Governor Kasich to face a last minute challenger in GOP primary

Ike Mgbatogu | 1/8/2014, 11:01 a.m.
It goes without saying that Stevenot has his work cut out for him as he seeks to dethrone a sitting ...

COLUMBUS – Ohio Governor John Kasich has his eyes set on taking on Democratic challenger Ed Fitzgerald in the upcoming gubernatorial battle, but he is now forced to adjust his target to square off with a guy named Ted Stevenot first.

Who in the world is Stevenot?

Well, between now and May 6, which is when the GOP primary will take place, Ohioans will get to know more of him, but this much is known about the would be Kasich dethroner now: he is 48-years old; he is from Cincinnati; he is a businessman; and he has named a 56-year old Black woman Brenda Mack as his running mate.

But something else very telling is known about Stevenot and his startling candidacy: he is challenging Kasich largely because of his fierce opposition to the governor’s Medicaid expansion agenda.

Many Republicans have long expressed strong opposition to Kasich’s Medicaid expansion plan by making the argument that it will grow the deficit, balloon the national debt while handing Ohio what they claim would be a precarious agreement capable of unraveling into a disaster if the federal government decides to back away from the program in the future.

Kasich profoundly disagrees, pushing back with the argument that Medicaid expansion will benefit 275,000 Ohioans funded by $13 billion in federal succor, with coverage to start in 2014. It makes a lot of sense, he said.

Opposition to Kasich plan has so far been limited to suing him in court. But he recently prevailed there, scoring a big victory against his opponents; a triumph that made it crystal clear he indeed has the constitutional authority to implement that program.

But apparently, the governor’s conservative detractors aren’t resting their case yet, as some, led by Stevenot, are now seeking to replace him as their GOP flag bearer, with plenty of help streaming from the Ohio’s Tea Party activists.

It goes without saying that Stevenot has his work cut out for him as he seeks to dethrone a sitting governor in a primary race. So, what are his chances of pulling it off? Little to none, realistically. And here’s why. He lacks the vast name recognition that Kasich enjoys. He certainly won’t remotely match Kasich’s huge war-chest. To top it all off, the governor has all the advantages of the incumbency fused with the swagger of a political maverick who is unafraid to embrace Medicaid expansion in a collaborative manner with a Democratic White House and Ohio Democratic lawmakers while unapologetically remaining true to his core conservative principles.

Obviously, Stevenot isn’t clueless about all that, as well as the uphill battle he faces in his courageous venture. But as he gears up to bump heads with Kasich, he is probably counting on the governor’s Medicaid expansion agenda being hugely unpopular across the state; a possible delusional thinking that could unleash a sufficient dose of reality to deflate his wild ambition and possibly convince him and his recalcitrant cabal of rabid opponents against Medicaid expansion to finally see that Ohio stands to gain immensely from it.

That said – all Stevenot really needs to do to qualify as a legitimate challenger is to collect 1,000 valid signatures of registered voters in Ohio and promptly submit them to the Office of the Ohio Secretary of State.

Mgbatogu is a freelance writer and editor of Onumba.com based in Columbus. He can be reached by email at: Onumbamedia@yahoo.com