In a world of political parallel universes incumbent Democrat Governor Ted Strickland and incumbent U.S. Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Township) have received endorsements from the opposite poles of sportsmen-related issues.
Both Strickland and LaTourette have the unqualified endorsement of the National Rifle Association. And now each has garnered the likewise enthusiastic support of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, the political action arm of the Humane Society of the United States which is generally regarded as the nation’s most potent and richest anti-hunting, anti-fishing and anti-trapping organization.
That the HSUS’ Legislative Fund is backing Strickland rankles several former Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials, including those who were appointed during Republican administrations. And at least one of these officials - Mike Budzik, retired chief of the Ohio Division of Wildlife - has formally endorsed Strickland’s Republican opponent, John Kasich.
Budzik has even cut a recorded telephone message that was recently sent to Ohio sportsmen and which calls for the support of his candidate of choice.
The Humane Society Legislative Fund endorsement stems from Strickland’s backing of an agreement with the HSUS to tighten farm animal care standards in exchange for the group’s withdrawal of a statewide referendum on the issue.
Strickland’s NRA endorsement arrived because of the governor’s long-standing support for Second Amendment rights issues and pro-sportsmen’s positions.
That the HSUS’ political wing is backing Strickland does not surprise Budzik, though it certainly upsets him.
Consequently, Budzik and Kasich say that Ohio’s farmers as well as sportsmen were blind-sided by Strickland’s actions.
“I really think that it speaks clearly to the sportsmen,” Budzik said in a telephone exchange this morning.
“He left sportsmen and the Ohio Farm Bureau out in the cold with this farm issue, and he was wrong in believing that sportsmen weren’t concerned about it. That wasn’t good and someone (on his staff) let him down.”
Budzik said also that he took his share of flack because he wanted to help Kasich, even though the former congressman had a checkered career related to Second Amendment issues while in the House.
“I sat down with him and established a dialogue. He admitted to me that he made ‘some bad moves,’” Budzik said.
However, Budzik did say that Strickland has proven supportive of both Second Amendment rights issues along with those matters dealing with hunting, fishing and the like.
Yet the governor has zigged where and when he should have zagged, Budzik said as well.
“You need to peal away the onion. I’m a little surprised that (Strickland) has allowed the politicizing of the department and removed the civil service protection of assistant chiefs, for example,” Budzik said.
Other local Congressional endorsements announced by the Humane Society Legislative Fund include those for Democrats Dennis Kusinich, Marcia Fudge and Betty Sutton, all incumbents.
In the group’s legislative score card LaTourette received a 62, Fudge a 92, and Kucinich and Sutton each rated a perfect 100.
This blog will be updated if Strickland or LaTourette respond to a request for comment. And this item also will be posted on The News-Herald’s Northern Ohio Local Politics blog.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn