President Donald J. Trump’s trip Monday to Cincinnati is supposed to unite the Ohio Republican party going into the final months before the 2018 midterm elections, but the centerpiece of the visit, the president’s endorsement of Rep. James B. Renacci (R.-Ohio) for Senate, is not going to settle the GOP’s Senate primary fight as his aides might have told him.
The Republican leadership and the White House would have Trump believe the nomination for senator is in the bag for Renacci, and it is not.
. @JimRenacci has a track record of success as a job creator and battle-tested conservative leader, and I am proud to endorse him in the race for U.S. Senate.
— Rob Portman (@robportman) January 29, 2018
Also in the race, it Ohio businessman Mike Gibbons, a GOP long-time contributor, who committed $5 million of his own money to the fight against Brown after Mandel got out.
“I’ve been proud to be one of the President’s strongest supporters during the campaign and throughout his Presidency,” Gibbons told Big League Politics.
“I’ve been committed to the Senate campaign for the entire race because I know how important it is to elect true outsiders in order to advance the Trump agenda,” he said.
— Mike Gibbons (@MikeGibbonsOH) January 31, 2018
Renacci was in the governor’s race, but he read the writing on the wall and upon the withdrawal of 2012 Senate contender state Treasurer Joshua A. Mandel from the 2018 contest, the congressman switched out of the governor’s race and joined the Senate contest.
In the 2012 contest, Mandel took the fight to Sen. Sherrod C. Brown (D.-Ohio) in a tough Republican year, but lost, as he trailed the top of the ticket by 225,697 votes.
Gibbons told BLP he was running against Mandel because he saw in the 2012 campaign, that he did not have the killer instinct to close the deal with the voters.
Mandel posted an open letter to supporters Jan. 5 to explain why he was getting out of a race he said the polls showed he could win.
“We recently learned that my wife has a health issue that will require my time, attention and presence. In other words, I need to be there,” he said. “I am ending my campaign for US Senate in order to be there for my wife and our three children. This was a difficult decision for us, but it’s the right one.”
— Rep. Jim Renacci (@RepJimRenacci) January 31, 2018
The main reason for the tumult in the Ohio GOP is one man: Republican Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich.
Sunday, John Weaver, the man, who ran Kasich’s 2016 presidential campaign, retweeted an article claiming that the White House is worried about a primary challenge from Kasich in 2020:
White House sees Flake, Kasich as 2020 challengers https://t.co/fWfoYBToOD
— John Kasich (@JohnKasichNews) February 4, 2018
In the 2016 presidential election, Kasich said he could not vote for Trump and instead he told people he voted for Sen. John S. McCain III (R.-Ariz.) and in the final throes of the 2016 campaign, Kasich ordered his political machine not to help Trump and to instead focus on helping Sen. Robert J. Portman (R.-Ohio) win his reelection bid.
Despite Kasich’s work against Trump and Portman’s studied indifference, Trump won Ohio’s 18 electoral votes handily with 52 percent of the vote to Hillary R. Clinton’s 44 percent. In fact, Trump garnered 179,568 more votes in 2016 than the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee former Massachusetts governor W. Mitt Romney.
After the election, Kasich has not let up on the president or his allies on Capitol Hill. During the fight to repeal-and-replace the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, Kasich came to the Capitol to criticize the effort.
The former Lehman Brothers banker went so far as to meet with the Tuesday Group, the bloc of moderate GOP congressman, to encourage them to speak out about the president and his plan.
Trump is well aware of Kasich’s relentless resistance to his leadership.
At a Republican National Committee fundraiser Thursday, Politico reported:
At one point in the meeting, Trump brought onstage Bob Paduchik, who the president selected to serve as Republican National Committee co-chair after overseeing Trump’s successful 2016 campaign in Ohio. One person who was in attendance recalled the president heaping praise on Paduchik for helping him win the critical swing state, where he’d faced opposition from the governor. The president recounted the Ohio campaign and how he ultimately won the state.
Kasich has shown he is not ready to make peace with Trump either.
In the first week of January, Kasich criticized the chaos in the Trump White House and Saturday he Tweeted out clips from his segment on MSNBC with GOP apostate Nicholle Wallace. where he defends the investigation in rumored collusion between the president’s campaign and the Russians.
The independent investigation into Russia’s meddling in our election must continue unimpeded by outside forces from either Congress or the President.
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) February 4, 2018
Going into the 2018 election, Kaisch is not running for governor because he is term-limited out. The two main contenders to replace him are Lt. Gov Mary Taylor and Attorney General R. Michael DeWine, a former congressman and senator.
Taylor v. DeWine was supposed to be close and it is not. DeWine is in command of both the primary and his expected Democratic opponent Richard A. Cordray–if he can dispatch the recalcitrant leftist Dennis J. Kucinich, former mayor of Cleveland and congressman.
Cordray is a bit of tragic figure. When President Barack Obama balked at naming Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that she conceived and which was created in the 2010 Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Dodd-Frank, Obama went with Cordray in January 2012.
A unique quirk in the CFPB section of Dodd-Frank put the bureau under the Treasury Department, until its director was confirmed. Upon confirmation, the bureau was then spun out of Treasury under the aegis of the Federal Reserve. As an independent agency of the Federal Reserve, the CFPB was then insulated from presidential directives and congressional review–free to exercise its mission as Warren designed it.
Cordray was the Ohio attorney general when he lost his 2010 challenge to unseat then-senator DeWine, and his confirmation became the last hill for Capitol Hill conservatives trying to stop the CFPB. The filibuster of Cordray’s nomination led Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) to exercise the first “nuclear option,” in July 2012, by which he changed Senate rules and removed presidential appointments, except for the Supreme Court, from the 60-vote requirement to close debate, or reach cloture.
Cordray eventually took control of the CFPB, but until his November resignation, his tenure was marked by lawsuits and constant harassment from Capitol Hill conservatives. He went from an unknown to a national symbol of Obama’s regulatory overreach.
The former attorney general resigned to pursue his campaign for governor, but a lot had changed in the six years since he was an active player in the state. If anything, the home state of six Republican presidents had become more Republican after the crucible of 2016 campaign.
DeWine’s dominance of the governor’s race created the awkward spectacle Ohioians are to witness Monday of Trump endorsing Renacci, one of the most liberal-voting Republicans left in the House Republican Conference.