The panic has set in at the Big D in the state capitol. The staid daily monopoly, also known as the Columbus Dispatch, published an op-ed by senior editor Joe Hallett confirming what the Free Press previously reported – Tea Party activists will take over the Buckeye State’s Republican Party.

By Hallett’s estimate, the 66-member Republican state central committee has 54 Tea Party activists running in Tuesday’s primary. How many are expected to win? A high-level Republican official told the Free Press that he thinks 50 of the 66 seats may go to the Tea Party. However, the official cautioned that he’s not as sure as the Free Press or the Dispatch that the Tea Party activists are “far right.” He claims most are “fiscal conservatives.”

Hallett doesn’t see it that way. He writes that if the Tea Party takes over the Ohio Republican Party central committee, “…the Ohio GOP will die.” Where does Hallett see the Tea Party heading? That direction, indeed, is "right, far right."

A key point made in Hallett’s piece is that: “The listing of Tea Partiers running for the central committee reveals familiar names from the social and religious coalition that was the base of support for 2006 gubernatorial nominee J. Kenneth Blackwell.”

Recall that Blackwell rose to infamy following his role in the 2004 presidential election, when as Secretary of State he presided over the mass purging of Democratic and specifically black urban voters. He did more than that in 2006 when he ran for governor. A documentary film crew caught him on tape with one of Ohio’s notorious all-white militias. He visited them while they were in one of their ritualistic gun-shooting frenzies.

Tea Party activists are emboldened by both the gun issue as well as anti-immigration hysteria. An Arizona-style ethnic profiling immigration bill is now pending before the Ohio legislature. In rural right-wing Butler County, Ohio, where election officials were accused of vote-tampering in the 2004 election, County Sheriff Rick Jones has called for a statewide citizen-initiative to put an anti-immigration law on the ballot.

At the most recent Tea Party rally on tax day in Columbus, the so-called Oathkeepers made their presence known. These self-proclaimed “guardians of the republic” claim to be a “non-partisan association of currently serving military, reserves, National Guard, veterans, peace officers, and firefighters.”

The Oathkeepers are concerned about the “New World Order” which they identify with President Barack Obama, despite the term being popularized by George Herbert Walker Bush. Among the Oathkeepers at the Columbus rally were more than a few so-called “birthers.”

Birthers reject the legitimacy of the Obama presidency because they believe he was born outside the country, which would have had to involve a plot existing prior to his birth to create newspaper notices surrounding his birth as well as a birth certificate issued in Hawaii. Despite the state of Hawaii’s Department of Health making public Obama’s birth certificate in June 2007, this has done little to dissuade the birthers and their allied Oathkeepers who are waiting for their chance to arrest Obama as an “enemy of the state.”

It should come as no surprise that Joseph Sean McVey, recently arrested at a North Carolina airport with a gun trying to see President Obama after Air Force One had just departed with the president, was a birther. The Coshocton, Ohio resident liked to refer to President Obama by his middle name, Hussein, and doubted his citizenship. McVey is a volunteer with the Coshocton police and fire departments. He is currently charged with “going armed in terror of the public,” a misdemeanor in North Carolina.

Blackwell deliberately courted and unleashed many of the groups affiliated with Ohio’s Tea Party as well as leading an attack upon the community group ACORN. Blackwell and his supporter’s routinely accused ACORN of signing up illegal immigrants to vote, although they failed to supply any proof. One of Bush’s 2004 supporters with the “Mighty Texas Task Force” told the Columbus Police Department that Arab terrorists were supporting John Kerry for President when one of her crew was caught intimidating voters by phone at the downtown Holiday Inn.

Many of the election problems associated with the Blackwell era still persist in Ohio. On Sunday, May 2, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that 89 out of 1200 vote scanning machines in Cuyahoga County failed their pre-primary test. According to the Plain Dealer, the machine manufacturer Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S)“said the problem involving the machines freezing up probably is because of a software glitch, and a fix is available.”

ES&S is seeking permission from the Ohio Board of Voting Machine Examiners to fix the glitch and vowed that the machines will be ready for the November general election. ES&S, aided by technicians from Triad, a company owned by the right-wing Rapp family, fixed various software and hardware glitches, often without appointments or being notified of the problem, at county boards of elections in Ohio just prior to the 2004 election.

The anticipated triumph of the Tea Party on Tuesday in Ohio should signal the re-emergence of Ken Blackwell as the de facto head of a loud, angry, anti-Obama, anti-immigrant, pro-gun Buckeye State GOP.

Bob Fitrakis ran as a Green against Blackwell in the 2006 gubernatorial race and is on the ballot in this year’s primary as a Green Party central committee member and as an official write-in candidate for the 12th District of U.S. Congress.