Buehrer affirms Christian stance

School prayer and the Ten Commandments have become the newest battle lines in an increasingly hostile race for the U.S. House of Representatives.

State Sen. Steve Buehrer, R-Delta, held a press conference on Friday to denounce a recent direct mail ad put out by his chief rival in the Republican 5th District congressional primary, Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green.

The print ad said Buehrer opposes prayer and posting the Ten Commandments in public schools, saying, “He doesn’t share our values!”

The ad cites information from the voter advocacy group Project Vote Smart to back these accusations.

The Montana-based Project Vote Smart issues opinion surveys to political candidates in races across the country and compiles the results into a central database.

Buehrer said Latta is challenging his reputation as a social conservative by distorting his answers on a 2002 Project Vote Smart survey.

The senator said he merely skipped questions on the survey related to prayer in school and the Ten Commandments and that his record in the Ohio General Assembly proves that he supports these issues.

“I’ll stand before God and my children that [the ad] certainly doesn’t match my views,” Buehrer said.

At Friday’s press conference, Buehrer was joined by Chris Long, executive director of the Ohio Christian Alliance, and former State Rep. Twyla Roman. Each defended Buehrer’s reputation as a Christian conservative.

Reading from a statement, Long mentioned Buehrer was the co-sponsor of a 2003 Ohio House bill that supported the Ten Commandments as “the moral underpinning of our state government.”

Buehrer was also quick to point out his support of a 1999 bill supporting the decision of the Adams County/Ohio Valley Local School Board to place statues of the Ten Commandments outside several school buildings in the district.

The senator also brought up his public support of the Ohio State motto, “With God all things are possible,” when its constitutionality was challenged in 2000.

But Latta defended his campaign’s ad. He said Buehrer should have shown his support for these issues on the Project Vote Smart survey.

“It’s difficult to miss checking the box,” Latta said. “If you’re for something, you’re for something; if you’re against it, you’re against it.”

But Latta’s ad has also come under fire from Project Vote

Smart itself.

The organization does not authorize any of its information to be used in negative campaign ads, said Mike Wessler, a spokesman for Project Vote Smart.

Matthew Parker, Latta’s campaign manager, said the campaign has the right to use the data.

“It doesn’t matter what [Project Vote Smart] approves of or not,” Parker said. “It’s public information.”

These are the latest allegations in what has become a bitter campaign to replace the late U.S. Representative Paul Gillmor, R-Tiffin, who died in September.

Last week, the Ohio Elections Commission ruled that the Buehrer campaign and one of its supporters, the Washington, D.C.-based political action committee Club for Growth, had issued false information regarding Latta’s vote on a 1998 state tax increase.

The two candidates will face off in the primary election on Nov. 6.