Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine won the coveted official endorsement of the state Republican Party today, besting Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor after she ripped into the attorney general and the party.
The vote was a whopping 59-2.
The GOP leaders also strongly voted to endorse U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci; he got 46 votes, Cleveland-area businessman Mike Gibbons three votes for Marysville businesswoman Melissa Ackison two. Both Gibbons and Ackison had asked the party not endorse anyone in the contest to take on Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown.
As Taylor bitterly observed beforehand, it appeared the governor’s endorsement was pre-destined. Immediately after the vote, Ohio GOP Chair Jane Timken issued a statement praising DeWine:
“Ohio’s future brightened today as the State Central Committee voted to endorse a pro-growth, pro-family candidate in Mike DeWine,” Timken said. “Mike DeWine is the right person to lead Ohio boldly into tomorrow. The Ohio Republican Party is proud to support Mike DeWine, and we look forward to his victory in November.”
Timken said afterward that Taylor could have had the same opportunity to get a quote on an advance press release.
DeWine’s statement also came immediately upon the vote’s announcement: “My campaign is about building a better future for Ohio by fighting the status quo and working to solve Ohio’s biggest issues. As governor, I will bring new, high-paying jobs and economic opportunity to all of Ohio, fight for real-world education reform, and bring an end to the opioid crisis that is killing thousands of Ohioans and holding back our economy.”
The endorsement means DeWine and Renacci will be listed on any official GOP slate cards that are made available to millions of Ohio voters, plus will have access to all-important party cash if needed for their primary campaign ahead of the May 8 election.
“It’s disappointing that the insiders and establishment learned nothing from the last election. Voters are sick and tired of insiders and career politicians trying to tell them what to do,” Gibbons said.
Taylor’s response: “Without a single debate they chose the old guard, career politician over the true conservative in this race. This endorsement, which is the result of the kind of backroom dealing voters despise, is yet another effort by the Establishment to coronate Mike DeWine.”
Earlier, Taylor roasted DeWine more thoroughly than almost any Democrat has criticized the veteran GOP official.
“My opponent is a creature of that establishment. A shill for the entrenched special interests and lobbyists who stalk the halls of the statehouse looking for a handout. He’s a career politician who has been on the state ballot in each of the last five decades, and has a liberal voting record as long as the line of babies he has kissed and hands he has shook.
“After 42 years on the public dole, he is soft on protecting your Second Amendment rights, soft on getting conservative judges appointed, and soft on immigration. His entire campaign has been built on an air of inevitability. A false belief that it is his turn, and his team has worked hard to make you believe the same.”
Calling the assembled Republican leadership gathering “Mike DeWine’s living room,” Taylor concluded: “I’m not asking for your endorsement here today. With all of the good old boy bullying and backroom deals that have been struck to get us here…I’m not sure I even want it.”
DeWine did not even offer a passing acknowledgement of Taylor’s remarks in his speech a couple of minutes later. Instead, he focused his fire on Democrats, including former Gov. Ted Strickland and the man he defeated to become attorney general, Richard Cordray.
“We cannot go back to the Strickland days. We cannot go back to the Cordray days,” DeWine said.
DeWine and his running mate, Secretary of State Jon Husted, both addressed the GOP leaders — many of whom had applauded the union of the party’s top two fund-raisers in the governor’s race.