This week the Ohio Republican State Central Committee (OHRSCC), bowed to their overlord in Kentucky, in an attempt to shore up a weak and more moderate candidate, Jim Renacci for Senate. Clearly this was an attempt to push out a solid conservative, Mike Gibbons from the Senate race. As well, much more conservative Mary Taylor was thrown to the wind in favor of the DeWine/Husted money machine.
Particularly disturbing was the full admission that Senate leader Mitch McConnell was able to bend the OHRSCC to his will with the promise of throwing millions into Jim Renacci’s campaign.
Rather than Ohioans telling Mitch McConnell to go to hell, and tell him who we are supporting, the republican leadership of Ohio shamefully rationalized letting Mitch McConnell pick our Senate candidate for us.
This leads many Republicans to ask what do we need the OHRSCC for if their decisions are being made from the top down instead of from the bottom up.
Certainly, there will be those on the OHRSCC that will make excuses that this was done because they believe that Renacci was the stronger candidate and that the president supports him. All of a sudden, the never Trumpers in the party hold respect for the current President and his choice. I would like to remind everyone that the President also followed his political advisors advice and ultimately supported Judge Roy Moore for Senate. We all know how that worked out. Gibbon’s grassroots is tangible where Renacci’s is palpable. A presidential endorsement can help, but it cannot help shore up the shortcomings of a candidate.
What is the OHRSCC’s job? Their job, surprisingly, is not to win elections! As shocking as it may be to them, their job is to represent the will of Republicans in their respective districts. Their job is not to sit in judgement and give their personal opinion on the ability of a candidate to win an election. If that were the case President Trump would have never become President and we would be dealing with President Kasich. In most cases the OHRSCC members have neither the experience, the knowledge, nor a grasp on what Republicans are thinking, to make such decisions, especially for a primary contest. Most OHRSCC members do not proactively solicit the opinions of Republicans in their district. Instead, many proactively use their position to express their opinions to attempt to influence the Republicans in their district.
Does this mean that the OHRSCC should not make primary endorsements?
First, a primary endorsement should never be the same as a general election endorsement. It should be more like a recommendation rather than the party giving a candidate money and allowing a candidate access to the party’s infrastructure.
Secondly, an endorsement should only come after a thorough vetting and debate between potential candidates has taken place, in a very transparent and unbiased manner. Jim Renacci just jumped into the race and has steadfastly refused to debate Mike Gibbons.
One of the biggest duty’s of the OHRSCC is to facilitate the education of Republicans in Ohio as to where the candidates stand on the issues.
In many states, if you do not attend a State Central Committee organized debate, you cannot even be considered for endorsement. Unfortunately, the OHRSCC has decided that their job is to influence Republicans in Ohio instead of educating them.
It is the candidates job to influence you to vote for them, this is not in the party’s job description. The party is to provide support and infrastructure for the candidates that win the primary.
An endorsement should only come after an unbiased and transparent vetting process has taken place. Mike Gibbons has about half of all the County Central Committee endorsements within the state and may even have a majority of those committees that endorse in a primary. Unfortunately, those advising the President in Washington D.C. and Mitch have not seen the tremendous ground game of Michael Gibbons because Mike is not a swamp creature and he definitely does not identify with Mitch McConnell, who is part of the problem and is not part of a sound fiscally conservative policy by which to run the country.
I am certain that many on the OHRSCC entertained what would happen if Jim Renacci wins the primary and the millions they would receive from the McConnell controlled National Republican Senatorial Committee. But, what kind of confidence will this Republican body have if Gibbons wins the race? There is already some contempt being held for the body that pushed so hard for John Kasich in the primary of the presidential election in 2016, only to have Trump trounce their opinion.
Why isn’t the OHRSCC demanding and organizing more debates during the primary? Is it because they like picking the candidate in smoke-filled back rooms in Washington D.C.?
Debates have always been a valuable addition to the election cycle. And two-thirds of Ohioan primary voters in 2016 seem to agree, saying that the debates played an important role in helping them make up their minds to ultimately support Trump.
Expensive television ads, in contrast, seem to have lost some power of persuasion. This is a good thing — debates have imposed an unprecedented degree of transparency and accountability. On a debate stage, standing side by side with their competitors, candidates have not been able to entirely hide behind huge sums of money, super PACs, or television ads. They have been judged by the party voters based on their working knowledge of policy and their ability to think and speak on their feet. It is a good test of mettle, temper, and character is revealed as well as intellect over the course of the debates.
Debates are the best chance to get a candidates message to the widest number of people — and that’s what campaigns at their core are about. This is educating the public and providing for a transparent endorsement process. The fact that there is a risk involved in debates just reflects the real stakes of the race.
Newt Gingrich’s and Herman Cain’s rise in popularity in previous campaigns was almost entirely due to strong debate performances, balancing Republican red-meat rhetoric with thoughtful policy prescriptions. Yes, it’s true that some of their best moments came when they defiantly pushed back on questions and got the audience loudly on their side, but that was a measure of their ability to connect with voters by voicing their frustrations. Both candidates rose from the political dead not with money or organization, but with what they carried into the debates, their intellect, charisma, and ability to connect.