Tuesday, December 9, 2003

Inside Ohio's capital


Rep. Brinkman tops poll of worst Ohio lawmakers

By Debra Jasper and Spencer Hunt
Enquirer Columbus bureau

Outspoken conservative state Rep. Tom Brinkman of Mount Lookout consistently rejects his more moderate leaders' policy decisions. That helped make him the "worst lawmaker" in the Ohio Legislature in a survey of lawmakers, journalists and government officials.

Columbus Monthly magazine, which conducted the poll, called Brinkman a "terrible, terrible legislator," and said he was among the most uncompromising, unpopular and "least savvy" lawmakers in Columbus.

Brinkman took the news as a badge of honor, and made no apologies for his style.

"My constituents sent me up here to raise hell," he said, adding: "I'd be embarrassed to compromise as much as these others do - I wouldn't be able to look myself in the mirror."

CINCY SAVVY: On the flip side, Cincinnati Sen. Mark Mallory, a Democrat, scored high for his political skills. He finished second only to House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, in the category of "savviest legislator."

Mallory said he learned his political style from his father, William Mallory, who served as a Democrat in the Ohio House from 1966 to 1994. He was the chamber's majority floor leader for 20 years.

"Politics is about relationships," Mallory said. "If you build relationships on both sides of the aisle, you'll be able to get things done." Another Cincinnati lawmaker, Republican State Rep. Jim Raussen, also was mentioned for being "Rookie of the Year."

CASH HUNGRY?: Householder's staff was pleased to know he's the most savvy lawmaker in the Statehouse, especially since lately they've been fending off complaints about his other big talent - raising money.

The powerful speaker, who leaves office next year because of term limits, is considering a run either for state auditor - a seat held by Betty Montgomery, who wants to be governor - or for treasurer in 2006, taking the seat now held by former Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters.

Householder has made no secret of the fact that he has been aggressively chasing donations for this candidacy and for House Republicans' 2004 re-election efforts.

Householder drew the ire of lawmakers on Nov. 14 when he delayed votes in the House for three hours so he could head to Zanesville to attend a fund-raiser.

The House didn't finish its work until 1 a.m. the following morning.

Householder spokesman Dwight Crum defended the action, saying other lawmakers had dinner-hour fund-raisers and meetings they needed to go to in their districts. "It wasn't just the speaker," he said.

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Debra Jasper and Spencer Hunt cover Columbus. Email djasper@enquirer.com or shunt@enquirer.com. Jordan Gentile contributed to this report.




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