OH-Gov: Rep. Jim Renacci (R) is in

As has been expected for some time, four-term Rep. Jim Renacci (R) announced today that he will enter the crowded GOP primary for Ohio Governor. The open Ohio Governor’s race seems likely to be the cycle’s most chaotic primary contest, on both sides. Renacci joins a titanic four-way collision with AG Mike DeWine (R), LG Mary Taylor (R), and SoS Jon Husted (R). He has a base in his suburban Akron and Cleveland based district, and independent wealth that will allow him to go toe-to-toe with his three statewide-elected rivals. Ideologically, Renacci seems to be trying to stake out a niche as the most populist/Trump-friendly candidate. Democrats are likely to see a crowded primary as well, with ex-Rep. Betty Sutton (D), State Sen. Joe Schiavoni (D), and ex-State Rep. Connie Pillich (D) already in the race and many others considering.

As for Renacci’s OH-16, the formerly light-red seat has been trending right in recent years and had a PVI of R+9 in 2016. The mostly-suburban and exurban seat stretches from the southwest suburbs of Cleveland around the south and west sides of Akron, with small pieces of the Canton area and some rural areas west of Canton as well.

The most obvious potential candidate is one of Renacci’s gubernatorial rivals, LG Mary Taylor (R), who could easily drop down to this race and be the clear front-runner if she decides she doesn’t like the way her polling for Gov is looking. State Sen. Frank LaRose (R), who has been looking at an SoS run, could also find this race a greener pasture. Beyond them, State Rep. Tom Patton (R), a former State Senate GOP leader, could have strong institutional support if he runs, but an incident last year in which he said his opponent couldn’t be an effective legislator because she was a mother could come back to bite him. State Senate President Larry Obhof (R) and young State Rep. Christina Hagan (R) also look like potentially strong candidates. Cuyhaoga County GOP chair Ron Frost (R), State Reps. Scott Wiggam (R) and Kristina Roegner (R), and Wayne county commissioner Ron Amstutz (R) have all been great-mentioned.

Democrats will have a tough time flipping this seat but may make a play for it if they are serious about putting the House in play. Ex-Parma Mayor Dean DePiero (D) looks like the most serious potential Dem candidate, and he has already said that he will consider a run for the open seat. There is also a possibility that Sutton, who lost to Renacci in 2012 after her seat was subsumed into this one by redistricting, could drop down from the Gov race. But overall any GOP nominee will be a relatively strong favorite to hold the seat.

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31 Comments

  • formerbuckeye March 20, 2017 at 10:39 am

    Two other names worth great mentioning for OH-16: State Rep. Scott Oelslager and State Sen. Kirk Schuring. Both are term limited in 2018 and will probably flip seats again, but I could see one of them running. Schuring ran for an earlier iteration of this seat in 2008.

    • Mayor Perk March 20, 2017 at 3:40 pm

      Groan. Oelslager is way too pro-labor for my tastes.


      30. OH-12. Establishment Republican.

  • krazen1211 March 20, 2017 at 11:04 am

    I think someone might drop down to LG if that seat is open.

    • formerbuckeye March 20, 2017 at 11:14 am

      Ohio LGs run as a team in the primary. With this many candidates running, it will be fascinating to see who people get as running mates!

  • HS March 20, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    There are way too many Republicans running for Governor in OH. I could see a brutal primary, followed by a weakened winner who goes on to lose to a Democrat in a mid-term election. I could especially see DeWine squeaking through, and being upset, as a long-time politician.

    • shamlet March 20, 2017 at 1:08 pm

      Yeah, this primary is wayyy too crowded. I would hope Taylor in particular drops down to this race which would probably be hers for the asking rather than going for the 25% shot of the gubernatorial nomination. All four are solid pols in their own ways and it’ll be a shame to lose three of them in an instant.


      R, MD-7. Process is more important than outcome.

    • Mayor Perk March 20, 2017 at 2:51 pm

      As a long time Senator, Congressman, LG, DeWine starts out the favorite as long as it remains a 4-way race. I don’t think Renacci can build up his statewide profile to compete but I suppose anyone could sneak through now.

