Ohio Republicans have been shaking their heads all year watching Kasich and Ohio GOP Chair Matt Borges openly criticize Donald Trump in the press while covertly planning the Kasich 2020 presidential run. Having come in 4th in a 2-man race, Kasich views himself as the Republican heir apparent after the walloping Trump was supposed to get this November. Instead, Trump won the “swing state” of Ohio by 8 points while winning his way to the White House. Kasich cannot run for governor again and has lost much, if not all, of the credibility he had built up from his years in Congress and the successes as governor. Matt Borges has never built up such credibility.
In January, the Ohio Republican Central Committee has the chance to oust Matt Borges as their chairman, and they should take it. Donald Trump won 81 of Ohio’s 88 counties clearly putting the state party out of step with each of the county parties. Grassroots conservatives have not trusted Kasich since he began supporting Common Core and Medicaid Expansion, and this 2016 presidential election cycle, where Ohio clearly had a strong hidden Trump vote despite GOP leadership, should be the last straw.
Challenging Borges is Jane Timken of Stark County (Canton) which has been a bellwether county in the past but Trump won it this year by 17 points. In a letter sent to Central Committee members, she says:
If elected chairman, there will be no confusion about my loyalties or for whom I serve. I will work for the State Central Committee and it will be my job to execute the will of the committee. Serving as CEO of the party, I will provide vision and leadership for an agenda that is built on the consensus of the committee members. Simply, I am asking to serve and be a chairman for the party, not for a particular candidate or elected official. (emphasis mine)
Being a swing state clearly has its advantages as we get a lot of attention during the campaign. I would gladly change that, however, if Ohio could become a “likely R” state for decades to come. If Donald Trump and the Ohio GOP play their cards right these next couple years, Ohio could guarantee another statewide-office sweep in 2018 and try to persuade these Trump-voting Rust Belt Democrats to reject the progressivism of the Democrat Party.
Pelosi-challenger and likely gubernatorial candidate Tim Ryan recognizes these rust belt voters, and you can bet that he will be responding to their concerns and playing hardball to get them back into the fold. Having a Trump opponent like Borges leading the GOP effort will only reinforce the image of a broken party that cannot resolve their own grassroots vs. establishment problems. Kasich is a lame duck for the next two years, and Borges can only be seen as the pawn of a man about to lose his grip on power.
We need to have an Ohio Republican Party that is ready to move forward with new leadership that can offer Trump Democrats something other than Common Core and Medicaid Expansion. We can offer them opportunities that only occur with limited government and a free market. This is a difficult argument to make, and one that John Kasich’s party cannot make. Republicans first need to welcome new leadership so we can move forward as the state’s dominant party.