Since Ken Blackwell first spoke to my high school when I was just a lad, I have been impressed with him. A charismatic man, he lit up the auditorium and inspired us all with his ideas and energy. I have met him several times since, once when he was working for Jack Kemp at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the first Bush Administration and then several years later back in Cincinnati at a dinner honoring my father. Both times, I was impressed by his warmth, his wit, his intelligence and his qualities of leadership.
I watched him grow from an energetic Democratic City Councilman and Mayor into a responsible Republican leader, serving the most idea-driven Cabinet member (Kemp) in the first Bush Administration. He later served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. Returning to the Buckeye State in the 1990s, he became state Treasurer and was the first African-American elected to statewide executive office. Since switching to the GOP, he has shown a commitment to the Reaganite principles of which all too many of the party’s current leaders have lost sight (to the great detriment of the party — and our nation).
On that score, I should be pleased by his victory in yesterday’s Republican gubernatorial primary in my home state. And yet, on his road to victory, he made some unfortunate statements about gay marriage. It’s pathetic when a man otherwise so distinguished stoops to such petty pandering.
Let us hope that gay Republicans in Ohio find a way to reach out to their party’s gubernatorial nominee and disabuse him of his narrow notions.
Given that Blackwell won the primary with a margin smaller than pre-election polls had indicated, I wonder if such statements hurt him in the last stretch of the campaign.
Until I had read the comments linked above, I had been cheering Blackwell on, eager to see a Reagan Republican win in my home state. But, today, I am not enthusiastic about the victory of a man who had impressed me for over a quarter-century. Ken Blackwell is a bright man with demonstrated leadership skills. He should know better than to attack gays.
While my recent trip to Ohio made me appreciate (once again) the decency of the good people in my home state, far warmer and more genuine than most in my adopted hometown, I am grateful at least that I can vote this fall for a good Republican who despite his recent tilt to the left, still holds true to many Republican principles and has been more accepting of gays than most in our party — indeed, more accepting and tolerant than most in the other party as well.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com
ADDENDUM: Blackwell’s victory should disabuse Republican-haters for once and for all of their wrong-headed notion that Republicans are racists. In the Ohio gubernatorial primary, this black man won a convincing victory.