Published: Thursday, March 30, 2006
In TV ads, GOP criticizes Dem write-in candidate
A Democratic congressman calls the ad a 'tactical blunder.'
The National Republican Congressional Committee is running television commercials critical of state Sen. Charlie Wilson, a Democratic write-in candidate in the 6th Congressional District race.
But Wilson's campaign and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, say the ads won't damage the candidate's credibility.
The commercials began airing Wednesday five weeks before the partisan May 2 primary on television stations in Youngstown and Wheeling, W.Va.
Those stations reach voters in Mahoning, Columbiana, Jefferson and Belmont counties, the population base of the 6th District.
About the ad
The 30-second ad is about Wilson's tenure on the Eastern Ohio Regional Wastewater Authority board in Belmont County, where he lives. During that time, the authority dumped raw sewage into the Ohio River.
Wilson was secretly recorded by the authority's then-superintendent in 1995 saying, "I can't have my [political] future on the line over the sewer authority." That quote is used in the commercial.
The commercial tag line is: "Charlie Wilson. Dirty secrets. We just can't trust him to do what's right."
The NRCC ad will help Wilson's campaign because as a write-in, he needs to get his name out to voters, Ryan said. Ryan is lending assistance and support to the campaigns of Democrats running for Congress this year.
"It's a tactical blunder on their part to get his name out," Ryan said.
Wilson failed to get the needed 50 valid signatures to get on the Democratic primary ballot and is running as a write-in in the 12-county district. There are two Democrats on the ballot.
This is one of the most high-profile U.S. House races in the country.
"If I was in this race, I couldn't imagine giving my opponent this attention especially if he is running as a write-in," Ryan said. "We need his name out there and they're doing that for us. Maybe we should thank them."
Ed Patru, an NRCC spokesman, scoffed at Ryan's comments.
"When people hear the name Charlie Wilson, we want them to think raw sewage, cover-up, ecological disaster and untrustworthy," Patru said. "That's Charlie Wilson's record."
Ryan and Jason Burke, Wilson's congressional campaign spokesman, said the NRCC is trying to divert attention from questions about tax issues related to state Rep. Chuck Blasdel of East Liverpool.
Blasdel's candidacy is supported by the state and national Republican Party in the four-man GOP primary for the seat.
"It's a one-trick-pony tactic because they know they've got a nag in the race," Burke said. "They're backing the wrong horse."
Blasdel bounced a check for property taxes earlier this month for insufficient funds. Also, Blasdel's campaign and state officials are in discussions about estimated delinquent taxes and fees dating back to 1991 on two former businesses he co-owned.
Also, when Blasdel attempted to incorporate his financial adviser business, Blasdel Financial Group Inc. in December 1998, the Ohio Secretary of State's Office returned his application because he failed to sign the appointment of agent line.
In the letter, Blasdel wrote that it took the state office more than six weeks to let him know of the missing signature.
"I Wright [sic] this letter with all due respect, I know who ever [sic] reads this letter first, more than likely has no control over the process, however please foreword [sic] this letter to someone who does," he wrote.
"Here we go again with Charlie Wilson trying to cover up his embarrassing failure to get 50 valid signatures," said Jessica Towhey, Blasdel's campaign spokeswoman.