The best hope for a continuation of House Bill 178 getting passed in the Senate is to have George Lang there to help convince Mike DeWine to sign the bill, which modifies weapons law, permitting concealed carry without a license, and many other positive reforms. While many are still in debate about to what extent the Second Amendment can or should be regulated, the crazy leftist who shot up a night spot in Dayton has many conservatives weak-kneed and in need of some hand holding in the aftermath. Of the people running for the 4th District Senate Seat in the upcoming primary between George Lang, Candice Keller and Ding Dong Lee Wong, only George Lang has the clout and ability to help Mike DeWine get off the fence and back to the table to sign such a bill as HB 178. As we get closer to the primary in March, its important that voters understand the strategy and best options for the issues they are most passionate about, and in Ohio the gun rights concerns are a big topic, so a bit of context is worth our time and consideration.
Candice Keller has been asked by the GOP to step down for her comments made in August in reaction to mass shootings in general. I think many people who are logical understood that much of what she said is true, about fatherless homes, and drug users being the cause of many mass shootings, but what hurt her is that she brought up Nazi language and tousled into the gay rights debate in a way that was completely unnecessary, and it hurt the GOP brand, and her stance on Second Amendment rights, which she has been a strong supporter. But she also walked right into the poo poo by giving opponents of bills like HB 178 a face to throw darts at, and therefor a great excuse for Mike DeWine to move away from signing it. So long as Candice was a face of Second Amendment rights in Columbus then she is hurting all the politicians who support the bill but had the political skill to stay out of trouble when pressed by the media for reaction to such catastrophes like the shooting in Dayton last year. This is another reason that the media has given Candice so much prominent coverage—most of it negative, because it has forced this issue underground again and made her look like a front runner in the 4th Seat Senate race. But there is a better option, a much better one in George Lang who is every bit as much of a Second Amendment supporter, I think more so, however, he has the political skill to unite people around the bill in the Senate to the Governor that Candice just doesn’t have. And even if she did, it will take her years to rebuild her political clout within the GOP to be effective in those types of discussions.
The media would like to make the race for that senate seat look much tighter ahead of the primary with its secret hopes that enough people might vote for Candice so that she can be elected to that seat only to waste it on more political scandal, which would then effectively kill HB 178 for many years. However, running for a big office seat like those in the senate takes politicians who can raise money, advertise, and then not step in it when pushed by the media for comments, who can stay on target literally with their message under great stress. And to that point only George Lang has any remote possibility of being an effective senator in the 4th District. In the financial reports for the candidates that were due on Friday of last week, George Lang had cash reserves of well over $200,000 where Candice only had $12,000. So that leaves her only strategy to hope to stay relevant is to be a rock chucker and hope that she can get some headlines and free coverage to get her message out. But the problem is, the GOP wants her to resign, so any coverage she gets is always going to be negative.
Meanwhile the Buckeye Firearms Association has endorsed George Lang for Ohio’s 4th Senate district and by mid-February the NRA is going to give its support as well. George’s record and ability has the recognized strength to advance gun rights as a senator and that momentum should not be wasted by anybody who wants to see bills like HB 178 become law without becoming so watered down by passage that it would be virtually worthless. I would encourage Candice whom I think genuinely cares about gun rights to get behind George as the best option to represent the 4th District in this great debate. But more than that, George has the ability to put that needed arm around Governor DeWine’s neck to get the signature needed to make HB 178 a reality. Those are the kinds of political skills that go well beyond a simple vote in the chamber and how things really happen in any political body.
Candice due to her lack of political skill, not necessarily her fault—time will fix a lot of that—but she’s had to take some of these extreme positions on her Facebook page to try to cover her lack of connections to secure funding for a campaign. It’s a page out of the Trump playbook, but he was rich and didn’t need to raise money for advertising in the traditional way. New media can take a creative politician far, but not that far, and her lack of ability to gather a crowd that will give her thousands of dollars in donations is something that can’t be overcome with political theater alone. There needs to be other layers to the reach of a senator in any district and that range and donation ability is the kind of leverage that gets you a lunch date with the governor to even pitch the ideas outside of chamber protocol. Everything is about political clout and that is how after this 2020 election cycle HB 178 has the best chance to get back out into the voting cycle.
The NRA knows George is the best chance and so does the Buckeye Firearms Association, and others who are sure to follow. If the true goal is to get pro firearm legislation solidified in Ohio then George is the best option. If the goal is simply to get elected into the senate by any means possible and Candice has to be forced to show all these extreme cards to get the free publicity, then she can’t truly say that she wants HB 178 to pass, because she has no ability to help advance it as a senator or as a member of the House. The GOP is distancing themselves from her and I would say to Candice that her political future isn’t over, it needs repaired. Helping to get HP 178 to a senator who can help on the other side and secure sentiment with the governor would go a long way to repairing that relationship. And that would take more guts for all the right reasons than destroying everything from the inside out just to get a political win for the short run.