and order issues this fall.
In Ohio, that’s a problem for Mike DeWine, the Republican Attorney General who’s running to be Governor.
Why? To start, DeWine won’t rule out signing a Right to Work law that would cripple public safety unions. DeWine won’t commit to restoring local government funds–cut in half by his predecessor–that enable cities and counties to pay for safety services. And DeWine shows no evidence he understands how weary first responders have grown with the failed approach of trying to arrest our way out of an addiction crisis.
Perhaps it was for those reasons that the Fraternal Order of Police–the state’s largest law enforcement organization–recently announced it would endorse DeWine’s opponent, Democrat Richard Cordray. Adding insult to that injury, DeWIne is engaged in a dispute with his in-house law enforcement unit at the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI). They say the Attorney General has for years ignored their pleas to replace their outdated safety equipment and 53 of 99 agents are wearing expired body armor.
Last week it all came to a head. The AP ran a devastating story on Tuesday in which emails surfaced showing officers and their commanders feared for their safety, in some cases refusing to order anyone to “break down a door” or recommending creating a photographic paper trail of their bulletproof vest for their spouses “in case the unthinkable happened.” And, while officers were agitating without success for new vests, DeWIne was personally being fitted for one of his own. The optics were terrible.
The story rapidly spread to media outlets across the state and, later that day, DeWine’s campaign announced It was going up on the air with its first TV ad of the general election onWednesday.
OH-Gov: Mike DeWine is placing his first TV buy of the general election. Start date is tomorrow, 8/22
— Medium Buying (@MediumBuying) August 21, 2018
Thrown together in less than a day, the ads recycled footage from DeWine’s 2014 campaign highlighting his work to work through the backlog of decades-old rape kits that had sat on police department shelves across the state.
But, unlike in 2014, the the DeWine ad has now been reframed a fear-mongering attack on Cordray, insinuating that during his two years as AG (from 2009-2010), Rich Cordray “let rapists walk free”. As multiple fact-checks have shown, it’s not that simple.
It was Cordray who first realized that there were decades-old rape kits sitting on shelves in police departments around the state and who put in place a process to begin to get them tested. DeWine is now saying that Cordray failed for not completing in two years what it ultimately took his own department 7 years to complete.
But that hasn’t stopped DeWine from blasting the ads on TV and digital platforms. On Facebook, you can see the ad is specifically targeted to older women:
Cordray’s endorsement by law enforcement and Monday’s damaging story about DeWine’s own officers fearing for their safety clearly prompted the Republican to act this week. It also reinforced a 42-year pattern of DeWine’s nasty, dirty campaign tactics and certainly won’t be the last of his unfair attacks.