Published: Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Petro blasts Blackwell, his ideas
The candidate says his opponent is waging a negative campaign.
YOUNGSTOWN Attorney General Jim Petro says Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, whom he'll face in next month's Republican gubernatorial primary, "has no real substantive ideas" to help rebuild Ohio's future.
Petro told The Vindicator on Monday that Blackwell's Tax Expenditure Limitation amendment is a "poorly drafted gimmick that will freeze all opportunities for growth in the state for the next four years."
Blackwell's proposed state constitutional amendment limits state and local government annual spending growth to 3.5 percent or the sum of inflation plus population growth, whichever is greater.
Petro is pushing a Citizens' Amendment for Prosperity amendment that limits state government from collecting no more than about 5.5 percent of personal income for operating revenue. It would control state government spending, he said.
"This is a much smarter, more reasonable way to fund government," Petro said.
Tough for levies
Petro said TEL would make it nearly impossible for any levies to pass because its language requires a majority of all electors those eligible to vote in a subdivision to pass or renew local levies.
Blackwell said the terms electors and voters are used interchangeably in state statutes, and a simple majority of voters is all that is needed to pass a levy.
Carlo LoParo, Blackwell's campaign spokesman, said Petro has taken ideas from his Republican primary opponent and presented them as his own, including a tax-limit proposal.
"Mr. Petro is devoid of ideas and original thoughts," he said. "But that's OK because we have plenty of original thoughts for both candidates."
Blackwell and his campaign have aggressively targeted Petro, accusing him of taking away state business from lawyers who wouldn't give him campaign contributions and of having "ethics worse than" Republican Gov. Bob Taft, found guilty last year of four misdemeanor ethics violations.
Petro strongly denied taking business from lawyers who won't give him campaign contributions, saying the accusations are coming from Summit County GOP Chairman Alex Arshinkoff, whom he calls a political enemy.
Petro said an article about the lawyer's accusations in The Plain Dealer of Cleveland hurt him politically in his home base of Northeast Ohio, and the allegations are "totally bogus." Also, Petro said rumors of the FBI's investigating him are false.
Petro has spent the past few days campaigning in Northeast Ohio, including visits Friday and Monday to Mahoning and Trumbull counties.
"This has been the most negative campaign I've ever dealt with," said Petro, who is running for statewide office for the fifth time.
Polls show Blackwell ahead of Petro for the May 2 primary.
Petro said he is gaining on Blackwell, however. Petro points to a University of Akron Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics poll last week showing Blackwell ahead of him by 7 percentage points. Other polls have Blackwell ahead of Petro by at least 10 percentage points.
If Blackwell wins the primary, Petro said, it will show that a majority of voters don't understand that Ohio needs change to make it more attractive to business.
A television commercial that aired in January focused on Petro's anti-abortion position and his opinion that marriage should be recognized only as between a man and a woman.
Petro used to be pro-choice and opposed the 2004 state constitutional amendment recognizing marriage as only between a man and woman because the ballot language made Ohio "look intolerant."
Petro said he doesn't wear his faith on his sleeve, but he aired the commercial because people needed to know more about his family and his faith.
Petro has flipped on so many issues, LoParo said, he's like a "less-polished John Kerry. What does he think is important? We don't know what he believes in."