Bill Mason may run for Ohio secretary of state in 2010 -- and if he does, Republicans will likely hit him hard about his friendship with Pat O'Malley, Mark Naymik reports in his Plain Dealer column today.
Former Ohio House speaker Jon Husted, the top Republican candidate for secretary of state, already has a negative campaign ready, based on O'Malley and the FBI investigation of other county officials:
Husted and the state GOP will link Mason with the county corruption scandal in literature and phone calls. And if they need heavy artillery late in the campaign, they'll bring out video footage of the toast Mason offered at O'Malley's second wedding in 2000.
How do you run for statewide office when your college roommate and former top political ally is in prison for downloading disturbing obscene materials? You acknowledge vaguely that the guy made a mistake and tell people you distanced yourself from him years ago. From Naymik's story:
Last Friday, Mason said about O'Malley: "He was a friend. He's made bad choices and is paying for it."
Mason was not palling around with O'Malley in recent years. Mason never visited O'Malley's Chagrin Falls home or met his kids from O'Malley's second marriage.
The Republicans surely have Mason and O'Malley's campaign finance reports, though. Here's my summary from my article on O'Malley in the October issue of Cleveland Magazine:
If campaign contributions are a reliable indicator, many of O'Malley's allies stuck with him for years, despite his problems. O'Malley's campaign fund borrowed $15,000 from Bill Mason's between 1998 and 2000, and he never paid it back.
You might think the county prosecutor would distance himself from a friend jailed on a domestic violence charge, but Mason contributed $250 to O'Malley's campaign on July 6, 2004, the day after O'Malley left the Solon jail. After the FBI raid [of O'Malley's house], Mason sent O'Malley (between August 2005 and August 2007) his usual contribution, about $400 a year. (Mason declined to comment. "Bill hasn't had contact with Pat in more than a year now," said Mason's spokesman, Ryan Miday.)