Cartoon of an elephant with a GOP banner on his side looking wide eyed and upset

The recent reshuffling of candidates around the Ohio Republican Party’s statewide slate isn’t just the usual face-saving, self-serving game of political musical chairs that we’ve grown accustomed to from our state’s longtime ruling party. It’s another clear signal from the Buckeye contingent of the GOP that they intend to protect their power at all costs and procure more of what they’ve given us for over twenty years -- the same.

This means more non-transparent practices from crony capitalist entities like JobsOhio -- an agency that picks winners and losers at King Kasich and his cronies’ behest, while our economic and job growth stagnates compared to the rest of the country. This means more profitable businesses like the marijuana industry getting only a limited chance to fully flourish. And yes, this likely means more election rules and regulations that are rigged against minor political parties and minorities alike.

Unfortunately, those issues are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to growing up in a Republican-dominated Ohio since the 1990s. While our younger generation struggles to develop and prosper both inside and outside of the state, there’s still this strange old Republican guard that rules Ohio in such a way that it makes us all seem super lame. Who would’ve thought that a state with socially liberal tendencies in several recent elections would still have weird abortion laws on the books? Or that we’re just now legalizing a small aspect of the marijuana industry? Or that Ohio’s Attorney General (and frivolous-lawsuit-filer-in-chief) Mike DeWhat was the one who led the expensive fight against gay marriage all the way to the Supreme Court?

And let’s face it, the fact that DeWho has found himself at the top of the GOP’s statewide ticket is only due to the pre-Thanksgiving master stroke from Ohio’s Secretary of State (and vote-limiter-in-chief) Jon Husted. Jonny on the Spot saw it as a way to avoid the bloodbath that would’ve ultimately ensued between himself and his main opponent, and now the GOP can focus on extending their rule with 4-8 years of DeWhen (a proven opponent of likely Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray) followed by 4-8 years of the young buck, Husted. After all, DeWhere doesn’t have much left in him at 71, so Husted taking his place after some time in the co-pilot seat is clutch to maintaining the Republican empire.

With this move, the Kasich foes in the governor’s race are now no longer a threat. Our poor Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor has been cast aside as an insider while she campaigns as an outsider, foolishly picking some right-leaning extremist out of Cincinnati for her running mate in what will ultimately be a doomed run. And that good ol’ used car salesman and Congressman Jim Renacci will now take his brand of “fire and fury” Trump-loving politics to the Senate race against Sen. Sherrod Brown, as our State Treasurer Josh Mandel realized that his wife was too sick (or perhaps her family’s money was too precious to waste on another failed bid) for him to continue. For an unliked elected official such as Mandel -- within his own party and beyond -- it was a wise move and good riddance, especially now since Renacci’s far-right antics could serve the GOP’s needs better in Washington than in Columbus. Brown and his team will likely have their hands full, unless the GOP is pushing Renacci to fend for himself while they focus on keeping power in the state. Either way, expect calls of “fake tans” to ensue.

After all, with DeWhatever and Husted at the top of the GOP ticket, the Republicans are hoping to have the momentum and money to keep their hands in every statewide office for another eight years as well. From our Auditor David Yost’s run for attorney general to former State Senator Keith Faber’s run for auditor, the Republicans in Ohio want to keep playing the same old tunes for as long as they can. Hopefully, voters will break this stranglehold and see through the slimy veneer the Ohio Republican Party has pulled over their eyes. As I travel the country and explain my love for Ohio, many people don’t understand what our state has to offer. Beyond everyone thinking that “Kasich seemed normal” compared to Trump, people don’t understand what a strange dystopia Ohio has turned into because of these old, outdated Republican policies and their hypocritical messengers. One needs not look any further than the office of former state representative Wes Goodman to see that Ohio’s GOP specializes in saying one thing and doing another, and that’s just another tip of… Well, you get the idea.

May 2018 be the year Ohio embraces its diversity socially and economically and stops relying on the Ohio Republican Party to lead the way.

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