Brown Banking on Stupidity

Roy Brown’s running, but in what direction?

Brown, the scion of a local newspaper publishing family, is sinking hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money into a race for the Republican nomination in the 3rd congressional district. It’s a wide-open seat because Democratic incumbent Tony Hall is resigning to accept an ambassadorial appointment with the Bush administration. Brown is vastly outspending his principal opponent, former Dayton Mayor Mike Turner, who doesn’t have a personal fortune to spend and who is restricted in his fund-raising by federal law – a limitation Brown bypasses by shelling out his own dough.

But why is Brown running? He doesn’t act like someone who understands or even enjoys politics. Indeed, for the most part, he appears to be dodging his opponents and the news media, an unlikely strategy for success.

Aspiring politicians, even novices with no public-service experience like Brown, usually understand that to win office requires pressing the flesh – a heavy amount of hand shaking, baby kissing and general meeting and greeting. Brown, oddly, is behaving like a phantom candidate. Most people know him only through his television ads.

Maybe it’s because he’s new to these parts, having only recently rented an apartment in Centerville. Perhaps “the endorsed candidate” is feeling friendless, having to virtually underwrite his campaign by himself, with so few political backers supporting him.

Whatever, he is waging a political race largely in absentia, limiting personal appearances with other candidates where he might actually have to defend himself, and ducking televised debates and candidate interviews.

Brown’s aversion to the news media is hugely ironic for a man whose personal fortune is derived from newspaper publishing. Perhaps he’s too embarrassed to mingle with his colleagues in the press, knowing the disdain with which he is held for force-feeding flowery campaign propaganda into the pages of his own papers.

Last week, without notice, Brown ditched an editorial board interview at this newspaper that was attended by his competitors, Turner and Washington Twp. businessman Greg Hunter. We had hoped to conduct the interview earlier in the month so it could be televised on Channel 16, but Brown couldn’t find time in his schedule. As a backup, we planned to devote today’s op-ed page to a transcript of the candidate interviews. To accommodate Brown, we allowed him to pick the date when the interview would take place. Then Brown failed to show up.

That same day, he notified WHIO television that he was backing out of a candidate debate to which he had already committed. Breaking commitments is becoming a habit for Brown.
So is bending the truth.

The Ohio Elections Commission will hold a probable cause hearing this week on a complaint filed by the Turner campaign that Brown’s latest television ads misrepresent Turner’s record on taxes. In the ads, Brown claims that Turner supported an increase in the city of Dayton’s income tax and links Turner to an increase in property taxes.

In fact, tax rates did not increase during Turner’s two terms as mayor. Brown either hasn’t done his homework or has but fleeting regard for the truth.

Indeed, his whole campaign seems to be based on the premise that Republican voters are so stupid that they’ll buy anything if pitched often enough on the boob tube.

So why is someone so blase’ about the truth, so timid about facing inquisitors running?
We’d love to ask him, but he’s busy running – away.

Copyright, 2002, Jeffrey C. Bruce. All rights reserved.

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