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Tempest in a tea pot: Kasich Tea Party primary challenger DOA

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The arctic blast predicted to descend on Ohio next week will actually blow warm weather to one Buckeye, Ohio's incumbent Republican governor John Kasich, who learned late Saturday that the widely reported Tea Party challenger who had scheduled a media event next Tuesday to announce he was taking on the first-term governor is bowing out before getting in.

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Weak tea

According to one report, an email was sent out on behalf of Ted Stevenot, a little known insurance salesman from Cincinnati, and his fatally flawed running mate announcing their Quixotic campaign to unseat a strong governor will end before it gets started.

"Though my running mate Brenda Mack and I have received a tremendous outpouring of support and encouragement since that announcement, I have decided not to run for governor at this time," said Stevenot, whose only political bona fides to take on a professional unbeaten career politician like Gov. Kasich consisted of being the ringleader of a Tea Party umbrella group, as reported in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

In addition to Stevenot's basic problems—little to no funding to mount a credible campaign, no reputable campaign staff and a one-trick pony campaign strategy pegged to opposing Kasich for his expansion of Medicaid—the discovery of tax liens linked to his running mate, Brenda Mack, totaling nearly $39,000 served as the coup de grace for a long-shot campaign that never got started.

Mack, 56, of Canfield, is a former president of the Ohio Black Republicans Association who serves as vice president for the Ohio chapter of the Frederick Douglass Association and allegedly operates a business consulting company. According to government records in Mahoning and Cuyahoga counties, Mack is linked to nearly $60,000 in unpaid state and federal taxes and penalties. She has also filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in 2008, listing about $104,000 in debts to 62 creditors. Adding insult to injury is evidence that more than ten years ago Mack had been convicted of passing bad checks.

"My decision was not based on any concerns about my running mate, Brenda Mack, for whom I have tremendous respect and admiration," Stevenot said in prepared remarks. "She is a strong and courageous woman who is appropriately unapologetic for who she is. Brenda shared with me that in 1999, she fell ill and it took doctors years to diagnose what was causing the problem. During her illness, she understandably struggled to make ends meet and run her business. She ended up selling nearly everything she had just to survive."

Back taxes and bad debts also turned out to be reason enough for another candidate's running mate to be flushed out of contention in a matter of weeks. State Senator Eric Kearney, who the Democrat's endorsed challenger to Gov. Kasich, Ed FitzGerald of Cleveland, picked as his lieutenant governor in November of last year, withdrew after he and FitzGerald's campaign staff botched explanations for how as much as $1 million in federal and state tax liens, penalties and interest was accumulated over about a ten-year period.

Tea Party Quixote

In the reported email calling it quits, Stevenot said, "I do this reluctantly, because I know that part of what has gone wrong with our political process is that the two major parties have made it exceedingly difficult for a common person to run for office. This is not good for our Republic or for our citizens who, as a result, often do not have their best interests represented by elected officials."

With the threat of a Tea Party-led challenger disappeared before it materialized, Gov. Kasich can now focus time, energy and resources on the General Election in November. Had Las Vegas odds makers weighed in on the chances of a Stevenot-Mack ticket being anything more than an irritant to Team Kasich on May 6, primary election day, they would have been slim to none at best.

Gov. Kasich's only other worry to clinching a second and final term comes in the form of another long-shot candidate. Libertarian Party candidate Charlie Earl, who in some polling draws as much as six percent of would-be voters, could become a speed bump for Kasich on his road to reelection. Given that Kasich only won in 2010 by two percentage points over then Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, Earl skimming off a handful of percentage points in November could be enough for FitzGerald to win in a three-way race this year's political season is as tight as it was in 2010, when Tea Party activists said they were the difference between Kasich winning and losing.

According to Gallup, only 30 percent of Americans now hold a favorable opinion of the Tea Party movement, a new low. The majority of Republicans express a favorable opinion of the group, but only 22 percent of Americans view themselves as supporters of the movement.

Fizzled future

Like a rocket aimed at the stars that couldn't get off the ground because it had no licensed pilot to guide it and no fuel to propel it, the Ohio Tea Party movement will likely drift off to footnote history. Instead of breaking Kasich, it broke itself.

The news article Tempest in a tea pot: Kasich Tea Party primary challenger DOA appeared first on Columbus Government Examiner.

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