State representative candidate Joe Dills may have been unendorsed by both the Clermont County Republican Party and the Ohio Republican Party — but the question on many people’s minds is why he was endorsed in the first place, when the state party leader once said she would steer clear of making endorsements in primaries and that she wanted to unite the party.
Dills told WKRC he was not surprised the Ohio Republican Party took back its endorsement of his campaign.
“I’m not surprised at all,” said Dills. “The Columbus insiders, the swamp, have been backing Jean Schmidt since day one. They’ve been trying to bully me out of this race for a long time.”
The state party pulled the endorsement it after it was revealed Dills had signed up for an account on Ashley Madison, a website married people use to find others for sex. And there was more.
FAR Public Affairs LLC, the House GOP’s campaign arm, provided leaders with 116 pages of opposition research on Dills, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
The document detailed tax liens, traffic records and allegations of shoving his ex-wife.
“Joe Dills clearly isn’t ready for this public exposure. It’s only going to get worse,” according to the document which included research by FAR Public Affairs LLC.
Ohio Republican Party Chairwoman Jane Timken asked Dills to withdraw from the March 17 primary, WOSU said. Party leaders decided not to endorse anyone in the race for the 65th state House district. The other candidates are former U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt and pistol instructor Dillon Blevins.
This sort of party rivalry is what Timken once vowed to avoid.
Timken ran for the party leadership post in 2017 as a challenger to incumbent leader Matt Borges, The Repository (of Canton) said. Some saw the race as a proxy of the feud between then-Gov. John Kasich and President Donald Trump, because Borges supported Kasich and Timken supported Trump.
Timken said she could bring unity to the party.
But has she brought unity?
The Plain Dealer reported that the state party’s central committee failed to endorse several of House Speaker Larry Householder’s favorite primary candidates and also backed Dills instead of Schmidt, one of Householder’s allies. The party also did not endorse Christina Hagan, a former state legislator who is running against incumbent U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH-13).
Endorsements are big because those candidates not only have bragging rights but also access to the state party’s voter data and discounted rates on advertising mailers.
Early in her term, Timken kept up the unity call and said that included not taking sides in rivalries within the party and not getting involved in primaries, The Repository said in 2018.
At that time, she stayed out of the primary race for the 16th Congressional District. That did not stop her husband, wealthy businessman Tim Timken, from hosting a fundraiser for one of the candidates, former NFL player Anthony Gonzalez.
So the question is, how does Jane Timken define party unity?
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.