Secty State: Brunner (D) Calls Out Hartmann (R) On Support for Blackwell
This editorial in the Youngstown Vindicator, headlined "Hartman [sic] Keeps GOP Establishment at Bay," shows how secretary of state nominee and current Hamilton County Clerk Greg Hartmann (R-Cincinnati) is trying to distance himself from gubernatorial candidate and current Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (R-Cincinnati) regarding Blackwell's shamelessly partisan mismanagement of Ohio elections. Hoping to gain some support in heavily Democratic northeast Ohio, Hartmann told the Vindicator that he has no intention of "going along for a ride with the top of the ticket" and sees himself as a "new face" on the Republican scene. The editorial states that Hartmann has "vowed to not take active roles in political campaigns" and that Hartmann views Blackwell as having "done some positive things as secretary of state, but there is room for improvement." A little later it says that "Hartmann isn't embracing his fellow Republican." This follows Hartmann's attempt earlier this month to protray himself as a "reform-minded" candidate by releasing a 20-point plan to "improve" the secretary of state's office (although without directly criticizing its current occupant).
Is it true? Is Hartmann an outside reformer, not tied in with the GOP establishment? Not a chance, and opponent Jennifer Brunner (D-Columbus) is not about to let Hartmann get away with pretending otherwise. Brunner, who resigned her judgeship to run for Secretary of State, served in the Secretary of State's office under then Secretary of State Sherrod Brown, now a Congressman running for Governor. She also was a member of the Franklin County Board of Elections and practiced election law for 13 years. In her press release, Brunner says "the only distance between Greg Hartmann and Ken Blackwell, is Greg will go the distance to finish what Ken Blackwell started--to raise penalties to keep new voters from being registered," referring to Hartmann's intention to increase the penalties for violating recent voter registration rules adopted by Blackwell and now under review by a federal court judge in Cleveland.
Brunner also points out that in a fund raising letter to supporters Hartmann wrote "it's critical to the future of our [the Republican] party that we keep this office in Republican hands," after touting his roles in working hard to elect Republicans "at every level" and as President Bush's Hamilton County campaign chair just two years ago. A report on Cincinnati station WCPO last month noted that Hartmann is a "hand-selected, well-financed associate of the Ohio GOP" who has "focused most of his campaign efforts so far on local Republican clubs, chambers of commerce and business groups." Hartmann "has amassed a formidable $627,000 in campaign money," including support from "GOP heavyweight donors Carl Lindner and Richard Farmer of Cincinnati and Iams Corp.'s Clay Mathile, all billionaires." As noted in Brunner's press release, Hartmann "became the state GOP's nominee as a result of a deal cut within the party to ensure him the nomination for the office." In short, Hartmann is a party insider, and there's no "distance" between him and Ken Blackwell at all.