Saturday, February 28, 2004

3 clash in GOP fight for House



By Reid Forgrave
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Voters in western Hamilton County face a three-way battle among Republicans seeking a seat in the Ohio Legislature.

ELECTION SECTION
Cincinnati.com Special Election Coverage
The March 2 primary ballot for the Ohio House of Representatives 29th District features a longtime state senator who is losing his post to term limits running against grassroots politicians from two of Greater Cincinnati's largest townships.

The 29th district includes Colerain Township and several other western Hamilton County communities.

The candidate with the best name recognition is state Sen. Lou Blessing He is being challenged by Colerain Township Trustee Keith Corman and Springfield Township Clerk John Waksmundski.

The winner will face former Colerain Township Trustee Joseph Wolterman, a Democrat, in the November election.

And even though the ban on gay marriage and the possibility of Ohio gambling continue to grab the statewide headlines, all three Republican candidates say the issue voters care most about is the economy - specifically tax reform and bringing high-tech businesses into Ohio.

"People are tired of the term 'taxes,' " Corman said. "They'd like to see some responsibility to go with taxes, a bit more thinking outside the box. People want low taxes, but they don't want all these services to be slashed."

Snapshots of the candidates:

 Blessing was first elected to the House in 1982, then the Senate in 1996. He chaired the committee on the deregulation of the gas and electric industry in Ohio. Recently, he has become known for his work on a proposed Senate bill that would bring electronic gambling devices to Ohio's seven horse racetracks. Gov. Bob Taft fought against the defeated bill, but Blessing argued that lawmakers shouldn't deny that gambling is already here, with casino boats just across the border in Indiana.

 Corman, re-elected in Colerain Township in November as a trustee in Ohio's most populous township, has spent 15 years working as a bailiff for the Hamilton County Commons Pleas Court and is a Republican party ward chairman. He's for reducing the Ohio corporate franchise tax, opposes partial-birth abortion and is for concealed-carry laws.

 Waksmundski, a former civics teacher at Wyoming High School, spent 14 years as township trustee before becoming the clerk of Springfield Township. He calls himself the most qualified of the candidates because of his experience as a township legislator and budget watchdog, as well as an educator and a lobbyist for secondary schools.

Waksmundski says he admires people who, like himself, came from humble backgrounds. His father was a coal miner and his mother only made it through sixth grade. But Waksmundski went on to receive a master's in education from Ohio University and a doctorate in American history at Ohio State University.

The three are running for the seat of House Majority Floor Leader Patricia Clancy, who was term-limited in the House but is running for Blessing's Senate seat.

Some have said - Corman included - that Blessing running for the District 29 post goes against the spirit of term-limit laws.

Blessing said: "Don't assume newer blood means better ideas."

E-mail rforgrave@enquirer.com




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