GOP candidates go all out to capture electoral energy awakened by Trump
Josh Mandel is talking about former President Donald Trump in the same breath as God in his bid for the Senate.
The former state treasurer sent a fundraising email to supporters this week with the subject line: “Trump first, God first, America first.”
“My question is simple: can I count on you to get candidates to Washington who will put Trump’s agenda first, put God first, and put America first?” Mr. Mandel said in the email.
Mr. Mandel is among a herd of GOP candidates running in primary races across the country that are scrambling to showcase their fealty to Mr. Trump and his MAGA movement.
Shannon Burns, president of the Strongsville GOP, said candidates recognize that Mr. Trump‘s style and message resonated with a broad swath of voters — including those who felt alienated by the political system.
“Everyone sees it as loyalty to Trump and maybe in a simplistic way you could think of it that way, but what has happened in a state like Ohio, which used to be blue or purple, and is now deep red, is that President Trump awakened something in voters that these candidates are trying to tap into,” Mr. Burns said.
“You had all these individuals who were awakened to what is wrong with America and finally believed there was someone who could fix it,” he said. “These candidates want others to believe in them as the voters believed in Trump.”
In The News - EXCLUSIVE: Ohio Republican committeeman and radio host torch Ohio Republican Party and its chairman during on-air interviewRead Now
EXCLUSIVE: Ohio Republican committeeman and radio host torch Ohio Republican Party and its chairman during on-air interview
CLEVELAND, Ohio - Shannon Burns is president of the Strongsville GOP and a member of the Ohio Republican Party State Central Committee (ORP SCC). Burns appeared on Always Right with Bob Frantz Tuesday. The interview aired on one of America’s oldest radio signals—AM 1420 in Cleveland.
Frantz quizzed Burns about Friday’s state GOP meeting during which 36 of 66 members voted to endorse incumbent and beleaguered Gov. Mike DeWine (R).
Burns told the Cleveland talk show icon, in summary, that ORP Chairman Bob Paduchik banned the public and select media, ignored ORP bylaws and pushed through what Burns alleges to be a fake endorsement for DeWine because Paduchik was putting the will of “his boss [DeWine]” ahead of the principles of the party and the will of Republican voters.
Discussion between Frantz and Burns centered on:
The entire interview can be heard by going to Always Right: Shannon Burns gives us the corrupt PBP of the ORP's Mike DeWine endorsement - Always Right with Bob Frantz - Omny.fm.
Ohio Republican Party endorses Gov. Mike DeWine over protests of some in meeting
The Ohio Republican Party endorsed Gov. Mike DeWine's reelection bid – but not without protest from some Republicans frustrated with the party's support of the sitting governor.
Even with the objections, DeWine won the party's endorsement – in part because incumbents can win the party's nod with a simple majority of the 66-member governing body's vote. DeWine also has the advantage of having campaigned for, worked with or received donations from a slew of Republicans in charge of his endorsement fate.
DeWine and Lt. Jon Husted boast political connections that go back decades. Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Paduchik worked on DeWine's Senate campaign in 1994, for example. That can help with fundraising, ground game and yes, endorsements.
The Ohio Republican Party endorsed the slate of statewide candidates, including DeWine via a secret-ballot vote: 36-26.
That gave DeWine the nod over former U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci. Canal Winchester farmer Joe Blystone and former Rep. Ron Hood did not seek the endorsement.
Disagreement over endorsement processState central committee member Joe Miller wanted anyone employed by DeWine or serving on a state board to recuse themselves from endorsing in the governor's race. Miller estimated about one-fourth of the board had these conflicts.
"We are voices for 3 to 4 million Republicans in the state of Ohio but our voice must truly reflect the sentiments of our constituents. Our votes cannot be influenced because of financial gain or prestige due to their close relationship with the governor."
But Miller's resolution failed. Some members took offense to Miller's implication that they were biased and compromised. "This is way off base," said committee member Dan Carter.
But that doesn't mean DeWine's endorsement was universally cheered by the Republican base. For activists like Strongsville GOP leader Shannon Burns, DeWine's endorsement was more like a rigged coronation than a genuine show of support.
DeWine has faced criticism from fellow Republicans over how he handled the COVID-19 pandemic and whether he's backed former President Donald Trump enough. DeWine has always had detractors in the pro-Second Amendment community for not being a "gun guy."
Some in the meeting Friday accused DeWine of violating the state constitution and having an approval rating lower than Democratic President Joe Biden.
