The Ohio Republican Party State Central Committee appears to be moving towards an endorsement of GOP establishment favorite, former U.S. Senator and current Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, when it convenes this Friday, February 9.
The anticipated move comes three months ahead of the May primary in which DeWine and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor face off in a head-to-head matchup for the GOP nomination, sources tell Breitbart News.
While Republican Party State Committees in some states, such as Tennessee, specifically prohibit the State Party from endorsing a candidate in a contested primary, the tradition in Ohio is different. In the recent past the party has not endorsed a candidate prior to the primary, but in some instances it has.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, is term limited from seeking a third consecutive four-year term, which, according to recent polls, he would be favored to win if he were allowed to compete.
Republicans are eager to keep the Governor’s seat, especially with the all important 2020 Presidential election and the redistricting following the 2020 Census expected to take place during the next governor’s term.
Recent polls suggest the 71-year-old DeWine, a two term United States Senator who was defeated for re-election in 2006 by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), is best positioned to defeat the current Democratic frontrunner, the controversial former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray.
The two faced off at the ballot box in the 2010 election for Ohio Attorney General, when DeWine narrowly defeated Cordray.
Cordray resigned from the CFPB in November, and unsuccessfully attempted to select his own left-leaning successor there, but President Trump beat him to the punch and, backed up by the courts, successfully installed OMB Director Mick Mulvaney as the acting director.
“A new statewide poll of the gubernatorial race shows former federal consumer watchdog Richard Cordray narrowly leads the wide-open Democratic side of the race, while Attorney General Mike DeWine is running away with the Republican primary,” Cleveland.com reported last month:
According to the poll, DeWine currently leads his lone challenger, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, by a margin of 54-14, with 32 percent of those polled undecided. He leads in every demographic and geographic group by a wide margin, though is only besting Taylor in Toledo by six percentage points.
DeWine’s lead isn’t shocking given past polls and recent developments in the race. The attorney general led several Republican polls in both name identification and support.
Since November, the once seemingly competitive Republican primary field winnowed. Husted, who was DeWine’s top contender, dropped out of the race in November to join DeWine’s ticket as his running mate. Renacci left the race in December to run for U.S. Senate after Treasurer Josh Mandel surprisingly dropped out of the race.
The only general election matchup question that was asked was between Cordray and DeWine and shows bad news for Democrats.
In the head-to-head, DeWine currently leads Cordray 49-28, with 23 percent of respondents unsure.
You can view the poll here.
But the 51-year old Taylor, who has served as Lt. Gov. and head of the Dept of Insurance since 2011, is committed to taking the fight against DeWine into the May primary, regardless of what actions the Ohio Republican Party Central Committee takes.
Taylor argues that she is the conservative candidate in the race for the GOP nomination, and DeWine is the establishment candidate.
Taylor has been endorsed by former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, a conservative champion, and on Monday announced that she has been endorsed by 20 Ohio grassroots conservative leaders.
Her supporters point out that DeWine is the epitome of the Ohio Republican establishment. Not only has he been a key elected official in the state for over three decades, his son, Pat, was elected to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio in 2016.
Taylor was Gov. Kasich’s pick to serve as Lt. Governor for two terms, and that association does not necessarily endear her to the state’s conservatives.
Taylor’s supporters point to a Forbes Magazine article, which noted that Taylor pushed Gov. Kasich away from his original intention to support Obamacare exchanges, as one example of her commitment to conservative policies from within the current Kasich administration:
On July 14, 2011, Columbus Business First quoted Kasich as saying:
“I think an exchange is a good idea as well,” signaling Ohio will implement another big part of the federal law even as his state insurance director, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, has been publicly blasting it.
But, as Cleveland.com reported last month, “Allies of Ohio Gov. John Kasich are rethinking their loyalty to Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, signaling cracks in a long-standing political partnership that many expected would continue with Kasich’s team backing Taylor’s own run for governor in 2018,”
The tension stems from Taylor’s recent about-face in a divisive Ohio Republican Party leadership battle that ended with Kasich on the losing side. She split with his handpicked chairman at the last minute to join forces with Jane Timken, the eventual winner.
Statehouse watchers saw Taylor’s defection as a bid to get in good with President Donald Trump, who endorsed Timken. But it could cost Taylor with the term-limited Kasich and his stable of GOP operatives who helped elevate her to the lieutenant governor’s office.
Previously, Kasich had indicated he would support Taylor over Attorney General Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Jon Husted and others in what could be a super-competitive gubernatorial primary. Now, said one Republican close to Kasich, “everyone has a free pass.”
Should the Ohio Republican Party Central Committee choose not to endorse DeWine on Friday, Taylor still has an uphill battle to win the GOP nomination in May.
“Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine hauled in a hefty sum for his gubernatorial campaign over the last six months, with more cash on hand than all of the other candidates who reported combined,” Cleveland.com reported last month:
DeWine netted more than $6.6 million since July, leaving him with more than $10.5 million cash on hand. The next closest in fundraising was Cordray, who brought in just more than $2 million with that same amount on hand.
DeWine easily rolled the rest of the field in fundraising and cash on hand, largely bolstered by the more than $4.6 million the campaign received from Secretary of State Jon Husted’s campaign when the two joined forces last November.
But Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, whose fundraising had lagged even before DeWine and Husted teamed up, surprised political observers when she announced she had amassed $3.5 million for her campaign.
The fine print showed how Taylor did it. State records show Taylor, an accountant whose husband owns a construction firm, personally loaned herself $3 million, while her new running mate, former Procter and Gamble executive Nathan Estruth, chipped in $225,000. In contrast, outside donors contributed only $364,000 since August.
A Public Policy Polling survey conducted between January 21 and January 22 showed a tighter race between DeWine and Cordray, but did not include a potential Taylor-Cordary matchup.
The poll found “that the 2018 election for Governor in Ohio could be a toss-up as Democrat Richard Cordray is almost even with Republican Mike DeWine. In a hypothetical matchup, Cordray receives 44% of the vote while DeWine is only 1 point ahead at 45%. Democrat Dennis Kucinich receives 37% of the vote while DeWine gets 48%. Similar results emerge from the matchup between Democrat Connie Pillich, who gets 35% of the vote, and DeWine, who leads at 47%.”