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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Run Sambo run

The Ohio secretary of state, J. Rastus Sambo, has the support of the state's conservative church leaders

Movement in the Pews Tries to Jolt Ohio
By James Dao
The New York Times

Sunday 27 March 2005

Columbus, Ohio - Christian conservative leaders from scores of Ohio's fastest growing churches are mounting a campaign to win control of local government posts and Republican organizations, starting with the 2006 governor's race.

In a manifesto that is being circulated among church leaders and on the Internet, the group, which is called the Ohio Restoration Project, is planning to mobilize 2,000 evangelical, Baptist, Pentecostal and Roman Catholic leaders in a network of so-called Patriot Pastors to register half a million new voters, enlist activists, train candidates and endorse conservative causes in the next year.

The initial goal is to elect Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, a conservative Republican, governor in 2006. The group hopes to build grass-roots organizations in Ohio's 88 counties and take control of local Republican organizations.

"The establishment of the Ohio Republican Party is out of touch with its base," said Russell Johnson, the pastor of the Fairfield Christian Church and the principal organizer of the project. "It acts as if it lives in Boston, Mass."

Pastor Johnson's challenge to the party establishment could have far-reaching consequences in a state dominated by Republican elected officials but still considered a bellwether in presidential politics. Conservatives in other swing states are watching closely.

"In Ohio, the church is awakening to its historic role as the moral voice in the community," said Colin A. Hanna, president of Let Freedom Ring, a conservative group based in Pennsylvania that trains ministers in political activism. "Ohio is in the vanguard of that nationally. I very much want Pennsylvania to be with them."

The church leaders say they will try to harness the energy of religious conservatives who were vital not only to Mr. Bush's narrow victory in Ohio but also to passage of an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage. The amendment, known as Issue 1, was credited with drawing large numbers of rural and suburban conservatives to the polls and increasing Mr. Bush's support among urban blacks.

"We're calling people to act, not just wring their hands in the pews," said Rod Parsley, senior pastor of the World Harvest Church outside Columbus, who is considered a rising star in the religious broadcasting world and will be an inspirational speaker for the project. "We got people motivated last year, and then the election was over. We don't want folks to think our work is over."

Republican officials are watching warily. The chairman of the state party, Robert T. Bennett, warned that the decade-long dominance of his party could be jeopardized if it was pushed too far to the right. "This is a party of a big tent," Mr. Bennett said. "The far right cannot elect somebody by itself, any more than somebody from the far left can."

The conservatives point to the governor's race as an example of what they consider wrong with the state Republican Party. Of the three Republican candidates, only Mr. Blackwell has the solid support of religious conservatives. Jim Petro, the attorney general, opposed the same-sex marriage amendment on the grounds that it would invite litigation against companies that provided domestic partner benefits. Betty D. Montgomery, the state auditor, has supported some abortion rights.

Democrats say they are buoyed by the insurgency of Mr. Blackwell. "He's formidable in many ways, but he's the candidate we'd most like to run against," said Greg Haas, a strategist for Michael Coleman, the mayor of Columbus, who is seen as a favorite for the Democratic nomination.

In an interview, Mr. Blackwell, who is black, said that Ohio had shifted to the right and that he now represented mainstream voters. He also predicted that he would draw black religious conservatives into the Republican Party, breaking the Democrats' hold on urban precincts.

"I think what's happening is we're seeing a struggle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party," he said. "And that's healthy."

Experts said that religious conservatives could bring energy to campaigns, but that they had mixed results trying to win control of local political organizations.

"For short periods of time, they often had successes," said John C. Green, a professor of political science at the University of Akron. "But it was very difficult to sustain."

Ah, them anvils is flying out of the workshop.

This is the start of the GOP civil war. You can smell it coming. Norquist and the money people are scared. They actually got close to messing up social security, a decades long goal. And in the middle of their long awaited campaign, a dead woman threatens to ruin it all. And this is the gift which keeps on giving, to the point where the Schiavos and Schindlers may wind up suing each other, extending this ugliness for another few years.

Sambo is dreaming. You would have to ignorant to be black and vote for him. I would bet $100 that he is specifically targeted by the NAACP next year. He messed with voting rights and black folk will look at him like they did Alan Keyes, like vermin.

What I think happens is this: people just forget to vote for him. They will talk him up in redneckland, and when election day comes just forget to vote for him. It happened to Vernon Robinson and Herman Cain. They got real close to the fundies, said they would get black votes and they just didn't get the votes needed. We're talking what? About 120K votes? That's a thin margin in a statewide race. In a primary, I doubt an alliance with the fundies is a smart move for a black candidate. And after 2004, Blackwell has a LOT of enemies ready to kick in money to defeat him. And they may not wait for the general election.

But the real problem is the that, as Green said, the fundies alienate people. And they scare the GOP mainstream. Blackwell is an especially stupid man in many ways. And one way is he thinks he's going to be the first black president and that ain't happening. He's gonna lose to a white candidate after being vilified by black radio, and draw nationwide emnity. Think Alan Keyes with vigor. Because Blackwell did something besides run his mouth.

The upside is that the fundies are feeling their oats and seek to wage war in the GOP to get their way. Let them slag each other andhelp stir the pot. Republicans against religous tyranny would make a great website.

posted by Steve @ 12:13:00 AM

12:13:00 AM

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