Ever since he muscled through Obamacare's Medicaid expansion in his state, defying Ohio's Republican-controlled state Legislature in the process, GOP Gov. John Kasich has been hearing threats from the right that his days as the Buckeye State's chief executive are numbered. And with news of a pending announcement of a primary challenge, Ohio's Tea Party has finally made good on its promise.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, Ted Stevenot, a Cincinnati business owner and former head of the Ohio Liberty Coalition, will soon announce his plan to challenge Kasich in this year's Republican primary. Stevenot also plans to soon declare his pick for co-candidate and prospective lieutenant governor: Brenda Mack, former president of the Ohio Black Republicans Association.
If the Stevenot-Mack ticket were to collect 1,000 valid signatures from registered voters and submit them to the secretary of state by Feb. 5, Kasich would become the first sitting Ohio governor to face a primary challenge since Gov. James A. Rhodes was opposed by Charles Kurfess in 1978.
Kasich would have a vast advantage in name recognition and campaign cash over Stevenot, who couldn’t start raising money until last month. But at a minimum, Stevenot’s candidacy would show that a group of tea party conservatives – unknown in size but vocal in their opposition to Kasich’s acceptance of of $2.56 billion in federal money under the Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid – has taken its frustration with the Republican governor to another level.