OHIO

Renacci Prepares DeWine Pay-for-Play Attack

Ohio Republicans have a complex history with crowded Republican primaries.

March 21, 2017, 10:34 a.m.

“Don’t ex­pect” Rep. Jim Ren­acci (R) “to at­tempt to self-fund his cam­paign … al­though he has lent his cam­paign money in the past.”

“Still, he po­si­tioned him­self Monday against polit­ic­al dona­tions from firms seek­ing state gov­ern­ment con­tracts. … [I]t’s also a sig­nal that he plans to use a ‘pay-to-play’ at­tack on” state At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Mike DeW­ine (R). “From 2010 to early 2014, for in­stance, DeW­ine’s cam­paign and that of his son re­ceived $1.3 mil­lion from firms hop­ing to rep­res­ent the state in court. DeW­ine said the dona­tions haven’t in­flu­enced de­cisions on which at­tor­neys get state work. As gov­ernor, Ren­acci would seek to ban any­one who has made a polit­ic­al dona­tion from get­ting a state con­tract, he said.

“Ren­acci him­self could be vul­ner­able to ques­tions about do­ing fa­vors for donors as a con­gress­man. His name sur­faced in a 2014 fed­er­al tri­al, when the feds said one of his donors, ‘As Seen on TV’ mar­keter Ben Suarez, con­spired in 2011 to cir­cum­vent fed­er­al cam­paign fin­ance lim­its to shuttle money to the cam­paigns of Ren­acci and then-Sen­ate can­did­ate Josh Man­del. Ren­acci had writ­ten a let­ter on the donor’s be­half, but re­turned the cam­paign dona­tions after the in­vest­ig­a­tion star­ted. He nev­er was charged. Suarez was ac­quit­ted of the cam­paign fin­ance charges and was con­victed only of wit­ness tam­per­ing.” (Cin­cin­nati En­quirer)

HIS­TORY LES­SON. State Re­pub­lic­an Party Chair Jane Timken “seems un­will­ing to play fa­vor­ites like the GOP bosses of yore did. She would be re­luct­ant to fix a primary.”

1990 was the “last time Ohio Re­pub­lic­ans had at least four strong can­did­ates for gov­ernor. … [P]arty lead­ers worked through the lo­g­jam and entered an era of dom­in­ance. … State Sen. Paul Pfeifer, who had fin­ished last in the GOP primary four years be­fore, de­cided to in­stead run for at­tor­ney gen­er­al.” Then-Rep. DeW­ine “bailed on his bid and agreed to be Clev­e­land May­or George Voinovich’s run­ning mate for lieu­ten­ant gov­ernor. … State Sen. Paul Pfeifer, who had fin­ished last in the GOP primary four years be­fore, de­cided to in­stead run for at­tor­ney gen­er­al. U.S. Rep. Mike DeW­ine bailed on his bid and agreed to be Clev­e­land May­or George Voinovich’s run­ning mate for lieu­ten­ant gov­ernor.” Hamilton County Com­mis­sion­er Bob Taft’s “run for sec­ret­ary of state” pried “him out of the race.”

“For Re­pub­lic­ans to ex­tend their cur­rent era of dom­in­ance in Colum­bus, 2018 will have to look more like 1990. But it’s highly pos­sible they will get something more like 2006. That cycle began with three Re­pub­lic­an state of­fice­hold­ers — Ken Black­well, Betty Mont­gomery and Jim Petro — want­ing to suc­ceed the term-lim­ited Taft. Black­well beat Petro in a primary that moved the party fur­ther to the right in a midterm elec­tion that be­came a ref­er­en­dum on Pres­id­ent George W. Bush na­tion­ally and, in the wake of a scan­dal in­volving Taft, on Re­pub­lic­ans at the state level. Mont­gomery ran for at­tor­ney gen­er­al in­stead. It was a bust. Demo­crats won all but one of­fice on the statewide bal­lot. They even knocked DeW­ine out of his Sen­ate seat. The lone GOP vic­tor,” now-Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor (R), “slipped in as state aud­it­or.” (clev­e­land.com)

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