A BELLWETHER BLOWOUT? More trouble is brewing for Ken Blackwell�s gubernatorial bid in Ohio. Last week, three prominent Ohio Republicans publicly denounced Blackwell as being outside the mainstream of the Republican Party and announced their support for his Democratic opponent, Ted Strickland. Might Karl Rove, John McCain, and the editor of Human Events, to name a few, be out of touch with what real Americans, real Ohioans -- and even real Republicans -- want?

Leading the charge was Charles �Rocky� Saxbe, a well-known Columbus attorney, former member of the Ohio House of Representatives, and one-time Republican candidate for state attorney general. Saxbe�s father, William Saxbe, is a powerhouse in the Ohio Republican Party, having served as Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, Ohio Attorney General, a member of the United States Senate, and Attorney General of the United States in a political career that spanned four decades.

I caught up with Saxbe this morning, who predicted that Strickland will win in a �blowout.� Saxbe cited Blackwell�s �staunch defense of cutting taxes and starving government� as �wrong for Ohio.� He called Blackwell �intentionally divisive,� adding that his �caricature� of gay people has offended many Republicans and that his position on abortion is too extreme. Saxbe said his view that Blackwell is too radical for the Ohio Republican Party is shared �by a vast number of Republicans.�

Blackwell, who �has been drinking his own Kool-Aid,� is still working off of what Saxbe called the �Bush-Rove 2004 playbook,� which won�t work this year because of a stagnant Ohio economy, a scandal-plagued state GOP, and the unpopular Iraq War. And the GOP won�t have God to fall back on this year, either, according to Saxbe. �This regular recital of having God supporting us and somehow what we do, what the Republicans do that offends a lot of people is nevertheless countenanced by God, I think that�s a hard pill to swallow.�

What about Saxbe�s legal work for Rod Parsley, who often claims God speaks through him and has publicly supported Blackwell? Saxbe drew a line between his own political activities and his law practice, saying that he�s an �equal opportunity lawyer.�

And, of course, inquiring minds want to know: Do Republicans for Strickland -- piled onto the myriad ethical problems faced by the Ohio GOP, from Noe to Ney and beyond -- signal more widespread Republican discontent, and will they have any effect on Ohio�s closely watched Senate race? According to Saxbe, no. Mike DeWine still has their votes.

--Sarah Posner

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