Ohioans are missing from Trump’s cabinet

Commerce Secretary-designate Wilbur Ross, center, listens to President Donald Trump during a meeting with House and Senate legislators in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. At right is White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

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Commerce Secretary-designate Wilbur Ross, center, listens to President Donald Trump during a meeting with House and Senate legislators in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. At right is White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Some wonder why so few from Ohio get tapped for top White House jobs.

President Donald Trump may be governing in an unconventional fashion, but when it came to picking his cabinet he followed one longtime ritual: Don’t select anyone from Ohio.

In what seems to be a bipartisan custom, Ohio once again is a no-show for presidential cabinet-level posts. Georgia, Texas, New York, and South Carolina each have two cabinet nominees while Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Kansas have one apiece.

“None from Ohio — again,” grumbled one Republican who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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Every four years presidential candidates descend on Ohio, which has correctly picked the winner in 14 consecutive elections. But since 1962, only six officials who have made their name in Ohio have served either in a presidential cabinet or in a cabinet-level post.

Trump considered Toby Cosgrove, president and chief executive officer of the Cleveland Clinic, for Veterans Affairs secretary, but Cosgrove withdrew his name from consideration, preferring to remain in Cleveland.

Ironically, the Ohioan currently holding the highest federal post is former state Attorney General Richard Cordray, a Democrat nominated in 2012 by former President Barack Obama to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But if conservatives have their way, Trump will fire Cordray before his term expires in 2018.

Some have suggested that Gov. John Kasich’s refusal to endorse Trump last year led the new president to bypass Ohio officials for top administration jobs. Trump may have revealed his displeasure with some of the state’s top Republicans by helping Jane Timken unseat Matt Borges last month as head of the Ohio Republican Party. Borges had been hand-picked by Kasich.

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Borges, however, doesn’t put much stock in the theory that Trump is making Ohio pay for the lack of high-level support in a state he won easily.

“I don’t think there is any kind of blacklist for Ohio people,” said Borges, adding that Trump’s “first stop on the thank you tour was in Ohio. His spat with the governor is obvious, but that didn’t impact his relationship with others.”

Former state Treasurer J. Kenneth Blackwell, whose name surfaced as a possibility for HUD secretary, said “the president is very keen in knowing who was for him and who was against him and there were key Ohioans who were aggressively for him.”

“Believe me,” Blackwell said, Trump is “not going to penalize Ohio if in fact his target is the governor and his allies.”

A White House official would only say that Trump “has chosen stellar cabinet officials who are going to help the president lead our nation in a more secure and dynamic direction.”

Ohio isn’t completely absent from Trump’s top administrative picks. Both Andrew Puzder, the Labor Secretary nominee, and Robert Lighthizer, Trump’s pick for U.S. trade representative, grew up in Ohio.

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“President Trump has placed a number of great Ohioans around him, including two in his Cabinet,” said Blaine Kelly, communications director for the Ohio Republican Party.

Yet that claim is somewhat of a stretch. Puzder left Ohio years ago for St. Louis as a trial lawyer and now lives in Tennessee, while Lighthizer has been a Washington fixture for decades as a member of President Ronald Reagan’s administration and a partner at the Washington law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

By that logic, should Gov. John Kasich ever join a presidential cabinet, he would be listed as being from Pennsylvania because he grew up near Pittsburgh before attending Ohio State University.

Some possible cabinet candidates may have been off the board because they are busy seeking higher office. State Attorney General Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Jon Husted plan to run for governor, state Treasurer Josh Mandel and Columbus area Rep. Pat Tiberi may run for the Senate, and state Auditor David Yost is running for attorney general.

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It should be noted too that Trump looked to the military and business for some of his key picks. His mantra to “drain the swamp” may have dissuaded him from selecting too many people with deep government credentials, through three of his top picks are former governors, two served in the U.S. Senate and one in the House of Representatives.

Borges said “players change throughout the course of an administration” and more Ohioans could get tapped later in Trump’s term.

Daniel M. Slane, former chairman of the board of trustees at Ohio State University, worked on the Trump transition team and may later join the White House. Others currently in key posts include Joe Hagin (Deputy Chief of Staff), Robert Paduchik (Deputy Co-chairman of the Republican National Committee), and Gary Cohn (Director of the White House National Economic Council).

Said Blackwell: “Ohio has done OK.”

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