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POLITICS Candidate is clear on his stance



Published: Sat, November 17, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The attorney general candidate says he is going to work hard to win over the voters of Northeast Ohio.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Ohio Treasurer Joseph T. Deters, who is running next year for state attorney general, makes no apologies for being a pro-Second Amendment conservative who's against abortion.

"I always take strong positions," he said during a telephone interview Friday with The Vindicator.

"If I can't get elected being who I am, I'd just as soon not get elected. I'm conservative and I'm pro-life and I don't run from those positions."

Deters, a former Hamilton County prosecutor, faces a tough battle in next year's Republican primary for attorney general against two-term state Auditor Jim Petro.

Deters said he is known in Southwest Ohio, and Petro, from Cuyahoga County, has a name in the northeastern part of the state.

"The rest of the state is kind of mush," Deters said. "It's kind of humbling, but that's the fact. That will change when we're on TV for three weeks. Also, I'm going to be living in the northeast portion of the state. That is an area that is very good for us and one we're going to spend a lot in time in. We're not going to concede any place."

For example, Deters has visited Mahoning County four times since June.

"I've hit 37 counties in the past six days meeting with groups of 200 to five talking about the campaign and why I'm running," he said.

His program: During his travels, Deters is showing a 10-minute video that focuses on his conservative agenda. In e-mails sent Friday to supporters, Deters writes the video "has liberals howling because it unabashedly lays out my conservative background and my conservative agenda. ... We know that now, more than ever, we must defeat the Democrats and their liberal, pro-abortion, pro-tax and anti-gun agenda."

In the e-mail, Deters writes that he wears Democrats' "scorn as a badge of honor."

Deters said it will take $3 million to run a successful primary campaign. Although he would not disclose how much he has raised to date, Deters said he will raise enough to compete in the primary.

Deters said if he is to win the primary, he has to get the message across that he is the only career prosecutor running for the Republican nomination.

"If voters want someone who has been in the trenches and been in court fighting these fights, I think we're going to win," he said.

"If not, we won't. A key point of the campaign is your background and how it relates to the job you are running for. I don't think there can be a better fit than a major county prosecutor for attorney general of Ohio."

Deters expects the Democrats to nominate one of their leading county prosecutors such as Bill Mason of Cuyahoga, Matt Heck of Montgomery or Julia Bates of Lucas.

Deters said he is taking a risk by running for attorney general because he could have run for re-election as treasurer without fear of a serious primary battle. But the first-term state treasurer says although he enjoys that position, he misses being a prosecutor.

"I didn't come to Columbus just for a paycheck," he said. "I'm not running for attorney general so I can run for governor in four years. I'm running for the job because I want it."

skolnick@vindy.com




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