A faction of the Montgomery County Republican Party is pushing for an endorsement Wednesday night of Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted for governor, a move that is unpopular with other party leaders, according to Rob Scott, senior campaign advisor to one of the other three candidates: U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth.
“There are a bunch of people in the county party who are very much against this,” said Scott, who is vice mayor of Kettering and a member of the party’s central committee.
Husted, Renacci, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor are all running for the Republican nomination in the 2018 election. The primary is May 8.
Husted supporter, State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, said the grassroots support is behind Husted, who he called “our native son in Montgomery County” who “is going to be our next governor.”
“We have the votes. It’s going to happen,” Antani said. “I understand there are people out there who would like to see this not happen….They’re running scared so they are trying to cause trouble.”
Husted attended the University of Dayton and stayed in the area after graduation, eventually representing part of the region in the Ohio House and Senate. He no longer lives in Montgomery County.
Husted’s campaign spokesman Josh Eck said he was unaware of the plan to vote, but added, “I want the endorsement of all the county Republican parties. We are appreciative to hear the support that he has.”
The Williams County GOP has endorsed Husted, Eck said.
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Dave Luketic, spokesman for DeWine’s campaign, said the Lucas County Republican Party endorsed DeWine but many county parties are likely to wait until after the filing deadline for the race next year.
“We are working every single committee in every single county for any type of endorsement,” Luketic said. “It is our expectation that the Montgomery County Republican Party will follow its tradition and bylaws in screening possible candidates for any office.”
He said endorsements can bring resources, staff and volunteers to a campaign.
DeWine was born in Springfield and started his political career in Greene County as prosecutor, later representing the region in the statehouse and in Congress. He lives in Cedarville.
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At the Montgomery County GOP meeting DeWine will have “a lot of supporters,” Luketic said, noting that DeWine spoke to the central committee this summer.
“Mike DeWine enjoys a large support base in Montgomery County,” Luketic said. “Recent polling shows it to be one of the strongest areas in the state.”
Taylor’s spokesman, Michael Duchesne, said Taylor has not yet met with the central committee. He said but she will win the nomination by “competing for the hearts and minds of conservative Republican voters.”
“What’s Jon Husted afraid of? I have absolute trust in the GOP primary voters of Montgomery County to do the right thing and let the process play out as it has since time immemorial,” Duchesne said.
The Montgomery County Republican Party typically does interviews to screen candidates before doing endorsements. Those interviews have not occurred, so a vote would be against the regular order, Scott said.
Also, he said, the agenda for the Wednesday central committee meeting does not include a vote on endorsing in that race, although Husted is scheduled to speak, along with State Rep. Dorothy Pelanda, R-Marysville, who is running for secretary of state.
“I think that the full body of the central committee should hear from all the candidates and the county party should follow procedure and process when it comes to endorsements of candidates,” said Scott, noting that Renacci’s schedule in Washington, D.C., has prevented him from speaking to the central committee.
Antani countered that the party bylaws allow a vote without following previous screening procedures.
Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman Phil Plummer, who has the authority to allow or disallow the endorsement vote, could not be reached for comment.
The central committee meeting is at 6 p.m. at Celebrations Banquet Center II, 7615 Poe Ave., Harrison Twp.
Candidates for the Democratic nomination include Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, former state representative Connie Pillich of Cincinnati, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, and former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton of Akron.
The winner will replace Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican who is term-limited.