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In a May 21, 2013 photo, Ted Stevenot, of Clermont County's Union Township carries a
Dang, this would've been a fun primary to watch:

Ohio's tea party movement will work to recruit a new primary challenger to Republican Gov. John Kasich after their first contender backed out of the race, a leading activist said Sunday.

Tom Zawistowski told The Associated Press that heavy media attention may have been a contributing factor in tea party leader Ted Stevenot's announcement late Saturday that he was withdrawing, less than a week after he'd entered the contest.

"I just don't think a lot of people in our movement have experience with the media, and it's a little overwhelming for them," Zawistowski said. "At the same time, what's really stuck in our craw is this idea of not having a choice. We have to figure out a way to do that that's manageable, and we're going to continue to try."
Tea party supporters have until Feb. 5 to field an alternative to Kasich in May's primary election. - Politico, 1/6/14

In case you're wondering, here's why Stevenot decided to call it quits:

About 72 hours earlier, Stevenot had invited reporters to a Tuesday event where he planned to formally launch a campaign with running mate Brenda Mack.

But Mack, of Canfield, has financial troubles that brought immediate reminders of FitzGerald’s first running mate, State Sen. Eric Kearney. Stevenot said his decision was not based on concerns about Mack, notes Joe Vardon of the Columbus Dispatch.

Stevenot’s potential impact on the race was a real question mark. Measuring the strength and organization of Ohio’s Tea Party and liberty groups is difficult, and some activists we’ve talked to seemed less than enthusiastic about Stevenot’s candidacy. But he did have support from some top Tea Party leaders, including Tom Zawistowski.

“It’s tough,” Zawistowski told me Saturday, after spreading word of Stevenot’s decision.

Writes Chrissie Thompson of the Cincinnati Enqurier: “At the least, the race had the potential to divide the GOP further and force Kasich to spend more money on the primary. Still, party officials did not try to persuade Stevenot to abandon his plan of running, said Matt Borges, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party.”

There remains angst on the right, though. Republican State Rep. John Adams expressed concerns about the Kasich administration Sunday in a Facebook conversation made public on the page of longtime Statehouse lobbyist Neil S. Clark. Adams is the assistant majority floor leader in the House and one of the caucus’ most conservative members. - Northeast Ohio Media Group, 1/6/14

Of course Stevenot tells a different story:

While the timing of the announcement was surprising, Stevenot said his decision was not based on any "concerns about my running mate." He also contends he is withdrawing his name from the race reluctantly, citing difficulties stemming from the fact he is a "common person."

"I (withdraw from the race) reluctantly, because I know that part of what has gone wrong with our political process is that the two major parties have made it exceedingly difficult for a common person to run for office," said Stevenot, who co-founded an insurance company in suburban Cincinnati. "This is not good for our Republic or for our citizens who, as a result, often do not have their best interests represented by elected officials."

In addition to his role in insurance business, Stevenot is past president of the Ohio Liberty Coalition, a group with a mission to "affect policy in favor of liberty," according to the organization's website.  

He said he plans to continue to play an active role in the "liberty movement," which aims to open up pathways to allow "everyday citizens" to be more actively involved in future elections.

"The liberty movement, in which I will continue to be actively engaged, is working to open up the elective process to more everyday citizens as was intended by our founding fathers," he said. "While this may not be the right time and race for me personally, I remain confident that our movement will ultimately be successful in restoring more voting freedom in the very near future.” - WCPO 9 Cincinnati, 1/6/14

Does anyone else think it's kind of funny that Stevenot, a guy who belongs to a movement funded by two billionaires, is labeling himself a "normal guy" and complaining about the two parties making it harder for regular guys to run for office?  Last time I checked, it was the Koch Brothers and their allies in the Supreme Court who opened the flood gates for the wealthy to have an even stronger grasp on our system thanks to Citizens United.  Yes, the Tea Party started out as a grassroots campaign founded by Ron Paul's most ardent supporters but they certainly gave the Koch Brothers a big old bear hug and happily let them co-op their movement.  So Stevenot better take a good look in the mirror and at his movement because he has no one but himself to blame.

So while Kasich has caught a little bit of a break, it looks like Democrats may or may not have a primary on their hands:

If the Democrats and their front-runner candidate Ed FitzGerald, from Cleveland, continue to stumble should his second pick for running mate not be unimpeachable, or if an intra-party person like Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune, who has tossed his name into the hopper for governor, decides competition is what's needed to force Team FitzGerald to shape up or ship out, the result, if not the exact vote count for the 2014 General Election, may already be a foregone conclusion.

With just 35 days left until the February 5th deadline arrives for candidates to file their official papers, is this an opportune or inopportune time for the 55-year old Portune, regarded as left of center on social issues and a fiscal conservative, to shake up the race for governor in November?

"I am entering this because I feel a real sense of responsibility,” Portune recently told his hometown newspaper, The Cincinnati Enquirer. "There needs to be a choice."

At a Cincinnati event where he was accompanied by about two dozen supporters, Portune, who has represented Southwest Ohio for 20 years, first as a Cincinnati City Councilman, then beginning in 2000 as a Hamilton County Commissioner, said he and others know there are disturbances in the Democratic force coming from inner circles.

FitzGerald, a former FBI special agent and Mayor of Lakewood who was elected the first Cuyahoga County Executive, has a mountain to climb, which was made even steeper when he tripped over the starting line in the debacle that ended this fall three weeks after his choice for Lt. Governor running mate withdrew following an avalanche of stories about the federal and state tax debts he and his wife accumulated over many years of running a publishing company whose newspaper focused on the African-American community in southwestern Ohio.

Saying he's had enough conversations to learn there appears to be "an appetite to have a choice in the May primary," Portune also acknowledged that entering the race as a competitor to FitzGerald would cause problems for Democrats, who prefer not to have a contested primary to avoid a costly battle that will only bring smiles to the faces of Gov. Kasich and his allied campaign forces. - Examiner, 1/2/14

Personally, I'm still on Team FitzGerald.  If you would like to learn more about FitzGerlad's campaign, you can go here:

Originally posted to pdc on Mon Jan 06, 2014 at 05:41 PM PST.

Also republished by Central Ohio Kossacks, KasichWatch, and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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