Former Ohio Liberty Coalition (OLC) President Ted Stevenot will challenge Governor John Kasich in Ohio’s May 6 primary election, a January 1 press release confirms.
Stevenot and running mate Brenda Mack, former president of Ohio Black Republicans Association, are set to formally announce their candidacy on Tuesday, January 7.
A press conference will be held at 1:00pm at the Holiday Inn Capitol Square, 175 E. Town Street, Columbus, OH 43215, according to the release from the Friends of Ted Stevenot campaign committee.
Several legacy media outlets reported in December that Stevenot was mulling a primary campaign when paperwork submitted to the secretary of state’s office became public.
The Ohio Republican Party (ORP), staffed with staunch Kasich loyalists, has dismissed conservative criticism as Kasich has lunged to the left after being elected as a small-government, “Tea Party” Republican in 2010.
Kasich and ORP have insisted Ohio is experiencing a miraculous economic rebound since Kasich took office, but employment data do not bear this out.
Last year Stevenot and OLC were at the forefront of the fight over the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, helping channel activists’ opposition into pressure on Republican legislators. Kasich’s Obamacare expansion was stopped in the Ohio General Assembly largely due to Stevenot’s leadership.
Stevenot is likely to be treated as an afterthought by Ohio’s traditional press, though a plurality of Republicans polled for The Columbus Dispatch expressed disapproval of Medicaid expansion last spring.
Joe Hallett, an editor at the Dispatch, railed against OLC and conservatives in general as “fringe,” “political intimidators” seemingly “bent on society’s regression” because they opposed Medicaid expansion.
Dispatch publisher John Wolfe and his wife donated a total of $24,000 to Kasich’s reelection campaign in 2013.
In 2012 and 2013, OLC played a major role in stopping efforts from Gov. Kasich to raise taxes on energy companies and Appalachian Ohio property owners for redistribution as a statewide tax cut, although a watered-down version of Kasich’s plan is likely to pass in the wake of Kasich’s end-run around the legislature for the Obamacare expansion.
Stevenot also led OLC’s efforts to help liberty groups across the state better network in their communities using online tools such as Facebook, and OLC has been a vocal critic of IRS targeting of conservative groups.
Stevenot’s announcement comes on the heels of Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune’s decision to challenge Ed FitzGerald in the Democrat primary for governor. Long considered the Democrats’ de facto candidate, FitzGerald dropped running mate Eric Kearney last month amid a media firestorm over Kearney’s unpaid taxes.
Gov. Kasich’s campaign committee, Kasich Taylor for Ohio, reported almost $4.5 million on hand as of the 2013 semiannual filing deadline.