"In my mind, the establishment’s endorsement on Friday will be the fake endorsement," said Burns, who is also a member of the Ohio Republican Party's state central committee. He supports Renacci's gubernatorial bid.
Renacci spokesman Tom Weyland said the vote went the way he expected it would but was still a mistake. “DeWine’s popularity is at an all-time low.”
DeWine campaign manager Brenton Temple had the opposite message: “We are grateful for the support of the Ohio Republican Party and their recognition of Governor DeWine and Lt. Governor Husted’s strong, conservative record.”
In 2018, DeWine won the Ohio GOP's endorsement over then-Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor for the open seat. Taylor criticized that process, sardonically welcoming everyone to DeWine's living room.
At that same meeting, the Ohio GOP endorsed Renacci for U.S. Senate over GOP challengers Mike Gibbons and Melissa Ackison. Gibbons is running for Senate again in 2022.
The Ohio Republican Party did not endorse in the contested U.S. Senate race this year. Given the number of candidates, it's unlikely that any candidate could have hit the higher threshold of votes – two-thirds of all members in open races – needed to win the state party's support.
Who else was endorsed?DeWine wasn't the only candidate whose endorsement received some heated debate.
Summit County GOP Chair Bryan Williams asked that Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose not be endorsed, saying LaRose was a "habitual violator" of campaign promises. LaRose had tried to remove Williams from the county board of elections.
Other members of the central committee defended LaRose as an honorable man who ran fair elections in Ohio.
In the end, the Ohio Republican Party endorsed LaRose over primary opponent John Adams, a former state lawmaker.
Other endorsed candidates were:
Limited access, little discussionMembers of the public weren't welcome at the Ohio Republican Party's meeting Friday after disruptions at the last couple of gatherings.
"There are serious public safety concerns. At the December meeting, several people received a lawful order from Delaware Sheriff’s Deputies to leave the meeting and they refused," Ohio Republican Party executive director Justin Bis wrote in an email to members. "Public attendees do not have a right to participate in and disrupt our meetings."
Opponents of the change say Bis was blowing safety concerns out of proportion, and party bylaws require meetings to be open to the public and press. The party also denied press credentials to at least two conservative media outlets. Ohio's open meeting laws don't apply to gatherings "for the purpose of conducting purely internal party affairs."
The Ohio Republican Party delivered an audit report that $640,000 written off by the party was a bookkeeping error and not theft. Committee member Mark Bainbridge, who has filed a lawsuit against the party, wasn't permitted to speak about the audit.
Burns also questioned why the party had donated to DeWine's campaign before he was an endorsed candidate. Paduchik did not permit discussion on the topic.
Shannon Burns Campaign Kick Off for Ohio Republican Party State Central Committee w/ special guests Josh Mandel, Jim Renacci & Max MillerRead Now
Many of you know me as The President of Strongsville GOP, but I have also represented the Republican voters of the 24th Ohio State Senate District on the board of the State of Ohio Republican Party - The State Central Committee - since May of 2020. The committee is responsible for setting the direction of the Republican Party infrastructure, setting rules and guidelines for primaries and setting and executing endorsement policy.
Since President Trump's historic victory in 2016 and his victory in the rigged election of 2020, Ohio has turned significantly towards the profile of a red state. I believe the Party needs to react and establish fair and transparent rules and guidelines for primaries. Further, I believe that the current system is being abused by some to get their incumbent allies elected. Our Party must have clear and transparent rules and strong effective financial management -- both of which we are currently lacking.
Please join me and hear from my special guests: US Senate Candidate Josh Mandel, Candidate for Governor Jim Renacci and Candidate for Congress Max Miller on Friday night for a fun and informative happy hour!
This event is FREE and open to all supporters!
Ohio GOP calls on Rep. Anthony Gonzalez to resign for impeaching ex-President Trump
COLUMBUS – The Ohio Republican Party's leaders called on Rep. Anthony Gonzalez to resign for voting to impeach former President Donald Trump, a stunning rebuke of one of their own.
On Friday, the party's governing board called on Gonzalez, R-Rocky River, to resign in a divided vote. They also voted to censure Gonzalez and nine other members of Congress for "their votes to support the unconstitutional, politically motivated impeachment proceeding against President Donald J. Trump," according to the resolution.
Gonzalez was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which left five people dead. He is the third to be censured for the vote by his state party, following Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney and South Carolina Rep. Tom Rice.
