All four expected GOP Governor candidates were agreed to come and were represented at a forum put on by the We The People Convention last month. They know the importance of gathering grassroots conservative support if their candidacy is going to go smoothly. Many of us are extremely disappointed in the current governor, John Kasich, regarding his one-sided Medicaid Expansion implementation, his dismissal of criticisms to Common Core, and his inability to promote party unity after the nomination of Donald Trump. Even those who did not support Trump in the primary eventually came around to voting for him, evidenced by his 8-point victory in Ohio despite the efforts of the governor and his party cronies. Three of the candidates had promotional videos to show, and while two of them featured President Trump, John Kasich was nowhere to be found.
On Saturday, June 24, three of the four candidates came in person to give an hour-long presentation on why they should be the next governor of Ohio. Lt. Gov Mary Taylor had a representative available who showed her video, but she was unable to attend due to a personal matter. The issue of her two 20-year-old sons’ heroin addiction has become public, and you can see an interview she has recently done for a Cincinnati news station where she talks about this and other topics. (http://www.wcpo.com/news/state/state-ohio/ohio-lt-gov-says-both-her-sons-are-in-recovery-for-heroin-addiction)
The other three candidates were able to make a 15-minute introduction, respond to five identical questions put forth by Tom Zawistowski of the We The People Convention, and then respond to random questions from the audience. Mike DeWine went first and talked about the governor’s job being that of leadership and management. He explained how he helped the Crime Lab to reduce it’s DNA identification time and also how drug addiction has effects beyond crime. Employers claim that they sometimes have difficulty find good candidates that don’t pass the drug test, and many children are in foster care because of their parents’ addiction. DeWine understands that one of the main attacks against him will be his age and extensive political experience. While acknowledging that he has been an elected official for decades, DeWine believes that this will only help him to be a better governor for the state of Ohio.
John Husted spoke next touting the spending cuts and greater efficiency of the Secretary of State’s office since he took over eight years ago. He is happy to be a “deplorable” in that he was raised with God and guns by a family that adopted him owing to the fact that his birth mother decided to carry her unplanned pregnancy to term. He sees that a strong work ethic is vital to a person’s success, but also there needs to be opportunities for employers to succeed. His home county has seen a 30% loss in income over the last ten years, a statistic not uncommon in many parts of Ohio. When President Obama said that Ohio and other states could not purge their voter roles in the manner they were doing it, he and other Secretaries of State filed a lawsuit which has worked it’s way up to the Supreme Court and will be heard in the next term.
Jim Renacci was the last to speak and he had a contingent of supporters at the event. He was one of the first Ohio elected official to endorse Donald Trump for President (going against the pressure to back Kasich) and he appears to have successfully tapped into the network of supporters who were actively working on behalf of the current president. Renacci began his life in Ohio as a CPA and a businessman, became Wadsworth’s mayor, ran an auto dealership that was subsequently closed after the Obama administration bailed out GM, and shortly thereafter won his seat in Congress in 2010. He touts his private sector experience as well as his “outsider” status in Columbus as reasons to support his candidacy. Renacci addressed what is likely to be his biggest hurdle in persuading conservatives to come to his side: his vote for the Maloney Amendment. This is popularly known as part of Obama’s transgender agenda, although the 42 Republicans who supported it have described it as a religious liberty bill. Renacci did the same when confronted with the question.
A couple weeks after the event, a survey was sent out to the attendees, and Jim Renacci was the favorite candidate with 61% of the vote, John Husted received 23% and Mike DeWine got 15%. Those who came to the event as Renacci supporters, were quite adamant as to their loyalty to their candidate and also identified themselves as early Trump supporters. No other candidate had that type of contingency as the remaining attendees were evaluating between two or three alternatives.
It seems from this early and grassroots-centered survey, as well as conversations with attendees and other Republicans, that 1) Renacci has the Trump support, 2) DeWine most strongly appeals to the established base, and 3) that leaves Husted and Taylor to fight it out among the constitutional conservative crowd. It’ll be an interesting campaign season.