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Ohio Republican Party’s outrageous new tactic to keep the Tea Party out and Kevin DeWine in

There was breaking news today of an upcoming meeting that has been called for the Ohio Republican Party (ORP) State Central Committee. Below is an excerpt of the memo sent out to committee members.

> Proposed Amendment to the Permanent Rules of the Republican State Central Committee & Executive Committee of Ohio

Article I, Section 2:

At the first meeting of the State Central Committee following the election and qualification of its members, all of its officers, the chairman and co-chairman of the Ohio Republican Finance Committee, and the National Committeeman and National Committeewoman, shall be nominated and elected to the State Executive Committee, which shall then be merged into the Republican State Central Committee.

Proposed Amendment*:

For the purposes of these Rules, to be qualified, and thereby seated and sworn in as a member of the State Central Committee, a person shall have voted in the three immediately preceding Republican statewide primary elections, including in the year in which the person was elected.

Talk about trying to protect their established incumbents! To be seated on the committee, a person will have to have voted in the Republican primary in 2008, 2010 and 2012. This is a pretty brazen move by Kevin DeWine and his allies. This rule, if adopted, is clearly intended to make it harder for outsiders to be seated on the State Central Committee, even if they are elected to the position.

The timing of this is no accident. There are two clear goals here.

1. Keep the Tea Party out. And this one isn’t new. Back in 2010, the ORP outraged many conservatives when it used the tea party brand and sent out mailers with a “Tea Party Values” logo that endorsed…Jon Husted.

In recent weeks the Ohio Republican Party (ORP) begged primary votes for candidates of their choosing, sending mailers which contain a logo of, “Support Tea Party Values.” This new logo was used for Jon Husted and others. What’s wrong with this? Nothing, except leaders in the Tea Party movement, like myself, would hardly consider him or the ORP supportive of “Tea Party Values.”

Yet, while ORP was associating itself with the Tea Party on paper, they were simultaneously putting incumbent Central Committee members on the mailers to appear as though they were endorsed. The same incumbents that the rash of newly politically active tea party types were running against. Ohio Liberty Council described it as a declaration of war against the Tea Party and a violation of committee rules and state law.

The Ohio Republican Party (ORP) after spending more than a year “Missing In action” as the Tea Party movement fought against the bailout, Cap and Trade and the Health Care bill, has finally swung into action. It is bombarding Republicans throughout the state with cards endorsing candidates for the State Central Committee in order to defeat … not liberal Democrats … but Republicans from the Tea Party movement.

A suit has been filed with the Ohio Elections Commission about the perceived violation of party rules and state law with these endorsements, which have not been authorized by the ORP’s governing board. In an initial review, the OEC ruled that there is “Probable Cause” and ordered that the case be held by the full Commission. In his defense, ORP Chairman DeWine argued that it was perfectly acceptable for the Party to endorse incumbents. However one incumbent who has a reputation for standing on principle against DeWine (Rousseau), was not endorsed by the Party; instead the Party endorsed his challenger.

So, even 2 years ago, the ORP was asking tea partiers for their votes and claiming that their preferred establishment candidates had “tea party values”. But when some of those same voters wanted to get involved by running for a seat on the committee, they were told that they weren’t welcome.

Also to be discussed at the upcoming, besides the proposed amendment: endorsing all the incumbents again.

It also is possible that the central committee could take up a proposal tabled at a previous meeting that would call for the endorsement of all incumbent central committee members for re-election in the March primary.

Now, with this new proposed rule, they’re planning to go even further to keep the Tea Party out.

2. To protect Kevin DeWine’s Chairmanship. The ORP knows that many of this years challengers to committee incumbents would vote against him in the next election for chairman. What better way to protect yourself than to create a new rule to make it harder for new people to the party to be seated on the committee?

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Republican Party chairman wants to change the rules for who can serve on the party’s state central committee, a proposal that comes about a month before GOP voters elect the next 66-member group.

The move could help Chairman Kevin DeWine fend off a challenge to his leadership. DeWine and Gov. John Kasich are locked in a messy election-year battle for control of the party.

Perhaps the most outrageous part of this is the outright brazen timing. Candidates have already filed for the election. They’re already on the ballot! The election is only 5 weeks away. What are they going to do if a person is elected, but doesn’t meet their new rule? At least one candidate has already been identified as not meeting the proposed new criteria. They’re creating a recipe for chaos.

But apparently Kevin Dewine doesn’t care, as long as it helps him hold on to his chairmanship. He obviously isn’t confident about his fortunes, and is doing all he can to rig the system. This is just another example to add to the mountain of evidence that Ohio conservatives can’t trust Kevin DeWine.

P.S. Note to Mitt Romney: you may want to consider how close you get to Kevin DeWine in the next few weeks. Ohio is the big prize on Super Tuesday, and with the nomination still up in the air, I’m sure you’ll be visiting us. Kevin DeWine is NOT well liked by the Ohio conservatives whose votes you need. Today’s news is going to make them even angrier at him. (Your relationship with his buddies, disgraced former consultants Brett Buerck and Kyle Sisk, doesn’t help either.)

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Third Base Politics is an Ohio-centric conservative blog that has been featured at Hot Air, National Review, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and others.


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