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DeWine’s messy divorce, finalized last year, and an extramarital affair became the focus of an attack ad in his campaign for Hamilton County commissioner in 2004, although the spot backfired and DeWine won the race.
Ulm said that while the ad may have backfired among the broader electorate at the time, the information it contained has not been forgotten by hard-core Republicans.
“It was scarring amongst these voters,” Ulm said. “The people who know Pat DeWine most, like him least and that’s a very tough situation to be in.”
For his part, DeWine’s actions largely speak for themselves.
After beginning the race as the clear favorite, late last week DeWine went on the air with negative ads attacking McEwen’s tenure in the House. Over the weekend voters in the district began receiving automated telephone calls paid for by DeWine’s campaign that carried the same message.
The TV and radio spots, titled “Bouncin’ Bob,” make reference to 166 overdrafts McEwen had with the House bank in the 1980s as well as the fact that he has been a Washington, D.C., lobbyist since losing his seat in 1992.
“In Congress, he ran the most expensive office of any member from Ohio,” says a script of the call, which mirror’s DeWine’s ads. “He bounced over one hundred and sixty checks during the House banking scandal. And for the last twelve years, Bob McEwen hasn’t even lived in Ohio. He’s been in Virginia working as a lobbyist. Bob McEwen, we already voted him out of Congress. Why would we send him back?”
“McEwen’s candidacy is a paper tiger, once people hear about his record his support collapses,” said one DeWine adviser.
McEwen has been touting his conservative record and his tenure in the House during the Reagan administration, while also emphasizing his ability to recoup his seniority would be a big benefit to constituents back in the district.
“All of the indicators are moving in our direction,” said a source within the McEwen camp. “The movement, in addition to where the ballot test is, is dramatic.”
Last Thursday, DeWine was booed by a audience of about 100 at the Anderson Township Republican Club, in Hamilton County, which later rated DeWine as “not qualified at this time.”
The next day, DeWine skipped a debate sponsored by the Citizens for Community Values because the group’s president had endorsed McEwen.
All told 16 Republicans and Democrats are running to succeed Portman. Last week, candidates filed pre-primary fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission.
DeWine far outpaced all candidates in money raised, taking in $455,000 through May 25 and at least $250,000 since then. DeWine has raised more than $200,000 from political action committees and his fundraising report was a who’s who of former and current lawmakers and members of the Cincinnati business community.
The list of GOP Senators who have given money to DeWine, either through their personal campaign or PACs, includes mostly includes many of the chamber’s old bulls and leaders: Chuck Hagel (Neb.), Than Cochran (Miss.), Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Richard Shelby (Ala.), Rick Santorum (Pa.), Charles Grassley (Iowa), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Trent Lott (Miss.), Norm Coleman (Minn.), Ted Stevens (Alaska), John Warner (Va.), John McCain (Ariz.), Gordon Smith (Ore.) and Bill Frist (Tenn.).