We'll stand by Wenstrup endorsement
Sunday, March 4, 2012 12:11 PM
Endorse one candidate and urinate off half a dozen – or two, as is the case in the 2012 GOP primary election season.
The Highland County Press' recent endorsement of Lt. Col. Dr. Brad Wenstrup apparently ignited a small firestorm within the Republican Party campaigns.
For the record, Dr. Wenstrup, as well as two of his primary election opponents, Jean Schmidt and Fred Kundrata, were interviewed at The Highland County Press office prior to any endorsements.
Also, just for the record, Dr. Wenstrup is the only candidate of the trio who has not spent a penny of his political advertising dollars with Highland County's only locally owned newspaper. (Much to the chagrin of its publisher!)
I had been considering whether to shed any light on the post-endorsement behavior of the Schmidt and Kundrata campaigns, and, quite frankly, I was prepared to simply let their collective whining pass without comment.
But then a good friend informed me of this interesting – and not at all inaccurate – publication in The Whistleblower (http://whistleblower-newswire.com/2012/03/02/).
• "Elsewhere in the Spleen of it All, did Mean Jean’s News Flack Barrett Brunsman really call the Highland County Press to intimidate the publisher into retracting his endorsement of Brad Wenstrup. [READ THAT ENDORSEMENT HERE] And is it sadder or funnier that one of the mystery opponents Jean managed to draw into the race to split the opposition vote also called and complained? Was that you, Fred? Here’s a hint: Never pick a fight with a guy who buys ink by the barrel!"
After reading that on this fine Sunday afternoon, I decided to set the record straight. Here are the facts of the post-Wenstrup endorsement comments from two of his opponents.
The first to call and complain was primary candidate Fred Kundrata. Fred appeared about as upset as a jilted prom date. He really did.
After challenging the endorsement process (Note: It's an OPINION), Kundrata actually asked me why I didn't like him.
Folks, I'm 50 years old. In my first half-century of life, I cannot recall more than two or three people ever asking me: "Why don't you like me?"
Certainly, no member of Congress or candidate for Congress has ever asked such a question of me.
Kundrata wrapped up the conversation by saying "When Highland County is still scratching for jobs two years from now, it won't be my fault."
I explained to the candidate that if he wanted to create jobs in Highland County, he is free to do so in the private sector. He wasn't up to that challenge, however.
On a final note of dismissal to Mr. Kundrata, Highland County has survived for more than 200 years without your assistance. We'll be OK, thank you very much.
Almost as if on cue, a day after Kundrata's call, Barrett Brunsman, a public relations spokesperson for Jean Schmidt called and asked about The Highland County Press endorsement policy.
It should be noted that both Kundrata and Brunsman attempted to discredit the validity of the newspaper's endorsement, which brings the obvious question: If our endorsement doesn't mean anything, as you insist, then why are you wasting your time – and mine – by calling me?
The endorsement policy of The Highland County Press is most likely one of the more honest and independent policies in the media industry. We do not endorse along party lines. In fact, two years ago, we made four endorsements – two Republican and two Democrat. Some media corporations are famous – or infamous – for dictating editorial endorsements from On High. Follow the money, etc.
Our endorsements are sincere. They are not purchased or otherwise coerced. We have no entangling alliances with anyone. Period. No politician – local, state or national – can buy our support.
Just days after our endorsement of Wenstrup, Brunsman asked me what it was about his boss I didn't like. Before I share my response, please understand that in our endorsement of Dr. Wenstrup, there was not a single word of criticism of either Schmidt or Kundrata. But if they really want to press the issue, fine. We can go there.
When I asked Schmidt about her Turkish Coalition of America contributions of almost half a million dollars, her initial response was to blame George Soros and a "left-wing media conspiracy."
That's all well and good, except when the facts get in the way of the alibi.
Soros did not sign Schmidt's Jan. 3, 2012 letter to the chairman of the House Committee on Ethics where she amended her personal financial disclosure forms to include more than $400,000 from the Turkish Coalition of America.
Another point of contention with the Schmidt spokesman was Wenstrup's alleged vote in support of Planned Parenthood funding. As I tend to do, I called Wenstrup and asked about it. His response was straightforward: "I voted for funding for HIV and AIDS testing, much the same as we have in the military."
The doctor added: (paraphrasing) "When Jean Schmidt voted with President Obama to increase the nation's debt ceiling, did she say how many federal tax dollars go to Planned Parenthood?"
No, she didn't.
Newspaper endorsements, whether it's the Wall Street Journal or the Key West Citizen, all boil down to this: It's an opinion. Nothing more, nothing less.
But when those jilted politicians attack the process, it certainly brings a clearer focus to the political gamesmanship.
For Ohio's Second Congressional District, one thing is crystal clear: Lt. Col. Brad Wenstrup is the class of this campaign season.
Rory Ryan is publisher of The Highland County Press, the only locally owned and operated newspaper in the county.
P.S. Just in case you happen to see it in The Whistleblower, here's my heartfelt response: As Coach Boone said in "Remember the Titans:"
I don't scratch my head unless it itches, and I don't dance unless I hear some music. I will not be intimidated. That's just the way it is.