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Dems Blow It Again 

More adventures from the party that can't shoot straight.

If Jennifer Brady doesn't win a trip to the Ohio House this fall, it won't be because Brady's a Democrat in a staunchly Republican district. And it won't be because her party is less organized than Whitney Houston's coke drawer.

No, it'll be all Uncle Tom's fault. At least that's what Democrats will tell you.

Brady is running against Ed Herman in a district that includes Rocky River, Westlake, and North Olmsted, which the GOP's had locked down for decades. But this year, with Republicans everywhere getting fitted for orange jumpsuits, the Dems figured they'd fight back.

Initially, they put lawyer Mike O'Shea on the ballot. But O'Shea doesn't want to be a politician -- apparently he's averse to really obvious bribery schemes and golf -- so the Dems tapped Brady, a stay-at-home mom, to replace him.

O'Shea, who stayed on as her campaign manager, swears they've made it a race, with internal polls showing Brady up by eight points. Though such polls are as trustworthy as a White House press secretary, Brady may be just a good molestation and/or bribery scandal away from an upset.

But she may never see the ballot. That's because the party leaders -- scientifically known as "morons" -- screwed up the paperwork when they named her the replacement candidate, filing the forms without getting them notarized. So Republicans challenged her candidacy. The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections -- two Democrats and two Republicans -- voted on whether to toss the protests. Shockingly, they tied. And who has the tie-breaking vote? Secretary of State Uncle Tom Blackwell (R-Hades). So O'Shea decided to sue.

In the meantime, he's blaming Blackwell for "a deliberate attempt to try to make it so the Democrats could not have a candidate on the ballot . . . It's to give Ed Herman a free ride."

Which, of course, it is. But Punch wonders: Why not just get the damn thing notarized? Would it be so hard to, like, read the rules before playing the game?

We tried contacting Democratic Party Chairman Jimmy Dimora, but he was busy eating a sandwich and could not come to the phone.

Got liver?
John Rigby, a Hudson dentist, is living on borrowed time. He's dying of liver disease and desperately needs a transplant.

Rigby might have to wait years for a liver to become available, and that might be too late. So he's trying to sign up 25,000 people to promise to donate their liver to him should they meet an unfortunate end before he does. It's kind of like calling shotgun, or making a reservation for dinner, only we're talking about your internal organs.

"Hopefully, neither you nor anyone you know will be donating a liver to John in the near future," reads a mailing sent to prospective donors. But hey, accidents happen.

To reserve your liver for Rigby, all you have to do is sign a little card that fits in your wallet and put a sticker on the back of your driver's license. And don't worry, says Rigby, "It doesn't hurt at all, 'cause you're dead."

Chuck Heald, at LifeBanc of Cleveland, says he's never heard of anyone soliciting organ donors like this. But he doesn't expect emergency-room doctors to rifle through your wallet and find the card. If more people would just check the "yes" box when renewing their driver's license -- less than half of registered drivers do so -- Rigby wouldn't have to resort to such desperate measures.

"There's such a demand for organs," says Heald, "and the supply is not there."

Uncle Tom's Pratt-fall
Three weeks to go. Twenty points down.

So right after last week's muddy debate, during which Ken Blackwell and Ted Strickland argued over who Roy Rogers would have endorsed -- we're not making this up -- Blackwell hopped a bus for a three-day tour of southeast Ohio. The goal: One last crack at the votes holed up in trailers between Cincinnati and New Philadelphia, turf Strickland's owned for the last decade.

And just to prove he's as amoral as you thought he was, riding shotgun was none other than Larry Pratt, one of the nation's most vociferous gun advocates -- and a man the Southern Poverty Law Center claims is an ultraconservative racist anti-Semite.

Pratt is executive director of the Gun Owners of America, described by Southern Poverty's Mark Potok as "eight lanes to the right" of the National Rifle Association. He's host of a weekly radio show and has written books on citizen militias. The group, which claims 10,000 members in Ohio among its 350,000 nationwide, so staunchly defends the Second Amendment that after Columbine -- when even the NRA conceded that some gun restrictions might be good -- Pratt and his progeny told them to GOA to hell.

He also took leave from Pat Buchanan's 1996 presidential campaign when it was revealed that he'd spoken to a white-supremacist group. And his writings have appeared in periodicals distributed by the anti-Semitic United Sovereigns of America.

Pratt's son offers a vigorous defense, saying the old man can't be racist, seeing as how Mom is a Panamanian immigrant. "The charge is just ridiculous on its face," he says. "Larry is the complete opposite of a racist."

But Potok isn't buying the old Panamanian wife excuse. He finds it curious that Blackwell is campaigning with a guy who probably wouldn't want a black guy dating his daughter. "If you were a longshot," he asks, "would you campaign with David Duke?"

The Uncle Tom campaign could not be reached for comment, since it has yet to hire someone capable of operating a phone.

Lawyers sue for money?
Sherwin-Williams is having a bad year. First, a Rhode Island jury found it liable for creating a "public nuisance" by poisoning thousands of kids with its lead-filled paint ("The Poison Kids" August 16). The company and two other defendants were ordered to pay for a clean-up that could top $3 billion.

Now, at least three Ohio cities -- East Cleveland, Toledo, and Akron -- have filed similar suits. But Sherwin-Williams is fighting back. It's filed a countersuit against the cities, accusing their lawyers of trying to make money. Yes, you heard that right: Sherwin-Williams has apparently discovered that lawyers sue to make money, and are executives ever pissed.

Unfortunately, Sherwin-Williams is represented by Jones Day, the Halliburton of legal giants. Though Punch couldn't confirm it, high level sources believe Jones Day isn't representing the paint maker for free.

"That's sort of like the rapist trying to sue the victims," says Michael O'Shea, a lawyer representing East Cleveland in the case.

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