      If I’m Husted, I’m dropping down to LG and trying my best to pick the winning horse. Approach that candidate now with the idea of Husted being LG. He’s the youngest of the bunch at 50. He’s got time to become Governor one day.


      30. OH-12. Establishment Republican.

      • Republican Michigander March 20, 2017 at 4:17 pm

        It’ll be interesting to see what the NRA does. Have they forgiven DeWine?


        MI-08 - Michigan is a red state again. We need a 50 state strategy and an 83 county strategy.

    • krazen1211 March 20, 2017 at 4:08 pm

      I like Dewine and I think he was screwed by Bob Taft but retreads have been a poor idea. But one of these 4 might be better than Mandel for Senate.

      Real shame about Dewine. I think he could have won if he was up in 2008 rather than 2006.

      • cincojotas March 20, 2017 at 6:22 pm

        given the margin, I’m not sure.

        • BostonPatriot March 20, 2017 at 7:21 pm

          Ohio was a slaughterhouse for the GOP up and down the ticket in 2006. DeWine got crushed but he still outran the top of the ticket (OH-Gov) by 7%. He would have had to outrun McCain by only 3% to hold his seat in 2008. But Obama brought in a lot of straight-ticket Dem coattails that year, so finding 3% of Obama-DeWine voters still would have been a heavy lift.

          • shamlet March 20, 2017 at 7:50 pm

            Remember that Taft was probably an even bigger drag on the GOP ticket than Bush in ’06. It’s really hard to find an analogy for the state-level condition in OH that year just because there were so many bombs going off at the same time: Taft’s scandal which implicated the state party, the national wave, a divisive Gov primary that nominated a weak candidate, and then the Ney scandal on top of everything.


            R, MD-7. Process is more important than outcome.

            • The Emperor March 20, 2017 at 7:55 pm

              However, only Ney’s house seat fell that year. All the swing districts held by Republicans were retained in 2006 even with the anti-Taft wave. The Dems then carried three in 2008


              male/21/R/TX-22, CA-52/originally CA-45, KS-03
              Rubio Republican

              • krazen1211 March 20, 2017 at 8:02 pm

                True, but Regula and Pryce were incumbents in 2006 and vacated the seats in 2008. So there’s 2 of the 3 losses. The overall state House PV was roughly the same in both elections.

                Overall, we’ve had big Ohio sweeps in 2004, 2010, 2014, and 2016. I don’t think its a tier 1 swing state anymore like it used to be. Something else needs to join in FL/PA/XX.

                I am bullish on Ohio in 2018 especially as Brown keeps getting out fundraised and only got 50% of the vote last time.

                • The Emperor March 20, 2017 at 8:08 pm

                  Michigan could easily become a tier one swing state along with Wisconsin (although I think the close race in Wisconsin was due to Trump not getting Ron Johnson numbers in WOW)


                  male/21/R/TX-22, CA-52/originally CA-45, KS-03
                  Rubio Republican

  • edtorres04 March 20, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    This state (along with PA) needs a Mitch Daniels/Jeb/Scott Walker type governor. I’m not sure if any of these candidates fit that bill.

    • Mayor Perk March 20, 2017 at 3:36 pm

      Renacci would probably fit the bill the best out of the lot.


      30. OH-12. Establishment Republican.

      • jncca March 20, 2017 at 3:38 pm

        Skeptical. None of those three are fans of Trump at all.


        24, CA-6. Part Obama, Part May, Part Christian Democrat.

    • CTIronman March 20, 2017 at 4:12 pm

      Ohio Republicans have basically cornered the market on being careerist disappointments. They aren’t even quirky on non fiscal issues

      • krazen1211 March 20, 2017 at 4:37 pm

        Kasich was that for a short while after he squeaked out the upset in 2010. After senate bill 5 he became the gigantic msnbc Republican crap stain that he is today.

        • CTIronman March 20, 2017 at 5:27 pm

          Voinovich, Taft & Kasich. An uninspiring lot indeed

          • The Emperor March 20, 2017 at 5:44 pm

            Voinovich I can understand, him being a pol from Cleveland itself (though his record as mayor was pretty good). As for the others, why are there so many uninspiring squishes from Ohio? At least Pennsylvania Republicans have the excuse of needing to get votes from the Philly suburbs – at least before the Pittsburgh drifted so far to the right.


            male/21/R/TX-22, CA-52/originally CA-45, KS-03
            Rubio Republican

            • Son_of_the_South March 20, 2017 at 5:47 pm

              Well, OH was also very swingy until last year.


