As most attention on the battleground state of Ohio has been focused on the presidential race, the battle for control of the statehouse and Congress has flared up in the Buckeye State.
But in two particular races featuring Republican candidates who are Iraq War veterans, the Democratic Party apparatus and their left-wing allies have launched vicious attacks incredibly questioning their commitment to serve the people.
On Monday, journalist Joel Mowbray published an article looking at the state representative race between Republican incumbent Josh Mandel and Democrat Bob Belovich. Mandel won the Ohio 17th seat in November 2006 in a longshot bid in a heavily Democratic district, but he had to take a leave of absence from the legislature when he was called up for a second tour in Iraq, which he completed earlier this year.
According to Mowbray’s research, Belovich has openly criticized Mandel for his military service during the legislative term, with his wife, Barbara, saying publicly that Mandel “went AWOL” on his constituents by returning to Iraq. Mowbray also reports that an audio clip of the Democratic couple revealed that attacking Mandel for his military service was a critical component to their election strategy:
At a Progressive Majority event in Cleveland this July, Mr. and Mrs. Belovich laid out their campaign blueprint for defeating Mandel. “[Mandel] feels that his obligation to George Bush is stronger than his, you know, his obligation to the people in the 17th District,” Barbara Belovich said.
To make matters worse, Bob Belovich added that Mandel was elected in 2006 because of his “blue sign” and his “Jewish name.” When Mowbray spoke with Belovich, he defended his openly anti-Semitic remarks by launching into a five-minute diatribe about the voting habits of Jewish voters in his district.
But Democratic Party officials haven’t limited their attacks on Iraq veterans to statehouse races. In one of the most closely watched congressional races nationally in the Ohio 15th District, Republican Steve Stivers and Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy are squaring off to replace retiring Rep. Deborah Pryce, a Republican. In the 2006 cycle, Kilroy barely lost her bid to knock off Pryce in an election year when Democrats surged in Ohio.
To help buoy Kilroy’s chances, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has poured mountains of cash — $280,000 in just the past two weeks and another $600,000 reserved for this last week alone — into the race to flip the Ohio 15th seat from red to blue. The DCCC is running television ads attacking Stivers, telling voters that the current state senator is “not on your side” — a claim that flies in the face of Stivers’ 23-year military service in the Ohio Army National Guard (where he currently holds the rank of lieutenant colonel), including a one-year tour in Iraq where he was awarded a Bronze Star.
The DCCC and Kilroy attack ads turned so vicious that Stivers had to respond with a campaign commercial highlighting his military service and featuring those who had served under his command. Currently only one Iraq or Afghanistan War vet, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA), is serving in the U.S. Congress, and the number of vets overall in both the House and Senate is declining rapidly.
Stivers has also responded to the DCCC and Kilroy’s attack ads by pointing out exactly whose side Mary Jo Kilroy is on during her tenure as Franklin County commissioner. Having taken a “no new taxes” pledge in the 2004 election, Kilroy was no sooner in office than she voted for a $200 million tax increase on Franklin County families.
And as the Columbus Dispatch noted in its endorsement of Stivers, recognizing his distinguished military service, the editors pointed to Kilroy’s gross mismanagement as county commissioner and her willingness to put her own political ambitions and her corrupt union boss campaign backers ahead of Franklin County taxpayers:
Kilroy, who lost a race for the 15th District seat two years ago, lacks Stivers’ legislative experience, but perhaps even more important, she has shown that personal political ambition is more important to her than the public interest. This is demonstrated by her use of the county’s Quality Contracting Standards to reject nonunion bidders on county construction projects and to steer contracts to union contractors to reward her labor supporters. In one case, Kilroy rejected an Ohio low-bidder in favor of an out-of-state union contractor that previously had been fined $23,000 by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration for four serious safety violations related to an accident that killed a worker in 2006. The same company also failed to pay an employee’s pension while he served in Iraq, and the company’s former president was sent to jail for tax evasion.
As the Dispatch reported back in July, Kilroy had voted for an out-of-state contractor and rejected a lower bid from an in-state firm to reward union bosses for their support for her congressional campaign.
When it comes to supporting veterans, Mary Jo Kilroy has promised to look out for their interests, but hasn’t bothered to offer any specific details on what she will do if voters send her to Congress. Steve Stivers, on the other hand, has laid out specific goals to improve the education, health care, and jobs for those returning home from combat and all veterans who have honorably served their country.
With with just days left before the election, it’s clear that Democrats are desperate to win Ohio for Obama and the rest of their ticket, and are willing to do or say whatever it takes, no matter how outrageous or untrue, to get elected. But in attacking Iraq War veterans who have served with honor and distinction, Democrats have not only hit rock bottom in the Buckeye State, but they continue to dig.