Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro, a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor next year, appears to have gone over to the dark side of politics. His latest television commercials are a direct appeal to the religious right-wingers in the GOP and are designed to cut into the support that Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell enjoys with the conservative Christian movement. Blackwell and state Auditor Betty Montgomery are also running for governor, but it is the secretary of state who has been leading in the polls.
Petro, who has enjoyed bipartisan support in his statewide races because of his moderate views, risks alienating a large segment of the voting population by his decision to go to such extremes to win the nomination.
What happens if Petro wins as the candidate of the religious right? He'll never be able to shed that image in the general election.
President Bush's victory in Ohio last year, due in large part to the religious right bringing out a slew of new voters, has theocracized Republican politics and put candidates like Petro on edge.