              24, R, TN-09
              Classical liberals are a minority. Fusionism is the answer.

              • Red Oaks March 20, 2017 at 8:32 pm

                Well Wisconsin and Michigan are similar states that have been consistently more Democratic at the top of the ticket but produce Republicans that are clearly to the right of Ohio.

                A few pet theories on why:
                1. Kind of like in Kansas, Ohio Republicans have too much institutional strength for their own good. Even during the Great Depression they held up reasonably well compared to other large states. Consequently lots of ambitious but ideologically unprincipled politicians join the GOP and drag it towards an uninspiring middle ground.
                2. Ohio Democrats have been generally unsuccessful at winning the governorship and when they have they never seemed to produce a Jim Blanchard style figure that really riles up the GOP base and inspires a populist conservative revolt for reform.
                3. Ohio has an overall constitutional and governing structure that makes lasting conservative reform difficult so many elected officials don’t even really bother trying. It has been noted many times here that without supermajority votes in the legislature it is tough to prevent controversial laws from being subject to referendums. Also Ohio doesn’t have many constitutional constraints on taxes and spending – no CO style TABOR, no requirement that income taxes be flat, no MI style Headlee Amendment or Proposal A, etc. The Buckeye state is also highly unusual in one way when it comes to taxes – it is one of only a handful of states that allows local levels of government to levy both sales taxes and income taxes. Most states only allow just local sales taxes or just local income taxes and some have neither. Therefore local governments in Ohio are pretty powerful and tend not to be great breeding grounds for limited government pols. Plus any serious attempt to reform government means going after lots of these powerfully entrenched local machines.


                MI-03: Tired of Presidency; Focused more on downballot races; Chris Afendoulis for State Senate

                • GOPTarHeel March 20, 2017 at 8:58 pm

                  Yea, ideally there should be a balance between principled and pragmatic wings of a party. Wisconsin is probably the gold standard there. PA/OH produce more than their share of power hungry operators. On the other hand all the pragmatic NC Republicans seem to go to Washington, because our state level politicians are ideological lunatics.


                  R/NC-13. I'll never regret a vote that resulted in Neil Gorsuch.

                  • Red Oaks March 20, 2017 at 9:28 pm

                    “Ideological lunatics”?

                    Does that mean you dislike the 2011-2014 Tillis era reforms in NC?


                    MI-03: Tired of Presidency; Focused more on downballot races; Chris Afendoulis for State Senate

  • Son_of_the_South March 20, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    I’m really hoping for a successor from the Clevelamd suburbs/exurbs. It would make redistricting a lot easier.


    24, R, TN-09
    Classical liberals are a minority. Fusionism is the answer.

    • krazen1211 March 20, 2017 at 4:57 pm

      I’m guessing you mean the Cuyahoga County suburbs? Renacci was the mayor of Wadsworth in Medina County, which is in the Cleveland MSA (but 40 miles away). The 2021 OH-xx (replacement of the 16th) is going to have a lot of overlap with Dennis Kucinich’s old 10th from 2002-2010.

      • Mayor Perk March 20, 2017 at 5:22 pm

        While in Medina County, Wadsworth is more an Akron suburb.


        30. OH-12. Establishment Republican.

        • Son_of_the_South March 20, 2017 at 5:38 pm

          Yeah, and another Akron-area would be ok. I just really don’t want someone from Wooster. That would be way too close to Gibbs.


          24, R, TN-09
          Classical liberals are a minority. Fusionism is the answer.

  • Mayor Perk March 20, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    I think LaRose will switch to OH-16. He has a good Iraq war veteran bio. He’d had to look out for a Trumpist candidate in either a SoS or OH-16 R primary though. Spicer recently backed out of a DC fund raiser for LaRose and I think Trump would relish putting his thumb on the scale against somebody who refused to back him in the wake of the Billy Bush tape.


    30. OH-12. Establishment Republican.

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