J. Kenneth Blackwell, the man who stole Ohio’s 2004 presidential election, was out campaigning October 4, 2006 with a man widely viewed as one of America’s leading white supremacists. Blackwell is an African-American.
He is also the Republican nominee for governor of Ohio. As Secretary of State, he was the GOP point man for stealing the 2004 presidential vote that gave George W. Bush a second term. As co-chair of the state’s Bush-Cheney re-election campaign, Blackwell engineered a complex strategy of confusion, disenfranchisement and theft that mirrored what was done by Katherine Harris in Florida 2000. Harris was rewarded with a safe Congressional seat, and is now the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate. Polls show Blackwell trailing between 12-20 points in his gubernatorial race, but few Ohio insiders doubt his ability to steal the necessary votes, if he can get away with it. Currently, Blackwell operatives are stressing that he’s “only 12 points down” and that they believe the race will tighten significantly by Election Day.
Blackwell toured the state with Larry Pratt, author of ARMED PEOPLE VICTORIOUS, which advocates the creation of militant right-wing militias. Pratt has spoken and shared platforms in the past with Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi Aryan Nation members. He was forced to take a leave of absence from Pat Buchanan’s 1996 presidential campaign over charges of white supremacist and anti-semitic views. Pratt’s 150,000-member Gun Owners of America is proudly to the right of the National Rifle Association.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, Pratt says he couldn’t be a racist because he is campaigning with Blackwell, an African-American. Blackwell is “our kind of guy,” says Pratt, in reference to Blackwell’s support of gun owners’ rights.
Blackwell campaign spokesperson attorney Eric Seabrook, conceded on Sunday, October 8 to the Khari Enaharo show listeners on 98.9FM radio that Pratt was a white supremacist but, he stressed “it was all about the gun rights issue.”
But this is not the first time Blackwell has lined up with extreme right-wing backers boasting racist and anti-semitic roots. Earlier this year Blackwell posted on his website a picture of himself addressing the Council for National Policy. The CNP has deep “neo-fascist” and Ku Klux Klan ties according to Chip Berlet of the Boston-based Political Research Associates. In addition to right wing extremists such as Jerry Falwell, Phyllis Schlafly and Pat Robertson, the CNP embraces a broad spectrum of powerful, reactionary bigots.
Among them are members of the Ahmanson family, major funders of extremist publications and electronic voting machines. The Ahmanson’s financial and political ties are thoroughly intertwined with both ES&S and Diebold, mainstays of the electronic hardware used to steal the Ohio vote. Among their associates are Bob and Todd Urosevich, whose executive and programming work has helped shape the two voting machine companies.
Others associated with the CNP include:
- Richard Shoff, a former Ku Klux Klan leader in Indiana.
- John McGoff, an ardent supporter of the former apartheid South African regime.
- R.J. Rushdoony, the theological leader of America's "Christian Reconstruction" movement, which advocates that Christian fundamentalists take "dominion" over America by abolishing democracy and instituting Old Testament Law. Rushdoony's Reconstructionalists believe that "homosexuals . . . adulterers , blasphemers, astrologers and others will be executed," along with disobedient children.
- Reed Larson, head of anti-union National Right to Work Committee.
- Don Wildmon, TV censorship activist and accused anti-Semite.
- Lieutenant-Colonel Oliver North, Major General John K. Singlaub and other principals from the Iran-Contra Scandal.
After a public uproar, Blackwell pulled his CNP photo off his website. But he has thus far made no similar backtrack on Larry Pratt. “We’re happy to have his support,” says a campaign spokesman, reported the Dispatch.
Blackwell supporters continue to predict he will make a “last-minute surge” to win the governor’s race. Making no visible moves toward the mainstream, Blackwell may well be banking on two bottom lines in Bush-era electoral politics: loaded guns and rigged voting machines.
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors, with Steve Rosenfeld, of What Happened in Ohio: A Documentary Record of What Happened in the 2004 Election, just published by the New Press. Fitrakis is an independent candidate for governor of Ohio, endorsed by the Green Party.