Betty Montgomery, trailblazer for Ohio women: 'Following Trump would be demise of party'
NEWARK − Former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery said she cannot support former President Donald Trump and following him could destroy the party.
Montgomery, a Republican and Licking County resident living in Reynoldsburg, discussed the sexism she battled early in her career in a speech Friday to the Women's Leadership Network of Licking County at DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in downtown Newark.
“I think it’s very sad what’s happening with the Republican Party,” Montgomery said following her speech. “I am a governing Republican. That’s what’s important. I think that it would be the demise of the party if they keep following him.
“That’s why there’s so many more independent voters. Women, particularly, have migrated. The language, the bullying, the failure to listen, the failure to think through on governance, the lack of integrity. All of that.”
In 2022, Montgomery lost her seat on the GOP State Central Committee to Sabrina Warner, the owner of a Buckeye Lake restaurant.
Montgomery described Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as “a little more polished than Trump, but not much.” She said she expects a Republican presidential candidate that she can support will eventually emerge.
“My feeling has been for the last probably 8-10 years, we’ve forgotten that governance requires compromise,” Montgomery said. “The framers knew that when each of us have a voice and a vote, we’re going to have to learn to compromise.
“This last election cycle gave us a glimmer of hope. There wasn’t the kind of overwhelming win that was expected by the Republican Party. I think that Republican office-holders and office-seekers are seeing that brand of Republicanism is ultimately not successful and will not be successful.”
Betty Montgomery's trailblazing path in Ohio politics
Montgomery was the first female county prosecutor in Ohio, the first woman elected Ohio attorney general, the first woman to serve as state auditor, and also served as a state senator.
She advised women to be “polite, but persistent,” in pursuing their dreams and provided 10 rules she follows, including, "You are invited to a lot of fights. You don’t have to accept all the invitations."
Montgomery said while she was going to law school, she pursued a job as a law clerk in Lucas County.
“They told me we don’t hire women law students to go work for men judges, but you can work for women judges,” Montgomery said.
There was only one female judge in 1973. Montgomery worked as a secretary for the judge about three weeks, then became a clerk.
“I didn’t want to be a secretary, but I did want to be in the court room, and I knew if I could get in the court room, the side door would allow me at some point to sit at the table,” Montgomery said. “At some point, I could prove myself that I could end up sitting at the table.”
In 1975, there was an opening for a bailiff, a position she said was usually filled by a clerk. The judge did not hire Montgomery as a bailiff, and women were outraged.
“Everybody was yelling at me that I should just quit and make a big stink,” Montgomery said. “My rule is you don’t slam the door you close it gently. You may have to go through that door again.
“I thought to myself I am going to prove to him, he made a mistake. I am going to prove to him I’m capable. I refused to quit. I just stayed on.”
Several years later, Montgomery said she received a letter from the judge stating he made a mistake in not hiring her.
"That meant all the world to me," she said.
After law school, Montgomery was looking for a job. She said there had not been one woman hired at a major law firm in Toledo until 1976, the year she graduated, when a friend of her was hired.
She took a job as juvenile prosecutor, even though that was not the job she wanted. After a couple years, she became city prosecutor in Perrysburg, Ohio.
Two years later, the county prosecutor, a Republican, announced a few days before the filing deadline he was not going to run again. His brother-in-law, a Democrat, filed to run on the same day. So, the Republicans had two days to find a candidate.
They asked Montgomery and she accepted. But she still had a Republican primary opponent. One comment by her opponent in the wrong setting aided her campaign.
“At the first candidates’ night at a Farm Bureau meeting, he went first," Montgomery said. "He’s a city boy and the last thing he said was, “Betty, may the best man win.' In a farming community, the women do as much work as the men, and it’s in partnership.”
Montgomery won and served as county prosecutor for eight years. She went on to win elections for state offices but didn't win them all.
She told her almost all female audience, “We are all turtles on a fence post. We did not get here by ourselves. You don’t win without the help of other people. How you win or how you lose is the mark of character.
“Have a purpose in your life. Decide what it is. Have a purpose in your life and you can’t fail.”
Betty Montgomery's 10 rules
Rule #1: You are invited to a lot of fights. You don’t have to accept all the invitations.Rule #2: Be polite but be persistent.Rule #3: The side door is still an entrance.Rule #4: Don’t slam the door, close it gently.Rule #5: Humor is important.Rule #6: VolunteerRule #7: There are no guarantees in life…RISK!Rule #8: Be your authentic self.Rule #9: Failure is not fatal.Rule #10: We are all turtles on a fence post…Pay it forward!
This article originally appeared on Newark Advocate: Former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery can't support Trump