Thursday, June 29, 2017


UPDATED:  10:05 AM

It appears that Stark County is "well-wired" should Ohio attorney general Mike DeWine be elected governor of our Buckeye State come November, 2018.

DeWine is the second of a group of  four prominent Ohio Republicans to announce his candidacy which he did on June 25th at an annual DeWine family ice cream social.

Stark County-connected Jim Renacci (representing the 16th congressional district including north-northeast Stark County and a spur through the middle of the county down to the Timken Company complex into the heart of Canton) announced on March 20th.

Expected to join the race soon are Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor (who resides in the City of Green located in abutting Summit County) and former Ohio secretary of state Jon Husted.

In Renacci and DeWine you have (currently) the lowest polling candidate (Renacci) and the highest polling candidate (DeWine).

On Monday of this week (June 26th), DeWine was in Youngstown campaigning at GLI Pool Products.

And who from Stark County showed up in support of the DeWine candidacy but Stark County commissioner Janet Creighton (the regional chairperson of the campaign), Stark County treasurer Alex Zumbar (chairman of the Stark County branch of the Creighton "responsible for" region, North Canton mayor David Held and Alliance manor Alan Andreani.

The region includes: Columbiana, Carroll, Harrison, Holmes, Jefferson, Mahoning, Stark, Tuscarawas and Wayne counties.  Each county has a county specific chairperson.

Also present in Youngstown on Monday was former North Canton mayor and state representative Dave Johnson who was telling Creighton, Zumbar, Held and Andreani that he is now 80 perhaps suggesting that his days as a firebrand Republican campaigner are over.

But his colleagues at the DeWine event were not buying that line.

Creighton says that her connection to DeWine goes back to 1990 Republican gubernatorial race between George Voinovich and his running mate as lieutenant governor Mike DeWine.

As Creighton tells it, Bob Taft was the darling of the Ohio Republican Party establishment in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Voinovich was clearly the underdog in that race.

Creighton, then as Stark County recorder, herself having to fight the local Republican Party establishment in her quest to get elected recorder, was asked by the Voinovich/DeWine team to join their uphill—turned successful—fight to defeat Taft and his party insider allies.

That campaign, Creighton says, cemented her relationship with DeWine which, of course, continues to this very day.  "Loyalty" is the key for Creighton for agreeing to be a key figure in the DeWine campaign.

Creighton, who I think is the most powerful vote-getting-Republican in all of Stark County, says, she has been coveted (my word, not hers) by the Renacci, Husted and Taylor campaigns.

Consequently,  The Stark County Political Report believes that Stark County could be a Republican Party civil/political war-esque battleground as the ensuing campaigns march toward the May 8, 2018 primary election.

However, it likely will be an "underground" war inasmuch as the primary players, for public consumption, say glowing things about each other.  In the background, a political sophisticate has to believe that if it looks like Renacci has emerged as the main competitor to DeWine by early January, February, 2018, then things will get dicey in a hurry.

But the players will try to play the "let's be nice to each other" in public.

Creighton told me yesterday that she has confidence that Stark GOP chairman Jeff Matthews and Ohio GOP Jane Timken will not use their powerful party positions to advantage Renacci, whom the duo have strong, strong, strong ties to.

The Report expects Renacci's campaign to pick up momentum and be positioned come early next year to be the major challenger to the current DeWine lead.

Why would I have that expectation?

Despite Creighton's (and Zumbar's, too) confidence that the state and local party apparatus/structure will not be tilted to Renacci's advantage, I do not agree.

Again, Matthews and Timken will play a rhetorical game of fairness and impartiality.

And I do think the support will be clandestine and responsive to pressure from "on high."

Renacci undoubtedly will be the favorite of Republican president Donald J. Trump given:
Consequently, "Donald being Donald" it would be naive to think he will not "pull out all the stops" in support of the Renacci candidacy including:
  • bringing the resources of the National Republican Committee (NRC) and his own personal intervention to the aid of candidate Renacci,
    •  including putting enormous pressure on Ohio GOP chair Jane Timken to tilt Renacci's way even if doing so would violate a pledge Creighton says she has made to remain neutral,
      • Always remember this:  Jane Timken would not be the chairperson of the Ohio Republican party BUT FOR the intervention in the party election in January, 2016
Think the president would like to have an all out loyal to Trump governor sitting in Columbus in 2020?

Trump is already thinking about 2020?

