Ohio Liberty Coalition Suggests Primary Challenges for Legislators Who Back Medicaid Expansion


The Ohio Liberty Coalition (OLC) spelled out in a February 12 news item how easily conservative groups could foster credible primary challenges to state legislators who choose to support Governor Kasich’s proposed Medicaid expansion. The Ohio Senate and Ohio House of Representatives will deliberate on the issue in the coming weeks while reviewing Kasich’s entire budget plan.

OLC President Ted Stevenot suggested that because so many General Assembly districts are written to be “safe” Republican or Democrat districts, competent candidates could threaten the tenure of Republican incumbents who vote to expand Medicaid.

OLC, an umbrella organization of liberty-minded groups across Ohio, likely has the network and experience that would be necessary for several targeted primary campaigns. After President Obama signed the health insurance law commonly referred to as Obamacare in early 2010, OLC partnered with The Ohio Project and Ohioans for Healthcare Freedom to put the Ohio Healthcare Freedom Amendment in front of voters.

The amendment passed by a landslide in November 2011 despite appearing on the ballot beneath a referendum on public employee union reform, which unions spent more than $40 million rallying “No” votes against.

Any Ohio legislator supporting Medicaid expansion would be aiding the implementation of Obamacare and allying with the Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio, a staunch opponent of the Healthcare Freedom Amendment.

Using State Representative Ron Amstutz as an example, Stevenot wrote, “In the March 2012 primary, Representative Amstutz ran unopposed as a Republican. He won the primary with a total of 13,261 votes. In this heavily protected district, a Republican victory on the general ballot after the primary is all but certain.”

“This race is really determined in the primary,” Stevenot added. “A challenger could have won in the primary with a mere 6,631 votes – here equal to about 14% of the votes cast in the general election.”

Stevenot explained that in Wayne County, where Amstutz resides, 7,676 signatures were collected to put the Healthcare Freedom Amendment on the ballot. The amendment was ultimately approved by 69 percent of Wayne County voters.

“Turning out so few votes in such a small geographic area is well within the performance envelope of most liberty groups,” Stevenot asserted. “A team of 20-30 dedicated volunteers willing to go door-to-door with a decent message and a viable candidate could easily accomplish such a feat. After winning the primary in such a heavily protected district, victory in the general election would be all but certain.”

“Conventional wisdom says that because we couldn’t muster enough votes to win the cult of personality, rock-star Presidential election that somehow our movement is dead. Not hardly. The grassroots movement in Ohio is now stronger, more experienced, and more effective than it has ever been. We have all the ingredients we need to protect liberty here in our state.”

Stevenot asked OLC members to “Respectfully request that your representative not only vote ‘NO’ on any proposed expansion of Medicaid, but that he or she actually be vocal in opposing this issue.”

In closing, Stevenot recommended that readers review local elections data to determine whether their districts might be conducive to conservative primary challenges in 2014.

Other Ohio grassroots and think tank opponents of Medicaid expansion include Opportunity Ohio, The Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions, The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, and Americans for Prosperity – Ohio.

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