ANSWER: A Turncoat
Ohio Senator George Voinivich in the cross-hairs of the Right and the Left--and in my usual meek way, I respond to the Senator's local newspaper.
Senator called 'turncoat' by conservatives; liberals say he hasn't backed up anti-war stance.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
WASHINGTON — — Sen. George Voinovich's next re-election campaign isn't for three years, but political opponents from both sides of the aisle are lining up to take their shots.
Liberal groups including MoveOn.org and Americans United For Change are banding together to criticize Ohio's senior senator for continuing to vote with fellow Republicans despite speaking out in July against the war in Iraq.
Other groups, including the liberal ProgressOhio, which has a grant from Americans United, have staged candlelight vigils outside his Ohio offices. Their refrain is that he talks one way but votes another.
He's been lambasted by conservative commentator Sean Hannity, whose July interview with Voinovich on the immigration issue ended when a flustered and frustrated Voinovich hung up the phone. Melanie Morgan of the conservative Move America Forward, referred to Voinovich as a "turncoat" for his hesitations on the war.
The conservatives' line: Voinovich isn't the true-blue conservative they would like for him to be.
Ohio Democrats hope to capitalize on those attacks even though no candidate has publicly indicated plans to run. "Right now, Sen. Voinovich is showing he's susceptible to a strong challenge," said Randy Borntrager of the Ohio Democratic Party. "We'll find a strong challenger come 2010 if he does decide to run for re-election."
Voinovich, who says he plans to seek re-election, isn't surprised by the criticism. He said he votes on principles, not politics, and "if people don't like what I'm doing, well, Amen and Hallelujah."
He has raised $1.4 million for his re-election bid as of June 30, the end of the last fundraising period.
John Green of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron, said early political opposition to Voinovich is more an indication of the political foment in Ohio and in the United States than it is of Voinovich's political future.
And part of it, he said, is "the kind of figure" Voinovich is — a moderate.
Nathan Gonzales, a political editor at the Rothenberg Political Report, said criticism now is no indication of how tough a challenge Voinovich will ultimately get.
"Once President Bush is off the stage, then I think voters are going to start looking at their votes through a different prism," Gonzales said.