Gonzalez joined Ohio's four Democratic House members in the vote; none of the other 11 Ohio Republicans voted to impeach Trump.
That decision distanced Gonzalez from fellow Republicans in Ohio, where Trump won by 8 percentage points in 2016 and 2020. He gained a primary challenger in former White House aide Max Miller, whom Trump endorsed.
Gonzalez became an easy mark in the U.S. Senate race as candidates such as former state treasurer Josh Mandel and former GOP leader Jane Timken try to prove their Trump credentials.
Mandel has criticized Timken for not admonishing Gonzalez immediately after Trump's impeachment.
“From day one, I have strongly supported efforts to censure and expel traitor Congressmen like Anthony Gonzalez who voted to impeach President Trump," Mandel said in a statement.
Timken, in a Friday tweet, said she "fully agrees" with the censure. "The impeachment was a sham that betrayed the Constitution and went against Ohioans' interests."
Not everyone was on board with the public reprimand, though. Gov. Mike DeWine declined to comment when asked about the Ohio GOP votes Friday, saying he had previously weighed in on Gonzalez. In mid-March, DeWine said Gonzalez should not resign, adding “he was voting his conscience. He made that call. That was his decision,”
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Terrace Park, opposed the Ohio GOP's decisions F
"While I disagreed with his votes on impeachment, Anthony is a friend and a dedicated public servant," Portman said. "We Republicans should be focused on uniting in opposition to the Biden Administration’s trillions in proposed new spending programs and job-killing tax increases.”
Party of TrumpFriday's vote underscores the dramatic evolution of the Ohio GOP over the past several years.
In 2015, the Ohio Republican Party backed former Gov. John Kasich's presidential bid over a slew of GOP candidates, including Trump. When Kasich won the state's GOP primary (his only statewide victory), Kasich's delegates attended the Republican National Convention in Cleveland with a distinct "Ohio Against the World" vibe.
But in 2017, Trump helped install Timken as leader of the Ohio Republican Party over Kasich's pick Matt Borges. When Timken decided to run for U.S. Senate, the Ohio GOP selected former Trump Ohio campaign manager Bob Paduchik to replace her. Paduchik's key pitch: Trump wants me to lead this party.
Ultimately, Friday's vote was a test of allegiance for the state party's leadership, which has increasingly become the party of Trump.
Paduchik said members of Congress have a right to vote how they choose, but “this committee also has a right to stand on principle and conviction as well.”
Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Matt Keyes called the votes “a small glimpse of the dysfunction and division" in the GOP.
"While GOP politicians are busy attacking one another to score cheap political points, Ohio Democrats are focused on listening to voters and fighting for their priorities," he said in a statement.
Whom should Ohio GOP support?The party initially planned to vote on censure, but Shannon Burns, president of the Strongsville GOP in Gonzalez's district, offered a resolution to take the rebuke a step further. He called for the resignation of Gonzalez for betraying his constituents and holding a “hidden vendetta” against Trump.
"Gonzalez resorted to emotional conclusions that misplaced blame on President Trump, the President of Law and Order and America First," the resolution read. "We believe that Congressman Gonzalez knowingly and willfully violated his oath of office."
That sentiment prevailed even though some Republicans expressed concern about taking that step, saying Gonzalez could win his primary and voters should decide his political fate.
The vote stood in contrast to the party's long history of favoring incumbents over newcomers. In most years, Gonzalez would score the party's nod over Miller. Gonzalez is well-known for his time playing for the Ohio State University football team and the Indianapolis Colts.
“We’re supposed to support all Republican candidates when they run for office and we could end up in a situation where we did this to Rep. Gonzalez, and maybe it’s deserved but where do we stand after that?” asked committee member Mary O’Toole. “When do we start picking and choosing?”
Committee member Mark Bainbridge disagreed, saying "we should only support people who we think have the integrity to be in the office. For example, if one of our representatives committed a crime or illegal act, would we support that person? Would we not call for him to resign? Of course we would."
Meanwhile, the party has taken no action to censure Rep. Larry Householder, R-Glenford, who is accused of orchestrating a nearly $61 million bribery scheme to pass and defend a $1 billion nuclear bailout. Householder has pleaded not guilty. Borges was also charged in that case and has pleaded not guilty.
After Householder's arrest, then-chairman Timken and other Republican officials called on him to resign from the Ohio House of Representatives. House Republicans removed Householder as their leader but have not expelled him from the chamber.