The Ohio GOP Leadership Choice

Being in the Tea Party is a lot like being one of the Spartans in Frank Miller’s “300.” We live, think, and breathe conservative principles while facing a massive establishment which see principles as secondary to political advantage. This lets Karl Rove throw himself on stage again with “the answer” which he can provide for a price.  This lets Reince Priebus be re-elected as National GOP chairman after leading Republicans to crushing national defeats in 2012. When the defeat was studied, the party chose the autopsy to be done by the same people who did the shooting! Nice line, huh?

I can’t take the credit – the line was said by Tom Zawistowski, Tea Party leader and candidate for the Ohio GOP Chairman. (  At the risk of repeating myself, I think the Republican Party in Ohio is in trouble.  The 2010 elections were a very welcome and necessary exception to the rule.  George Voinovich was Ohio’s Governor in the 90’s, and the GOP was strong and had a very good bench.  Ohio’s next Governor, Bob Taft, was a double-A player thrust in the major leagues, and the bench grew old and ineffective.  The Democrats regained their strength in 2006 with the election of Ted Strickland, but they had a double-A player themselves as Attorney General Marc Dann treated the office like a frat house and left in disgrace.  Despite this Democrat scandal and Ohio’s crushing economy during his tenure, Strickland was a few counties short of being re-elected in the powerful GOP year of 2010.  If he had, it likely would have cost us a congressional seat or two in 2012 through redistricting.  It really is that close!

Bob Bennett was an agreeable Ohio GOP leader in the 90’s and he helped to usher in the Voinovich administration, but he couldn’t do much to keep the party’s strength.  He left in 2009 to be followed by Kevin DeWine, an insider who had battles with a more conservative John Kasich.  When DeWine left, Bennett was convinced to take the post again and now the mantle has fallen on Matt Borges.  Borges was quickly ordained as the next GOP leader with endorsements by Kasich, Portman, and other GOP leaders.

But things were unsettled in the grassroots.  There was a smell of establishment with the choice, and the stench of failed promises.  Kasich had strong conservative credentials, but then backed Medicaid expansion which takes from the empty federal Obamacare program to increase Ohio’s Medicaid rolls.  Portman is a credible Republican, but then tries to prove his compassion by leading the GOP charge to support gay marriage.  And now we’re supposed to trust them with this choice?

Many conservatives are supporting Tom Zawistowski (, and it is up to the 66 members of the GOP Central Committee to make its decision by Friday, April 26.  Many of these members have loyalty or allegiance to the leaders like Kasich and Portman, as well as to the countless insiders who can choose which wheels get the grease.  But if we can learn from recent election failures, it is that poor handlers, inept campaign staff, and an apathetic grassroots effort can hurt an election as much as the candidate.  The elections of 2014 and 2016 will be much more important than this one, but the Ohio GOP will set that stage.  If we continue to play politics-as-usual, I’m afraid we will continue to lose.

The following are other articles I’ve gathered about Tom Z and the upcoming election.