The following is an Endorsement by the Dayton Daily News editorial board, published at http://tinyurl.com/23fa37o.
Editorial: Austria better for Republicans in Greene, Clark
By the Dayton Daily News | Wednesday, April 21, 2010, 03:18 PM
It wouldn’t be an election without John Mitchel on the ballot.
The retired Air Force officer from Beavercreek has been running for something almost every two years since his first major bid for office in 1998, when he ran for governor as a Reform Party candidate.
(Remember third- party presidential candidate Ross Perot? That was his party.)
Since then, he has run, as a Republican, for the U.S. Senate, and also against former U.S. Rep. David Hobson — twice. Now this year will be his second run against Congressman Steve Austria, who represents Greene and Clark counties.
Give the guy credit for persistence.
But he’s still the neophyte that he was in 1998, when he had 20,000 copies of his school funding plan printed.
In 2004, when asked what he wanted to do in the Senate, he said:
“My first act if elected to the Senate would be to lobby the president to sign an executive order to declare the unborn innocent ‘persons,’ thus giving them the full protection of the Fifth Amendment.”
Mr. Mitchel, 62, opposes the Obama health care initiative, the Obama stimulus, the bank bailout under former President George W. Bush, and he supports the (unworkable) FairTax plan, which would eliminate the federal income tax, substituting a sales tax.
He also charges that Greene and Clark counties are steeped in cronyism that results in sweetheart deals for Republican insiders.
Congressman Austria is completing his first term in Washington. He was effectively handpicked by Rep. Hobson to replace him when he retired; Rep. Austria’s wife was on the congressman’s staff.
Previously, Rep. Austria served 10 years in the Ohio Senate.
As a freshman in the minority party, Rep. Austria could hardly be expected to make a big impact. In fact, though, he did get national attention for telling the Columbus Dispatch, in a discussion about his opposition to the Obama stimulus, that Franklin Roosevelt caused the Great Depression (which, of course, began way before the president was elected).
In talking about his job, Rep. Austria emphasizes constituent service, which, of course, does come with the position. But it is the most routine part of it.
He’s much less comfortable taking tough positions. He rarely diverges from his party, although he did vote for the administration’s Cash for Clunkers program.
He said he was persuaded by auto dealers that some of them would go out of business without this incentive.
On the other hand, Rep. Austria opposed the $787 billion stimulus program, without which unemployment would be immeasurably higher, and he is critical of the Bush bank bailout (that occurred before Mr. Austria went to Congress).
(Many economists believe that the bank and insurance failures that surely would have ensued without the Bush administration’s intervention could have pushed the country toward a Depression.)
Rep. Austria has refused to support earmarks, even though that was one way former Rep. Hobson made sure that Wright-Patterson Air Force Base got some of the improvements and commitments it needed sooner rather than later.
Rep. Austria was, for a while, reconsidering that position; then all the Republicans in the House said they wanted a moratorium.
It’ll be too bad if important advocacy for the base falls to U.S. Rep. Mike Turner and Ohio’s U.S. senators alone. That would be copping out, for political convenience.
Rep. Austria doesn’t face a serious challenge this year and is unlikely to any time soon unless he really fumbles. He’s cautious, so he’s not a disaster waiting to happen.
For the privilege of that job security, he really does need to seize the important platform he has. He has work to do to grow into an aggressive advocate for the region and for the issues he cares most about.