Dutey heading to GOP National Convention

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 21, 2004

All of Ray T. Dutey's years working for the Republican Party are coming to fruition.

Dutey was chosen by the Ohio Republican Party as a delegate for the Republican National Convention, to be held Aug. 30-Sept. 2 in New York City.

"I'm really excited about it," Dutey said of his upcoming trip. "I'm a strong Bush supporter."

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Dutey, who is the Lawrence County auditor, is a co-chairman for the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign in southeastern Ohio. He will be serving as one of Ohio's 179 delegates among the 4,853 total regular and alternate delegates who will be at the convention.

As a delegate, Dutey and others will officially nominate the assumed candidates, President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, for the Republican ticket. Delegates will also be attending different meetings and events with top Republican officials.

"Rumor is that Gov. Schwarzenegger is going to be one of our breakfast speakers," Dutey said.

Ohioans are expected to get the red-carpet treatment during the convention, most likely because the state is a political hotbed for the upcoming election and considered a must-win for Republicans, who have never won the presidency without winning Ohio.

"Ohio is so crucial. Both the Republicans and Democrats are putting Ohio as whoever wins Ohio will win the presidency. It's about like Florida was (in 2000)," Dutey said.

Because of its must-win status, Angelika McClelland, deputy communications director for the Ohio GOP, said Ohioans would likely have some perks at the convention.

"We're not sure of our seating assignments (for the convention) yet, but you can be sure Ohio will be close to front and center," she said.

In addition to preferential seating, Ohio delegates will be spoken to by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, and possibly, Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida.

Being from a swing state has already brought a lot of media attention to Dutey. He has been interviewed by New York magazine, the Dayton Daily News and the Congressional Journal. Someone even flew in from New York to take his picture for the New York magazine article.

Dutey had been suggested by the Ohio GOP as someone for the media to speak to because of his long history with the party. He has served in the Lawrence County courthouse for 56 years, making him knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the county and the political process in addition to his co-chairman job with the presidential campaign.

Sue Ann Deeds, former Lawrence County recorder, thinks Dutey is one of the best choices for the delegation.

"There's nobody in Lawrence County or the state of Ohio who knows politics as well as Ray Dutey does, so we should consider ourselves lucky (to have him as a delegate)," Deeds said.

McClelland also thought Dutey was a solid choice as a delegate.

"He's just a tremendous supporter of the president, very active in local politics for most of his life, and we're honored to have him as part of the delegation," she said.