By MARK NAYMIK
Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann has become an election-year live wire.
Though he is more than two years from having to face re-election, his decision to remain in office after a sex scandal has put him at the center of the 2008 races, from Ohio House contests to the state’s battle for the White House.
Democratic candidates will face questions about his conduct, which includes having an affair with a subordinate. In the broadest context, Republican candidates will use Dann’s conduct to paint Democrats as corrupt.
“This will have a huge impact on legislative races because every Democratic candidate will be asked whether or not Marc Dann should resign,” said Republican consultant Mark Weaver, who helped Republican House members in 2006 and is advising them again this year.
Weaver should know; he has experienced the collateral damage of political scandal. One of his clients, former state Auditor and Attorney General Betty Montgomery, lost to Dann in 2006, after he effectively linked her to a Republican investment scandal involving fund-raiser and coin dealer Tom Noe.
Though Montgomery had no direct involvement in the investment debacle, the taint of the scandal, which touched former Republican Gov. Bob Taft, helped defeat nearly all of the party’s statewide candidates in 2006.
“If Ohio becomes ground zero in the presidential race, and the race is close like it was in 2004, a major Democratic scandal that is unresolved could have an impact,” Weaver said.