ICYMI: Ohio GOP Forum Showcases Ugly Republican Primary

In case you missed it… The Ohio Republican candidates for governor participated in a forum last night — and guess who was their main target of ire?

Ohio’s Republican governor.Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper said:

“The Ohio Republican primary is turning into a chaotic free-for-all, characterized by ugly attack ads and stinging rebukes to the sitting Republican governor. The Republican candidates are tripping over one another in a desperate race to the right, but the voters of Ohio want a governor who cares about them and their problems, not political attacks and partisan ideology. Above all, Ohioans want proactive, positive solutions to the very real problems facing our state, but every one of the Republican candidates represents the same, failed status quo.”

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Cleveland.com: John Kasich comes under fire from GOP gubernatorial candidates at Sunday forum

There’s one elected official in Ohio the Republican candidates for governor seemed to have a problem with Sunday night: Republican Gov. John Kasich.

During a forum hosted by Citizens for Community Values at Genoa Church in Westerville, Ohio, U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, Attorney General Mike DeWine, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and Secretary of State Jon Husted tried to put as much distance between themselves and the term-limited Kasich as possible.

Famed pollster Frank Luntz asked each of the candidates about Kasich and his conservative credentials. The answers ranged from lukewarm to questioning if Kasich was even a Republican.

At the end of the forum, Luntz pleaded with the candidates to keep it civil for the sake of political discourse.

However, the campaigns have already turned toxic. Ohio Conservatives for Change, a super PAC supporting Husted, already hit Renacci for comments Renacci made about not needing drug education in schools.

Renacci returned fire, calling Husted a liberal.

Renacci also released an ad called “Fat Cats” that featured three humans dressed as cats who bear a striking resemblance to DeWine, Husted and Taylor occupying the governor’s office. The ad criticizes the “Columbus Fat Cats” for failing to be true conservatives.

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The Trump-backing congressman also crossed swords with Trump-critic Kasich — who was not a crowd favorite based on Luntz’s questioning of the audience — saying, Kasich “lost some of those (Republican) values. … We cannot have a governor who comes in with Republican values and who goes out with Democrat or independent values.”

The secretary of state also joined other candidates in pointing out what they saw as missteps by Kasich as he refused to endorse or vote for Trump and remains a regular critic on TV news shows.

When Kasich decided to run for president, “he took his eye off the ball a bit in Ohio,” Husted said. Ohioans have become frustrated with the governor “for not supporting the president and maybe undermining him on occasion,” Husted said.

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Renacci’s voice cracked with emotion when he recalled how Kasich called him when his father died. But that didn’t stop him from offering this critique: “This is problematic. We cannot have a governor who comes in with Republican values and goes out with Democrat values or independent values and think that the state is going in the right direction.”

Renacci, a successful businessman who backed Trump for president, sidestepped a chance to criticize the president. “He speaks in a different way than I would speak but he also is saying what people are thinking,” Renacci said of Trump.

Husted named Ulysses S. Grant and Abraham Lincoln among his political heroes, noting that the two ended slavery, united the nation and rebuilt after the Civil War.

He said Kasich started off as a good governor but took his eye off Ohio when he decided to run for president. “By and large, we were willing to accept that because we voted for him to be our nominee for president. But I think since that time, people have been really frustrated that he didn’t go to Cleveland and support Trump in the convention, that he seems to with his word not support the president or undermine the president on occasion, and that he is not as focused on Ohio as he once was.”

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