Ohio’s campaign to replace Governor John Kasich appears to be heating up as the 2018 Primary Election draws closer. Policy discussions, political attacks and independent expenditure mailings all illustrate the Ohio Republican Governor’s race is in full gear.
First, the policy fight. Lt. Governor Mary Taylor, trailing badly in fundraiser efforts, went “old school” and starting rolling out policy positions on major issues. Taylor grabbed headlines across Ohio when she rolled out here health care plan for what she will do as Governor on this important topic. Lt. Governor Taylor announced she would not support the continued Medicaid expansion permitted due to funding from the federal government based upon passage of Obamacare. This made headlines because her announcement constituted a major shift in the position of the Governor and her running made in the last two General Elections—John Kasich. Kasich in fact is the leading Republican, nationally supporting the Medicaid expansion as he continues to garner national media attention as Washington struggles to find an answer for health care policy. Lt. Governor Taylor earned some credit for taking a policy position on an issue that constitutes over 50% of the state operating budget spending. However, opponents will surely point out she did nothing to stop the Medicaid expansion as Lt. Governor when half the states in the Union decided not to accept the Obamacare funding.
Northeast Ohio Congressman Jim Renacci launched the first attack of the Republican Primary campaign. Treating his Republican Primary Election opponents like they are from Columbus, Congressman Renacci attacks Mike Dewine, Jon Husted and Mary Taylor as “Fat Cats.” https://www.renacciforohiofirst.com/renacci-ohio-releases-first-television-ad/. Renacci loaned his campaign $4 M and his spending his money on television advertisement campaign to try and boost his low name ID and damage the brand of his better known opponents. He is also attempting to connect with the Trump voters who gave the President an overwhelming victory in Ohio over Hilliary Clinton. Pundits question whether these “Trump Voters” will actually vote in a Republican Primary. Trump’s efforts in Alabama to elect a Republican Senator appointed to fill the seat of Jeff Sessions did not prove successful and provide more fodder for Renacci’s opponents.
Finally, an independent expenditure campaign supporting Jon Husted’s candidacy is also hard at work. Billionaire philanthropist Clay Mathile donated $1 million to a super PAC that is backing Republican Jon Husted for governor next year, according to federal campaign finance filings.
Between late April and the end of June, Ohio Conservatives for Change raised $1.3 million from four donors: $1 million from Mathile, $125,000 each from Mt. Vernon residents Thomas Ratin and Karen Buchwald Wright and $50,000 from Medical Mutual. Direct mail pieces have begun landing in Republican Primary voters’ mail box with the goal of building the name ID of Husted with core voters. The mail pieces have been positive, profile pieces with the obvious goal of defining Husted in a positive light.
All these battles have not moved the favored candidate, Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine who continues to run a successful General Election campaign focused on opioids and other election matters of interest to the broader voter based. Dewine benefits from 30 years of campaigns and a strong name ID. More battles are coming as the 2018 Primary Election are coming in the near future.