The Ohio Republican Party and some of its supported candidates should be ashamed of their conduct in the 2014 primary election. As the election season draws to a close, some in the Republican establishment have not only escalated attacks on conservative candidates who are challenging incumbents, but the Ohio Republican Party (ORP) has violated its own bylaws in the process.
Article VI, Section 2(d) of the “Republican State Central and Executive Committee of Ohio Permanent Rules” states,
“No Ohio Republican Party candidate services shall be used to attack any other Republican candidate in a primary election. Ohio Republican Party candidate services will only be used in a primary campaign when the candidate is supported in accordance with the primary policy guidelines.”
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Nevertheless, at least twice in the final week before the election, the ORP has violated that rule, sending out two glossy postcards attacking Republican Caleb Davenport, who is challenging incumbent Sen. Frank LaRose in Ohio’s 27th Senate District. Unable to attack Davenport on his voting record, because he has not yet held elected office, the pro-Larose mailers imply that Davenport voted a certain way. “Caleb Davenport Opposed Tax Cuts,” screams one headline, adding that he “abandoned conservative principles when he OPPOSED a bill that delivered one of the largest tax cuts in Ohio History.” Referring to HB 59, the biennial budget, the mailer gives the impression that Davenport voted against the tax cuts contained in it, though he has never cast a vote in the Ohio legislature. Another mailer proclaims that “Caleb Davenport Ignored the Pro-Life Cause” saying that he “opposed the most important pro-life bill in Ohio” and “Politician Caleb Davenport said NO to House Bill 59.”
These are the tactics of the Left coming from the Ohio Republican Party. Chairman Matt Borges is not fit to lead the ORP if he endorses these kinds of dishonest attacks against fellow-Republicans.
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The Ohio Republican Party has spent more than $50,000 to convince voters in the 27th District that LaRose is a conservative. Yet a true conservative would not have to defend his credibility to his constituents.
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The truth is that LaRose was the sole Republican sponsor of SB 125, a bill that is a direct attack on the religious liberties as it would make sexual identity a special, protected class in the state and elevate their rights over those of people of faith. LaRose also doesn’t think Planned Parenthood, the nation’s top abortion provider, should be completely defunded, even though Planned Parenthood is an independently wealthy organization that has raked in over $500 million in profits over the last several years, deriving 37% of that income from performing abortions. Though he voted for the massive state budget that deprioritized Planned Parenthood funding, LaRose would not commit to defunding it completely, which is part of the reason he scored a paltry 60% on Ohio Right to Life’s questionnaire. Caleb Davenport, on the other hand, scored 100% pro-life, earning him Ohio Right to Life PAC’s endorsement. Davenport has also been endorsed by Ohio ProLife Action, Citizens for Community Values Action PAC, Gun Owners of Ohio, Ohio Citizens PAC, Family First PAC, COAST, Ohioans for Educational Freedom, and Cuyahoga Valley Republicans while LaRose has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association, The Ohio Republican Party, The Summit County Republican Party, and The Akron Beacon Journal.
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To hide from his record, Sen. LaRose and his friends in the ORP want voters to think that Davenport has been the one in the legislature voting and introducing bills that hurt Ohioans. The truth is that Caleb Davenport has not held elected office, nor has he cast a single ballot in the legislature. While Davenport has said that he did not agree with some of the provisions of HB 59, in fact, the most conservative members of the Ohio legislature voted against House Bill 59 (the biennial budget) because it increased spending in the state and raised some taxes. It should be noted that Ohio Right to Life does not score these budget votes as pro-life votes.
Voting for a massive omnibus spending bill that includes a few pro-life provisions does not give a candidate pro-life credibility — it gives him cover. And going along with the Party and voting for a budget bill that raised sales taxes by 22%, eliminated the Homestead Exemption for seniors, required homeowners to pay 100% of new levies, and increased state spending by 11.4% does not make one a conservative budget hawk.
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Sen. LaRose has every advantage in this election: incumbency, state and national financial backing, and a reconfigured district that marginalized conservative Wayne County in favor of a more liberal swath of Summit County. Almost everyone thinks that he has a clear path to victory in this primary. Yet for some reason, the ORP felt the need to “flood the zone” with dozens of mailers, not only supporting LaRose, but attacking his more conservative opponent. The only thing the ORP will accomplish with this move is to further alienate the conservative base of the Party.
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In recent interviews, LaRose has blamed “right wing bloggers” for divisions in the Republican Party, saying he hoped we could all come together after the primary. There seems to be a fundamental lack of self-awareness on the part of both LaRose and the Matt Borges wing of the Ohio Republican Party. They refuse to take responsibility for policies that divide the Party, such as Medicaid expansion, LaRose’s so-called “equality” bill, and the relentless attacks on conservatives. The only reasonable conclusion is that the ORP has written off conservatives— they now believe they can win elections without the base.
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While it may be true in the short run, in the long run, the policies that conservatives are warning will hurt Ohioans will catch up with the establishment wing of the Party. Eventually, this charade of “conservatives-in-name-only” will be revealed and the ORP will be scrambling to get the base to fall back in line in time for the 2016 presidential election. But at some point, conservatives will grow weary and say ‘Enough!’— they will stop crawling back to the Party that no longer represents their values. No one wants that to happen, but the ORP seems to be forcing the hand of the conservative base by demanding allegiance to a milquetoast party with moderate—and sometimes even liberal—values.
Paula Bolyard describes herself as a Christian first, conservative second, and Republican third. She is a member of the Wayne County Executive Committee and is owner and moderator of the Ohio Homeschool Yahoo! Group. She is a contributor at PJ Media Lifestyle, PJ Media, and RedState.
All opinions expressed belong solely to their authors and may not be construed as the opinions of other writers or of OCR staff.