COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Congressman Warren Davidson (R-OH-08) said Saturday he is looking closely at either a run for the U.S. Senate or a bid for the Ohio Governor’s chair in ’22.
“I have considered the Ohio Senate, you know, senator for the state of Ohio. I was surprised that Senator Portman wasn’t running. And, look, it’s flattering to have my name come up in that race and frankly, in the governor’s race. So we’re taking a hard look at our options,” Davidson told FoxNews.
The Ohio Star interviewed one of Davidson’s top aides on Monday who confirmed the Congressman is looking at both races “he’s definitely looking at it; quite a few people have reached out and urged him to ‘please take a look at it,’ so he is.”
When asked if Davidson is leaning more toward contending for Ohio’s junior senate seat or for governor the aide said, “I’d say he’s looking a little harder at the race for Governor right now.”
Whether he runs for senate or the top executive position in Ohio, the race would be the first statewide campaign for the West Point graduate.
That fact does not concern Davidson’s aide who said, “he has the resume – as an Army Ranger, business owner and a two-term Congressman, he has what it takes. Yes, it would be campaigning across the entire state versus just his district but those who know Warren know he works his tail off.”
He continued “and what you see is what you get. I’ve talked with Democrats who said ‘I disagree but at least I know where he’s at;’ there’s no waffling. He stands for freedom and the things conservatives say they stand for – but his voting record and résumé prove it.”
Davidson is a member of several caucuses including House Freedom, Second Amendment and Values Action Team. He voted against impeaching President Trump, revoking funding for the border wall, and has been a pro-life advocate and public opponent of the massive run-up in U.S. debt and Joe Biden’s orders – particularly allowing transgenders to compete in female sports.
During his Saturday talk at CPAC, Davidson criticized Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine’s handling of COVID. “Governor DeWine’s approach has been overbearing. It has caused more harm than it needed to, a lot of collateral damage. And I wish he had taken more cues from Gov. DeSantis [Florida].”
Davidson said, “the biggest companies got bigger while main street was crippled.”
— CPAC 2021 (@CPAC) February 27, 2021
The Star contacted DeWine’s office to ask if the Governor had any comment on Davidson’s interest in primarying the governor and his comments about DeWine’s handling of COVID. The Governor’s Press Secretary Dan Tierney responded, “[w]e respectfully decline comment on the Congressman’s remarks.”
Tierney continued, “[W]e believe Ohio’s efforts have undoubtedly saved lives. Ohio reopened quickly in the spring compared to other states. Our efforts in schools, in particular, have made Ohio a leader in getting kids back to the classroom and reducing quarantine times for classroom exposures. We also believe Ohio’s unique approach of targeting our oldest and most vulnerable populations with vaccine availability is helping save lives as well.”
However, almost one year ago DeWine closed schools and today not all Ohio students are in the classroom five days a week. The ramification is deadly according to a top medical journal.
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported that the health consequence of the educational disruption of a median of just 54 days (Ohio is nearing 365 days) caused by COVID school closures in primary students aged 5-11 years resulted in a loss of an estimated 13.8 million years of life expectancy across the 24.2 million school children in that age range in the United States.
On the Republican side, the field of gubernatorial candidates is not yet as crowded as the senate race.
DeWine already announced his run for re-election. Despite rumors that he will contend, former U.S. Republican Rep and businessman Jim Renacci has not officially declared his candidacy. Grassroots candidate Joe Blystone announced his bid earlier this year.
The senate seat is officially sought by former Ohio GOP chairwoman Jane Timken, two-time Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, and businessman Mark Pukita; unofficial and likely to announce mid-March is Cleveland investment banker and businessman Mike Gibbons who already pledged $5 million of his own money toward his race.
Timken’s resignation from the Ohio Republican Party (ORP) and run for senate was a shakeup in the state GOP. Last week the ORP made Bob Paduchik their new Chairman. Portman’s announcement, Timken’s run and Paduchik’s election to the GOP top spot are seen by anti-establishment Republicans and even Paduchik’s opponent for the GOP chair, John Becker, as pre-wired moves.
DeWine and Paduchik are quite chummy according to a DeWine tweet over the weekend.
Congratulations to @Paduch , the new Chair of the Ohio Republican Party. He has long been a trusted advisor and friend. No one has been a better campaign manger over the last few decades than Bob, and I have the utmost confidence that he will be successful leading our @ohiogop .
— Mike DeWine (@MikeDeWine) February 26, 2021
Whoever the ORP endorses for senate and governor isn’t a shoo-in, rather it’s a matter of energy and passion according to Davidson. He made that point over the weekend when talking about a different race – elections in Georgia; but could have as easily been talking about the ’22 race for Rob Portman’s U.S. Senate seat or DeWine’s spot.
“[L]ook at Georgia. If you run somebody that doesn’t resonate with the core part of the party, they’re not going to be energized. The idea that you’re going to marginalize the coalition that has created our majorities, that implemented the policies that people liked, and they’re still going to show up and deliver vote… how we go about putting that coalition together, keeping everyone engaged… is going to make the difference,” Davidson said.
And that is what the Ohio GOP will have to wrestle with – Mike DeWine polled 23% support among likely Republican primary voters late last year. That number is almost identical to a recent survey conducted by the Ohio Value Voters (OVV), the organization which found that only 24% of likely primary voters would back the incumbent DeWine in a ’22 primary, an OVV board member told The Star.
That is an about-face, as the board member said the organization “supported DeWine early and hard” in 2018.
“The establishment will say a more conservative candidate will lose,” said a Washington insider and longtime GOP operative who asked to remain anonymous.
Trump certainly won’t endorse DeWine. Trump tweeted in mid-November that the Ohio gubernatorial primary would be “hotly contested” – after DeWine called Joe Biden “President-elect” at time when Trump was contesting election results.
The D.C. insider also believes the Trump endorsement, at least in the primary, is not as powerful in ’22 as it was in ’20. He said:
“Trump is very well liked within the GOP and there will be an impact that he’ll have on the primary. It’s important to remember that Trump himself is not on the ballot this election cycle. There is a limit on how influential his endorsement will be. I’m under the impression that at least in the primary, he will only be offering an endorsement IF he endorses at all in the primary. At this point he’s not considering spending funds on an open Senate seat primary. So, then the question is how influential is Trump’s recommendation in an open seat Senate primary?”
Trump has around $31 million dollars to give during midterm elections.
Davidson first secured his U.S. House seat in a 2016 special election when Congressman and former Speaker of the House John Boehner vacated the post. That race was hotly contested because “that is a safe GOP district,” according to the U.S. capital insider, adding there is “no shortage of candidates.”
The 2016 primary netted 15 Republican hopefuls, with Davidson winning 32.2% of the vote followed by Tim Derickson (23.9%) and Bill Beagle (19.6%). That primary was by far the toughest election battle for Davidson who defeated his Democratic challenger in the ’16 general election by 41%.
In 2018 Davidson defeated Vanessa Enoch (D) in the General Election by 33 points and again in 2020 by 38 points – 246,277 votes to 110,766.
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