Yesterday Kasich gave his state of the state speech, delivering his unscripted and often rambling message to members of the General Assembly, his cabinet, invited guests and other local and state officials – many of whom he called out during the nearly hour and twenty minute rant.
Three key Republicans, however, received no such call out and were clearly missing from the audience: Ohio Republican Party Chairman Kevin DeWine, his cousin Attorney General Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Jon Husted.
History is full of epic battles and epic leaders: Grant vs Lee in Virginia, Montgomery and Rommel in North Africa and, of course, the many glorious (and sexy) fights between vampires and werewolves.
We now have one more to add to that list: John Kasich and Kevin DeWine’s battle over the Ohio Republican Party.
As we’ve been reporting, Kasich and Chairman DeWine have been battling for control of the ORP’s Central Committee, with Kasich attempting to run his own loyalists for committee seats in order to displace DeWine supporters, and DeWine publicly calling out Kasich for his questionable ties to lobbyists, claiming he’s only “motivated by ego, power, [and] profit.”
Just when we though Kasich might actually be able to wrest control away from DeWine, Kevin turned the tables. At a recent committee meeting, DeWine succeeded in passing a new rule “that only candidates for the GOP committee who voted in the last three Republican primaries will be eligible to sit on the party’s 66-member central committee.” It wasn’t a big win – passing by only 1 vote – but it was a win, and it means Team DeWine now has a little breathing room while Team Kasich needs to regroup and reorganize.
According to the PD’s Aaron Marshall, Kasich’s special assistant Jai Chabria sat “in a chair along the wall observing” the recent committee meeting, while Kasich supporters like Jo Ann Davidson and Doug Preisse (one of those lobbyists DeWine was talking about) aggressively opposed the new rule.
Davidson, Chabria and Preisse have chosen sides.
Ohio’s right wing bloggers have also been complaining long and hard about DeWine. I don’t think most have any real love for Kasich or his unfocused administration and his lack of any serious policy initiatives. But they absolutely hate DeWine for his perceived wishy-washy positions on conservative issues like abortion and gay rights, which is actually kind of ironic considering the large number of gay Republicans on Team Kasich.
Still, despite their lack of vocal support for the Governor, DeWine’s bashing makes it clear that Ohio’s right wing bloggers are solidly behind Kasich. They have chosen sides.
The story of DeWine and Kasich goes back even further. And it starts with Jon Husted’s plans to run for Governor. Back in 2008, Husted and Kevin Dewine openly discussed Husted running against Strickland safely from a Senate seat. They had fully anticipated the possibility of a loss, but running a solid campaign and positioning Husted to be the candidate in ’14 was certainly considered a good option as well. John Kasich, however, spoiled all of it and never paid them any deference after ruining their plans.
The importance of having DeWine in control of the ORP, from Husted’s perspective, can not be understated. It means Husted has access to the core high dollar donors, the loyalty of staff and the infrastructure of the operations. If Kasich takes control, Husted is entirely shut out and on his own.
Husted’s lack of attendance at the State of the State was a clear middle finger aimed at the Governor and the grandeur of Kasich’s act to move the speech. And it’s not the first time.
When Kasich was being slammed nationally for having an all white cabinet, Husted hired Doug Lumpkin, an African American, as his Director of Operations. Husted could have held off, but rolled out the high profile hiring at a very inopportune time for Kasich.
Husted and Mike DeWine have chosen sides.
YOUR TURN TO CHOOSE
Now is the time for the rest of Ohio’s Republicans to make their choice.
When this epic battle between Kasich and DeWine is over, nothing will be the same.
Forever.Begins.Now, people. And It all begins … With a choice
So which side will you choose: Team Kasich or Team DeWine?