By Randy Ludlow
The campaign of Mike DeWine continues to ratchet up the ill will in the race for the Republican nomination for governor, tweeting that Mary Taylor committed a crime and should be locked up.
The tweet represents the attorney general's most extreme accusation yet in a continuing DeWine theme against Taylor, Ohio's lieutenant governor, ahead of the May 8 primary.
The tweet from a newly created DeWine campaign account -- @MaryDoesntWork -- posted Wednesday said: "Hey @MaryTaylorOH! When you abuse your power and fly around on a state plane for personal use, it's not conservative -- it's criminal. #OHGov #LockHerUp #RINO."
"I'm not going to dignify that with a response," said Michael Duchesne, spokesman for the Taylor campaign.
The DeWine campaign rolled out a new TV commercial Tuesday that attacked Taylor as a "slacker" who is "unfit and unqualified" to be governor.
The tweet, as does the commercial, refers to Taylor paying $1,039 to the state in 2011 after it was found a state airplane went out of its way to drop her off and pick her up at an airport 6 miles from her home in Green.
She denied wrongdoing at the time and repaid the money at the insistence of Gov. John Kasich.
Asked about the tweet, DeWine campaign spokesman Ryan Stubenrauch said, "It was well documented by Ohio newspapers that Mary Taylor used the state plane for personal reasons, some trips even being described as 'errands,' which Ohioans would probably unanimously see as unethical and illegal. Clearly Mary Taylor herself was worried, since she started giving back-payment for the trips. These are the things that simply make her unfit and unqualified for leadership."
The hashtag used in the tweet -- #lockherup -- is closely associated with President Donald Trump, who exhorted his 2016 campaign crowds to chant the phrase about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Another hashtag refers to Taylor as a "RINO" -- shorthand for Republican In Name Only.
Meanwhile, Taylor, who dismisses DeWine as "DC DeWine" for his "liberal" record in the U.S. Senate and says she will not support him if wins the nomination, took to Twitter on Wednesday afternoon in response to the DeWine TV spot.
She wrote: "I find it insulting that Mike DeWine is comfortable calling me names while hiding behind an ad agency but refuses to say them to my face in a debate. He lacks the courage to stand across from me under the lights and answer for his record. Ohio deserves better."
DeWine has refused to commit to debating Taylor, only saying, "We'll see."
(c)2018 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)