The subtext in this week's news about a poll conducted by the campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Petro, Ohio's attorney general, is the future of state Auditor Betty Montgomery's bid for the GOP nomination for governor.
Petro's camp dashed off e-mails to journalists around the state hailing the poll results as evidence that his $1.6 million television ad campaign is paying off. The race is a "dead heat" between Petro and Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, the e-mails declared.
Ever since Petro, Blackwell and Montgomery entered the race for the Republican nomination, Blackwell has been leading in the polls. Hence Petro's decision to spend big bucks on a television campaign this far off from the May primary. Montgomery continues to lag behind the other two.
But Blackwell's campaign immediately jumped on the Petro poll results, contending that even after spending all that money on the TV ads, the attorney general still trails the secretary of state by five points.
But the question that looms today is this: What will Montgomery do? Petro believes she should bow out. Blackwell, on the other hand, contends Montgomery and Petro should withdraw.
And there are whispers emanating from Columbus that some Republican insiders are wondering whether Petro and Montgomery should both get out of the governor's race and run for state auditor and attorney general, respectively, and let Blackwell face the Democratic nominee in the fall. The thinking is that the Republican Party would have least have a chance of retaining two important statewide offices auditor and attorney general.