If your lights blinked a day or so ago it can be explained by Ohio U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci’s explosive protest against the protesting NFL players who kneeled during the National Anthem.

There are protests… and then there are protests.

In the wealthy Republican congressman’s response to an action protected by the First Amendment, he proudly announced that he was pulling $20,000 in TV ads from Sunday’s NFL games and spending it on more patriotic American TV fare without the stain of disrespectful football players. He’s allowed to do so.

Renacci, you should be aware, as the former Wadsworth mayor who is unabashedly glued to Team Trump’s policies, whatever they are. He’s also running for governor in Ohio by chipping in $4 million of his own money to confirm that he would, as he swore to it, “stop at nothing” to win the election in the glory of a Trumpocracy in the Buckeye state.

Stop at nothing? Coming from an operative with his fat checkbook and political zeal, it opens up the Ohio political landscape too all sorts of damnation. That’s worrisome.

He had earlier appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program full of optimism that the president was saying precisely the things that the voters want to hear, including daring North Korea into a nuclear war.

And he may have to stop at nothing in his breast-beating route to the governor’s office against at least two formidable opponents – Attorney General Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Jon Husted – in the 2018 party primary. Warning to them: Renacci has already copyrighted his slogan to Make Ohio First because Washington doesn’t work.

As Trump’s leading bell cow in the state that Trump carried in 2016, Renacci is relying on that tandem for a welcoming electorate to extend that success to him next year even though the president’s a popular approval in the Ohio has fallen into the red.

And as for Trump’s mounting troubles that grow by the day as a national menace, Renacci is not the least bit discouraged, advising us that the president is “not a career politician” and is likely to make some political mistakes.

But we may all want to know from pal Renacci why Ohioans would like to put Ohio First with a racist president, who jubilantly predicted that a gun-flashing guy in a cowboy hat – Roy Moore of Alabama who wants to jail gays and subscribe to other items on a preacherly right-wing social agenda – would make a “great senator.”

With the GOP campaign under way, I fear we’ll find out soon enough.

 

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