The Ohio Liberty Coalition took a hit last week, with the news that Ted Stevenot and Brenda Mack will no longer be challenging Governor Kasich in the Republican primary. This comes on the heels of research from Nick that Mack had some legal issues that would have most certainly dominated the campaign:
We were the first to report the story of Mack’s tax problems on Thursday night. Joe Vardon of the Columbus Dispatch published a report later that evening with other details including IRS judgments and Mack’s problems in Cuyahoga County.
Stevenot claims that his decision to back out has nothing to do with the news we uncovered Thursday night.
My decision was not based on any concerns about my running mate, Brenda Mack, for whom I have tremendous respect and admiration.…
However, after much personal thought, as well as in depth discussions with family, friends, and advisors, I have made the decision to withdraw my candidacy for governor.
It’s hard to believe that Stevenot didn’t have these conversations prior to verbally committing to the race. Those are the types of considerations you take into account before taking any steps toward pursuing public office. If Stevenot’s being sincere, then he never took the run serious in the first place, which was his biggest mistake.
It takes serious consideration and serious resources to run for any political office, let alone Governor. Given that, Stevenot & Mack would have had their hands full in a state legislative race. They should have known they were in over their heads running for the state’s highest office.
That said, I hope they both remain active, and consider possibly pursuing that route at a later date—Ohio can always use another conservative legislator or two.
But for today, their campaign for Governor is dead, and with it the credibility of the OLC. The organization went all in on a bad bet, and the result will have a lasting effect—hopefully a positive one. The OLC was formed to fight for conservative causes, and instead has morphed into an anti-Kasich mouthpiece, controlled by a select few of its leaders, both past and present.
Need proof? Ask yourself one question: if the Ohio Liberty Coalition was truly about advancing conservative principles, then why isn’t Workplace Freedom on the ballot? All anyone heard about in the lead up to Stevenot’s candidacy was how OLC had ‘an army’ of supporters. If so, why have they not mobilized to support right to work in Ohio?
I’m not arguing that the OLC and TEA party supporters throughout Ohio are somehow insignificant—they are now and always have been a force in Ohio politics—but if defeating a conservative Republican governor is a higher priority for the OLC than right to work, it truly has lost its way.
Yes, we can bicker and argue about just how conservative our current Governor is, and what his policies have accomplished. But what is not up for discussion is that Ohio is better off now than it was under Strickland, has overcome an $8 billion budget deficit and has created tens of thousands of jobs—all while cutting taxes.
If the OLC was willing to go to war with the Governor, that’s what they would have been fighting against, as much as any other issue. That’s not pro-conservative. That’s anti-Kasich.
Unfortunately, over the last two years, that’s what the Ohio Liberty Coalition has become—less about advancing conservative ideals and more about disparaging a single office holder. But as Wisconsin Governor, and TEA party darling, Scott Walker said over the weekend, we can’t continue to fight with one another:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who survived a recall in 2012 largely due to the tea party, said Sunday that the tea party movement should target Democrats, not Republicans.
“The answer is not to take it out on House Republicans in primaries, it’s to go to Louisiana, Arkansas and North Carolina,” the Republican governor said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” referring to Senate Democrats who are facing tough reelection campaigns in red states.
That’s the message this latest blow to the OLC should convey. Stevenot’s stepping down is not welcome because it somehow spares Kasich from a primary challenge, but because it gives TEA party leaders a chance to take a step back and reflect. Yes, the OLC has lost its way, but it can recover, if they refocus on why they got started in the first place.
I truly hope they take this latest setback as a chance to get back to the conservative principles that made them great—that made them an organization that I proudly supported.