One way or another, Ohio soon will elect its first African American lieutenant governor.
Both Republican Gov. Bob Taft, who is running for reelection, and Democrat Tim Hagan have selected black women as running mates.
Taft picked Jennette B. Bradley, a longtime member of the Columbus City Council, who worked on his gubernatorial campaign in the early 1990s. Hagan also tapped a member of that council, picking Charleta B. Tavares. She previously served in the state legislature, where she was elected minority whip -- the first African American woman to hold a leadership position in that assembly.
These, though, are largely uncharted waters for African Americans, especially women. There have been only nine black lieutenant governors -- and they were all men, says Gail Manning, director of the National Conference of Lieutenant Governors. Similarly, there have been three African American governors -- again, all men.
That is because gubernatorial elections are relatively infrequent and many states have small black populations, says David A. Bositis, an analyst with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which tracks minority issues. According to the 2000 Census, African Americans make up 11.5 percent of Ohio's population.
Taft's choice angered some conservative groups, who object to Bradley's views on abortion; unlike the governor, she supports abortion rights. A campaign spokesman played down that issue, saying, "We were aware that the people in the extreme conservative part of our party might not approve of this choice, but the governor thought this was the best choice for Ohio."
Heston Backing Barr in Ga. Primary
Moses is coming to the aid of Rep. Robert L. Barr Jr. (R-Ga.).
Charlton Heston, known best for his Hollywood roles in "The Ten Commandments" and "Ben-Hur," announced yesterday he would attend four fundraising events for Barr, who will go up against another GOP representative, John Linder, in an Aug. 20 primary. The two were put in the same district when the Democratic-controlled state legislature redrew Georgia's congressional boundaries.
"Bob Barr is a courageous leader in the fight to protect our constitutional freedoms from the assaults they face daily," said Heston, who is president of the National Rifle Association. "I am proud to call him my friend, and when he invited me to visit his district, I made it a top priority."
Linder's campaign spokesman, Bo Harmon, questioned why Heston would chose sides, given that Linder received an "A" rating from the NRA last election.
"Linder's style is not to go around bragging about these kinds of things," Harmon said. "He's been going about the business of protecting gun rights for his entire career."
But Heston spokesman Bill Powers said Barr -- who received an "A-plus" rating from the NRA -- had been particularly helpful in raising money for the actor's political action committee, Arena PAC. "Mr. Heston and Bob Barr have been friends since the early '80s," Powers said.
Staff writer Juliet Eilperin contributed to this report.