Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Montgomery Quits Gov. Race, Jumps into AG Race

As the Columbus Dispatch first reported early last night, State Auditor Betty Montomgery has decided to withdraw her candidacy for Governor in the Republican Primary and instead jump into the Republican Primary for Attorney General, a statewide post Montgomery formerly held from 1995 to 2003. Montgomery had consistently lagged in third place in polling and fundraising numbers between her two other GOP rivals for Governor, Secretary of State Ken Blackwell and Attorney General Jim Petro. It is not immediately clear what effect her exit will have on the GOP primary for governor, in what is now essentially a two-man show between Blackwell and Petro. With Montgomery's departure, Secretary of State Blackwell called on Attorney General Jim Petro to also drop out of the primary for Governor. Montgomery was the top statewide vote-getter in both 1998 for her re-election as Attorney General and in 2002 in her election as State Auditor.

Her entry into the primary for Attorney General may not heal all the rifts in the Ohio Republican Party. The GOP primary for Attorney General already has two delcared candidates, St. Sen. Tim Grendell (R-Chesterland) and Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien. Grendell's brief but harsh statement was that he was running for Attorney general because "I don't need the job, but I want the job." O'Brien went even further in his criticism of Mongtomery's apparent entry into the primary for Attorney General, claiming he had been promised by her personally that she was in the Governor's race to stay.

Analysis: Montgomery's departure from the race for Governor gives Petro's candidacy a much needed breath of fresh air. Now with only Blackwell as a main rival, he can focus his attention on Blackwell and not worry of a fracturing in the GOP moderates voting in the primary. I would expect a new Lt. Governor running mate for Petro coming very soon to boost his name ID and capture headlines in hopes of polling better against Blackwell. As for Montgomery, she's a lock for the Attorney General primary and will beat any Democrat she faces in November. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if St. Sen. Marc Dann (D-Youngstown), who is a declared candidate for Attorney General, bowed out in the face of what would surely be a creaming at the ballot box against him. If O'Brien's assertion is true and she assured him that she would not be running for Attorney General and was committed to the Governor's race, I can't say that's good conduct on her part and I would personally have to evaluate all the candidates in the Republican primary for Attorney General before casting a vote, otherwise I would be supporting her.


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