Former Ohio Republican Congressman Jim Renacci has a hopeful outlook for conservatism in the Buckeye State, though he expects progress to require serious toil and soul-searching, as well as new leadership.
Renacci, who represented the 16th U.S. House District southwest of Cleveland and now chairs American Greatness PAC, spoke with The Ohio Star recently about the forum series his organization is commencing on September 15 in the Akron area and about other upcoming milestones for Ohio’s center-right movement.
“Conservatives continue to want the same thing,” he said, “but we have so many groups and so many different faces and so many different ways that we’re going about things that until conservatives learn how to come together and work together, conservatives will never win. And that’s one of the problems I see but it’s also one of the things I hope to explore: How do we start to come together?”
Renacci cited this year’s GOP gubernatorial nomination contest in which conservatives were divided between Renacci’s own candidacy and Joe Blystone’s. Moderate Republican Governor Mike DeWine ended up getting nominated for another four-year term, evidently with substantial support of non-Republicans who were able to vote in Ohio’s open primary.
The panel event with conservative leaders on the 15th, which will also feature an array of nonprofit booths, will take place at the Thirsty Cowboy in Medina. Bob Frantz of WHK Radio in Cleveland, Republican State Central Committeeman Shannon Burns, Jack Windsor of the Ohio Press Network, and former U.S. Senate candidate Mike Gibbons, as well as representatives of Ohio Gun Owners, the Buckeye Institute, the Committee for a Better Ohio, Protect Ohio Children, and the Ohio Christian Alliance will all take part in the discussion.
Renacci said his organization is talking to potential speakers in Licking and Delaware counties as well as Cincinnati for upcoming forums in those places. The dates and locations for those events are still being determined.
“We’re getting a lot of people who want to be involved, so it’s going to be a good event,” he said. “I think September 15 will be the first of many good events.”
The former lawmaker provided further comment on another event of importance to right-leaning Buckeye Staters: The Ohio Republican Party (ORP) reorganization meeting on September 9, during which ORP Vice Chair Bryan Williams plans to challenge current Chair Bob Paduchik. Conservative and reform-minded committee candidates did well in this summer’s election, which is why many of them feel they are poised to oust Paduchik over a number of concerns. Those include questions about the transparency of party finances, the decision to remove committeepersons from subcommittees after they raised that issue, and Paduchik’s support for endorsing candidates in contested races.
“Bob Paduchik has lost the party,” Renacci said. “Anytime that you run an organization where you are throwing people off committees, endorsing improperly, funding without following the bylaws, and then you have a wave of conservatives taking over and defeating some of the candidates who have been around a long, long time, it tells you that Bob Paduchik has actually, in my opinion, damaged the Ohio Republican Party. That doesn’t mean that Bob Paduchik’s a bad person, he’s just not a chairman; a chairman has to understand that you need to bring people together, you can’t just run them over.”
Renacci voiced optimism about the possibility of Williams as ORP leader.
“I think he’ll be a great replacement for Bob Paduchik as chairman,” Renacci said.
One political figure about which Renacci is not as optimistic from a conservative-policy standpoint is DeWine, who he criticized for implementing too stringent a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and for other stances. The ex-congressman said he congratulated the governor and offered to help his effort both during his initial run and after DeWine defeated Renacci for the nomination this year, though the latter says he has not heard back.
“Mike DeWine has pretty much made a decision that he’s going to continue to do what he’s doing – he’s successful at it,” Renacci said. “I mean, his success comes from having Democrats support him. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve often said he is not a conservative Republican, but he’s been successful so, because he’s been successful, he has not seemed to reach out and care about what the conservative base wants or doesn’t want.”
Upcoming plans Renacci has for American Greatness PAC and its conservative partners in the state include creating a legislative scorecard similar to the Texas Scorecard to hold Ohio lawmakers accountable for their policy decisions.
Tickets for the September 15 American Greatness forum are $20 each. They can be purchased by going to https://checkout.square.site/buy/BHPOID3ZG3FIJIZZLLZDWFO5
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