Bob Paduchik, who served as the Ohio state director for President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, will have “nothing to do with the Trump campaign operation in Ohio” this time around, according to Tea Party groups in the state.
As The Ohio Star reported in December, Paduchik was expected to be named state director to the reelection campaign, but it was announced Wednesday that he will be a “senior advisor,” which is just a “ceremonial” role, some say. Typically, no one on the staff of a political campaign organization reports to someone described as a “senior advisor” to that campaign.
“It is our understanding now that, in fact, he really has nothing to do with the Trump campaign operation in Ohio,” said Tom Zawistowski, president of the We the People Convention and a long-time Tea Party activist in the state.
He noted that Paduchik was removed from his role as co-chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC), but said “no one really ever explained why he was removed as co-chair of the RNC.” Rumor had it that Paduchik tried to stage a “coup of some sort” or had “gone rogue.”
“We think that this is sort of evidence that that was indeed the case,” Zawistowski said of Paduchik’s appointment as senior advisor to the Trump campaign in Ohio.
“It’s pretty clear to us that Bob Paduchik is just a political operative. He’s closely affiliated with Rob Portman. He’s really an establishment guy. Our view is that he has misled President Trump about his role in Ohio in 2016 and he’s taken a lot of credit that he really doesn’t deserve,” Zawistowski told The Ohio Star.
Several other sources confirmed to The Ohio Star that Paduchik now plays no operational role in the Trump 2020 campaign in Ohio.
President Trump softened the blow by mentioning Paduchik twice at Thursday’s rally in Cincinnati.
Paduchik in 2016
Paduchik’s relationship with the Ohio Tea Party is obviously complicated, but Zawistowski was able to offer some important background.
“The problem was Trump’s people were raising money, the RNC was sending it to the ORP [Ohio Republican Party], and the Kasich-controlled Ohio Republican Party wasn’t using the money to elect Trump,” he said when speaking with The Ohio Star over the phone Thursday.
“Literally, the Republican Party under Kasich was not only not helping Trump, they were taking money that Trump had raised and using it against him,” he added.
As a result, Trump brought in Paduchik “to form a Trump campaign separate of the Republican Party” in the state. But Paduchik was then presented with two challenges: conservatives in the state were either already working on different campaigns by that point, or they were too scared to join the Trump campaign out of fear that Kasich and his allies would retaliate.
And that’s where Zawistowski and the Ohio Tea Party come in.
“So literally half of Paduchik’s staff came from me. I had to fill out his staff,” he said. “So literally everything Bob Paduchik did with the Trump campaign in Ohio, the people who did the work were the Ohio Tea Party. But he made sure Donald Trump never knew that at all. We were never invited to meet Trump. We were never invited to their little reindeer games. And when it was all over, Bob Paduchik and his non-Tea Party team were there to take all the credit.”
It’s unclear what exactly Paduchik will be doing in his role as “senior advisor,” but, according to Zawistowski, it won’t be much.
“The question is: who’s going to be calling Bob Paduchik for anything? The answer is nobody,” he said. Since Paduchik was removed from his role as co-chair of the RNC, the RNC-appointed staff in the state likely won’t want anything to do with him, Zawistowski explained.
That doesn’t mean 2020 is going to be any better than 2016. In fact, Zawistowski said Clayton Henson, who was named regional political director for Ohio and the surrounding states, is “one of the most incompetent people we have ever met.”
“We’re all shaking our heads going, ‘what the hell is going on?’ So that’s why we announced our relationship with the NRA,” he told The Ohio Star, asking to go on record describing Henson’s role in the campaign as “frightening.”
“Few people we have ever met in our ten years involved with politics are more incompetent than this guy,” he continued.
The big issue, Zawistowski explained, is that President Trump doesn’t fully understand who elected him in Ohio.
“I don’t believe he understands that while [the Tea Party] may not be the majority of the people that elected him, two things are true: he never had a chance of being elected if the Tea Party didn’t spend seven years educating the American public about the problems in the Republican Party before he ran. And second of all, the activists, the people who actually do the work, are probably 80 percent Tea Party.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Background Photo “Trump Rally” by Hayden Schiff. CC BY 2.0.