On Wednesday, the campaign of Ohio Republican Mike DeWine called for “locking up” Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, his rival in the May 8 GOP primary for governor. A Twitter account set up by the DeWine team tweeted, “Hey @MaryTaylorOH! When you abuse your power and fly around on a state plane for personal use, it’s not conservative—it’s criminal,” with the hashtags “#MaryUnfitUnqualified #OHGov #LockHerUp #RINO.” The tweet remains up as of Thursday evening, more than 24 hours after it was posted and well after the Columbus Dispatch asked the campaign about it.
And what did Taylor do that has DeWine’s camp convinced that she should be sent to prison without trial? As the Dispatch’s Randy Ludlow writes, Taylor paid the state a little more than $1,000 in 2011 after it was revealed that a state airplane “went out of its way to drop her off and pick her up at an airport six miles from her home in Green,” a town just south of Akron. Taylor denied any wrongdoing, but Gov. John Kasich insisted she repay the state. The whole incident certainly didn’t make Taylor look good, but the state attorney general at the time didn’t press any charges, so it’s not as though law enforcement officials thought the matter was “criminal.”
And oh yeah, that attorney general was Mike DeWine.
GOP primary voters may not care about all this: After all, they love Donald Trump, who popularized the “lock her up” chant against Hillary Clinton. But it’s really scary that the state’s top lawman, and perhaps its future governor, has no problem dumping on the very notion of the rule of law in order to further his own political ambitions.
DeWine’s descent into the gutter may be borne out of fear. The GOP primary had looked like a very one-sided affair for a while, with DeWine seeming to hold all the cards against Taylor. However, the contest has gotten quite nasty in the last week. Taylor’s political action committee launched a $670,000 buy against DeWine that portrayed the former U.S. senator as a liberal. DeWine fired back with a spot that called Taylor unqualified and a slacker and hit her over the plane story, but it didn’t imply she should be in the slammer. But the fact that he’s attacking his opponent at all suggests that a once-sleepy contest might suddenly be competitive.
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