Grassroots Campaign Paying off for Renacci as Another Big Endorsement Rolls In


“Our campaign to deliver accountable conservative leadership to Ohio continues to surge and we are thrilled to have the support of the Republican Party of Cuyahoga County,” said Renacci. 

Cuyahoga County is the latest to endorse conservative Jim Renacci as the Republican candidate for governor, creating an upset that took Mike Dewine by surprise. DeWine was physically present, expecting a rubber stamp endorsement, but via a secret ballot, the  voters chose Renacci.

Renacci says this is a perfect example of what happens when the individual party members make a decision instead of the party administrators. DeWine's endorsements have all been determined by the party administrators, unlike Butler and Clermont Counties where the actual members made the decision to endorse Renacci. Renacci has also been endorsed by the Strongsville GOP and the conservative We The People Commission. 

See the full story below:

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio – Gov. Mike DeWine showed up at the Cuyahoga County Republican Party endorsement meeting Saturday expecting a victory. Instead, challenger Jim Renacci grabbed the GOP endorsement.

“Our campaign to deliver accountable conservative leadership to Ohio continues to surge and we are thrilled to have the support of the Cuyahoga County Republican Party,” Renacci told The Ohio Press Network (OPN).

DeWine entered the Independence Civic Center to cheers from members of his welcoming committee—people who are part of the DeWine reelection campaign who attended to whip support. The mood quickly changed, however, when the governor entered the event space where members of the county central committee and executive committee were assembled.

“He was clearly booed by the crowd when he was introduced to the members,” said Cuyahoga County Republican Party Central and Executive Committee member Shannon Burns, who spoke to the group on behalf of Renacci Saturday. Burns also serves on the Ohio Republican Party State Central Committee (ORP SCC).

“That’s why they didn’t have DeWine come out of his basement to attend the Ohio Republican Party State Central Committee meeting in February because he would have been booed there too,” Burns told OPN.

DeWine was endorsed at a contentious ORP SCC meeting on February 18 but didn’t bother to attend the meeting. His challenger, Jim Renacci, attended but was not permitted to talk before an endorsement vote was cast. DeWine won the endorsement 36-26. Seventeen of the individuals who are members of the State Central Committee are employed by DeWine or were appointed or re-appointed by him.

OPN contacted the DeWine and Husted campaign and asked for a comment on the endorsement that appeared to have gotten away from them, but spokesperson Tricia McLaughlin would not provide a comment.

A resolution was on Saturday’s agenda that would have called for a vote to endorse DeWine but after the meeting began and the time for the vote arrived, a move to replace DeWine’s name with Renacci’s was made. 

It was at this point that DeWine exited -- before the results were reported.  The vote was taken by secret ballot and successfully made the switch.

“DeWine’s team worked the list of committee members before the meeting and thought they had the votes, which is why the governor was there. The secret ballot was important because it allowed people to do what they truly wanted to without fear of repercussion,” Burns said.

Next, a division of the room vote was taken, and Renacci’s endorsement was approved by 50 more than opposed: 123-73.

“That’s consistent with the polling. DeWine has about 37% support based on polling we’re performing and reviewing. DeWine’s support is soft and Blystone is faltering. There is no doubt at this point in my mind that Renacci has the wind at his back,” said Burns.

An Emerson College poll released late February showed DeWine leading with 34% of the vote, but another poll conducted in March by Beacon/Shaw Research showed the 40-year-politician with 50% of the vote among poll respondents.

However, in the Beacon/Shaw survey DeWine had a 63% favorable rating and a 34% unfavorable number, but only 28% “strongly” favored DeWine.

For contrast, 78% of the same people polled gave former President Donald Trump a favorable mark with 58% of them “strongly” favoring the 45th president. If Trump weighs in on the gubernatorial race, his vote of confidence will matter and conservative Republicans don’t have the strength of support for DeWine as they do for Trump.

Joe Blystone delivered a stump speech to the Cuyahoga County crowd. OPN contacted the Canal Winchester farmer for comment, but he did not respond. Ron Hood, the fourth Republican in the race, did not attend.

Renacci is a resident of Wadsworth in Medina County, just south of Cuyahoga.