It was unprecedented  being less than six months into his first term that, last night (press camera excluded at the last hour) he held a fundraiser specifically to raise funds for his 2020 run.

The Renacci "aces in the hole" is the financial support of the Timken family (and, presumably, Ohio Republican Party chairperson Jane Timken, formerly vice president of the Stark Co. GOP) and likely Stark County GOP chair Jeff Matthews (also director of the Stark County Board of Elections) whose wife Heidi has worked in the congressional office of Renacci for a number of years.

A basic principle of political analysis in terms of whom "really" supports whom for office is "Follow the Money."

Here are the Federal Election Commission (FEC) political contribution listings for:
  • Jane Timken going back to 2009/2010 when Renacci first came on the scene as a congressional candidate to challenge incumbent Democrat John Boccieri, and
  • for the Timken Company (2016 only)

Other FEC records show "in toto" that numerous immediate to Jane Timken family members have contributed:
  • tens of thousands of dollars,  perhaps,
  • totaling up to hundreds of thousands of dollars when coupled with Timken corporate contributions going back to 2009/2010, 
to Renacci's congressional campaigns.

Renacci and the Timkens have a very tight relationship, indeed!

Readers will recall how Renacci threw a snit with those Republicans in charge of redistricting based on the 2010 U.S. census to get the Timken Company complex in the heart of Canton included in the reconstituted 16th congressional district.

To say again, Jane Timken became chairperson of the Ohio GOP because of the intervention President-elect Donald J. Trump as Ohio Republican Party central committee members convened in early January to choose a chairperson going forward.

Readers will recall that current governor John Kasich was during the campaign and ever since has been one of the few Republicans of political/office holding stature not to fall in with Trump.

The breach between Kasich and Trump provided the opening to Jane Timken(a former vice president of the Stark County Republican Party) to challenge Kasich ally and incumbent Ohio GOP chairperson Matt Borges.

Though he is way behind right now, nobody should count Renacci out.

He is one of the richest members of Congress and undoubtedly will have the financial resources to match DeWine's campaign finance warchest said to be in vicinity of $2.5 million as he opens his campaign.

Insofar as I can determine, all the Stark County players in a likely Renacci/DeWine square off as the leaders going into the May, 2018 Republican primary are supporters of the president.

Given the rocky, rocky, rocky start that Trump has had not yet six months a president, some of the players might be distancing themselves from the president as the next ten months unfold.

While DeWine is likely to be supportive of Trump, if the president runs into deeper political trouble if his polling slips significantly (let's say to about 30% of likely voters), The Report can see DeWine as the better position to separate from Trump.

For Renacci, he better hope that Trump heads in a positive polling direction and gets up in the 50% or better range nationally; for if he does not, it is hard to see how a Trump connection helps him overtake Mike DeWine.  If Trump's number continue on a southward trek, the connection could doom Renacci's run for governor.

The SCPR does not see that over the long haul that Jon Husted and Mary Taylor will be viable candidates for the Republican nomination given that she seems to be preoccupied with pressing family problems, to wit:

Husted has taken on the Hillary Clinton designation of being a Trump deplorable.  But it hard to see how he can out-Trump Jim Renacci.

Even 10 months out from the nominating election, it is easy to see that there is likely to be a battle royale between the Stark County Republican Party officialdom supporters of Mike DeWine and Jim Renacci.

One of the things that DeWine supporters will have to be wary of is "complacency" in light of one year out polls which show DeWine with a big lead.

Stark County DeWine for Governor chair Alex Zumbar (also Stark County treasurer) said that North Canton mayor David Held and former North Canton mayor Dave Johnson will be important to bring Stark in on the DeWine column in May, 2018.  However, he would not "at this time" name other DeWine supporters who will be involved in the grassroots aspect of the campaign.

I did check DeWine's Ohio secretary of state 2016 campaign finance reports to get a sense of his Stark County level of support.


Not very impressive.

One contributor from Canal Fulton, two from North Canton and a half-a-dozen, more or less, from Canton.

Which means that Creighton, Zumbar, Held and Johnson really have their work cut out for them if DeWine is to win in Stark and Creighton's area of responsibility.

If the victor (assuming it will either be DeWine or Renacci) can go on to defeat the Democratic Party nominee, Stark County wins either way the Republican Primary election turns out.

Creighton says "win or lose" she will be supporting whomever the Republican nominee for governor is coming out of the May 8, 2018 Republican Party primary election.

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