Ohio GOP Political Consultant: All Republicans 'Insulated' From Trump
Northeast Ohio lost two stalwart moderate Republicans this year, in former Governor, Senator, and Cleveland Mayor George Voinovich, and former Congressman and Lake County Prosecutor Steven LaTourette. ideastream's Tony Ganzer interviewed LaTourette about a month before he died, in which he said Voinovich heralded a next generation of true Republican leader.
In the coming weeks we’ll explore this idea in the context of the presidential election with varying perspectives.
We begin now with Mark Weaver, a GOP political consultant in Columbus, who explains how Ohio’s style of Republican politics is different from the national trend:
WEAVER: “I think the nature of Ohio as a divided state, as a swing-state, forces Ohio politicians—at least those elected statewide—to moderate their approach certainly in tone and perhaps even in practicality.”
GANZER: “Is there any consternation, at least in the circles you’re running in, of long-term damage ‘Trumpism’ might do to Ohio’s brand of ‘Republicanism?’ Or not so much?”
WEAVER: “The fact that Rob Portman can be so far ahead of his opponent, when Donald Trump is narrowly losing to Hillary Clinton in Ohio, shows that Republicans in Ohio are going to be judged by voters without respect to the fact that they’re in the same party as Donald Trump.”
GANZER: “So you don’t see any effect on the nature of what the GOP can do or the tactics maybe it can take in Ohio in respect to Donald Trump being the nominee?”
WEAVER: “Well Trump being the nominee could affect turn-out in a very odd way, so we’ll all wait and see what happens. But Donald Trump is not really seen as a Republican by most people. He is unique in his own personality and I don’t think he has much of an impact on the Republican Party outside of potential turnout issues.”
GANZER: “So do you think the identity of the Ohio GOP, and what it means to be Republican in Ohio, is insulated maybe from the national events that we’re seeing?”
WEAVER: “I think all Republicans are insulated from Donald Trump because Donald Trump is not someone seen as a Republican. He’s seen as a man unto himself, even a force or a party unto himself. His issue positions don’t line up easily within the Republican platform, or the Democrat platform. And he’s much more of a force of personality. When we see personality-driven candidates like him, that’s why you see such intense love and hate: not because he represents a party, because he represents himself. If you’re talking about whether the Ohio Republican Party is going to rise or fall, I think you’d be much more accurate looking at John Kasich…”
GANZER: “Well to that point: some see Donald Trump as a candidate carrying on from movements like the Tea Party, whereas John Kasich has long championed the ‘Compassionate Conservativism’ moniker that we’ve heard for decades now. When we talk about divisions within the GOP even, do you think the Ohio brand of pragmatic conservatism, or ‘Compassionate Conservatism’ is that on the upswing, do you think, nationally with the GOP?
WEAVER: “I think the Tea Party embraces Donald Trump less because of who he is, and more because he has tweaked the establishment in a way that the Tea Party has always wanted to see happen, much like Sanders supporters who saw Bernie Sanders really giving fits to the Democrat establishment. And so as a result I think here in Ohio we’re going to continue to see the traditional Republican split between the establishment and the Tea Party, and Donald Trump is either going to be a short little chapter in it if he loses, or he’s going to advance a whole new chapter in it if he wins.”
GANZER: “Do you think there’s still potential for moderate Republicans like Steven LaTourette or a George Voinovich in Ohio, but also in national politics?”
WEAVER: “I do. I think our party will be better off if we have a wide range of representation here as long as we agree to some core issues, and I think Democrats would say the same thing. If anyone is welcome in the Republican Party, even if you hold all the views of Democrats, then we’re not Republicans anymore, and vice versa with the Democrats. But having said that Ronald Reagan and others have coined the term a Big Tent Party. That means we have to win by addition and multiplication, and not by subtraction and division.”