The GOP is trying to lessen damage done by the story, a YSU professor says.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The Republican National Committee chairman says a New York Times article that the party was reducing financial support to U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine is inaccurate.
Monday's article quotes unidentified Republican officials saying senior GOP leaders concluded DeWine "is likely to be heading for defeat and are moving to reduce financial support for his race and divert party money to other embattled Republican senators."
Hours after the article was published, RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman held a teleconference with Ohio reporters. Mehlman said he strongly believes DeWine can beat U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown, the Democratic nominee for the Senate seat, and the national party is committed to the race.
Mehlman said he never gives away his "game plan" but made an exception in this case because of the article.
"No state will receive more resources than Ohio," he said. "There are millions more to spend on this state. There is a very strong commitment to winning this race. Millions will be spent in the coming three weeks on turnout and message."
Mehlman refused to give a monetary amount other than "millions" and wouldn't say how much more would be spent on DeWine's race.
The RNC and the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee have spent 4.6 million on this race, according to the article.
The Times article says the decision to reduce DeWine's financial support was made after a series of internal Republican polls showed the GOP senator falling behind Brown. Mehlman said he doesn't comment on internal polls. Public polls show the race is very close.
The newspaper "report confirms the Republican Party may finally recognize what Ohioans have known for quite some time. Mike DeWine is having trouble gaining traction because he sold out middle-class Ohio and protected special interests," said Ben LaBolt, Brown's campaign spokesman.
Brian Seitchik, DeWine's campaign spokesman, said the senator is pleased to have Mehlman's support, noting the chairman visited DeWine's campaign headquarters last week.
"This is going to be a competitive race," Seitchik said. "We've received no indication anyone's pulling out. It's going to come down to the wire, but we feel good."
William Binning, Youngstown State University political science department chairman, said Mehlman's holding a teleconference to rebut the Times article is extremely unusual.
"I've never heard of that before," he said. "It's very problematic to say the least to have that story published. It takes some of the wind, if there is wind, out of [DeWine's] sails. The damage has been done, and [Republicans] are trying to lessen it."
When asked if DeWine's re-election was the national party's top priority in Ohio, Mehlman said it is a top priority but not the only one.
Mehlman also mentioned J. Kenneth Blackwell, the party's gubernatorial nominee who is trailing Democrat Ted Strickland by double digits in numerous polls, and U.S. Rep. Deborah Pryce of Columbus, who is in a tight race.
The RSCC has not pulled any television commercials for DeWine and believes the Republican will win Nov. 7, said Dan Ronayne, a committee spokesman.
"If you want to see our commitment, turn on the TV," he said.
Despite the millions spent to boost DeWine's candidacy, the incumbent's campaign is failing, said Phil Singer, a Democratic Senate Campaign Committee spokesman. He said the Republicans are beginning to "cut and run" from Ohio.