Donald Trump, the upcoming leader of the free world, waded into a minor state race in Ohio on Thursday, personally calling members of the Ohio Republican Party to advance a petty dispute he has with Gov. John Kasich. The president-elect reportedly called several Ohioans who have a vote in the election for the party's chairperson, advocating Jane Timken — a Cincinnati native and Trump supporter — for the role.
His endorsement comes at the expense of incumbent Matt Borges, who was installed as the chairman in 2013 with the help and backing of Kasich.
Trump's sudden interest in a state-level race in Ohio is not all that shocking considering he and the state's governor engaged in a hostile campaign for the GOP nomination. In 2016, Kasich provided a more benevolent voice in a campaign that featured callous policy proposals. When Trump touted a Muslim registry, Kasich responded with an ad blasting the business mogul for his xenophobia.
After Kasich pulled out of the race, the governor refused to back his party's candidate.
"Donald Trump is a man I cannot and should not support," Kasich said in a statement once a video leaked of Trump speaking lewdly about women. When asked later in an interview if Kasich would cast a vote for Trump, the governor said it was "highly unlikely" because there was "too much water under the bridge."
Now Trump, who loves a good revenge plotline, apparently sees a chance to get back at his political rival by throwing his weight in this state race. Greg Simpson, an Ohioan who received a call from Trump about the upcoming election, told the Cincinnati Enquirer about the call: "This is the leader-of-the-free-world-to-be, and you would think of all the appointments that he's doing and all the people he's filling his cabinet with and getting ready for the inauguration, why would he take the time out to call me?"
Kasich, for his part, has also made his own phone calls to defend Borges and said in a statement, "He has done an outstanding job running a complex organization and has an unparalleled record of winning,"
The Ohio Republican Party, governed by a 66-member body, will select a new leader on Friday.
UPDATE: Donald Trump's pick has been named chair of the GOP.
— Chrissie Thompson (@CThompsonENQ) January 6, 2017