The two top races on the November 6 ballot in Ohio — for U.S. Senator and governor — offer a study in contrasts, as well as a lesson in how cynically some politicians are willing to exploit current hot-button issues to deceive, mislead and distract from their own unpopular policies.
Both Jim Renacci, running against incumbent Senator Sherrod Brown, and Mike DeWine, running for governor against Rich Cordray, are making naked but clumsy appeals to the women activated by the #MeToo movement and angered by the condescending, dismissive treatment of the sexual assault charges against Brett Kavanaugh. Both have horrific records on women’s issues, showing an engrained contemptuousness for women and their right to make their own decisions about their bodies and their lives.
Studying the differences between Brown and Renacci, and between Cordray and DeWine, shows how imperative it is for women’s health, safety and economic wellbeing to elect Brown and Cordray, no matter what mud their opponents sling.
Renacci’s attack is particularly odious. In what has been an almost entirely negative campaign, the four-term congressman has sounded increasingly desperate and unhinged. In recent weeks he tried to resuscitate an old story about Brown abusing his ex-wife back in the ’80s, which she’s while supporting his campaigns since then.
Failing that, Renacci flung out a totally unsubstantiated claim that multiple women had contacted his campaign saying Brown has assaulted them. He won’t provide details, and I’ll believe him only if he makes a strong statement of opposition to Kavanaugh’s confirmation and promises if elected to lead a campaign to push him to resign from the Supreme Court. In other words, not.
How much does this self-styled fountain of phony outrage about manufactured assault charges really care about women? Across his entire tenure in Congress, he’s earned straight zeros ratings from Planned Parenthood Action Fund and NARAL Pro-Choice America and straight 100% from National Right to Life.
Electing DeWine governor would likely have an immediate disastrous impact for Ohio’s women, given the increased probability that Roe v. Wade will be overturned, throwing the issue of access to abortion back to the states. DeWine has said unequivocally he would sign the “Heartbeat” bill, which effectively bans abortion.
The repercussions of that would be enormous, not just for individual non-affluent women who would not be able to travel out of state to get the care they need, but for Ohio’s entire economy. Coupled with DeWine’s hostility toward LGBTQ rights, Ohio would be putting out an “unwelcome” mat for educated young people and entrepreneurial businesses, and retaining talented people in a state so unfriendly to equal rights for all would be difficult, pushing the economy into stagnation. Plus the increase in non-affluent women having children they can’t adequately care for would lead to increased social services costs in a state already reeling from loss of businesses.
DeWine’s positions aren’t just speculation. In eight years as attorney general, he’s spent our tax dollars opposing same-sex marriage (advocating on the wrong side of the Obergefell decision) and trying to make it harder for women to access affordable contraception (he was a lead organizer of the Hobby Lobby case). Meanwhile, Cordray in his two years as AG and later as the head of President Obama’s Consumer Finance Protection Bureau sued large financial firms for deceptive practices and won back billions of dollars for citizens and pension funds which had been cheated.
One of DeWine’s most prominent attacks on Cordray has been his claim that Cordray let 12,000 untested rape kits languish while DeWine quickly moved to process them once he came into office. This is an obvious ploy to make himself appear more sympathetic to women. The reality is that the issue involved confusion of state and local jurisdictions, that many of the kits had not been sent to the state while Cordray was in office, that it became a public issue in 2010 and he was addressing it in his final months before he left office in January 2011, and that it took DeWine longer to tackle the rape kits than Cordray’s entire term as AG.
And DeWine’s policies would re-victimize rape victims and decrease their power and control over their own lives. You don’t even have to know that his ratings from NARAL, Planned Parenthood and National Right to Life when he was in the Senate closely resembled Renacci’s. When he said in the first debate that he would sign the “Heartbeat” bill, he was saying that, yes, he would strip women of reproductive choices and allow government to impose on them religious beliefs they may not share. In advocating for Hobby Lobby, he revealed that he believed an employer should be allowed to insert HIS religious beliefs into women’s reproductive lives (and that was about contraception, the most effective way to decrease abortions, so hold the crocodile tears about the “unborn.”)
So, no matter what DeWine’s misleading ads say, Cordray’s policies benefited women and all Ohioans, while DeWine has consistently used public office and public money to push his own religious beliefs on all Ohioans. Time to say “No more of that.” Say no to both DeWine and Renacci whose policies encourage inequality and more rights for some than others.