Abner Orick

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Abner J. Orick was an American politician of the Republican party who served as a member of the Dayton, Ohio, city commission from 1979–1983, 1985–1991, and 1997. He had a reputation for mixed metaphors, jumbled syntax, and asking hard questions. For most of the time he served on the Commission, he was the only Republican.


Orick, for most of his tenure on the city commission the only Republican elected, considered himself a government watchdog and a cost-cutter.[1] He had a reputation for asking embarrassing questions[1][2][3] One "exceptionally well-placed city official" told the Journal Herald that he had brought government to a standstill because other officials feared his probing into finances.[4] His critics referred to him as a gadfly.[4][5] In 1979 the editorial board of the Journal Herald referred to him as a phenomenon and an outsider and concluded, "We need an Abner Orick."[4] In 1985 they said he had a reputation for asking "the tough questions."[2] The Cincinnati Enquirer in 1986 said of him that "'conservative Republican' is too mild a description."[6]

He was known as a colorful character who provided good fodder for newspaper coverage. In 1989 the Dayton Daily News called him "good newspaper copy" and said "If Abner Orick didn't exist, we might have to invent him."[7] In 1991 they said having him around was fun,[8] "though it requires work to chase down...the latest off-the-wall complaint," and acknowledged that sometimes he was right.[3] In 1991 they said he "owed it to the community, or at least to the press" to run for city commission again.[9]

His style of speech was often commented on. Dayton Daily News editorial writer Scott Heron referred to it as "Orickese," a combination of malapropisms,[10] mixed metaphors, and jumbled syntax, and said it was "thoroughly entertaining."[11] Local common pleas court Judge Mary Wiseman called them "Abnerisms."[12]

His remarks and stances on issues often sparked controversy.[13] In 1983 he proposed taking the city's trash collection private, provoking the Dayton Public Service Union.[14] That same year he suggested individual photographs of all city commissioners should be hung alongside photos of the mayor in city buildings and at the airport, an idea derided by local news who suggested commissioners had more important issues to consider.[15] When asked to comment on accusations of racism by another city commission candidate, he responded, "I am not a racist. I only drive 55 mph."[16] He made controversial phone calls to interested parties during Dayton's bid for a minor league baseball team.[17]

Orick's support was concentrated in East Dayton's primarily blue-collar white neighborhoods[18] where he was called "Old Ab" and[19] "Uncle Abner." Orick said he couldn't drive through East Dayton without hearing someone call out "Give 'em hell, Abner!"[20] Orick was well-known enough in Dayton politics that his yard signs included only his first name.[3] In 1987 the Dayton Daily News said he represented a resentment among working-class whites, who believed Dayton was run for the "downtown power structure first, the black community second, affluent white third, and struggling whites only then."[21] In 1997, after he lost a commission campaign, the Dayton Daily News said of him, "Unlike other candidates, he is almost nobody's second choice. You either love Abner...or you can't abide him" and that, win or lose, he had probably run in more elections than any other Dayton politician.[22]

In 1985, having lost the previous election, Orick began hosting an Access 30 television show about local government called Off the Cuff with Abner Orick,[13][23] telling local reporters that "at times we'll ask the hard, embarrassing questions" but that his intention was not to "bring up the dirty laundry."[2] Dayton mayor Paul Leonard, often the target of Orick's questions, reacted to the news of the show by saying, "Needless to say, we're all waiting this with bated breath" and "that should put Access 30 on the map" and that he intended to watch as it would fill the void left in his heart caused by the cancellation of The Gong Show.[2]


In 1989, Orick was the Republican nominee for Dayton mayor, but he lost to incumbent Democrat Richard Clay Dixon. In 1991, Orick chose not to run for re-election to the commission, instead making an unsuccessful bid for the office of clerk of the Dayton municipal courts, losing to Democrat Mark Owens.

In 1997, Orick lost his bid for re-election to the commission.

Orick lost a special election in 2001 to replace Commissioner Lloyd Lewis Jr., who died of cancer. Lewis's widow, Edythe Lewis won that election. Later in 2001, Orick again was nominated for the commission in the primary election, but he lost in the general election.

Personal life[edit]

Orick was born in Kentucky to Ethel and James Orick and moved to Dayton as a child. He graduated from Belmont High School in 1958 and married his high school sweetheart, Judith Jones[24], in 1960.[12][25] He opened the A-1 Trophy Shop in his blue-collar Belmont neighborhood[26] of East Dayton in 1964.[2][12] He once said restoring Ford Mustangs was a hobby.[2] Orick was an army veteran and served in Germany.[24] He died on October 18, 2018 at age 79.[12][27]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Susan Sibbing's record more solid than Orick's". Dayton Daily News. May 5, 1985. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Daley, Dave. "Orick going off-the-cuff on TV". Journal Herald. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Tough day at the polls for local dissidents". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Wild, William H. (October 23, 1979). "Daggonit! We need an Abner Orick". Journal Herald. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  5. "Abner Orick's rule-bending made worse by his posturing". Dayton Daily News. February 26, 1985. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  6. Wilkinson, Howard (October 20, 1986). "Battlling to be number two in Ohio". Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  7. Tillson, Brad (March 12, 1989). "Orick's candidacy would divide city along racial lines". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  8. "Don't let them get away with it". Dayton Daily News. November 6, 1983. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  9. "Stay, Abner, Stay". Dayton Daily News. February 26, 1991. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  10. Gottlieb, Martin (October 22, 1989). "A mayoral race with similarities to New York's". Akron Beacon Journal. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  11. Herron, Scott (June 3, 1983). "You can lead a horse to water even if he isn't thirsty". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Frolik, Cornelius (October 19, 2018). "Orick, "Watchdog at City Hall," dead at 79". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Daley, Dave (January 9, 1985). "Punches Held: Orick TV show off and running". Journal Herald. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  14. Christenson, Kim; Murray, Pat (March 19, 1983). "200 march to protest Orick's remarks". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  15. Rosenfeld, Arnold (January 27, 1983). "Orick has a clear picture of things". Journal Herald. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  16. Herron, Scott (October 30, 1981). "Issues scarce in Dayton campaign". Journal Herald. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  17. Gottlieb, Martin (November 23, 1997). "Silent figure loomed large in deal". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  18. Daley, Dave (May 8, 1985). "Orick Supporter boost their man with good turnout (part 2)". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  19. Daley, Dave (October 15, 1989). "Poll rattles Democrats: Clay Dixon has no image - Abner Orick does". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  20. Daley, Dave (May 8, 1985). "Orick supporters boost their man with good turnout". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  21. "Why is City of Dayton seeing a smarter version of Abner Orick?". Dayton Daily News. June 9, 1987. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  22. "Capizzi still has something to offer Dayton and Abner Orick's old supporters would probably welcome him back any time". Dayton Daily News. November 7, 1997. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  23. Daley, Dave (Dec 15, 1984). "Orick to host show on cable's Access 30". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  24. 24.0 24.1 "Abner Orick". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  25. Kepple, David (April 25, 1986). "Shump said tip led to discovery of Orick tax bill". Journal Herald. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  26. Huffman, Dale (June 30, 1981). "2nd Orick park for dogs?". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  27. "Abner Orick, former Dayton commissioner, dies".
  • Blackwell, J. 2004. Election Statistics 1950–2000. Ohio Secretary of State. Columbus, OH.

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