Frank LaRose has struck back. The state senator and Hudson Republican has been airing a negative ad about state Rep. Kathleen Clyde of Kent, his Democratic opponent in the race for Ohio secretary of state. The LaRose jab was expected, Clyde having delivered her own shot. Her ad attempts to link LaRose to the pay-to-play scandal surrounding Cliff Rosenberger, who stepped down as House speaker earlier this year. There is no connection.

So the LaRose ad begins: “Kathleen Clyde lied.” Where the spot veers off course, ludicrously and most disappointingly, is in its charge that Clyde “has stood in the way of Ohio’s progress” by voting against state budgets that included protection for those with pre-existing health conditions.

This is a lie, or like suggesting LaRose, a Green Beret, hasn’t done enough to serve his country. To be sure, Clyde did vote against budget bills that included the Medicaid expansion and the program’s requirements for covering pre-existing conditions. There were many reasons to oppose the budgets, starting with the excesses in tax cuts. Clyde long has been a supporter of the expansion and the rest of the Affordable Care Act.

More, Clyde hardly has been a do-nothing lawmaker. She has been an engaged and hard-working member of the minority, especially on elections matters, fitting for someone seeking to be the state's chief elections officer.

LaRose titled the ad “What are you doing?” Actually, the question easily can be turned around. What is LaRose doing introducing the issue of pre-existing conditions into the race for secretary of state?

Republicans are having a tough time with the issue. They’ve been calling for the past eight years for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Coverage for pre-existing conditions is one of the law’s core features — in prohibiting insurers from denying coverage based on a person’s medical history, in barring insurers from charging people higher rates based on their health and in the required coverage of essential services.

Republicans pledged to repeal the act and deliver something better. They have failed to do so. Now they want it both ways, credit for their opposition and their support for a key — and popular — component that they do not know how they would sustain.

What is Frank LaRose doing? One impression is that he is straining to say that Clyde somehow is no better on the issue.

That doesn’t fly. What would? The scrambling of LaRose and other Republicans to get on the right side of the pre-existing conditions debate points the way to compromise, starting with Republican acknowledgement that the law draws heavily on their ideas, for example, the insurance exchanges and the individual mandate. If the LaRose campaign is reduced to this low point, the time has come for the party to think about how it can be part of making needed improvements to the current law.

 

Beacon Journal recommendations

Below are the Beacon Journal’s recommendations for the Nov. 6 general election.

Governor: Richard Cordray.

Attorney general: Steve Dettelbach.

Secretary of state: Kathleen Clyde.

Auditor: Zack Space.

Treasurer: Robert Sprague.

 

U.S. Senate: Sherrod Brown.

U.S. House 14th District: Betsy Rader.

 

Ohio Supreme Court: Michael P. Donnelly and Melody J. Stewart.

Ohio Court of Appeals 9th District: Jennifer Hensal.

Ohio House 37th District: Casey Weinstein.

 

Summit County Common Pleas Court judge: Jill Flagg Lanzinger, Kelly L. McLaughlin and Kathryn Michael.

 

Ohio Issue 1: No.

Summit County Children Services Issue 8: For the tax levy.

Akron Issue 9: Yes.

Green Issue 14: No.

 

To see the full recommendations of the Beacon Journal/Ohio.com editorial board for the Nov. 6 election, go to https://www.ohio.com/topics/endorsements.