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Evans, Daniels race pits two conservatives for GOP spot

It’s a high-profile race noted more for its recent verbal brawls than debates on the issues.

For the past few weeks Rep. Clyde Evans and Rep. David Daniels have gone back and forth with accusations of campaign ad impropriety that ended up with each contender filing a complaint against the other with the Ohio Elections Commission that false statements were made.

A panel of the commission found probable cause on the allegations and a full commission hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday in Columbus.

The veteran politicians, both currently serving in the Ohio House, want the Republican nomination for the 17th District Senate seat that is being vacated by longtime incumbent John Carey.

The 17th District takes in parts of Lawrence and Pickaway counties along with Clinton, Fayette, Highland, Ross, Pike, Jackson, Vinton and Gallia counties.

Gallia County Commissioner Justin Fallon of Patriot is unopposed on the Democratic ticket.

Evans, 71, of Rio Grande, is finishing up his eighth year and last term as state representative for the 87th District House. He says he wants to stay in Columbus because the next few years will need the kind of conservative voice he says he has provided.

“We have moved into one of the most dynamic market changes this country has ever faced,” Evans said in a phone interview Friday. “So many of the jobs that had been available in the old economy have been wiped out and markets in other parts of the world have picked up (these jobs.) I want to be a conservative voice in the Ohio Senate to keep taxes down and unneeded regulations so that our businesses will have the freedom to be able to compete in a worldwide market.”

Before entering politics Evans was a professor, vice president and provost of the University of Rio Grande.

He has also served for seven years on the House’s finance committee, which he offers as a qualification for the Senate post.

“It is going to take someone with a good background in finance,” Evans said. “(Someone) who will put together a balanced budget but create the least amount of pain in the next years.”

Daniels, 53, of Greenfield, is both a lawmaker and a farmer. He started his political career as mayor of Greenfield, moving on to the post of Highland County Commissioner before entering the statehouse in 2003. This will be his last term in the House.

“We have to get state spending under control, the smaller we can reduce the size of state government,” Daniels also said in a Friday phone interview. “We are at a stage in the state, and southern Ohio particularly, has been hit extremely hard with unemployment and job loss. I want to take a leadership role to return Ohio’s business climate where we are as attractive a place to do business as any place in the country.”

Daniels describes himself as a true conservative in favor of sound fiscal and social policy.

“The most fiscally responsible we can be the better we can be as a state,” Daniels said. “ I have tried to carry a pro-business agenda. … It is all about bringing good conservative principles and ideas to Ohio.”

However, overshadowing the issues has been the wrangling over ad campaigns.

That started in mid April when Daniels filed an affidavit with the election commission claiming Evans knew that statements made in a direct mail campaign ad about Daniels were false.

Evans had apologized four days before, but Daniels went ahead with his complaint.

Subsequently Evans filed a similar complaint about radio and flyer ads by Daniels.

If the commission finds the Ohio Revised Code statute concerning false campaign statements was violated, the body has three options. It could send the matter to the appropriate county prosecutor; issue a letter of public reprimand; or allow the violation be the punishment.

“Merely have the finding of a violation stand as the penalty,” Phil Richter, executive director of the elections commission, said.

On average there are between 40 to 50 complaints during a general election with about 20 found to have probable cause and 10 to 12 heard before the election, Richter said.

Typically the commission makes its decision the day of the hearing.