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COLUMBUS, Ohio (CGE) – It would be hard, even on a bet, to find anything that Ohio GOP Chairman Kevin DeWine and former Democratic Speaker of the Ohio House Armond Budish could agree on. But there is something of statewide importance that both leaders can shake hands on, albeit for different reasons – keeping Ohio’s primary in March and not moving it to May as some lawmakers and Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted want to do.
Kevin Dewine speaks out on Ohio issues
In a telephone call with CGE Tuesday, Ohio GOP Chairman DeWine commented on a variety of issues including SB 5 and Issue 2, the performance of GOP presidential candidates in Monday’s debate in Florida, moving Ohio’s primary date from March to May and the five words he says are the right recipe to win the White House next year.
DeWine said he’s opposed to moving the date of Ohio’s primary to May from March. Speaking with reporters earlier in the day when he and National GOP Chairman Reince Priebus took turns swatting President Obama over his American Jobs Act, DeWine told CGE in a follow-up phone call that he finds a “lot of value” in having all presidential candidates “working Ohio’s Republican families on their message…and going out and meeting those Ohio voters where they live, earning the trust of Ohio’s Republican infrastructure” earlier rather than later. Second cousin to Ohio’s Attorney General, DeWine said that while he understands Secretary Husted’s concerns about having ample time to run next year’s presidential elections with an eye for administrative processing, there will be enough time for Husted and Ohio’s 88 boards of elections to successfully run a March primary if the Ohio General Assembly approves the proposed GOP redistricting plan and maps by the end of September.
As to why Budish agrees with DeWine that moving the primary date back to May, as he once was for, is a bad idea, the answer came in a media announcement he and other House Democrats made today about their withdrawal of support for the GOP redistricting maps that were introduced in the Republican-controlled legislature, where swift approval is expected. Citing the “secretive method of redistricting that Republican House leadership has chosen, and previously promised to avoid,” Budish, now Minority Leader, decided to withdraw Democratic support for HB 318, the redistricting bill which would also change the primary date from March to May.
Budish and company said the agreement to move the primary was reached to allow time for public input on Redistricting maps. But now that it’s clear that Republicans are trying to bypass a thorough public discussion of what districts should look like for the next ten years, Budish has decided the time is not ripe for bipartisanship.
DeWine on Budish: He “didn’t lead” on redistricting
Dewine noted that Budish, when he was Speaker of the Ohio House for two years starting in 2008 when he and his party won control of the House back for the first time since Democrats lost it in 1994, “didn’t lead when he had a chance.” Dewine called the public participation contest that produced 50 different versions of how Ohio’s coming 16 districts should look like an “interesting exercise.” Dewine has no illusions that any plans or map other than the plan and maps produced by Ohio Republicans will win favor with the General Assembly going forward.
On other matters, DeWine said Ohio’s loss of two congressional seats won’t detract from Ohio’s battleground state status in presidential election years. He said he hasn’t had any conversations so far with the legislature on whether their should be a capital bill and, if there is one, what should be in it. He said Gov. Kasich’s idea for a mid-biennial budget was an “interesting idea,” but one he wasn’t surprised to hear about. It’s no secret that Gov. Kasich expressed an interest early one to replace DeWine with his own loyalist. DeWine downplayed that notion to CGE.
Asked which GOP presidential candidate who took part in the Tea Party/CNN debate Monday stood out to him and would win the hearts of Ohio voters, Dewine declined to specify any one candidate. Dewine, a former elected state representative who served as one of then-House Speaker Jon Husted’s chief lieutenants, said that while Obama is a “nice enough guy, he doesn’t have what it takes to get the job done.”
Support for Obama declines
DeWine and others will point to a Bloomberg poll showing that 51 percent of Americans don’t believe that President Obama’s $446 billion jobs plan would help lower the nation’s unemployment rate, currently above the 9-point mark for the fifth consecutive month in August, as reason enough that he has an uphill grind before him to a second term. Another bad sign of faltering support for the President was seen today in a California Field Poll. The percentage of the state’s registered voters who approve of the President’s overall job performance has dropped from 54 to 46 percent. Worse still is support for him from independent voters. Their decline for him was even steeper — only 45 percent now think the president is doing a good job, compared to 58 percent in June.
The issue for GOP candidates, Dewine said, is “can they lay out a compelling vision to get the country back on track.” But to him, the winning election recipe is all about five words: jobs, taxes, spending, debt and deficit, things people care about, he said. “They want to see a plan, see a vision,” DeWine said.
Asked if the battle to save SB 5, on the November ballot this year as Issue 2, can be won, DeWine said there’s still time to squeak out a win.
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