The Return of Blackwell?

Ken Blackwell’s far-right campaign for Ohio governor in 2006 was structured around intensive “Patriot Pastor” church organizing, but nonetheless failed by a large margin. Since then, Blackwell has joined the ranks of right-wing activists at the Family Research Council, the Club for Growth, Ohio’s Buckeye Institute, and

Now, there’s a rumor that Blackwell is eyeing a future Senate run. The next Ohio Senate election is in 2010, but the incumbent is a fellow Republican, George Voinovich. A primary challenge is not out of the question, though: Blackwell’s associates at the Club for Growth specialize in right-wing challenges to “Republicans in Name Only,” and he has a history of disagreement with Voinovich.

Back in 1997, when a court ruled that the state must rectify grossly unbalanced school funding, then-Gov. Voinovich proposed a one percent sales tax increase. “Everyone recognizes if we are going to respond to the … decision, we need more money” at the state level,” he said.

But Blackwell warned against letting schools “pick the pockets of taxpayers” and proposed instead somehow shrinking the state government across the board. In an unusual move for a state treasurer, Blackwell released a 30-second TV ad railing against “special interests” – presumably including the governor – who “tell us the only answer is even more state taxes,” and pushed vouchers as the solution to school “reform” instead of adequately funding the poorest schools.

More recently, Voinovich sharply criticized Blackwell’s 2006 effort to implement a “Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights”-style constitutional stricture against spending at the state and local level. (Blackwell eventually abandoned the idea, which he had hoped would drive his campaign for governor.)

Voinovich doesn’t seem worried: “Give me a break,” was his response.