Mitt Romney's Ohio Problem

We’ve all heard the axiom, “as goes Ohio, so goes the nation”. In fact, no Republican has ever won the Presidency without winning Ohio. And for this year’s GOP presidential primary, Ohio is the top prize in what is turning out to be a critical Super Tuesday on March 6th.

In fact, just yesterday analyst Sean Trende of Real Clear Politics identified Ohio as the key state between a Romney runaway and the possibility of a brokered convention.

So the viability of a three-way split probably comes down to Ohio, which has a fair number of evangelicals, though not to the degree that Tennessee, Oklahoma and Georgia do. Santorum has some strengths he can draw on in the Buckeye State, as his blue-collar message could play well even among Republicans there. If he wins, it means that we probably do have a deeply divided GOP, with Gingrich taking the anti-Romney vote in the South, and Santorum taking the anti-Romney vote in the Midwest.

So with Ohio holding such incredible importance to Mitt Romney’s hopes of becoming President, why is he betraying the very Ohio conservatives he needs to assure victory?

Let me explain.


As many of you may have read already, Ohio Republicans are currently in the midst of a major power struggle between moderate Ohio Republican Party Chairman Kevin DeWine and Governor John Kasich, Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder, and other conservative elected officials.

Conservatives are up in arms against DeWine for a number of offenses, such as actively working against Governor Kasich in the mainstream media, by working to divert fundraisers away from Kasich near the end of his close battle against incumbent Gov. Strickland in 2010, lying to contributors, outright shunning members of the Tea Party in Ohio, and most recently, blatantly abusing and violating the Party’s own bylaws in order to prevent Tea Party candidates from getting seated on the State Central Committee.

So how does this all connect to Romney?

Brett Buerck, widely known among Ohio political activists for his scandal plagued career, is now back as one of Mitt Romney’s point men in organizing Ohio. Buerck is also known as ORP Chairman DeWine’s closest consultant on Party politics. Finally, Romney’s sole appearance in Ohio during this entire campaign season was months ago when he appeared arm-in-arm with DeWine in southeast Ohio and proceeded to flip flop against Kasich’s government union reform bill, all at the recommendation of DeWine.

In other words, Romney is counting on Buerck and DeWine to lead him to victory in Ohio.

Make no mistake. Conservatives and Tea Party members are actively engaged in Ohio state politics. With such an intense focus on Ohio’s GOP primary, there is no doubt they’ll play a huge part in who ends up with Ohio’s massive number of delegates on Super Tuesday.

By working with Buerck and DeWine , Romney is making it crystal clear where he stands when it comes to wooing Ohio’s conservative base. In fact, by allowing Buerck and DeWine to lead his Ohio effort, Romney is effectively aligning himself against the very people he needs if he wants to win the nomination and the general election in November.

Ohio is well known among national political strategists as being the home of a bevy of quality political hacks. There are throngs of men and women with a strong history of leading congressional and statewide candidates to victory. In other words, Romney has no requirement to rely so heavily on state organizers with such sordid stories as DeWine and Buerck. He can easily look elsewhere and avoid the danger of giving the middle finger to Ohio conservatives and Tea Party members.

If he wants to win the Presidency, that is…

Cross-posted at Third Base Politics

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