Joseph Deters said the Republican primary for attorney general would have been 'a $6 million bloodbath.'
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
NILES -- Ohio Treasurer Joseph T. Deters says he is more relieved than anything else about his decision to not run for state attorney general and instead seek re-election.
Deters decided last month to put his life's ambition on hold and wait until 2006 to run for attorney general, clearing the way for state Auditor Jim Petro to emerge as the Republican candidate for the post.
"I thought there would be a letdown [after withdrawing], and it's been the exact opposite," Deters said Tuesday before giving the keynote address at the Mahoning Valley McKinley Club's 87th annual banquet.
"I totally underestimated the level of relief by me, Jim and the rank and file of this party."
Averting casualties: "A $6 million bloodbath" is what Deters called the avoided Republican primary for attorney general with Petro.
"Think of those resources lost," Deters said at the banquet. "One would have been out of elected office and the other would have been beaten up."
Deters says he has no regrets about pulling out of the race. In exchange for his withdrawal, Petro will not seek the AG's position in 2006, paving the way for Deters to run for the post. Petro is expected to run for governor four years from now.
"I want to be attorney general and I hope some day I will be," Deters said.
In the meantime, Deters is comfortable with the prospects of serving as state treasurer for another four years.
"If I get re-elected, they're not sending me to Lucasville [the site of a violent prison riot in 1993] for four years," Deters said. "This is a pretty good job. Being treasurer of the state is a terrific job and I'll be happy to do it."
Criticism: State Democratic leaders have criticized Deters for agreeing to remain as treasurer, saying he is settling for a job he does not really want.
"There's not much room there to criticize the Republicans if [the Democrats] don't know what office to run for," Deters said in response.
There currently is no Democratic opposition to Deters for treasurer. One possible opponent is U.S. Rep. Thomas C. Sawyer, an Akron Democrat, who is considering a run against Deters as well as a number of other possible races including Congress and state auditor.
The filing deadline for candidates is Feb. 21. Deters says he has raised $1.6 million to date for his campaign.
Deters was the keynote speaker at the McKinley Club, a Republican organization that meets annually on or near Jan. 29, the birthday of William McKinley, the nation's 25th president, who was born in Niles in 1843. Past speakers have included governors, senators and congressmen.