There's often a caveat these days when Ohio Republicans talk about re-election prospects for their embattled congressman, Bob Ney. As state Rep. Clyde Evans put it at a recent GOP barbecue, "Unless he's indicted, I think he'll do very well."It is a reasonably fair article. I recommend it to those who are still learning about this story.
In a district that stretches more than 200 miles through hills, farms and small-town Main Streets, Ney has been the go-to guy for a dozen years. He won 66% of the vote in 2004. Now he's a central figure in the federal corruption investigation of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and, according to the political newsletter Hotline, the most vulnerable House incumbent.
The six-term Republican from Heath is accused in court papers and testimony by a former aide of accepting gifts, trips and campaign donations from Abramoff and his clients in exchange for official actions. The House ethics committee is investigating him. Ney's top Capitol Hill aides are leaving, and federal investigators last week subpoenaed his district director.
Ney, who turns 52 on Wednesday, hasn't been charged and says he has done nothing wrong. He also says he'll run even if he's indicted. "I'll be serving ... until the day the voters decide whether they want me to continue," Ney said in an interview. "They make the decision. No one else."
Alliance Member Poll #4, which was released this weekend, had two questions on Ney. the results: 10 members thought Ney would be indicted; 7 thought he wouldn't; and 2 didn't know.
That's shows a whole lot of uncertainty on this issue. Where there is some certainty is whether or not Ney should step aside if he is indicted. 14 members thought Ney should resign if he is indicted; 2 thought he shouldn't; 1 thought it would depend on the circumstances; and there were 2 no comments.
Ney's campaign has indicated that the Congressman will not be stepping down and I expect that they will fight whatever comes their way.