FINISHING THE JOB: Turning Ohio Red In 2018

red Ohio Shutterstock/iQoncept

Ken Blackwell Former Ohio Secretary of State
Font Size:

President Donald Trump needs a stronger bench in the U.S. Senate to get his judicial nominees approved and to accomplish his agenda. Mr. Trump surprised the pundits and beat Hillary Clinton soundly in Ohio — by 8 points. Senator Rob Portman coasted to an easy 2016 reelection victory also. But 2018 is not 2016. President Trump is not on the ballot and Senator Sherrod Brown brings the advantages of incumbency.

President Trump recently endorsed Rep. Jim Renacci in Tuesday’s Ohio GOP Senate primary (on Tuesday, May 8). However, regardless of who becomes the GOP nominee for Senate, the real opportunity to fire Sherrod Brown in November and flip Ohio’s Senate seat red, is actually in Ohio’s hotly contested gubernatorial primary . . . and her name is Mary Taylor.

Let me explain.

Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor is facing off against Attorney General and former U.S. Senator Mike DeWine in Tuesday’s gubernatorial primary. Mr. DeWine has more money and was endorsed by most of the Columbus establishment early, but he also brings a 42-year record as a career politician who voted for amnesty for illegals and chain migration multiple times, earned an “F” from the National Rifle Association for partnering with Chuck Schumer to restrict Second Amendment freedoms, and racked up an atrocious record on judicial confirmations including voting AYE on Sonia Sotomayor and Merrick Garland — to name just a few. Ohio conservatives remember Mr. DeWine’s long liberal record and it has been reinforced recently when as attorney general he mandated driver’s licenses be given to illegals in Ohio. Attorney General DeWine’s 25-point lead in the polls has vanished over the past six weeks despite his huge spending and media advantage, and now the race is a literal dead heat, with 25 percent still undecided.

Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor is the true conservative in the race. She chose Nathan Estruth, a strong Christian business leader known nationally as a conservative champion, as her running mate. And Mary is also the only candidate that has worked with President Trump. In fact, President Trump has been in Ohio three times in the last 12 months, and Mary has been with him all three times. Mr. DeWine has failed to appear with the president and has chosen instead to perpetuate Governor John Kasich’s team and legacy. (Indeed, DeWine’s campaign manager, Dave Luketic, ran Kasich’s presidential SuperPAC!) Further, Mary Taylor worked an important jobs and energy investment by private companies in southeast Ohio directly with President Trump in the Oval Office last fall.

Most importantly for switching that Ohio Senate seat, Mary Taylor is without a doubt the stronger general election candidate. Mary is a conservative accountant and mom who has much broader appeal among independents and conservative Democrats than Mike DeWine, a 42-year career politician.

In fact, in the last really tough election cycle in Ohio, 2006, when I lost the race for governor and DeWine lost the race for Senate to Sherrod Brown, only one GOP statewide candidate won that year. Her name was Mary Taylor, running for state auditor, and she outpolled sitting Senator DeWine by over 175,000 votes statewide.

Private polling shows having Mary Taylor at the top of the ticket against Obama/Elizabeth Warren protégé Richard Cordray, will lift all GOP candidates’ chances, whereas having Mike DeWine as the nominee puts an anvil around the GOP Senate nominee’s neck, pulling him down 10 points or more, as many conservatives will choose to sit it out.

Ohio deserves and needs conservative champions like Mary Taylor and Nathan Estruth, and the GOP Senate nominee needs them as well to defeat Sherrod Brown and flip the seat red in November.

Ken Blackwell a senior fellow at the Family Research Council. He serves on the boards of directors of the National Rifle Association and the Club for Growth. He was a domestic policy adviser to the Trump/Pence presidential transition team.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.