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Ohio GOP House candidate criticizes his own party over attack ad

October 10, 2018

Ohio GOP House candidate criticizes his own party over attack ad

COLUMBUS, Ohio—In an unusual move, a Columbus-area Republican nominee for the state legislature has asked the chair of his own state party to stop sending out attack ads against his Democratic opponent.

Erik Yassenoff, the GOP nominee for House District 24, wrote a letter to Ohio Republican Party Chair Jane Timken on Wednesday stating that an ad mailed to voters in his district made “an inaccurate connection” between Democratic rival Allison Russo and what Democrats did the last time they controlled the Ohio House, in 2010.

“Last time Democrats like Allison Russo were in control of Ohio, they raised taxes on the middle class, raided the state’s rainy day fund, and lost over 350,000 jobs,” the mailer stated. “Don’t let our economy down. Vote against Allison Russo.”

Yassenoff, an Upper Arlington city councilman, wrote that such a claim is a “stretch,” as Russo “was not a resident of the State of Ohio nor involved in public service during that period.

“We simply do not know her views on the public policy decisions made at that time,” Yassenoff stated. He added later: “I believe that if we are going to present policy positions for comparing and contrasting purposes it would be more appropriate to present evidence and information in a balanced manner.”

Ohio Republican Party spokesman Blaine Kelly defended the ad. “It is fair and we stand by it,” he stated in an email Wednesday.

Yassenoff posted his letter to Facebook on Wednesday morning. He didn’t immediately return a phone call Wednesday morning.

Russo, a health-policy researcher from Upper Arlington, said in an interview that she is “glad that Erik called out the lies in their advertising.”

As for Yassenoff’s subtle jab at Russo over her not living in Ohio until recently, Russo said she is a military spouse and lived in Germany, North Carolina, Delaware, and the Washington, D.C. area before coming to Ohio.   

House District 24 covers parts of western and central Franklin County, including the Columbus suburbs of Hilliard and Upper Arlington. Republican Rep. Jim Hughes isn’t seeking re-election, and as Hillary Clinton won the district in 2016 with 52 percent of the vote, it’s considered by Democrats to be one of the most likely places for them to flip a GOP-held Ohio House seat this year.

Here’s the full letter from Yassenoff:

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