By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau
COLUMBUS — At a time when politicians are being raked over the coals for negative advertising, state treasurer candidate John Donofrio is trying to lighten things up.
Mr. Donofrio, treasurer of Summit County and a Democrat, debuted his first TV ad yesterday. It plays off the mispronunciations of his name he faces on the campaign trail.
“Donna Frio? Who’s she?” a woman asks.
“Don-o-ri-to?” queries a young boy.
“Don-awf-rio?” asks a senior citizen.
The ad, which begins running today, goes over the programs Mr. Donofrio – he pronounces it da-nuh-FREE-oh – has proposed, and takes a few shots at Mr. Donofrio’s Republican opponent, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, saying he has no experience as a treasurer.
Then comes the kicker:
“No matter how you say it, vote for John Donofrio.”
“We just wanted to inject a little bit of humor into the campaign,” said Donofrio campaign director Tim Barnhart.
“We think it’ll help people differentiate between this ad and all the other ads on the air, and it’ll encourage people to come out and vote.”
The ad says Mr. Donofrio supports the state’s current Link Deposit program, which provides low-interest loans to businesses around the state.
“His opponent will cut Link Deposits,” the ad says.
But Deters spokesman Tim Clark said Mr. Deters has no intention of cutting the program.
“We fully support the program, and want to see it continued,” Mr. Clark said.
Mr. Barnhart said that Mr. Deters had been critical of the program previously, calling it a subsidy, and had changed his mind only after his negative comments were made public. Mr. Clark said that wasn’t true.
The ad also claims that “Donofrio has a plan to collect $100 million in delinquent property taxes which will be used for schools.”
But Donofrio aides said they would not say what that plan is until a press conference scheduled for Oct. 27.
Meanwhile, Mr. Clark said that the state treasurer has no constitutional authority to collect delinquent property taxes – that is a job that is reserved for county treasurers.
However, Mr. Clark said he would wait to see the plan next week before passing judgment on it.