by Rusty Union
This election year presents the right with a major opportunity—snatching Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown’s Senate seat and give Trump yet another fighter on the hill. To understand this year’s contentious race, let’s look at the 2016 race, when Rob Portman (R) defeated Democrat challenger and former governor Ted Strickland (D). Portman blew out Strickland with a 20-point win and winning 84 of 88 counties. Multiple factors led Portman to such a dominating win, but Strickland’s name was tainted by the typical Dem issue of spending money the state didn’t have and losing jobs in the process. Below is the county breakdown of who voted for who. Red = Portman, blue = Strickland. To compare, Trump won 81 of 88 counties, only losing major metropolitan areas like Cleveland and Columbus.
As 2017 came to a close, Ohio was heading towards a battle of incumbent Sherrod Brown(D) vs future handpicked GOP nominee and Ryan-esque Josh Mandel. The race was shaping up for a repeat of their challenge back in 2012, where Brown beat Mandel in a 6-point spread and close to 300,000 votes. Then Mandel dropped out 5 days into the year due to his wife having cancer. Going into 2018, who will rise to take on Brown?
Brown entered congress in the House of Representatives following the ’92 election and upgraded to senator in 2006, holding the position since. Career politician through and through, and vetted as a potential vice president for Clinton in 2016, you may have seen him getting shopped around various Sunday shows in the leadup to the Kaine nomination. Brown is considered a progressive icon and mentioned alongside prominent White Dems like Elizabeth Warren or Joe Biden. His voting record gives him a good reputation with the people of Ohio. His stances against anything and everything related to the Iraq war, his co-sponsored anti-banker bill in 2010, and his opposition to free trade might look good on the surface to any of us on the Alt Right, but it comes with a lot of baggage. Brown has an F rating from the NRA, and jumps at every opportunity to disarm White America. All the while, he happily brings in boatloads of boat people that turn Ohio’s cities into little Mogadishus. Take a walk around some areas in Columbus, and you might start to wonder if a Black Hawk crashed the next block over. Even if the pick of the remaining GOP candidates makes you turn your nose up, Brown can’t win again.
Don Elijah Echkhart
Jim Renacci was handpicked by Trump and has the full support of the Ohio GOP. He’s the exact sort of slick used-car salesman you’d expect. A member of the House since the Tea party wave in 2010, Renacci is moving to the big leagues. An accountant by trade, his big issues are tax cuts, tax cuts, and tax cuts. Unless there’s a big wave that pushes immigration and forces Renacci to talk more than just economy, he’ll be the nominee against Brown. Renacci is a Trump creation—his senate attempt is motivated entirely at the White House’s urging. Expect him to hit hard on Trump’s tax cuts to justify his run. A slimeball yes-man might be off-putting to anyone with common decency, but tactically, having a guy like that owing his whole position to Trump and Trumpism is a good thing. He’s pulling an Ed Gillespie and taking on the Trump brand to survive in the new political landscape, and that may be exactly what a state full of crypto-nationalists needs.
Rand Paul endorsed Cleveland businessman Mike Gibbons, calling him a fiscal and constitutional conservative. A private-sector investment banker, Gibbons launched his own company, Brown Gibbons Lang & Company in ’89 and has dipped his toes in all sorts of things since, including an opioid treatment facility in 2015. Gibbons is not extremely well known in political circles, but has donated more than $471,000 to Republican candidates and causes since 2004, according to FEC records. This includes $10,000 he gave in 2014 to New Day for America, the Super PAC affiliated with Kasich’s presidential bid. He also donated $2,700 each to Portman and Donald Trump in 2016. His campaign rhetoric claims support for “Trump’s America First agenda,” though he’s a free-trader through and through. Hashing out the contradictions between past support for globalism and an attempt to ingratiate himself with the current political climate calls his trustworthiness into question, and he’s sufficiently distanced from Trump to ignore the President when the chips are down.
A possible dark horse option with personal Trump connections lies with walking Obamacare refutation Melissa Ackison. You may remember her because in mid-2017 the Donald personally showcased her and her 8 year old’s various health problems as proof that the ACA exchanges nearly prevented her from being able to save her son’s life. She’s a young outsider in this race at 39, and with private sector experience in staffing and HR (yes, I know). She claims she is 100% behind Trump’s agenda, has some similarities to Gibbons minus the political donation history, and recently ruffled feathers with the Democrats on her stance on the Second Amendment.
Kiley and Echkhart are non-factors in this race. No local articles talk about them, they have no social media presence, and they have no functioning website for their candidacy.
The Kasich Factor
Everyone’s favorite K-street shill and amateur pizza connoisseur has to make a choice by the time the race really rolls. With the obvious choice Mandel getting dropping out a month ago, Kasich’s way out in a race defined by Trumpism has left the chessboard. The question remains: will Mr. Golly Gee even bother to endorse a candidate, or will he leave it blank like his 2016 ballot form? Hopefully he stays silent. His brand is toxic. Not even the woman running for governor appears to want it. Maybe he’ll toss a giveaway endorsement out there that no one will remember.
Without major upheaval, Renacci is on track for the nomination. No polling has been released yet, but most rating agencies give the overall race to Brown. He’s got a relatively good reputation, is the incumbent, and is a Democrat expected to surge off a blue wave. 2018 in Ohio will be an uphill battle, so get active with your local GOP office and help campaign, we have a major opportunity here to score another point in the win column.
Registration Deadline: April 9, 2018
Absentee Application Deadline: May 5, 2018
Early Voting Deadline: May 7, 2018
Primary Election: May 8, 2018
Primary Type: Open
Election: November 6, 2018